This quick and easy Italian chicken cutlet recipe with panko breadcrumbs uses no flour and no egg mixture for an extra fast weeknight meal. Traditionally breaded Italian chicken cutlets are dredged in a coating of flour, then egg wash before coating them in bread crumbs.
If you are a purist, you may scoff at this recipe, but I have found this breadcrumb mixture will stick to the chicken just fine without the extra dredging steps. It saves me time and dishes for when I need dinner on the table fast. Feel free to add the extra dredging steps if you want though!
I find using Panko breadcrumbs gives a superior crunch to these cutlets than regular breadcrumbs or premade Italian breadcrumbs, but feel free to use what you have on hand. Pan frying chicken cutlets is a must if you want that golden crispy crust. I use a combination of olive oil and butter for frying to get the best result.
Chicken breasts - You can buy skinless chicken breasts already cut thin cutlets at the grocery store or cut them lengthwise yourself. Here's a great post on how to cut boneless chicken breasts into thin chicken cutlets using a meat mallet.
Italian Bread Crumbs - You can buy Italian breadcrumbs off the shelf or make your own. Below are the ingredients for my favorite Italian breadcrumb blend.
Olive Oil - The best oil for frying up these cutlets.
Butter - Adds some richness to the cutlets and helps create that nicely browned crust. You can also use a vegetable oil as a subsitute.
Italian Breadcrumb Ingredients
Panko breadcrumbs - Panko has a larger crumb size which gives the crust some extra crunch. You can substitute regular bread crumbs if you have them on hand.
Parmesan cheese - Adding Parmesan to the breading gives these chicken cutlets a nice crust that sticks together and adds some umami flavor.
Garlic powder - Adds a subtle garlic flavor to the cutlets.
Dried Italian Seasoning - This is the key ingredient for making these Italian chicken cutlets so don’t miss out.
Red Pepper Flakes - This doesn’t make the cutlets spicy. It actually enhances all the other flavors of the bread coating.
Salt and Pepper
Start by prepping your whole chicken breasts by cutting the in half lengthwise and pounding the chicken breast cutlets to 1/4" thin. Mix together the Italian bread crumb blend: Parmesan, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes, in a bowl.
Using your hands, pack each cutlet into the breadcrumb mixture until a nice coating covers the entire breast. This might take a couple flips.
Once the chicken is covered, heat up some olive oil and butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Working in batches, fry each cutlet on each side in the hot oil for 3-4 minutes until golden brown. The cooking time may vary from the first batch to the last as the pan get's exponentially hotter. If your pan gets too hot and the butter starts burns, turn the temperature down to medium heat. Be sure the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees. Place the crispy cutlets on a wire rack or paper towels on a baking sheet to cool while you fry the remaining cutlets. Top with fresh parsley or fresh herbs for some more flavor!
I highly recommend pan frying these cutlet as I have not had the same crispy results baking or using the air fryer.
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Frequently Asked Questions
I use a combination of olive oil, for the high smoking point, and butter for richness. Some people worry the butter burns, but I’ve found it adds a nice richness and golden brown color to the cutlet.
The only difference is a cutlet is a thinly sliced or pounded chicken breast. I like to cut a chicken breast in half length wise, then pound each piece flat. I've seen another version where you cut the breast in half, then slice the fatter half lengthwise to create three pieces. Then pound them all to an even thickness.
I like to serve chicken cutlets with any pasta. Pesto pasta is usually our go to for the summer while a creamy Alfredo pasta is a comforting side in the colder months. You could also chop up the cutlets on top of a caesar salad, or salad of your choice. Roasted vegetables are another healthy side dish option.