The Mouthwatering Way To Take Your Fried Chicken Schnitzel Up A Notch

When you take a piece of chicken, pound it nice and thin to tenderize it, dredge it in flour and egg, cover it in breadcrumbs, and then fry it until it's golden-brown and crispy, that piece of chicken will be hard not to like. And that's even before you pair with a creamy, flavorful sauce or gravy.

That fried piece of chicken is called schnitzel, originating from the German word schnitten, which means "to cut" (per Britannica). While its origin isn't exactly clear, according to Britannica, the thin, fried meat cutlet is "a culinary staple in German-speaking countries and communities." It's believed that German immigrants coming into Texas were the ones to introduce this culinary treat to America.

We're glad they did, because it's downright delicious. And while it's supremely satisfying as-is, there's an extra step in the cooking process that can take fried chicken schnitzel to the next level.

How to make tastier fried chicken schnitzel

A traditional fried chicken schnitzel recipe is pretty simple. It involves pounding boneless, skinless chicken breasts, dredging and breading them so the chicken gets nice and crispy, and then carefully deep-frying the cutlets. But there's something you can do after all of the pounding and before all of the dredging to kick your chicken's flavor into high gear: Marinate it.

Sure, adding a marinade to your chicken will take a bit of extra time. But it'll be worthwhile when you cut into that aromatic meat that's spiced to perfection. And it's up to you how long you marinate the chicken

The good news is, per The Washington Post, your meat doesn't necessarily need to sit overnight for it to benefit from the flavor boost. For schnitzel made from boneless chicken breast, the outlet recommends marinating the meat for 15 minutes to 2 hours.

Why marinating chicken schnitzel makes sense

The reason a marinade does its job quickly is because "marinades are essentially a surface treatment," explains The Washington Post. They can only penetrate the meat so much. But that's a good thing for something like chicken schnitzel. The outlet confirms that marinades work well on lean proteins, including chicken, because you taste the meat's surface before anything else. With a smaller, thinner chicken cutlet, there's a higher ratio of flavored surface.

In addition to the tender, juicy meat and delectable crispiness that a fried chicken schnitzel produces, marinating your chicken first will allow you to bring out even more flavor in each bite. And the best part is, it can be whatever flavor you desire (because what doesn't go well with deep-fried chicken?). You can use creamy bases, such as mayo or yogurt; spices, such as smoked paprika, turmeric, or curry; or herbs, such as mint or dill. 

Whichever flavor profile you want to add to your meal, marinating is the easiest way to step up your schnitzel.