The Best Chicken Parmesan


Just recently I was browsing from through the latest issue of Cook’s Illustrated and was so excited to see they had published a recipe for Parmesan Chicken. I’ve had my fair share of bad experiences with Parmesan chicken. The last time I ordered it at a restaurant (keep in mind I’m really not a major food snob, I will eat pretty much anything. Yes I can be very opinionated about it but I will eat most things) I wondered whether it was an old soggy boot fried in a batch of oil that had been used far too many times, then covered with chewy cheese and covered in a flavorless red sauce or if it was really Chicken Parmesan. I think I ate two bites of it and that’s all I could manage. I won’t name the restaurant but yes indeed, they could learn a few things from Cook’s Illustrated Parmesan Chicken recipe.

chicken parmsesan6

I’m quite confident in trusting Cook’s Illustrated when it comes to recipes, as they haven’t yet let me down. Everything I’ve made from their magazine and cookbooks has been perfectly delicious. So, I was pretty excited to try out their technique and recipe for Chicken Parmesan. Yes I made a few changes of my own and I will list them below in case you want to stick with Cook’s Illustrated recipe (so I didn’t fully use their recipe but they definitely got me on the right track). This was without a doubt the best Parmesan chicken I’ve ever had. I really don’t need to tell you much more about it, like how it has such a perfectly crisp, golden, breaded exterior and a moist interior, with all the right flavors and just the right amount of gooey cheese – you just need to make it and then you’ll see what I’m talking about. I hope it becomes your new favorite. Enjoy!

Here  are the adjustments I made to cooks illustrated recipe:

1/4 cup onions was not in their recipe
1 tsp dried parsley was not in their recipe
1 bay leaf  was not in their recipe
They added 2 Tbsp basil after cooking sauce – I prefer to let it cook with the sauce
I reduced the amound of salt – they called for 3/4 tsp in the sauce and 1/8 tsp on each side of the chicken breasts
I replaced their 1/3 cup vegetable oil with 2 1/2 Tbsp of both vegetable oil and olive oil
Provolone cheese was not used in their recipe, rather Fontina cheese (which would also probably be delicious – the provolone was amazing though).

chicken parmesan


The Best Chicken Parmesan

Yield: 4 Servings

Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes


Marinara Sauce

  • 2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves , minced
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp dried parsley
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes
  • 1 (28 oz) can crushed Roma tomatoes (I prefer Contadina)
  • 1/4 tsp granulated sugar
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh basil


  • 2 (8 oz) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed, halved horizontally*, and pounded to 1/2-inch thick
  • salt
  • 2 oz whole-milk mozzarella cheese , shredded (1/2 cup)
  • 2 oz provolone cheese , shredded (1/2 cup) (I just bought a very thick slice from the deli counter, then grated it)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 oz Parmesan cheese , grated (1/2 cup)
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup torn fresh basil


  1. For the sauce:
  2. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Once hot add in onions and saute for 1 1/2 minutes then add garlic, 1/4 tsp salt, parsley, oregano and red pepper flakes and saute 30 seconds longer. Stir in crushed tomatoes, sugar, bay leaf and 2 Tbsp fresh basil, then add additional salt if desired and season with pepper to taste. Bring mixture to a simmer then reduce heat to medium-low and allow to simmer 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thickened. Remove from heat and cover saucepan with lid.
  3. For the chicken:
  4. While sauce is simmering, sprinkle each side of the chicken cutlet lightly with salt (about 1/16 tsp per each side), let stand at room temperature 20 minutes. Combine Mozzarella and Provolone cheese in a bowl, set aside. Adjust oven rack 4-inches from broiler element and preheat broiler.
  5. In a shallow dish, whisk together flour and egg until smooth. In a separate shallow dish, toss together Parmesan cheese, Panko bread crumbs, garlic powder, oregano and 1/4 tsp pepper. Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Working with 1 chicken cutlet at a time, dredge chicken in egg mixture coating both sides and allowing excess to run off, then immediately transfer to Parmesan mixture and coat both sides with mixture, while pressing gently to allow crumbs to adhere. Transfer chicken to a plate and repeat process with remaining chicken cutlets. Pour 2 1/2 Tbsp olive oil and vegetable oil into a 10-inch non-stick skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot, add 2 coated chicken cutlets and fry without moving them until bottom is crispy and golden brown, about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes, then using metal tongs rotate to opposite side and cook until golden brown, about 1 1/2 - 2 minutes longer. Transfer fried chicken to a large plate lined with paper towels to drain. Repeat process with remaining 2 pieces of chicken.
  6. Place cutlets on rimmed baking sheet and sprinkle Mozzarella cheese mixture evenly over cutlets. Broil in oven until cheese is melted and beginning to brown, about 3 - 4 minutes (keep a close eye on it, make sure internal temp of chicken reaches 165 degrees). Remove from oven and cover each cutlet with 2 Tbsp marinara sauce. Sprinkle tops evenly with remaining 1/4 cup fresh basil and serve immediately, adding additional sauce while enjoying, as desired.
  7. *freeze chicken breasts for 15 minutes to help slice easier, then lye breast flat and trim into two pieces through the thickness of the breast.
  8. Recipe Source: adapted slightly from Cook's Illustrated, March and April 2013, Issue #121. Pg. 6


  • Wendy: I had been eyeing the same recipe in Cooks Illustrated :) . Yours looks wonderful! I like the sound of the adjustments you made as well. Thanks for testing the Test Kitchen :) February 20, 2013 at 7:18am Reply

  • Laura: Love chicken parm. And, yours looks perfect! February 20, 2013 at 8:29am Reply

  • Jessica@AKitchenAddiction: This looks like perfect chicken parmesan! Love the provolone! February 20, 2013 at 10:16am Reply

  • Diane: It looks amazing…I can’t wait to try it. My husband will be thrilled! February 20, 2013 at 3:51pm Reply

  • Curry and Comfort: Beautiful chicken, beautifully plated. :) February 20, 2013 at 4:26pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks so much =)! February 20, 2013 at 8:26pm Reply

  • Lauren: I make a similar version. I got it from Bobby Flay and have perfected it! Similar home made sauce, Italian seasoned Panko instead of the extra seasonings/Parmesan cheese, and FRESH mozzarella cheese. The technique is everything; dredge, pan fry for a perfect coating, and finish in the oven. Chicken is always juicy and cooked perfectly that way. Yum :) February 20, 2013 at 6:18pm Reply

  • Angela @ Another Bite Please: this recipe looks great…i love cooks illustrated…i just reserved a few of their cookbooks at the library so i can peruse through them to see which ones i actually HAVE to own…as most of the time i want to own them all :-) February 20, 2013 at 7:59pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I do the same thing =). I really wish I owned ever last one of them, over time I guess I will keep collecting. They are simply the best. February 24, 2013 at 9:38am Reply

  • Vicki: I don’t see the flour and egg in the ingredient list. February 21, 2013 at 2:36pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Thanks Vicki =)! February 22, 2013 at 9:58pm Reply

  • Sandy: You should tried their version of Lighter Chicken Parmesan. It is not fried at all but baked in the oven and I must say it is my favourite chicken parmesan anywhere. February 23, 2013 at 4:22pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Sandy – good to know I’ll have to give it a try when I’m feeling healthier =). Thanks! February 23, 2013 at 10:54pm Reply

  • Lissa: I made this tonight….excellent!! The only changes I made was to add some extra red pepper flakes and salt to the sauce. It is the first recipe I have tried from this website, and know I am so excited to try another….maybe tomorrow night…….:) February 26, 2013 at 7:45pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Lissa – I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed this, it’s definitely nice to get good feedback =). I hope you enjoy the other recipes you try! Thanks so much for your comment! February 26, 2013 at 8:56pm Reply

  • Julia: I saw this recipe in Cook’s Illustrated..I like the changes you made. I love chicken parm..can’t wait to try this out. February 27, 2013 at 7:26pm Reply

  • everybody-loves-to-eat: ambrosial-eats: The Best Chicken… | TnyBits: […] The Best Chicken Parmesan […] March 1, 2013 at 3:44pm Reply

  • Yana: Tried this recipe yesterday and it was really good,need to mention that my boyfriend is really picky, he said I can put it in a regular rotation, but as he’s really picky he added: just add more cheese on sauce as well, not only cheese melted on chicken. March 15, 2013 at 9:07pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you and your boyfriend enjoyed this Yana! Thanks so much for your comment! The additional cheese sounds delicious =)! March 16, 2013 at 8:24am Reply

  • alana: This was incredible! def. making this one more! Thanks so much Jaclyn! April 12, 2013 at 8:06am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I’m so glad you loved this Chicken Parmesan Alana! Thanks for another comment, you are awesome! April 14, 2013 at 3:31pm Reply

  • Rosanna: Can I substitute canola oil or 5tbsp olive oil instead of vegetable oil? My daughter is allergic to corn. August 18, 2013 at 6:59pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: Yes either one of the other alternatives should work fine. I hope your family loves it Rosanna! August 19, 2013 at 12:09pm Reply

  • Janet O: I had a lot of trouble with this popping wildly while frying. I think it was the moisture in the cheese. Next time, I would just top with the cheeses, and use just Panko and seasonings. August 19, 2013 at 7:53pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: It shouldnt pop too bad, next time you could do it as you mentioned or reduce your burner temp also a deeper skillet or pot would be helpful with splattering. August 19, 2013 at 8:19pm Reply

  • Leticia: This was absolutely delicious and a HUGE hit at my house. My husband and daughter were asking me for seconds it was so good. Thank you! September 20, 2013 at 9:44am Reply

    • Jaclyn: You’re welcome Leticia! I’m so glad your family enjoyed this! September 24, 2013 at 7:12am Reply

  • Desiree: Jaclyn, any suggestions on what to serve with this dish? I’d normally put it over some angel hair pasta or something along those lines, but we just had pasta last night & I have it on the menu for Sunday (your lasagna roll-ups :)).

    Thanks! October 14, 2013 at 12:03pm Reply

  • donna walters: Thank you sooooo much Jaclyn, keep those recipes comin’ April 1, 2014 at 5:06pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: You’re welcome Donna! Thanks for leaving a comment! April 1, 2014 at 9:32pm Reply

  • Jean: Thank you for posting the recipe and saying where I can find it. My daughter saw the show the other day and as we were serving one of her favorites–chicken marsala, she said she would like chicken parm. I will make it for her birthday, which is coming up soon. Now I have to find the magazine. April 8, 2014 at 1:18pm Reply

  • Ann: Coincidently I watched this being made on Cook’s Country last Saturday and thought it looked delicious! So happy to find your version via a pin on Pinterest. I will be making it very soon! I will use chicken, but I may also try making eggplant parm another time. Thanks for your suggestions for changes to the ‘original’. June 3, 2014 at 3:08pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: I hope you love it as much as I do Ann! June 4, 2014 at 9:29am Reply

  • Alesa: Making this tonight;) looks yummy! Cant wait to try it!! November 5, 2014 at 1:46pm Reply

  • Madeline: I made this for dinner today… my 11 year old who is a picky eater said it’s the best chicken he ever ate in his life! Great recipe… thanks for posting it! January 31, 2015 at 5:36pm Reply

  • Laura: This really was the best chicken parm! My fiancé and I absolutely loved it. The crispy outside and the juicy inside, yum! I used seasoned bread crumbs because that’s what I had in the house so I omitted the herbs in the coating, but I’m sure it had just the same taste. I moved this from my ‘Recipes to try’ board on Pinterest to my ‘Favorite Recipes’ board. Thank you! February 11, 2015 at 1:14pm Reply

  • Kaitlen: This sounds wonderful.. But is that really enough
    Time to cook the chicken all the way? February 12, 2015 at 7:08pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: As long as the chicken is thin enough, but I do always recommend testing with an instant read thermometer to make sure you reach a 165 degree temp. February 23, 2015 at 6:42pm Reply

  • Juan Francisco: I really enjoyed this recipe I’ve made it a couple of times now, I even included in my newest blog post, I gave you all the credits by the way. March 30, 2015 at 11:22am Reply

  • Sandra: I have never taken the time to comment on a recipe I’ve made from an online source but I must say this was delicious! I consider myself a fairly good cook and many online recipes I’ve tried have been disappointing. This was delicious and it got rave reviews and they asked for the recipe. Thank you for posting it. I’m saving it!! and so glad I chose it amongst the [millions of] choices. May 5, 2015 at 6:42am Reply

    • Jaclyn: I am so glad you chose my recipe and loved it Sandra! May 11, 2015 at 4:05pm Reply

  • keri: Can you use tomato paste in place of the crushed tomatoes? May 26, 2015 at 11:10am Reply

    • Jaclyn: Even if you diluted it with water it wouldn’t have the right flavor or consistency so I wouldn’t recommend it here. June 20, 2015 at 10:37pm Reply

  • Rachel: Mmm…. This looks fantastic! Would be a perfect family meal with a side of fresh baked bread and small salad! July 21, 2015 at 9:02am Reply

  • Ashley: This was just delicious! Made it for dinner last night and my boyfriend gave it great reviews. The chicken turned out crunchy yet moist, and I bought an “Italian blend” of cheese with provolone, mozzarella, and fontina for the cheese.

    Thanks for the recipe! December 30, 2015 at 9:20am Reply

  • Jessica: I just made this tonight! It was amazing! Didn’t have provolone. Just like going to a restaurant but better! Thanks! I’ve been looking for a good chicken parm recipe that isn’t baked in the sauce making it soggy. November 11, 2016 at 9:03pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: So glad you liked it Jessica! November 17, 2016 at 9:38am Reply

  • Jana: I cooked this recipe today for my family (including kids age 10, 7 and 2) today and I cannot tell you how much we LOOOOOOVED IT!!! It was just incredible and I thank you so much for sharing! We’ll be making this often! August 20, 2017 at 9:08pm Reply

    • Jaclyn: So glad they loved it! August 23, 2017 at 11:34am Reply

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