Making chicken schnitzel at home is easy! Pinky promise. I’ve been making this recipe for years and I’m wowed by the flavour every single time.
In this post, I give you all the tips you need to make perfect homemade schnitzel and ways you can customise it for yourself and the one featured in the recipe here is a favourite in our house.
Ok, so schnitzel will never be mistaken for health food but, if you’re picturing a greasy piece of fried meat, think again. Get the meat, the crumbs and the oil temperature right and you’ll end up with succulent chicken and crunchy, golden crumbs. Success!
What is schnitzel
| ‘Schnitzel (shnit-suhl) – a thin slice of veal or other light meat, coated in breadcrumbs and fried’ |
I love a chicken schnitzel but veal and pork are also used regularly. You could even use turkey.
Traditional schnitzel is shallow fried, meaning fried in only enough oil to come halfway up the side of the meat. It’s cooked one side, then turned over to cook the other until golden and crunchy. You can cook it with less oil, however, the shallow fried method gives the ultimate crunchy, golden crumb and, as long as the oil is hot enough, it won’t be absorbed by the crumbs, making them greasy 🙂
To turn your chosen meat into schnitzel, you’ll also need
- Breadcrumbs – homemade breadcrumbs are definitely the best option, providing more texture and crunch. They’re simple to make too. If you must use store-bought, use panko instead.
- Herbs – dried herbs mixed in with the crumbs add lift and flavour
- Seasoning – don’t forget to season with salt and pepper
- Flour – you’ll dip the meat in flour for the first part of the crumbing process
- Egg – egg helps the crumbs stick
Because everything is better ‘schnitelized’ (new word), I chose to turn one of my favourite dishes from our honeymoon – Chicken Saltimbocca – into a schnitzel. Prosciutto, parmesan, sage and chicken all wrapped up in a crunchy, can’t-stop-eating-this crumb. I also add paprika to my crumb mixture which gives deeper golden colour and an earthiness that can’t be beat.
For a regular, simple schnitzel recipe, just leave those 4 ingredients out. Easy peasy!
How to make chicken schnitzel
Homemade chicken schnitzel is a simple case of coating a piece of chicken in crumbs and shallow frying but here are the steps that will take yours to the next level.
- Slice: The first and most important step is to take a large chicken breast and slice it in half through the thickness, so it looks like you have 2 thin chicken breasts.
- Bash: Use a meat tenderiser or even a rolling pin, to gently bash the thicker parts of the chicken so the breast is the same thickness all over. Don’t bash it too hard or the meat will break apart. This step makes for even cooking and also tenderises the meat a little.
- Season the meat: Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides and season the crumbs too. Too often, schnitzels can be lacking in flavour and that’s because the seasoning can get lost in the thick coating. Seasoning both, ensures you have plenty of flavour and not a bland dinner.
- Crumbing / breading:
- Prepare 3 separate dishes with flour in one, beaten eggs another and a seasoned homemade breadcrumbs in the third.
- The dishes should be at least the size of the chicken breast and have highish sides so everything doesn’t fall out.
- Coat in flour first and egg second making sure to shake off the excess after each. Finally, coat it all over in the crumb mixture, making sure to press the crumbs onto the meat so they stick well.
- Don’t double crumb: you’ll just end up with a soggy layer underneath the crunchy one.
For my Saltimbocca Chicken Schnitzel, I add sage and prosciutto to one side of the breast before breading. You’ll need to handle it carefully so it doesn’t all fall off. The parmesan (please use real parmesan – not powdered) is part of the crumb mixture.
How to cook chicken schnitzel
The perfect schnitzel only needs to be shallow fried. Don’t be tempted to deep fry as you’ll just waste oil.
- Heat the oil: Heat enough oil to come halfway up the sides of the chicken, over medium-high heat, until you can see bubbles when you dip the handle of a wooden spoon in.
- Gently place the chicken in the oil: Gently, so that you don’t splash the hot oil around
- Don’t overcrowd the pan or they will end up boiling in oil as opposed to frying (this turns into soggy schnits). Just one or two in a pan at once. Don’t worry, they retain their heat well, so you can have some resting while a second batch is cooking.
- Cook: Let them cook until golden on each side.
- Drain: Transfer the schnitzels to a tray lined with ruffled up paper towel to drain. Letting excess oil drain away for a few minutes makes eating them all the more pleasurable. They’ll still be piping hot after this process.
How long to cook chicken schnitzel
The cooking time will vary depending on how thick you make your schnitzels and also how hot the oil is. Using the method above, for schnitzels that are about 1.5cm thick, they take around 6-7 minutes on each side.
For chicken to be cooked, it should read 75C / 165F on a meat thermometer. If your schnitzels aren’t even thickness, make sure to poke it into the thickest part. You can also just cut it open to make sure there is no pink meat left.
- Add other dried herbs and spices that you like.
- Use pork, veal or even turkey. You could also use the thigh meat too, if you prefer it.
What to serve with chicken schnitzel
- Add indulgence with a side of mac and cheese
- Keep the carbs simple with this simple potato salad, Warm Asparagus Potato Salad or these Garlic Butter Potatoes
- Easy salads like a green salad, simple coleslaw or pasta salad.
- Sauces like mayonnaise, a classic mushroom sauce or this roasted tomato salsa work beautifully.
There are loads of tips and tricks out there, but if you stick to this method it will work every time. You will never have to buy pre-crumbed schnitzel again (and you won’t want to). I urge you to try this flavourful Italian chicken schnitzel. It’s super simple to make and the flavour is sensational. Golden, crunchy crumbs, parmesan, prosciutto and a good hit of sage make this a much requested dinner.
More chicken dinners you’ll love
How to Make Chicken Schnitzel
- 1 cup vegetable oil
- 2 large chicken breasts
- 12 large fresh sage leaves
- 20 g parmesan, finely grated
- 4 slices prosciutto
- 2 cups homemade breadcrumbs (or panko crumbs)
- 3 teaspoons mild paprika
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano (notes)
- 1 ½ teaspoons sea salt flakes
- 1 large egg
- ⅓ cup plain (all purp) flour
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve
- Slice the chicken breasts through the middle (thickness wise) so you have 2 thinner breast pieces. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the top and gently bash the thicker parts with a meat tenderiser until they are the same thickness all over - about 1cm thickness is good.
- Remove the plastic wrap and season the chicken well on both sides with salt and pepper. Lay 3 sage leaves on top of each one and then a slice of prosciutto over the top of that.
- Take 3 high sided dishes, large enough to fit the chicken breast in flat and add the flour to one of them. Add the egg to the second and beat well.
- In the third dish, mix together the breadcrumbs, paprika, oregano and sea salt flakes
- With two hands so you can hold the prosciutto on, dip one piece of chicken into the flour,. Coat both sides, then gently shake off the excess. Repeat this process with the egg and finally the breadcrumb mix, then lay the chicken on a plate. Repeat with remaining chicken.
- Pour the oil into a large, heavy based pan, no more than 1-1.5cm deep, over medium high heat. Line a baking tray with plenty kitchen paper towel but scrunch the towel up.
- Test the oil by dipping the end of a wooden spoon into it - if it starts to sizzle, the oil is hot enough. Gently place 2 schnitzels into the oil and fry for 10-14 minutes (notes), turning halfway through. Transfer to the paper towel and test for doneness (a meat thermometer should read 75C / 165F). Allow to drain well before serving.
- I use a standard Australian 20ml tablespoon (= 4 teaspoons worldwide)
- The cooking time will depend on the thickness of your chicken and how hot the oil is.
- Check for doneness using a meat thermometer (which should reach 75C / 165F) or cut one open to make sure there is no pink left.
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