This post may contain affiliate links.
Coated in herbs, cheese and breadcrumbs then pan fried, Italian Chicken Cutlets are delectably crispy on the outside and juicy within. With robust Italian flavors and a mouthwatering aroma, they strike a perfect balance between elegance and ease. A main course that's equally suited for a special occasion meal or dinner on a busy weeknight.
You'll need about 40 minutes to prepare this quick and easy recipe for crispy chicken cutlets. You can prepare them up to 2 days in advance and refrigerate until you're ready to cook. And if you end up with leftovers, lucky you! They also reheat beautifully in a skillet.
Ingredients You Need to Make Italian Chicken Cutlets
- Flour: all-purpose flour
- Eggs: large or extra large eggs
- Panko Breadcrumbs: or regular breadcrumbs (panko breadcrumbs will give you a lighter, crispier crust)
- Parmesan Cheese: or Pecorino Romano cheese
- Dried Italian Seasoning: your favorite blend
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts: look for chicken breasts of similar size and shape, 5 to 6-ounces each
- Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper
- Butter: salted or unsalted butter
- Vegetable Oil: such as avocado oil or other high heat oil (Extra virgin olive oil is also an option, just note that, with its lower smoke point, it's more likely to burn.)
- Fresh Italian Parsley: also called flat leaf parsley, for garnish
- Lemon: fresh lemon wedges, optional
- Many chicken cutlet recipes call for cutting chicken breasts in half horizontally and pounding to ¼" thickness. I've found that I'm just as happy skipping the (somewhat dangerous) step of slicing the chicken breasts and pounding them a bit thicker, closer to ½-inch thick. You still get the benefit of even, quick cooking, but the chicken stays juicier and there is a lower risk of overcooking it. Bonus: it doesn't take as long to pound!
- Try to pound your chicken breasts into cutlets of similar thickness so you don't end up with burned or unevenly cooked areas.
- Don't be tempted to pan fry all of the cutlets at once. Cutlets crowded in a skillet means they'll steam and not crisp up properly. It's worth the time and effort to cook them in batches. Keep the first batch warm in a low oven while you cook the second batch.
- If you end up with leftover cutlets, remember that they reheat beautifully in a little hot oil in a skillet - the breading crisps back up and the chicken stays juicy.
You can fry chicken cutlets in either high heat vegetable oil or olive oil. Just note that olive oil has a lower smoke point and is more likely to burn, so you need to keep a close eye on them as they cook and adjust the heat as needed.
Dredging the cutlets first in flour and then egg before the breading mixture helps the coating to adhere. Pressing the final coating firmly into the cutlets also helps.
Chicken cutlets are chicken breast halves that often been sliced in half horizontally then pounded thin with a meat mallet or rolling pin.
To make thin chicken cutlets, pound boneless chicken breasts with a meat mallet, rolling pin or even a heavy skillet. For extra thin cutlets, carefully cut chicken breasts in half with a sharp knife horizontally before pounding.
Typically burned chicken cutlets happen when the skillet is too hot. It's important to keep a close eye on the cutlets as they cook, and to use your nose, eyes and ears to tell you if they're cooking too quickly and reduce the heat accordingly. To check for doneness before flipping, carefully lift an edge with a fork or thin spatula.
Italian Chicken Cutlets are wonderful on their own as a main course, but that's not the only way to enjoy them. Why not make a chicken cutlet sandwich by stacking a warm cutlet on a crusty roll with your favorite sandwich toppings? Or arrange sliced cutlets over a tossed green salad to make it a meal.
Menu for an Italian Feast!
- Cocktail: Campari Spritz or Peach Bellini
- Appetizer: Prosciutto Wrapped Asparagus
- Vegetable: Rapini with Raisins and Hazelnuts or Garlic Butter Green Beans
- Side: Italian Roasted Potatoes or Roasted Baby Potatoes
- Dessert: Affogato or Chocolate Panna Cotta
More Must Try Italian Main Course Recipes
How to Make Italian Chicken Cutlets
To get started, preheat your oven to 200˚F to keep cooked cutlets warm on a baking sheet with an oven safe rack inside while you pan fry the rest. Pound chicken breasts inside a plastic zip-top bag (or layers of plastic wrap) on a work surface to ½-inch thickness and season both sides with salt and pepper. (Choices for pounding below.)
Bread each cutlet in flour, then beaten egg, then breadcrumb mixture (each breading element in a separate shallow bowl) and transfer to a clean plate or platter.
In a large non-stick skillet, cook 2 of the 4 chicken cutlets in 1 tablespoon of the butter and 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil until golden brown and cooked through; transfer to prepared baking sheet in warm oven and repeat with remaining cutlets. Divide chicken breasts among 4 dinner plates and finish with kosher salt and fresh parsley. Serve hot with lemon wedges if desired.
Italian Chicken Cutlets
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs beaten
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
- 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts 5 to 6-ounces each
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons butter divided
- 6 tablespoons vegetable oil divided (such as avocado oil or other high heat oil), or olive oil (see recipe note)
- finely chopped fresh Italian parsley for garnish
- 1 lemon cut into wedges for serving, optional
- Preheat oven to 200˚F.
- Place an oven-safe rack inside a baking sheet.
- Set out three shallow bowls. Place flour in one, beaten eggs in the second, and combine the breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese and Italian seasoning in the third.
- Place one chicken breast on a work surface inside a plastic zip-top bag or between two pieces of plastic. Pound with meat mallet or rolling pin to ½-inch thickness. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts. Season each chicken breast on both sides with salt and pepper.
- Working with one chicken breast at a time, dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Then dip into beaten eggs, allowing excess to drip off. Finally, coat both sides in breadcrumb mixture, gently pressing to adhere. Transfer to a clean plate or platter as you go.
- Heat 1 tablespoon of the butter and 3 tablespoons of the vegetable oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium heat until hot; carefully place 2 of the chicken breasts in the oil mixture and cook until chicken is cooked through and crust is golden brown and crispy, 3 to 5 minutes per side. Transfer chicken breasts to baking sheet and place in preheated oven. Add remaining butter and vegetable oil to skillet and cook 2 remaining chicken breasts 3 to 5 minutes per side, until crisp, golden brown and cooked through.
- Place 1 chicken breast each on 4 dinner plates. Sprinkle lightly with kosher salt and garnish with parsley; serve immediately with lemon wedges if desired.
- You can pan fry these cutlets in olive oil, but keep a close eye on it as it burns more easily than high heat vegetable oils.