If my family could pick only a few dishes to put in our dinner rotation, breaded chicken cutlets would be at the top of the list. Learning how to make perfectly crispy chicken cutlets is easy, and once you do it a few times, you won’t even need a recipe.
Even so, I find the typical method of cooking breaded cutlets can get a little messy, which is why I want to share my favorite shortcut for making crispy, chicken cutlets with you all.
A crispy, golden exterior provides crunch and savory flavor but it also protects the chicken while cooking, resulting in a more tender chicken breast. With about ten minutes of cooking time, you have a blank canvas for whatever you want dinner to be.
Weeknights, welcome to your new hero.
How to make chicken cutlets that go with just about anything
Traditional breaded cutlets are made using the three-step, standard breading procedure: dredging chicken in flour, then egg, and then breadcrumbs. My husband likes to follow this rule and no doubt, they are fantastic and hard to beat.
Yet for weeknights when we’re trying to feed the kids quickly and without a big mess, I use a breaded chicken cutlet shortcut that I think is a bit easier and just as tasty. And, most importantly, it really can cook in 10 minutes!
How to make 10-minute chicken cutlets in 4 easy steps:
STEP #1: POUND
Pound your chicken until even in thickness, about a ½ inch thick. I like to cover with plastic wrap or parchment when I do this to keep things tidy and sanitary. After pounding, season with salt and pepper.
TIP: This is a good time to turn that pan on medium heat and get it warmed up.
STEP #2: BRUSH
Brush a thin coating of mayonnaise all over the chicken breasts. I place a little mayonnaise in a separate bowl (shown below) so there is no risk of “double dipping” and contaminating the mayo jar.
Mayo haters: Don’t freak out! The mayonnaise is acting as a glue for the breadcrumbs. It imparts some (yummy!) flavor and yet you won’t be able to tell there’s mayo on there. However if you really won’t eat mayonnaise, you could try a plain yogurt. I’ve never tested it myself, but I think it could work!
STEP #3: BREAD
Prepare the breading by placing panko breadcrumbs onto a plate or pie dish. (They are easily found in most supermarkets these days.) We use about two cups of breadcrumbs for 1 ¼ – 1 ½ pounds chicken, but usually I just eyeball it. Season the breadcrumbs with salt and pepper, and if you have some on hand, grated parmesan cheese.
Again, it’s weeknight cooking here, so don’t bother if you just stick with the panko. Now dip the chicken, both front and back, into the breadcrumbs, pressing the crumbs gently so the surface is completely covered.
TIP: Make sure to use panko breadcrumbs! They’re a widely available, flaky breadcrumb that yields a delicious, crispy texture when cooked.
STEP #4: COOK
Turn the heat up slightly and when the pan is hot, add a neutral cooking oil, such as canola or grapeseed oil until it shimmers across the pan. You want enough oil to completely cover the bottom of the pan; this will ensure all those panko breadcrumbs get nice and crispy.
Cook cutlets until golden brown on the first side, about 2-3 minutes; then flip and cook until the other side is golden brown and chicken is cooked through, about 2-3 minutes more.
If the breadcrumbs are browning too fast, turn down the heat so they don’t burn, and chicken still has enough time to cook.
Let the chicken rest for a couple of minutes before serving.
TIP: You don’t want to overcrowd the pan, so cook in batches if needed. I typically do the kids’ chicken first so it can rest (read: cool off) while we cook the remaining chicken.
So easy, right?
My favorite way to serve breaded chicken cutlets is with a bright, lemony salad on top (Chicken a la Milanese), made with nothing but lettuce or arugula, chopped tomatoes, and shaved parmesan. But you could, of course, serve your crispy chicken cutlets with any kind of salad from green to potato, your favorite grain, pasta salad or a seasonal pasta dish of any kind. Or serve it between bread or in pita as a sandwich with spicy aioli…you get the idea.
Chicken cutlets work with just about anything. And anytime. Which is why I make them all the time.