Unlike most versions of this Italian-American dish, my baked Chicken Parmesan retains a crispy crust of cheese and breadcrumbs surrounding a juicy cutlet of chicken. What's the secret? Keep reading to find out.

Crisp on top and saucy on the bottom you'd never guess this easy Chicken Parmesan recipe was baked.

Chicken Parmesan is made of components I love, like juicy chicken, savory Parmesan cheese, tangy tomato sauce, and spaghetti. So, in theory, I should love Chicken Parm as well, but for all its promise, in most restaurants, it’s an utter abomination that ruins the ingredients that go into the dish. With soggy flaps of mystery meat saturated with old grease and insipid sauce, I’ve never been able to get behind the American interpretation of Pollo Alla Parmigiana.

I think the biggest issue for me is that most Chicken Parmesan recipes have you douse the crisp fried chicken with sauce before covering it with cheese and then baking it. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems a little silly to fry something to get it crisp, only to cover it with liquid and make it soggy. It’s with that in mind that I set out to make the best Chicken Parmigiana ever!

My quest started with the chicken. Instead of pounding it flat, I used thigh meat (which is juicier than breast meat) and left the thickness as is. The thinking here is two-fold. The first is that pounding the chicken flat tends to make it dry out more easily. The second is that a flat cutlet gives the chicken more surface area, which changes the breading to meat ratio. This is fine for dishes like schnitzel where you want the whole thing to be crispy but does not work so well when you’re dunking the cutlet in sauce, as the bread just gets soggy.

Cheese and seasoned breadcrumbs form a crisp top to this easy baked chicken parmesan.

To bread the chicken, I used Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) rather than the European kind because the crumbs are larger, giving your chicken a nice thick, crispy coating. Along with some minced rosemary and thyme, I also added grated Parmigiano-Reggiano straight into the breadcrumbs to make sure you never wonder why the dish is called Chicken Parmesan.

Next, I wanted to see if I could avoid frying the chicken. Not because I was trying to make this healthy, but because deep-frying is a pain. A bit of olive oil drizzled on the cutlets before they go into the oven is all the oil that is needed to get the tops to crisp to beautiful golden brown. The bottom side admittedly didn’t get as crisp, but this doesn’t matter since the bottom of the chicken gets submerged in the sauce.

This brings me to the assembly and what makes my Chicken Parmesan so good. Instead of pouring the sauce on top of the chicken, I put the sauce in the bottom of the pan, and then set the chicken ON TOP of the sauce. Simple right? Honestly, I don’t get why everyone doesn’t do it this way.

After the chicken then gets covered in cheese, it’s baked in a hot oven, which melts and browns the cheese. The chicken stays crisp and cheesy on top, while the bottom half mingles with the hot bubbly sauce absorbing all of its great flavors.

As for the sauce, I find most places spend more time on the chicken than on the sauce (which isn’t saying much) and the sauce tends to be watery, bland and sour. If you have a good marinara sauce feel free to use that, otherwise I have an excellent basic tomato sauce recipe that makes just enough sauce for this dish.

Serve the Chicken Parmesan on a bed of your favorite pasta (I usually use spaghetti) for a simple, delicious meal that can easily be multiplied to feed a lot of people without much additional effort. Oh, and if you need a party appetizer for the holidays, check out my Chicken Parmesan Nuggets recipe!

With crisp seasoned breadcrumbs and cheese on top and savory sauce on the bottom, this easy chicken parmesan is irresistably good.

Chicken ParmesanThis baked Chicken Parmesan, retains a crispy crust, a juicy interior, with plenty of sauce and a crusty browned layer of cheese.

Summary

  • CourseEntree
  • CuisineAmerican
  • Yield4 servings
  • Cooking Time40 minutes
  • Preperation Time10 minutes
  • Total Time50 minutes

Ingredients

Chicken Cutlet
550 grams
chicken thighs - boneless skinless (breasts work too)
1 cup
panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
4 grams
fresh rosemary (~2 sprigs, stem removed and minced)
3
fresh thyme (~3 sprigs, stems removed and minced)
40 grams
Parmigiano-Reggiano (grated, Parmesan Cheese will work as well)
1/4 cup
all-purpose flour
1 large
egg
2 tablespoons
extra virgin olive oil
Chicken Parmesan
4 cups
basic tomato sauce
80 grams
Mozzarella cheese (grated)
320 grams
spaghetti
flat leaf parsley (minced for garnish)

Steps

  1. Put the oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 350 degrees F (175 C). Place a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, combine the panko, rosemary, thyme and Parmigiano Reggiano.
  3. In a separate bowl, beat the egg until the yolk and white are well incorporated.
  4. Season the chicken for the Chicken Parmesan with salt and pepper.
    Generously salt and pepper the chicken on both sides, then dust with flour to coat evenly.
  5. Dip the chicken cutlet in an egg wash to help the breading adhere.
    Dip the coated chicken in the egg, making sure to cover the whole surface of the chicken with egg, then transfer the chicken to the bowl with the breadcrumb mixture.
  6. Coat the chicken cutlets in seasoned breadcrumbs and parmesan.
    Coat both sides with a thick layer panko, pressing down on the chicken a bit to ensure an even coat.
  7. Drizzle the chicken parmesan cutlets with olive oil and bake.
    Place the chicken on the wire rack, then drizzle 2 tablespoons of olive oil evenly over the chicken.
  8. The baked chicken parmesan cutlets turn out crisp and flavorful.
    Put the baking sheet in the oven. Bake chicken for 20-25 minutes or until an instant-read thermometer reads 160 degrees F (71 C).
  9. While the chicken is baking in the oven, make, or reheat the basic tomato sauce.
  10. Bring a large pot of well-salted water to a boil.
  11. After removing the chicken from the oven, increase the temperature to 500 degrees F (260 C).
  12. Set the Parmesan Chicken cutlets in the sauce.
    Pour the sauce into a casserole dish, then top with the baked chicken.
  13. Cover the chicken parmesan with mozzarella and parmesan and bake.
    Sprinkle with the Mozzarella, and additional Parmesan if you'd like.
  14. The finished chicken parmesan is saucy on the bottom and crispy on top.
    Bake the Chicken Parmesan until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese has formed a golden brown crust on top.
  15. Boil the pasta according to the package directions, drain, then toss with olive oil.
  16. Serve the Chicken Parmesan over a bed of spaghetti with a sprinkle of parsley to garnish.