Gooey cheese and fresh basil tops crisp breaded chicken breasts lying on a bed of light marinara sauce. This friends, is serious comfort food.
We’ve had chicken parm on the list of “to-dos” for quite some time. We wanted to make the best — something better than the classic. To be honest though, we like the classic — baked in sauce and topped with cheese.
Alright, so we didn’t make any earth shattering changes to the classic. Like I said above, we love the classic. We did however, figure out how to make the classic best.
Homemade chicken parmesan is totally doable — just keep the following in mind.
Chicken Parmesan Recipe — Totally Doable and Totally Delicious
After making a few mistakes, ourselves, we’ve narrowed down a few tricks to make the best chicken parmesan. They’re all simple enough, but wow do they make a difference.
Salt and Pepper Are Your Friend
Whenever we bread chicken (or other meats and veggies), we always go heavy on the seasoning. Breading the chicken is a three part process. The chicken is dredged in flour, dipped in egg, and then is tossed in breadcrumbs and a little parmesan before pan frying.
Fortunately, that means there are lots of chances to season the chicken. First, we lightly season the chicken itself. Then, we actually add salt to the flour and to the breadcrumbs. This way, not only is the chicken seasoned, but the breading is as well. Win!
Why You Should Use Marinara Sauce
For the sauce, we rely on a light marinara sauce. We make our own marinara sauce, but you could buy it at the store If you do, try buying something that’s light — maybe in the prepared section? Or, choose a jar that specifically says “marinara.”
You see, tomato sauce and marinara sauce are different. Marinara sauce is usually cooked within an hour, whereas “tomato sauce” can be cooked for hours — making it much richer than marinara.
Using a lighter sauce, like marinara won’t weigh down the chicken.
How Much Sauce To Add — Less Than You Think
We really like baking the chicken on top of sauce. Some, however, think this makes the breading mushy. Our way around this is to bake the breaded chicken on a bed of sauce, but then to only add about a tablespoon to the top of the chicken. This way, the breading remains crisp, but you still get the extra flavors of the chicken baking on top of the sauce.
If you really are against baking the chicken and sauce together — don’t. All you need to do is add basil and cheese to the top of the breaded chicken and bake until cooked through. Then, serve the chicken with warm marinara sauce on the side.
Cooking the Chicken — Or, How Not to Overcook the Chicken
Chicken parmesan is a two-part process. First the chicken is breaded and pan-fried. This makes the breading crisp and golden brown. After that, it is baked.
While the pan-frying does cook the chicken partially, it won’t be completely cooked through. So, you really only need to bake long enough to complete cooking the chicken and to melt the cheese. We bake for 15 to 20 minutes. That’s it.
For serving, we like to add a small side of pasta topped with warm marinara sauce or even crisp vegetables. The chicken is very filling so there’s no need for lots.
Do you have a favorite way to make chicken parmesan? Tell us, how do you make it?
You May Also Like
- Our Meaty Lasagna Recipe with beef and sausage — so good.
- Or, try this Easy Baked Ziti with Spinach – it’s perfect to make on a weeknight.
- This Chicken Parmesan Recipe from Simply Recipes looks extra delicious.
- Or, this lightened up Chicken Parmesan Recipe from Skinneytaste looks pretty awesome.
What you need to know. For this, we actually like to make our own marinara sauce since it is a little brighter and more fresh. (This can be done days or weeks in advance). If you’re in a pinch, though, store-bought is great. If you plan to buy jarred marinara sauce, you will need to buy 2 jars. About 1/2 of one jar will not be used.
Equipment you’ll need. A cutting board, flat meat mallet (rolling pin or heavy bottomed pan can be used), 3 shallow dishes for breading, fork, large plate or small baking sheet, large skillet, tongs and a 13x9-inch baking dish.
- 4 chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds)
- 1 cup (140 grams) all purpose flour
- 1 cup (210 grams) dried breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup (16 grams) finely grated parmesan cheese
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups (709 to 946 grams) marinara sauce, warmed (some sauce will be leftover for serving)
- 1/2 cup (16 grams) finely grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 bunch fresh basil leaves
- 4 thin slices provolone cheese
- 1/3 cup (79 ml) canola or vegetable oil
- Heat oven to 350 degrees F (177C).
- Place a chicken breast onto cutting board then lay a sheet of wax paper, parchment paper or plastic wrap over it.
- Pound the chicken breast with a flat meat mallet (you can also use a rolling pin or heavy bottomed pan), until it is about 1/2-inch thick. Repeat with three remaining chicken breasts. Lightly season both sides of each chicken breast with salt and pepper.
- You will need three shallow dishes -- we like to use round cake pans or pie dishes. Add flour and a generous pinch of salt to the first and mix well with a fork. Crack both eggs into the second dish then add milk. Use a fork to beat until frothy. Then, add breadcrumbs, 1/2 cup of parmesan cheese and another generous pinch of salt and pepper to the third dish and use a fork to mix well.
- Have a clean plate or small baking sheet ready -- this is where the breaded chicken can be placed before frying.
- Now bread chicken breasts: dredge chicken in seasoned flour, and then dip them in the egg wash to coat completely, allowing excess to drip of the chicken and back into the dish. Finally, dredge chicken in the breadcrumbs. Place breaded chicken onto clean plate or baking sheet.
- Prepare a small baking sheet or large plate covered with a few paper towels. This will be where you place the browned chicken so excess oil is absorbed.
- To brown the chicken you will need a skillet large enough so that all four chicken breasts can nestle into the pan comfortably. If you do not have a pan large enough, use a medium pan and cook the chicken, two breasts at a time. Add enough oil to the pan so that when the chicken is added, it sizzles around the chicken.
- Heat the oil over medium heat in skillet. Once the oil is hot (the oil will look shimmery) add the chicken and fry 3 to 4 minutes on each side or until golden brown and crisp.
- Once done, place chicken onto a bed of paper towels to absorb excess oil.
- Ladle enough marinara sauce to coat the bottom of a 9x13 inch baking dish. Then, arrange chicken on top of sauce.
- Add a generous tablespoon of sauce on top of each chicken breast then top the sauce with a few basil leaves. Finally, divide a 1/2 cup of finely grated parmesan cheese between the chicken breasts and finish with a slice of provolone cheese on each.
- Bake chicken, uncovered, for 15 to 20 minutes until the cheese begins to brown and an instant read thermometer reads 165 degrees F (74 degrees C).
- Serve with pasta, additional sauce, vegetables or a sandwich roll.