Italian chicken cutlets (aka chicken Milanese) are going to become your favourite family dinner. The crumb coating is spiked with parmesan and Italian herbs to make this chicken dinner a flavour sensation.
- Flavoured with parmesan and herbs.
- Seriously quick and easy to make!
- Shallow fried to perfection, though you can bake them too.
- It cooks so quickly and the chicken inside stays succulent.
- These are great for a family weeknight dinner but special enough to spoil friends.
A slight adaption on my chicken schnitzels and we have these delicious breaded Italian chicken cutlets. You can use homemade bread crumbs or panko crumbs for the perfect crunchy coating.
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Ingredients you’ll need
Just 9 ingredients including salt and pepper and the oil you fry them in, chicken Milanese comes together in minutes.
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
- Chicken cutlets or chicken breast: If you can buy chicken cutlets, this recipe just became even quicker however making your own is very simple. Just buy two medium or large chicken breasts and carefully slice them through the middle into two thinner pieces of chicken breast aka chicken cutlets.
- Bread crumbs: Use homemade bread crumbs or panko crumbs but whatever you use make sure they’re crunchy. If you’re making them from scratch toast them in the oven to dry them out completely. You can make your own bread crumbs way ahead of time – if properly dried they’ll keep in an airtight container for months!
- Parmesan: Use a block of parmesan and shred it yourself. This type of parmesan has a better, richer flavour and no coatings to affect the texture of things.
- Seasonings: The bread crumbs are seasoned with salt, black pepper and some dried Italian herbs. If you prefer fresh herbs, add about 2 tablespoons of finely chopped fresh parsley instead or a mixture of fresh thyme and parsley.
- Egg: Just one egg for coating the chicken.
- Oil: Vegetable oil is the best bet for frying as it has a high smoke point. In other words, it can handle high temperatures without becoming bitter in flavour.
Why not spice it up?! Add some dried chilli flakes (red pepper flakes) or a touch of cayenne powder to add some spicy heat.
How to make Italian chicken cutlets (step-by-step)
Easy pan fried chicken cutlets with parmesan and herbs, these are loaded with flavour but simple to make. In just 30 minutes you can have dinner on the table in front of your hungry hoard.
Jump to the recipe for full ingredients and instructions.
- Make the cutlets: If you have chicken breasts, slice each one in half through the thickness to create two thinner breasts. Cutting them thin like this helps them cook so much quicker.
- Pound the chicken: Gently does it. Cover your chopping board with plastic wrap, place the chicken cutlets on top then another sheet of plastic wrap on top of that. Now use a meat mallet to gently pound the chicken (photo 1) evenly (so focus on the thicker end) to about 6-7mm / ¼ inch thick.
- Prepare the breading: Mix the breadcrumbs, seasonings and parmesan together in a wide bowl or dish with sides (photo 2).
- Bread the chicken: Whisk an egg in another bowl. Add the chicken pieces and mix to coat thoroughly (photo 3). Hold one of the cutlets up and let the excess egg drip off. Transfer it to the breading mixture and use a dry hand to coat and turn it in the breadcrumbs, pressing down firmly to really get them stuck on (photo 4).
- Shallow frying: By far the best result comes from shallow frying these Italian chicken cutlets. Start by getting the oil nice and hot in a non-stick pan. If using a large pan, you should be able to cook two at a time. Cook them for 3-4 minutes until golden underneath and you can see the cooked part is coming well up the side of the breast piece. Flip and repeat on the other side (photos 5&6).
Tips and tricks
All the tips you need to get your Italian style chicken cutlets perfect!
- Dry the chicken cutlets first: Drying the chicken off with a piece of paper towel before coating, helps to prevent moisture on the surface from stopping the crumbs to get nice and crunchy.
- Make the parmesan really fine: Using a microplane is great to get the parmesan nice and fine and it helps it disperse through the crumbs better. If you don’t have a microplane, just use a fine shredder, then crumble it further between your fingers to get it nice and fine.
- Use parmesan from a block: Parmesan in block form tastes fresher and richer. Pre-shredded varieties can taste a bit stale after a while.
- Use a non stick pan: This is so important to prevent the breading mixture from sticking to the base of the pan. If you don’t have a non-stick pan, you’ll need to use a lot more oil or bake them instead.
What to serve with Italian chicken cutlets
Italian chicken cutlets are wonderful served just with a simple salad – this asparagus, rocket and parmesan salad is quick to make and absolutely perfect here. For a salad with a little more substance, try this warm potato and asparagus salad.
You could serve it up with a simple pasta side like this pasta napolitana or my basil pesto pasta (you can leave the chicken out of the pasta recipe since you already have that).
If you want to really spoil the family, why not add this pesto garlic bread on the side.
If you’re looking for a sauce for your chicken milanese, this homemade pasta sauce is great or try my creamy mushroom sauce for an indulgence.
Vegetable oil is best for frying as it has a high smoke point meaning it can handle the high heats of frying without becoming bitter.
Chicken breast is a one whole side of a chicken breast while chicken cutlets are those same breasts with the tenderloin removed and are then sliced in half through the thickness to create two thinner breasts.
Italian chicken cutlets and chicken Milanese are one and the same. Both are a type of flat breaded and fried piece of chicken with parmesan and often herbs in the coating.
The number of cutlets you get from one chicken breast will depend on the size of the chicken breast. Most often you’ll get just two but if your chicken breasts are particularly large, you may be able to get three.
If you prefer, you can bake your chicken cutlets. Start by toasting the breadcrumbs in a moderate oven on a baking tray for 10-15 minutes until turning golden since, without the oil they won’t get quite as golden. Once the chicken is breaded, bake it in an oven preheated to 200C/395F, on a wire rack over a baking sheet, for 15-20 minutes until crunchy outside and cooked through.
Yield and storage
This Italian chicken cutlet recipe makes 4 serves.
The crumbs will soften on leftover chicken cutlets and they’re best heated again in the oven at 180C/350F for 15 -20 minutes. This will heat them through whilst crisping up the crumbs again.
I will say though, these pan fried chicken cutlets are fantastic eaten cold. Make a few extras and save them for putting into sandwiches – yummo!
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Italian Chicken Cutlets
- 2 large boneless skinless chicken breast (or 4 small/cutlets)
- 1 ¼ cups homemade breadcrumbs (or panko breadcrumbs)
- ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese, packed (40g/1.4oz)
- 2 teaspoons dried italian herbs
- ¾ teaspoon fine sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
- 1 large egg
- ½ cup vegetable oil, for frying
- Fresh parsley, to garnish
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges, to serve
For best results, always weigh ingredients where a weight is provided
- 2 high sided plates or dishes
- Large frying pan or skillet – must be non-stick
- Preheat the oven to the warm setting to to 70C/160F. Line a baking sheet with some paper towel and place a wire rack over the top.
- If using large chicken breasts, slice each one through the middle (thickness wise) so you have 2 thinner breast pieces (chicken cutlets) from each one.
- Pat the chicken all over with paper towel to remove excess moisture.
- Cover your chopping board with plastic wrap, place the chicken cutlets on top and cover with another piece of plastic wrap. With a meat mallet, gently pound the chicken evenly (so focus on the thicker end) to about 6mm / ¼ inch thick.
- Take 2 high-sided dishes, large enough to fit one chicken breast in flat and add the eggs to one of them. Beat well.
- In the second dish, mix together the breadcrumbs, parmesan, Italian herbs, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- Using one hand for eggs and the other for the crumbs. Coat all the chicken pieces in the egg, mixing well so they’re thoroughly coated. Lift one and let the excess drip off.
- Using the other hand, coat in the crumbs, pressing down all over, then set aside on a clean plate. Repeat with remaining chicken cutlets.
- In a large non-stick skillet or frypan, heat half the oil over medium-high heat.
- 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 of the breaded chicken cutlets into the oil and fry for 3-4 minutes on each side, until golden brown both sides.
- Test for doneness (a meat thermometer should read 74C / 165F or just cut one open to make sure it’s not pink). Transfer to the prepared baking sheet in the oven and repeat with the second batch.
- Let the second batch drain on the baking sheet in the oven while dishing up the sides, then serve your cutlets while still hot and crunchy with lemon wedges.
- Please take a moment to leave a comment & rating. It's appreciated and so helpful.
- Parmesan: Use a microplane or a fine shredder then crumble it between your fingers so that it’s in very small flecks. You can use pecorino romano or grana padano in place of the parmesan cheese.
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