Here is a recipe that I know you’ll enjoy. These crispy Italian chicken cutlets are lightly fried and can be used for lunch, dinner, or just a snack.
I learned this recipe from my husband’s Italian mother many years ago and I’m happy to share it with you.
There are many ways to use Italian chicken cutlets in your cooking, from creating delicious chicken sandwiches, hearty Italian salads, or as a side dish for pasta, hot or cold such as my tortellini pasta salad. .
In this post, I’ll provide tips and answers to questions you may have, and guide you through each step for how to make these chicken cutlets in your own kitchen – quickly and easily.
Italian Chicken Cutlets
So, what turns a regular chicken cutlet into an Italian chicken cutlet? The answer is easy, ingredients.
There are two differences between Italian-style and non-Italian-style chicken cutlets:
- Italian herbs are added to the breadcrumb mixture
- Olive oil vs non-olive oil such as vegetable or soybean oil
The main difference is the addition of ingredients to the breadcrumb mixture that turn these into delicious chicken cutlets Italian style. This is where most of the Italian flavor will come from.
Although there are no set rules for which herbs you must use, the most common ones are parsley, basil, or oregano. Some people even like to add a dash of garlic powder, which I do not.
In this recipe we only use parsley and trust me, it’s enough.
What are Italian Chicken Cutlets
Let’s start with the basics of cutlets.
Chicken cutlets are made by slicing chicken breasts length-wise very thin. They are typically pounded to be almost paper thin.
The most basic process for making cutlets:
- The cutlets are then dipped in flour, then egg, and then breadcrumbs.
- In this recipe, the breadcrumbs are mixed with parsley.
- Each cutlet is fried in a frying pan and once done, you’ve got yourself some incredibly amazing mouthwatering Italian chicken cutlets.
How to Make Italian Chicken Cutlets
As I mentioned above, my printable instruction for this recipe is below.
My method for making Italian cutlets may be different than other people’s because my recipe comes directly from my Sicilian mother-in-law.
I keep an open mind with Italian recipes, but I still believe after all these years, this is the best Italian chicken cutlet recipe I’ve ever tasted.
Enjoy a True Italian Chicken Cutlet Recipe
There are a few things about this particular Italian chicken cutlet recipe I recommend which are a little different than other people. Here are three things that make this recipe special.
Dip the Cutlets in Flour
Some people skip this step, but I find it crucial for helping the egg to adhere properly to the cutlet.
Don’t overload the cutlets with unnecessary herbs
Italian cooking should always be simple. Simple ingredients, simple processes. You do not need a long list of herbs to make a cutlet – Italian. In this recipe we only use parsley and that is literally all you need for amazing flavor!
Do not include cheese with the breadcrumbs
Some recipes will include cheese with breadcrumbs. This is an ingredient I use for my baked chicken breasts, but do not use in this recipe for cutlets.
Italian Chicken Cutlets Should be Very Thin
If you find other recipes showing off pictures of halved or whole chicken breasts, this isn’t considered authentic Italian chicken cutlets. It’s just fried chicken.
Cutlets are thin, about 1/8th of an inch thick.
Steps for How to Make Italian Chicken Cutlets
If you’d like to jump down to the printable recipe you can do so here.Jump to Recipe
Slice the Chicken Cutlets
The best way to slice cutlets is when they are still partially frozen, it makes the slicing and handling of the chicken breast much easier.
After slicing, you can use a mallet to pound the breasts to make them even thinner. This helps tenderize the meat, making them well… tender. If you don’t have a mallet, you can use a rolling pin.
Be careful not to tear the new cutlets in the process.
Dip the Cutlets in Flour
After slicing the cutlets, you will dip them in a bowl of flour (3/4 Cup of flour) with a dash of salt and pepper. Yes flour!!
So many food bloggers do not use this step. But the reality is that the flour is what will keep the egg mixture from sliding off the breast in the next step.
Dip the Chicken Cutlets in Egg
You’ll beat the eggs in a bowl and then dip the floured cutlets in the egg.
For 4 chicken breasts (about 12-16 cutlets) I use 1-2 eggs.
Dip the Cutlets in the Breadcrumb/Herb Mixture
Next, coat the chicken cutlet with the breadcrumbs and herb mixture. In this case I recommend ½ cup of breadcrumbs and 2-3 Tablespoons of dried or fresh parsley chopped finely.
Heat the Frying Pan with Olive Oil
When ready, add enough oil to the frying pan so there is about a ¼” of oil. If you don’t have enough oil at any point during the process, the cutlets will get black specks on them due to the breadcrumbs burning.
You will know when the olive oil is ready when it sizzles by dropping a small amount of the breadcrumb mixture in it.
Simply add more oil as needed.
How to Cook the Italian Chicken Cutlets
When the olive oil is hot, gently lower each cutlet into the pan. I recommend using a fork with a long handle to transfer the cutlets to avoid any burns if the oil splashes.
Cook the cutlets for 2 minutes on one side and then gently turn them over to cook an additional minute in the oil.
Place the Cutlets on Paper Towels on a Plate
When you remove the cutlets, set them on paper towels on a plate to absorb the excess oil. Have the plate ready before you start frying so you can easily transfer them away from the frying pan.
Make sure to use a separate fork when handling the raw cutlets to avoid cross contamination.
What Type of Oil to Use for this Italian Chicken Cutlet Recipe?
Do not use your most expensive extra virgin olive oil when frying the cutlets. Instead use regular cooking olive oil. Don’t use vegetable oil or any other type.
I recommend using organic olive oil if you can.
Can You Make Chicken Cutlets with Italian Breadcrumbs
The short answer is yes, of course. And I’m sure they will be full of flavor.
You can use panko or non-panko even, but I don’t recommend it. You lose control over the flavor.
My recipe is simple and easy using homemade breadcrumbs or at least store-bought plain breadcrumbs. Simply add in the parsley and/or other Italian herbs of your choice to transform it.
Can you Bake Italian Chicken Cutlets in the Oven
The answer is yes, but don’t expect it to be the same. Fried is fried. Whether you want to admit it or not, fried Italian chicken cutlets aren’t 100% healthy.
But then again either are chicken nuggets or chicken sandwiches purchased at the store or drive-through. 😊
If you choose to bake them instead of fry – heat the oven to 400F and liberally drizzle olive oil over each one. Lay them in a baking dish that will prevent the oil from splattering.
Bake until they are fully cooked and crispy.
Gluten Free Italian Chicken Cutlets
If you’re looking to reduce your gluten intake, I’d recommend using gluten-free crackers that you can turn into breadcrumbs using a blender or placing in a bag and crushing until they are the texture of breadcrumbs. Here’s a helpful recipe for making your own gluten free bread crumbs.
Variations for Chicken Cutlets Italian Style
Here are some additional ideas for how you can modify this recipe.
Add Italian Cheese
First off, this recipe doesn’t use Italian cheese in the breadcrumb mixture. I do for my regular baked and breaded chicken breasts recipe, but not for cutlets.
You don’t need it. It complicates the flavor since the cutlets are sliced so thinly. It’s a waste of money to use your Romano or Parmesan cheese if you don’t have to.
However, if you want to add cheese, go for it! I’d use probably a ¼ cup in the breadcrumb mixture. This is similar to the breading I cook my chicken and peas.
Add Additional Herbs
There aren’t too many variations for herbs here, but I only use parsley in my recipe.
Try adding basil or oregano. However, don’t use too much oregano as this can overpower the dish.
You can use either Italian flat leaf or regular curly parsley. I’ve used both.
I had a whole section above on this but going gluten free is an option. Substitute the breadcrumbs with gluten free crushed crackers or gluten free breadcrumbs.
Using Italian Chicken Cutlets in Different Dishes
If you’re wondering what makes great chicken cutlet sides, that’s easy! These cutlets are so versatile. They can be the main dish or they can be a complimentary dish.
Here are some meal ideas:
- Serve as a main meal with pasta one the side
- Serve as a side dish when pasta is the main dish
- Use in a sandwich bun topped with lettuce, sliced tomato and cheese
- Cut up the chicken cutlets into pieces and add to a tossed salad
- Serve as a main ingredient to spaghetti by placing it on the spaghetti and pour marinara sauce on top
- Slice the cutlets and use in a pasta alfredo con pollo recipe.
For additional side dishes to use with this recipe, try the following:
- Italian green salad – simple with fresh greens and olive oil
- Chickpea Salad – enjoy this salad loaded with chickpeas!
- Antipasto salad – perfect for a summer dish with all the antipasto ingredients we love
- Cannellini bean salad – easy to make and easy to love!
- Pasta salad – perfect for picnics and get togethers
- Italian green beans recipe – who doesn’t love green beans? Try these Italian ones!
- Fried Zucchini – bring in the vegetables by learning how to fry your own zucchini!
- Italian fresh bread – authentic Italian bread. This batch makes enough to freeze a few loaves.
I hope you enjoy this recipe for Italian Chicken Cutlets. It’s a family favorite in our house and I hope it becomes one in yours too. Let me know in the comments how you enjoy them. 😊
Easy Italian Chicken Cutlets Recipe
- 4 chicken breasts partially thawed
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 3/4 cup flour
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 2-3 tbsp fresh or dried parsley
- 1 beaten egg
- pinch salt and pepper
- Slice the chicken breasts to fillet them very thin. No more than 1/4 thick!
- Place a few at a time in a large plastic ziplock bag and use a meat mallet/tenderizer to flatten the breasts even more. You can skip this step if you’re real low on time – I have done it both ways.
- In a bowl, add the salt and pepper to the flour and mix so it's blended evenly.
- In a separate bowl mix the parsley with the breadcrumbs
- Dip cutlets in the flour, egg, then breadcrumbs mixture in that order. The flour allows the egg to adhere, hence it is first.
- Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat
- Place in frying pan and fry for about 2 – 3 minutes
- Turn over and fry another 1 minute or until fully cooked. Length of time varies depending on the thickness of the breasts.
- Remove from the pan and place directly on paper towels to absorb excess oil.