Parmesan-Crusted Chicken

This satisfying weeknight supper is a simple chicken recipe. Just roll chicken cutlets in grated Parmesan may not win you any points with your stodgy, fine-china-and-silver-every-night-of-the-week mother-in-law. But we find it to be a superlative solution when it’s 10 minutes past when the kids started bellyaching that they’re hungry for dinner and you finally yank open the refrigerator and there seems to be nothing in there. Take a glance at this recipe and then look in the fridge again.

Though this chicken recipe is best complemented by summery tomatoes, indecent amounts of olive oil, and, if you have them in the fridge, some floppy salad greens or fresh basil, we’ve yet to have people not ask for seconds even when we’ve just plunked the Parmesan chicken plain on their plates.–Renee Schettler Rossi

LC Take the Time To Read This! Note

We know you’re in a hurry. But a word to the wise. Actually, a few words. First, don’t ignore the instructions in the chicken recipe below to pound the chicken breasts to an even thinness. It may take a few more moments that you swear you don’t have, yet it ensures the chicken cooks quickly and evenly, saving you time (and running out for take-out) in the long run. Another thing to be careful of is to grate the Parmesan finely—use those really tiny holes on the grater–as tiny shreds of cheese have a stick-to-itiveness that larger pieces just can’t muster, which means the cheese stays put on the chicken, not the pan. Last, if you’d rather not heat up the kitchen, rather than bake the chicken in the oven you can sear it in a well-seasoned cast-iron or nonstick skillet that’s just barely slicked with olive oil. All you need is a thin metal spatula (trust us on this) and impeccable timing so as to flip the cutlet the moment the cheese crust goes from gooey to crisp.

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 15 M
  • 30 M
  • Serves 4

Ingredients

  • 2 egg whites or 1 whole egg
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, pounded to an even thinness (may use chicken tenders)
  • 2 cups very finely grated Parmesan cheese
  • Cracked black pepper, if it suits you
  • Rocket (arugula) or basil leaves or summer lettuces (optional)
  • 2 summer tomatoes, cut into slices or wedges (optional)
  • Extra-virgin olive oil (optional)

Directions

  • 1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet or baking dish with parchment paper.
  • 2. Place the egg whites or whole egg in a shallow dish and beat lightly. Place the Parmesan on a plate and, if you like pepper, add some to the Parmesan and toss to coat. Dip the chicken breasts first into the egg, allowing any excess to drip off, then drop it in the Parmesan and turn it to coat, pressing the Parmesan onto the chicken to make it stick. Place the Parmesan-crusted chicken on the parchment.
  • 3. Bake until the chicken is golden and cooked through, about 15 minutes. Slide onto plates immediately. If desired, serve with a simple salad of greens or herbs and tomato dressed with olive oil.
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Comments
Comments
  1. Testers Choice Testers Choice says:

    [Melissa Maedgen] Let’s get this out of the way right off the bat: I’m not a chicken-breast kind of eater, or cook. I can’t remember the last time I bought a boneless, skinless chicken breast. But when, on a Friday morning, I knew I’d be working late that night and this recipe landed in my e-mail inbox, it did seem like the perfect answer to the “What on earth will I make for dinner?” question. I had everything on-hand except for the chicken.

    The recipe worked quite well as written, with the one minor detail that my chicken breasts weren’t quite done after 15 minutes in the oven—18 minutes did the trick. The recipe doesn’t specify the size of the chicken breasts, so for reference I will note here that mine were 5.4 ounces each. The cooking time will naturally vary a little bit based on the overall size and the shape of the meat you buy.

    The final dish was perfectly cooked and moist—a chicken breast, seasoned and perfectly done, but rather plain. The recipe suggests an arugula and tomato salad to go with it, and I served an arugula salad with a lemon vinaigrette, but no tomato, as mine are not ripe yet. It was a good match, but some ripe summer tomatoes would have really added to the dish.

    It works, and it’s very, very easy to make. Perhaps one of the easiest things that I’ve ever made, in more 25 years of cooking. And that’s the key. I may not be a big fan of a simple chicken breast, but my health-conscious, non-cooking husband is. When we came to the all-important question, “would you make this again?” his answer was that he would make it himself, because it was better than any chicken breast he had cooked in the past, and it was really easy. So there you have it. A good, foolproof way for a non-cook to get a nice, healthy dinner on the table. Here’s a recipe to give to your kid, spouse, or sibling who doesn’t cook a whole lot or is just learning to cook, for a simple but good weeknight staple that can be made on a night you might otherwise opt for takeout.

  2. Lauralee Hensley says:

    This sounds yummy to me. I’d probably have to cook it longer too, high altitude here seems to make us have to cook everything a little longer.

  3. Melinda says:

    I baked it for 20 minutes here (I’m a five minutes longer if it doesn’t look quite right kinda girl lol). I doubled the recipe with no troubles, as we are a family of five. It was simple to make and every member of the family had seconds. This is going into meal rotation here.

  4. Cristy Raposo says:

    LOVED this dish! Very easy to make and tasty too. Only problem I had was that in cooking it longer to achieve the golden brown crust, the chicken dried out a little. :( Any suggestions?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      hey cristy, glad you liked the flavor! you know, i’ve relied on this quick weeknight fix for years, and the way i make it is on the stovetop, not in the oven. it’s a little trickier, with the converse situation at play here, as the cheese turns golden and brown really quite quickly. in order to make sure the chicken isn’t underdone in the short amount of time it takes the cheese to crisp, it needs to be pounded really quite thin. i’d suggest you either splurge on super skinny chicken cutlets or simply bash the heck out of boneless, skinless chicken breasts. i place the chicken between sheets of parchment and have at it with a rolling pin or a big old cast-iron skillet until the chicken is about 1/4 inch or so. (also useful in working out the kinks of a long day at work!) use a mediumish to medium-highish heat. and make sure that parmesan is grated on the fine edge of the grater. when it’s golden and crisp, it will release easily from the skillet, preferably a really well-seasoned cast-iron skillet. let me know how it goes!

      • Cristy Raposo says:

        Thanks so much for the tip!!! :)

        • Dan Kraan, LC Community Moderator says:

          If you have the time, you could make a simple brine and place the chicken into it for about 3 or 4 hours. Remove, rinse and pat the pieces dry before continuing with the recipe.

  5. Audrey says:

    Question: Are only the egg whites used out of health concerns, or is there some other alchemy at work in only using the whites?

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Audrey, I won’t pretend to be a kitchen witch, so I can’t speak to alchemy in terms of scientific or molecular culinary know-how. Although since I’ve made this more than once, I can talk about the alchemy of taste, and I have a hunch that the yolks are omitted given that there’s a delicate balance of chicken breast, cheese, and salt here that I think may be interrupted by yolks. Trust me, those whites provide an alchemy all their own, helping the grated cheese adhere just fine–just be certain to use the smallest holes on your grater when you shred the cheese. Those are my thoughts. Curious to hear yours…

      • Audrey says:

        I’m not sure, though I am the kind of person inclined to do a side-by-side comparison of white-only versus whole egg. Comparisons aside, I’m more likely to try to use one whole egg, rather than two egg whites, in order to avoid finding something to do with the yolks so as not to waste them. If I do end up doing a taste test I’ll be sure to come back and report!

        • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

          Audrey, I’m quite, quite confident that the Parm chicken will be lovely either way. And, in a happy coincidence, should you find yourself with a leftover yolk or four, lookee what we have for you, a simple vanilla bean ice cream that folks are saying is the creamiest, dreamiest thing they’ve ever made.

  6. Jamie says:

    Lucky for me I have no stodgy, fine-china-and-silver-every-night-of-the-week mother-in-law but I do have kids who bellyache for really delicious yet simple food. And Parmesan on anything is a favorite. This is so being made for dinner this week.

    • Renee Schettler Rossi, LC Editor-in-Chief says:

      Yes, Jamie, you are indeed lucky in one sense, although we empathize with your other plight. Fingers crossed this does the trick…

  7. Mike says:

    I make these all the time but instead of an egg wash, I brush some Duke’s mayonnaise on the chicken before rolling it in the cheese.

    Seriously.

    • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

      Gotta love that Dukes mayonnaise right, Mike? Mayonnaise is a great way to help keep chicken and fish moist during baking. Thanks for your tip!

      • Mike says:

        I pity those who can’t get Duke’s.

        • David Leite says:

          Mike, I’ve never heard of Duke’s mayonnaise until recently–and that’s all I’m hearing now. I’m getting my hands on some pronto and seeing what all the chatter is about.

          • Mike says:

            Duke’s is a Southern thing. I was born and raised in the Deep South but my family moved around extensively, hence, I was raised on Hellman’s/Best Foods. It was decent, dependable and readily available everywhere. It wasn’t until my 40′s that providence smiled on me and I found my way back to Dixie, where I had my “Road to Damascus” experience with Duke’s.

            Hellman’s/Best Foods has long been relegated to the culinary garbage heap along with Kraft and Miracle Whip. It causes me to have conniptions to mention the last two in polite society.

            • David Leite says:

              Mike, remind me not to mention the other two to you in public. (But then again, it might be humorous to see what happens….)

            • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

              yep, Dukes is a Southern thang (South Carolina, if I remember correctly) and like you, Mike, I love it!

              • Mike says:

                Duke’s is made in Richmond. No self-respecting Southerner would serve Pimento Cheese made with anything else.

                • Beth Price, LC Director of Recipe Testing says:

                  Agree, Mike. From Eugenia Duke’s kitchen in Greenville, South Carolina to Richmond, Virginia, Dukes has a long history in the South.

  8. Sherry in Union, KY says:

    This packs a lot of flavor for only requiring a few ingredients. I’m wondering if the complaints stem from using fake Parm. Be sure to use REAL Parmesan cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano)!

    • Renee Schettler Rossi says:

      Sherry, many thanks, that’s a very good point. I have to admit to being similarly perplexed at complaints, but what you suggest makes perfect sense. Thank you!

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