how to make italian chicken cutlets

How to Make Easy Italian Chicken Cutlets

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Knowing how to make these easy Italian chicken cutlets is like having an ace up your sleeve when it comes to preparing a delicious Italian lunch or dinner. I learned this recipe from my husband’s Italian mother many years ago and I’m happy to share it with anyone I can.

Italian chicken cutlets

You’ll soon see why this Italian chicken cutlet recipe is the best.

I’ll also provide tips and answers to questions you may have, and guide you through each step for how to make Italian chicken cutlets in your own kitchen – quickly and easily.

What are Chicken Cutlets

Let’s start with the basics.

Chicken cutlets are made by using thinly sliced chicken breasts. They are then dipped in a batter mixture followed by breadcrumbs.

They are fried and should always be served crispy.

They can be deep fried or they can be lightly fried by using a frying pan over a stove, which is my method.

Italian Chicken Cutlets

Some people ask, “are chicken cutlets Italian?” The answer is no, but they can be!

When Italian chicken cutlets are made right, they put regular chicken cutlets to shame.

So, what turns a regular chicken cutlet into an Italian one? The answer is easy.

Ingredients.

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, so it’s critical you know which herbs to use.

Although there are no set rules for which herbs or types of cheese you must use, the most common ones are parsley, basil, Italian cheese such as Romano or Parmesan, and some people even like to add a dash of garlic powder (which I do not).

How to Make Italian Chicken Cutlets

How to make italian chicken cutlets

As I mentioned above, my printable instruction for this recipe is below.

Scroll or Jump to Recipe Here

My method for making Italian chicken 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.

What makes my recipe so easy and why so many rave about it is:

  1. I use flour (I explain the importance below)
  2. I don’t overload the cutlets with unnecessary herbs and cheese, in fact – I don’t even use cheese but you certainly can if you want.

But in a nutshell, to make a chicken cutlet Italian-style you slice the chicken breasts in thin slices – about 1/8th of an inch thick.

If you find other recipes showing off pictures of halved or whole chicken breasts, well this isn’t really considered authentic Italian chicken cutlets in my opinion.

Cutlets are thin. Very thin. Perhaps not paper thin, but they are very thin.

TIP: The best way to slice them is when they are still partially frozen, it makes the slicing and control of the meat much easier.

After slicing the cutlets, you will dip them in a bowl of flour with salt and pepper. Yes flour!!

So many 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.

You’ll beat the eggs in a bowl and then dip the floured breasts in the egg. For 4 chicken breasts (about 12-16 cutlets) I use 1-2 eggs, you won’t need as much as you may think.

Next, you’ll dip the chicken cutlet in the breadcrumb and herb mixture. 

Then you fry them in a frying pan in olive oil over medium-high heat.

TIP: When you remove the cutlets, set them on paper towels on a plate to absorb excess oil.

Process for making Italian cutlets: Flour, Egg, Breadcrumbs.

How Long to Fry the Italian Chicken Cutlets?

thin chicken cutlets

We don’t deep fry the Italian chicken cutlets in this recipe, instead we fry them in olive oil in a frying pan.

Add enough oil to the 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 – just like they do in a toaster oven.

Simply add more oil as needed. 

If your cutlets are thin like I described above, simply fry each one about 2 minutes on the first side then flip them over and fry for another minute.

If any of the cutlets seem a little too thick, then let it fry an additional minute.

What Type of Oil Should You Use for an Italian Chicken Cutlet Recipe?

Do not use your most expensive extra virgin olive oil when making Italian chicken cutlets! Instead use regular cooking olive oil. Don’t use vegetable oil or any other type.

Use olive oil. I recommend using organic olive oil if you can.

Extra virgin olive oil is more useful for sauteing (some would even say no for this), but also for salads or when used cold in general.

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.

Believe it or not, I’ve used gluten free cereal (can be bought online at Amazon) that I crushed into breadcrumbs for my breaded baked chicken breast recipe and I’m sure it would be doable here too.

Can you Bake Italian Chicken Cutlets

The answer is yes. I have done this with other recipes but don’t expect it to be exactly the same. Fried is fried. Whether you want to admit it or not, fried Italian chicken breasts 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 450F and liberally drizzle olive oil over them. 

Bake until they are fully cooked and crispy.

I don’t have a cooking length of the time because I’ve never done it before for cutlets, only my breaded chicken breasts which take about 25 to 30 minutes at 350F.

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. By using store-bought breadcrumbs it will be easier and quicker. However, you lose control over the flavor.

My recipe is simple and easy using homemade breadcrumbs. So even if you have plain breadcrumbs, add in the parsley and/or other Italian herbs to transform it.

Changing it from plain breadcrumbs to Italian breadcrumbs is the main key for making Italian cutlets.

Variations for Fried Chicken Cutlets Italian Style

There are different methods for making these Italian style fried chicken cutlets.

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. In my opinion, 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.

Add Additional Herbs

There aren’t too many variations for herbs here, but I only use parsley in my recipe. You may want to try basil or oregano. I don’t recommend using those in any great quantity.

You can use either Italian flat leaf or regular curly parsley. I’ve used both.

Gluten Free

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.

What Goes with Italian Chicken Cutlets

pasta salad goes with italian chicken cutlets

If you’re wondering what goes with Italian cutlets it’s easy! These cutlets are so versatile. They can be the main dish or they can be a complimentary dish.

You can serve the cutlets with a dish of pasta on the side. Or cut up the cutlets and add to the pasta to make a single main dish.

Any type of salad would be great, here are few options:

In addition the above suggestions for what to serve with the cutlets, I’d also recommend some homemade Italian bread or other artisan bread.

5 from 2 votes
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Easy Italian Chicken Cutlets Recipe

This easy Italian recipe for fried chicken cutlets is a family favorite! It's easy and is awesome with pasta or salad! You must try it!

Course Main Dish
Cuisine Italian
Keyword italian fried chicken cutlets
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Slice the chicken breasts to fillet them very thin. No more than 1/4 thick!
  2. 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.
  3. In a bowl, add the salt and pepper to the flour and mix so it's blended evenly.

  4. In a separate bowl mix the parsley with the breadcrumbs

  5. Dip cutlets in the flour, egg, then breadcrumbs mixture in that order. The flour allows the egg to adhere, hence it is first.

  6. Heat olive oil in a large frying pan over medium high heat
  7. Place in frying pan and fry for about 2 – 3 minutes
  8. Turn over and fry another 1 minute or until fully cooked. Length of time varies depending on the thickness of the breasts.
  9. Remove from the pan and place directly on paper towels to absorb excess oil.

Recipe Notes

A few tips to mention:

TIP #1: Fry your chicken in batches and add more oil if you need to during the process. You know when to add more oil when it starts to smoke or burn.

TIP #2: Serve with a nice salad, bread and some pasta.

TIP #3: You do not have to use extra virgin olive oil, regular olive oil is fine for frying.

TIP #4: Feel free to add in some Italian cheese in the breadcrumb mixture!

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How to Make Easy Italian Chicken Cutlets

16 Comments

  1. A good Italian cutlet has at least 1/2 to 3/4 cup of good Italian cheese like Reggiano or Locatelli. Why didn’t you use it? Also fresh snipped parsley!

  2. Hi Marie! This recipe from my Sicilian mother-in-law doesn’t use cheese but I do use it in my Italian baked chicken breasts recipe. I’ve added the cheese in as a tip as it makes sense! Thanks for catching the issue with the parsley!! I always add that in and I don’t know why my recipe didn’t have it. I love fresh parsley over dried when available. I’ve updated the recipe accordingly – thanks!!

  3. I just made these as I had chicken cutlets and no dinner ideas.these were fantastic. I did use Italian seasoned pinko breadcrumbs . BUT any ideas as how to make the breadcrumbs stick after I flip them in pan? Is it my oil isn’t hot enough initially? Also could I use cutlets to make your chicken Parmesan or are they too thin?

  4. Hi Julie, I am so glad you enjoyed the recipe! I am not sure regarding the sticking, if it is sticking to the pan itself I would think not enough oil at a high enough temp. Hard to say. Also I make sure to really press the breadcrumbs into the chicken to help it stay on.

    For a chicken parm you would probably want them a little thicker than a cutlet. Hope that helps!

  5. Hi Carol, many stores offer both seasoned and “plain” breadcrumbs. It should be stated on the box/container. I’ve noticed sometimes brands only offer seasoned. I’ve seen panko breadcrumbs offered plain.

  6. Easy to follow except the recipe calls for parsley but didn’t say what to do with it in the direction

  7. 5 stars
    Just wanted to let you know I tried the Italian Sausage with peppers and onions and placed it all in a pan and added cheese on top then baked it in the oven. I just wanted you to know that my husband just loved every bite. thank you

    Catherine

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