Chicken cutlets are the perfect solution to quick weeknight meals.

These thin pieces of chicken cook quickly and evenly, compared to full-sized breasts, and are perfect for searing, breading, and frying. We'll show you how to turn chicken breasts into chicken cutlets for quick and easy cooking.

Raw Chicken Breasts
Credit: Meredith

What Are Chicken Cutlets?

A chicken cutlet is simply a chicken breast that has been cut in half horizontally to make two thinner pieces. Often, the cutlet is also pounded out to make it even thinner so it cooks even quicker and more evenly.

Why go through the trouble of cutting chicken breasts into cutlets? Take a look at the chicken breasts in the photo above. You'll see that they have a thick end and a thin end. The difference in the thickness means one end will be cooked while the other end is still raw inside. But by making cutlets, you have greater control over how evenly the chicken will cook and the better your dish will turn out.

How to Slice Chicken Breasts Into Cutlets

The trickiest part of the whole process is cutting the breast in half horizontally. To make the job easier, be sure you use a sharp knife: this will help cut, and not tear, the chicken. Don't worry if you make a few mistakes along the way. Practice makes perfect.

Tip for Success: Try freezing the chicken breast for ten to 15 minutes before preparing, to make slicing easier.

1. Horizontal Slice

slicing the chicken breast in half
Credit: Meredith

The first step is to carefully slice the breast in half horizontally. Remove the chicken tender if it's still attached (it's the small piece of chicken loosely attached to the underside of the chicken breast) and place the breast on a cutting board. Hold the breast flat with the palm of your hand, and using your sharp knife, carefully slice through the center horizontally (parallel to the cutting board). Sometimes it's necessary to open the chicken like a book and make one final cut to separate the two halves.

Tip for Success: Placing the chicken close to the edge of your cutting board makes the slicing easier.

2. Pound It Out

chicken cutlet under a sheet of plastic wrap and pounded out with a meat mallet
Credit: Meredith

After you cut a chicken breast into cutlets, the next step is to flatten the cutlets to an even thickness. It's easy to do and takes only a minute or two.

  • Place the cutlets between two sheets of plastic wrap, or inside a sealable plastic bag. Spread the plastic tight, so it doesn't get pounded into the meat and you don't have unsightly wrinkles.
  • Using the smooth side of a meat mallet, a rolling pin, a small skillet, or even the palm of your hand, gently pound the cutlets into even thickness, about ¼-inch-thick. This allows the chicken cook quickly and evenly. Take your time so that you don't make any holes in your cutlets.

Tip for Success: Instead of pounding in an up-and-down motion, try using slight sideways movements to gently flatten the chicken. Work from the center out.

3. How to Cook Chicken Cutlets

This recipe for Simple Chicken Parmesan is a good example of how to use chicken cutlets in recipes.

Traditionally made with veal, Sandy's Chicken Saltimbocca uses chicken cutlets wrapped in sage leaves and prosciutto. Serve this alongside sautéed green beans, mashed potatoes, or noodles.

Sandy's Chicken Saltimbocca
Credit: Allrecipes Magazine

Chicken Katsu is a Japanese-style fried chicken. Served with special tonkatsu sauce, this crisp chicken is a hit with kids. Serve it alongside steamed white or brown rice and some pickled cucumbers.

Chicken Katsu
Credit: Snacking in the Kitchen

A favorite from Germany, this healthier oven-friendly version of Chicken Schnitzel uses less oil. Before making your schnitzel, whip up a batch of spaetzle or German potato salad.

Baked Chicken Schnitzel
Credit: Buckwheat Queen

Chicken Marsala is a classic dish that's perfect for unexpected company. Chicken cutlets are lightly coated and simmered alongside mushrooms in a Marsala wine sauce. For a creamier sauce, add a splash of heavy cream or half-and-half.

Chicken Marsala Florentine
Credit: Kim's Cooking Now