By Carl Hanson
March 05, 2015

Chicken Parmesan has the potential to achieve that rare dinner feat: Pleasing everyone. I think I know why. It's crave-worthy food for adults that kids can also love. Because, deconstructed, chicken Parmesan is comprised of three foods that kids actually want to eat:

  • Chicken tenders
  • Spaghetti and tomato sauce
  • Cheese pizza

And Chef John has devised a way to reconstruct Chicken Parmesan that does a particularly good job of combining elements of all three into one irresistible whole.

"My version is a little different than what they do in the restaurants," explains Chef John, "with less sauce and a crispier crust." The key is restraint.

Chef John's Chicken Parmesan | Photo by Allrecipes

1. Pound the boneless chicken breasts out to an even width so they cook evenly. Basically, you're pounding the thick part down to the size of the thin part, about a half-inch thick.

2. Salt and pepper the chicken well. Then don't bother with salting the flour and bread crumbs.

3. Use Panko bread crumbs mixed with a little finely grated Parmesan cheese. When you fry the breaded chicken, the Parmesan will give it an extra crunch and exciting flavor.

4. Before frying, let the breaded chicken sit on the counter for about 15 minutes to allow the coating to adhere to the chicken breast.

5. THE KEY: Don't drown the poor breaded and fried chicken in sauce and smother it in cheese. Too much of a good thing is too much. You did all the work creating a crisp coating, why make it soggy with too much sauce and cheese?

Chef John's recipe keeps it crispy.

Simple Chicken Parmesan | Photo by abapplez

If the above method seems a little worky, Chef John feels your pain. So he's invented a shortcut recipe. It's a saucy baked version, done casserole-style. Very quick and super easy.

The secret? You top the casserole with garlic croutons. No breading, no frying. The croutons create a crust that's crunchy on top and chewy on the bottom. This is also one for people who don't thrill to cleaning up dishes.

Here's Chef John's shortcut version: The Best Parmesan Chicken Bake

This quick and easy chicken Parmesan is baked, not fried. How do we get around frying? The secret is garlic croutons that you sprinkle on top! This little crouton trick makes the recipe easy and fast—and the result is a tasty crust that's crispy on the top and chewy on the bottom, as the croutons absorb some of the tomato sauce. See how Chef John does it.

Check out our complete collection of Chicken Parmesan Recipes.