October 01, 2017

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. Ready to learn?

Photo by Meredith

1. Tools of the Trade

A chicken cutlet is simply a chicken breast that has been cut in half and pounded to an even thickness. The trickiest part of the whole process is cutting the breast in half. Make 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.

2. Splitting the Difference

The first step is to carefully slice the breast in half horizontally. Remove the chicken tender and place the breast on a cutting board. Hold it 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. Make sure to watch out and just cut the chicken, not your hand!

Photo by Meredith

3. It's A Wrap

Protect your chicken and pounding implement from each other. Place the cutlets between two sheets of plastic wrap, or inside a sealable plastic bag.

Tip for Success: Spread the plastic tight, so it doesn't get pounded into the meat and you don't have unsightly wrinkles.

4. A Penny for A Pound

Now comes the fun part! Using the smooth side of a mallet, rolling pin, a small skillet, or even your palm, gently pound the cutlets into even thickness, about 1/4-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.

Photo by Meredith

5. Ready to Cook

The hard work is all done, and now it's time to whip up your favorite recipe:

Just like the name implies, Simple Chicken Parmesan is really simple, but so delicious. To make it even easier for a quick weeknight meal, skip making homemade sauce and use a jar of store-bought marinara and buy pre-grated cheese.

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

Photo by Allrecipes

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.

Photo by 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.

Photo by 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.

Photo by Kim's Cooking Now

Room for More? Learn some great chicken tips from a master chef, turn leftovers into healthy main dish salads, or discover some of our best ever chicken recipes.