Preparation time: 10-15 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes sautéing chicken, 30 minutes baking
Chicken is an inexpensive source of protein that’s always a great choice for dinner. However, without some thought, plain old boneless chicken tenders can be a little…well…boring. This recipe for Chicken Parmesan takes humble chicken tenders and transforms them into a colorful, deliciously-textured entree with a crispy, fried crust, creamy mozzarella cheese, and tangy tomato sauce.
Interestingly, Chicken Parmesan is not necessarily a native Italian dish, although it does have roots in Italy. When numerous Italians immigrated to the United States in the late 1800s and early 1900s, they brought with them the recipe for Eggplant Parmigiana. Eggplant Parmigiana features slices of eggplant, breaded and fried, and then topped with a tomato sauce and melted cheese. At some point, Italians in the United States adapted this recipe to use chicken, and Chicken Parmigiana, or Chicken Parmesan, was born!
This recipe will feed a family of four easily, with a few leftovers for lunch the next day. However, if you have a family of big eaters or you need to feed more people, you can easily scale the recipe for larger portions. Chicken Parmesan reheats well as leftovers, although for the best texture, you’ll want to put the chicken in the oven to warm it, rather than microwaving it.
Of course, if you want to use regular chicken breasts, that is perfectly fine too. However, you will definitely want to pound the chicken breasts thin as instructed to allow for more even cooking. Also, for full-sized chicken breasts, you will want to allow for extra cooking time, just in case.
For this recipe, I simply used a half-finished jar of pizza sauce from the fridge. However, if you do not have pizza sauce on hand, you can substitute tomato sauce. For the best Italian flavor, stir a teaspoon or so of basil or Italian seasoning into the plain tomato sauce. Spaghetti sauce is another option for substitution.
Chicken Parmesan Instructions
- 6-8 chicken tenders
- 1 cup Italian dry bread crumbs
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 egg
- 1/4 cup flour
- Oil for frying
- 1-2 cups shredded Mozzarella cheese
- Pizza sauce or tomato sauce
Step 1. Trim any fat, skin, or connective tissue from the chicken tenders.
If your chicken tenders are thicker than an inch, you’ll want to pound them flat. To do this, place the meat between two pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper. Using a meat mallet or rolling pin, pound the chicken until it is of uniform, one-inch thickness.
Step 2. Spray a 9 by 13 baking pan with cooking spray and set it aside.
Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
Step 3. Heat a 1/2 inch layer of oil in a heavy pan over medium heat.
To keep the breading from falling off, don’t try to put the chicken in the pan until the oil is hot. You can test the temperature by flicking a bit of flour into the pan. If it sizzles and is immediately surrounded by bubbles and starts browning, the oil is the correct temperature.
Step 4. While the oil is heating, place the egg in a bowl and beat it thoroughly.
Put the flour and salt in a separate bowl and stir them together. Also, place your breadcrumbs in a dish. First, roll the chicken in the flour to coat it, shaking off excess flour. Next, dip the chicken into the egg, coating it all over. Then, roll the chicken tender in the breadcrumbs until it is covered in crumbs.
Step 5. Put the chicken in the heated, oiled, pan.
Repeat until you have filled the pan. Take care not to crowd the pan. You want to keep at least an inch around each piece of chicken so that they will cook evenly. Typically, 5 pieces can fit into a 10-inch skillet with correct spacing.
Step 6. Cook the chicken 8-9 minutes on each side, turning it when it’s golden brown.
You should only have to turn it once during the cooking time. After both sides are nicely browned, remove the chicken from the skillet to your 9 by 13 pan. Keep cooking the chicken until all of it has been browned, placing the chicken strips in the baking pan as they are cooked.
Step 7. Next, take a tablespoon of pizza sauce or tomato sauce and spread it across the surface of each chicken tender.
Top each chicken piece with two or three tablespoons of shredded mozzarella cheese. Cover the pan with aluminum foil.
Step 8. Bake the chicken, covered with foil, for 15-20 minutes.
Remove the aluminum foil and place the chicken back into the oven for about 10-15 minutes to allow the cheese to brown.
Step 9. Serve the chicken accompanied by a salad or green vegetable.
April Freeman enjoys creating all kinds of recipes for her friends and family from her country kitchen in Middle Tennessee. She and her family raise beef cattle, chickens, and all sorts of fruits and veggies on their farm, and she specializes in featuring farm-fresh foods in the recipes that she creates and serves. April says that her slogan is “Are you hungry?” and she feels that one way of showing love and connecting with others is to serve delicious favorite foods to others. Her favorite thing to cook is pies of all kinds.