Not Your Cafeteria’s Chicken Parmesan


It seems like cafeterias want to make us avoid chicken parmesan forever; the other leads us to believe that we have to go out and pay $12-$15 for a fried chicken breast covered in sauce and cheese. Both are incorrect.

Whether you are looking for something to impress that special someone, showcase your culinary genius to all your friends or simply satisfy your cravings for Italian food, chicken parmesan is your solution.

The dish combines the saltiness of parmesan cheese with the sweetness of marinara sauce to transform a simple piece of chicken into a savory and satisfying Italian masterpiece.

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes

Servings: 2-4


2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1/4 cup half and half (or 1 egg)
3/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 cup marinara sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Olive oil
Hot sauce (optional)


1. Preheat oven to 350°F.

2. Heat one tablespoon olive oil in pan over medium heat on stove.

3. Remove excess fat from chicken breasts. If one side is much thicker, you will need to pound out the chicken to ensure that it will cook evenly. The pounded pieces may become too large and need to be cut to make smaller cutlets.

Photo by Hannah Cather

4. Pour the half and half into a small bowl (or if you’re using egg, whisk egg in a small bowl). To enhance the flavor of the breading, add a drop or two (and only a drop or two!) of your favorite hot sauce to liquid and combine.

5. Make sure your Parmesan is finely grated. If not (some bagged varieties have long shreds), give it a rough chop. On a plate, mix breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese.

Photo by Hannah Cather

6. Create an assembly line of chicken, liquid and breadcrumbs. Dip chicken into half and half or egg (make sure to shake off extra liquid.) Roll the chicken in the breadcrumbs to create an even coating.

Photo by Hannah Cather

7. Place chicken into pan. If oil does not sizzle when the chicken touches the pan, it’s not hot enough. Cook until the breading is golden brown, and then flip to cook on other side. This will take approximately 1 to 1 1/2 minutes per side.

Photo by Hannah Cather

8. Transfer chicken to an oven-safe dish, preferably a casserole dish. Spoon desired amount of sauce over chicken (I like mine pretty saucy). While spaghetti sauce is acceptable if that’s what you have on hand, marinara sauce is sweeter and better complements the saltiness of the Parmesan and breadcrumbs.

Photo by Hannah Cather

9. Top with shredded mozzarella.

Photo by Hannah Cather

10. Bake for 35 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165°F. The cheese will begin to bubble and brown.

Photo by Hannah Cather

11. Serve with pasta (I often use the remainder of the marinara) or a salad.

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