Italian Style Chicken Cutlets. I know that every Italian family has their own version of these. Similar to sauce, it’s a signature dish of the house. Or at least it was for me growing up. The perfect Italian chicken cutlet is simple, thin but still has a good amount of chicken, crispy and packed with flavor. The chicken is sliced thin & breaded with simple ingredients. Chicken cutlets are the perfect addition to a salad, amazing on a sandwich and delicious cold the next day right out of the fridge.
Feel free to buy pre-sliced chicken or “thin-sliced” chicken breast. It saves time and is a little less of a hassle in the kitchen. BUT I often find it to be sliced very very thin. A classic Italian chicken cutlet is thin enough that the chicken cooks quickly, but thick enough that there is still some juicy meat and a good amount of chicken in the bite. The recipe is best when you slice large chicken breasts yourself. Sharpen your knife and cut the chicken in thirds for best results. Pound thin with a meat tenderizer or rolling pin.
I love that the breading is really simple and accomplished in only two steps: dipping in egg & then breadcrumbs. The breading is a simple mixture of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs & a really good parmesan cheese. The Italian seasoned breadcrumbs are actually kind of important to the exact flavor I am looking for. I want them to taste just like the Italian markets growing up & there is something about the pre-seasoned breadcrumbs. I mention this because typically I am adamant about making my own. That is my longwinded way of saying: the pre-seasoned breadcrumbs are a part of the flavor I love, buy them.
From the Kitchen
Another ingredient that stays the same no matter how many times I make them: the cheese. A really good, grated parmigianio reggiano is going to be perfect. To get brand specific – Locatelli is the only cheese my family has used all of my life and it is engrained in every one of our dishes. It’s salty, funky, and the flavor that really makes you think “Italian market chicken cutlet.” These chicken cutlets are even better the next day (like most Italian dishes, in my opinion), and one of my favorite lunches ever.
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I love to serve the classic chicken cutlets with either of these pasta sauces:
Italian Style Chicken Cutlets
- large heavy bottomed skillet or cast iron
- 1-1.5 lb chicken breast or pre-sliced, see notes
- 1/2 cup avocado oil or other light, high smoke point oil
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 3/4 cup Italian style breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated pecorino romano or parmigiano reggiano
- Slice Chicken: Slice each chicken breast in thirds and pound flat and even with a rolling pin or meat mallet.
- Bread Chicken: Beat the eggs and add them to a shallow dish. In other shallow dish add bread crumbs, grated cheese & garlic powder. Mix up with a fork. Coat 1 piece of chicken in egg. Let excess drop off. Next coat it in bread crumbs and press them into the chicken until chicken is fully covered. Set aside on plate or dish & repeat for each piece of chicken.
- Make Cutlets: Line a large plate or dish with paper towels. Use enough oil to coat the bottom of the skillet with about 1/8-1/4 inch of oil. I use about 1/3 cup to start. Heat oil on high heat until hot. Add chicken pieces working 2-3 at a time. Fry 1-2 minutes on each side until very golden on one side. Flip and cook another 1-2 minutes. Place finished pieces of chicken on dish with paper towels to drain. You may need to work in 2 batches depending on the size of your pan or if the breadcrumbs start burning. If too smoky: empty oil, wipe out pan, and repeat the steps.
- Serve with Chunky Marinara. They can be eaten right away & make amazing leftovers.