Chicken Francese or Francaise is a classic dish that you'll find in almost any Italian restaurant on the east coast of America. If for some reason you don't see it on the menu, ask for it, and the chef will almost certainly make it for you. It's a delicious dish bursting with fresh lemon flavor that's sure to impress. And not only does it taste good, but making it allows you to brush up on some essential Italian cooking techniques.
For this dish, you will need thin chicken cutlets.
If you're up to it, fillet chicken breasts and pound them flat. Alternatively, most stores sell thinly sliced cutlets.
Thin cutlets are important in a lot of Italian dishes.
The ingredients for chicken Francese are fairly straightforward. Shown above are parsley, eggs, butter, lemons, thin-sliced chicken cutlets, and flour. You will also need dry white wine, chicken stock, salt, pepper, and olive oil.
How to make Chicken Francese with step by step instructions
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- Slice 1 lemon into thin slices as shown.
- Set up a chicken station with a plate of thinly sliced cutlets, a bowl of flour, and a bowl of 4 beaten eggs.
- Heat a large flat pan to medium-high. Let the pan get hot then add a bit of butter and a tablespoon of oil. As you fry batches add a touch more oil and butter as required.
- Working quickly, season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides, dredge in flour and shake off excess, and coat in the egg wash. Add the cutlets to the hot oil/butter and fry until golden (about 3 minutes per side).
- Do not move the chicken in the pan, it will release on its own in a few minutes after it forms a crust. Do not crowd the pan, work in batches or use 2 pans for best results.
- Place the cooked cutlets on paper towels to drain and lightly tent with foil to keep warm or place in an oven on the lowest setting (170f).
- Wipe off any excess oil in the pan and add in the lemons. Sear them for 10 seconds then add a ½ cup of dry white wine, 1 cup low sodium chicken broth, and the juice of half a lemon.
- Turn heat to medium-high and cook until the sauce slightly thickens (about 5-7 minutes).
- Cut 2 tablespoons of butter into thin slices and toss in flour. Turn heat to medium-low, then add the floured butter pieces to the sauce.
- Stir the sauce to incorporate the butter. If the sauce is not thick enough just add a bit more flour (just a teaspoon or so, don't overdo it!) and continue to cook for a few more minutes.
- Taste test the sauce. Season the Francese sauce with black pepper and more salt and lemon juice if required.
- When satisfied with the taste and consistency of the sauce add the chicken into the pan and gently coat with the delicious sauce. Sprinkle with parsley and serve. Enjoy!
What to serve with Chicken Francese
A side of rice or Italian bread to mop up the sauce works well. You'll also want some green sides like these:
- The best green salad - A delicious green salad inspired by Via Carota in Manhattan.
- Sauteed broccoli rabe with garlic and oil - Garlic, olive oil, and a touch of hot red pepper.
- Italian broccoli - Tender florets with garlic and olive oil.
- Sauteed garlic spinach - Easy side dish that pairs well with almost any chicken dish.
- Thin Cutlets - Use filleted cutlets that are pounded out nice and flat for the best results. If you don't want to do it, buy thinly sliced cutlets right from the store. It is 100% not recommended to use full chicken breasts.
- Work quickly - After seasoning the cutlets, dredge them in flour and egg wash, then get them right into the pan. Working with a large pan or 2 might be the best option.
- Keep the chicken warm - Set oven to the lowest temperature it will go(~170f) and place the cutlets inside to keep warm. After you make the sauce, just coat the chicken and serve.
- Pan - Getting the chicken to not stick can be a challenge ( adding it to a hot pan with enough butter/oil and not moving it can help). If you want to use a non-stick pan go for it! With a non-stick pan, you will have a much easier time getting the chicken to hold its batter and release from the pan.
- Sauce - To get the perfect sauce consistency, use an adequate amount of flour to thicken. If you still have a thin sauce after rolling the butter in the flour and mixing it in, just use 1-2 teaspoons more flour. When adding flour make sure to cook it for at least a few minutes to not have any raw flour taste. Alternatively, 1-2 teaspoons of cornstarch with 1 ounce of water can be used to make a slurry. Mix and pour the slurry into the sauce right at the end. Let it thicken and serve.
Chicken Francese is best eaten right away, but it can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 days.
Reheat it in the oven on 325 covered, until warm.
Substitutions and additions
Shrimp, pork, and veal all are delicious Francese style.
Adding mushrooms is a nice touch. Some chopped green onions work well too.
Add in some capers, for a nice kick, but then you basically have chicken piccata😉. Either way, these are all nice additions.
More thin-sliced chicken breast recipes
- Creamy sun dried tomato chicken - Thin cutlets with sun dried tomatoes, spinach, and white wine.
- Chicken parmigiana - Breaded and fried cutlets with mozzeralla, garlicky tomato sauce, and Parmigiano Reggiano.
- Chicken pizzaiola - Chicken with peppers and mushrooms in a pizza-style sauce.
- Chicken with capers and tomatoes - pan-seared cutlets with capers, tomatoes, and garlic.
- Chicken marsala - Classic dish with mushrooms in a marsala brown sauce.
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- 1 pound chicken cutlets thin sliced
- 4 large eggs beaten
- 2 large lemons 1 lemon sliced plus juice of half lemon
- 1 cup low sodium chicken stock
- ½ cup dry white wine
- 1 cup flour
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons parsley
- 1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Prepare frying station with chicken, a bowl of flour, and a bowl with beaten eggs.
- Heat a large pan to medium-high heat. Season chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge chicken into flour, shake off excess and dip into egg. Add a bit of butter and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to pan and fry the cutlets. Do not crowd. Work in batches. Use more oil/butter as required for subsequent batches.
- Fry cutlets for 3 minutes per side, then place on paper towels to drain.
- Add sliced lemons to the pan and cook for 10-15 seconds. Add in the white wine, chicken stock, and the juice of half a lemon. Turn heat to medium-high and bring sauce to boil for 5-7 minutes.
- Turn heat to medium-low and add small butter pieces rolled in flour (2 tablespoons worth). If the sauce is too thin add a touch more flour (~1 teaspoon) and continue to cook for 2-3 more minutes. Add a nice bit of black pepper and if necessary adjust salt and/or lemon juice amount.
- When satisfied with the sauce's taste and consistency return the chicken and sliced lemons to the pan and gently coat with the sauce and heat through for 1-2 minutes. Add the chopped parsley on top. Enjoy!
- Use thin-sliced chicken cutlets for best results.
- After frying, keep chicken cutlets warm in oven at lowest temp (~170f).
- Use a nonstick pan to avoid sticking.
- Use a touch more flour (~1 teaspoon) or a slurry of cornstarch (1 teaspoon mixed with 1 ounce water) to thicken sauce to desired consistency. Make sure to cook sauce for a few extra minutes after adding either in.
- Leftovers can be stored for up to 3 days in fridge. Reheat in oven at 325f covered until warm.