Growing up, Italian chicken cutlets were a weekly staple in our home. My mother would fry them up, my brother and I waiting anxiously to get a bite. There's nothing better than a good cutlet straight from the pan. Pair the cutlets with a simple arugula salad, some extra virgin olive oil, and a squeeze of lemon juice and you have the classic dish known as Chicken Milanese. Perfect for lunch or dinner, just don't forget to shave some good quality Parmigiano Reggiano on top!
These cutlets hold up well so they make great leftovers! Try making chicken parmesan or chicken cutlet sandwiches with your favorite fixings.
Or pile some sauteed broccoli rabe with garlic and oil on top with some fresh mozzarella and broil for a few minutes for a melty, delicious meal.
We usually top ours with some vinegar peppers to add additional flavor, depth and a little bit of heat. So delicious and a hit with the entire family!
For this recipe, you will need thin chicken cutlets. Either fillet chicken breasts and pound flat or buy thin cutlets.
Either way, you want a cutlet that's no thicker than a ½" (thinner the better) and relatively the same thickness all around. You will also need flour, eggs, seasoned Italian breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper.
Also, if you want chicken Milanese you will need a green like arugula, lemon juice, extra virgin olive oil, and a nice block of Parmigiano Reggiano to shave on top of it. But don't worry I'll go over that down below and address any substitutions and additions.
How to make Italian chicken cutlets
Each number corresponds to the numbered written steps below.
- The first step is to prepare your frying oil. In a cast iron or heavy pan heat olive or vegetable oil to 350f. While the oil is heating mix 1 teaspoon kosher salt and a ¼ teaspoon black pepper with a cup of flour in a dish like shown.
- Beat the eggs in another shallow bowl.
- Place the breadcrumbs in another large plate or shallow bowl. You can see the whole setup for frying in pic 3 above.
- Dredge dry chicken cutlets into the flour and shake off the excess.
- Dip the floured cutlet into the egg.
- And finally, dip into the breadcrumbs. Repeat for all the cutlets and place breaded cutlets onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or wax paper.
- To check if your oil is hot enough place a wooden spoon into it and look for small bubbles to form around the oil. If large bubbles form, the oil is too hot. If no bubbles form, the oil is too cold. You could also just use an oil thermometer, check for 350f, and get your spoon out of the oil😂
- Place the cutlets into the hot oil with your fingers pointing away from your body as shown in pic 8. Work in batches and do not crowd the chicken in the pan.
- The chicken cutlets will take approximately 3-4 minutes per side.
- Flip them over when they are nice and golden brown.
- When they are fully cooked through, place on a paper towel-lined plate or wire rack to drain.
- After the cutlets have finished, give a sprinkle more of kosher salt right on top. They will more readily absorb the salt while they are hot.
You could also make chicken parmesan with these cutlets or a chicken parm hero. There really are so many ways to fancy up these cutlets.
How to make Chicken Milanese with arugula salad
Making chicken alla Milanese is as simple as preparing a quick tomato salad. Or make your favorite green salad. I just love peppery arugula for this.
Mix a quick vinaigrette of 3 parts extra virgin olive oil to 1 part fresh lemon juice.
Drizzle it on top of the arugula, give it a toss, and season with salt and pepper. Place one chicken cutlet on top and shave some high-quality parmesan or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese right on top. I like to use a vegetable peeler to get long, thin pieces of cheese.
- Ingredient Amounts - If you need a touch more breadcrumbs, flour, or another egg just add it in as required. The thickness of the chicken cutlets will dictate how much of these ingredients are needed for the breading.
- Thin Chicken - Fillet the chicken cutlets and pound out to no more than ½" thick. Even thinner is better. A lot of grocery stores will sell ultra-thin cutlets these days.
- Oil temp - 350f is the target temp for frying cutlets. An oil thermometer is a good kitchen tool to have. You'll find it comes in handy quite frequently. Whether you're frying up Italian meatballs, zucchini fritters, or some zeppole, an oil thermometer is a good tool to have on hand.
- Prep - Preparing the cutlets ahead of time makes frying them all at once easier. Flour, egg wash, and bread the cutlets, then place on a parchment paper-lined baking tray. You can place this tray in the fridge all day and fry the cutlets whenever you want. The breadcrumbs will better adhere to the chicken and will have less of a chance of falling off after being fried.
- Leftovers - The cooked cutlets can be stored for up to 3 days in the fridge. Reheat them at 325 for 12-15 minutes when ready to serve.
- Breadcrumbs - Occasionally when I have some dry stale bread I'll make my own breadcrumbs and season them up. If you have a food processor it's as simple as adding the dry bread in and mixing it on a coarse grind. But, I always have store-bought breadcrumbs on hand. Most of the time I use Cento or Progresso brand.
- Seasonings - Fresh parsley and herbs like oregano and basil can be added to unseasoned breadcrumbs. Finely grated parmesan cheese is nice as well. Don't forget to season them with salt and pepper too.
More chicken breast recipes
- Chicken Francese - for lemon lovers.
- Chicken Sorrentino - if eggplant and prosciutto are your jam.
- Chicken Piccata - thin cutlets with white wine, capers, and lemon.
- Chicken Valdostana - thin cutlets with mushroom, Fontina cheese, and prosciutto in a white wine sauce.
- Chicken Marsala - a better version with smoked prosciutto.
- Chicken with capers and tomatoes - tangy capers and cherry tomatoes coat seared chicken.
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Watch the video below where Jim will show you how to make this recipe with easy to follow instructions. Some people learn by watching. If you're that type of person, you can find most of our recipes on YouTube and our Facebook Page.
- 1 pound chicken cutlets thin sliced
- 1 cup flour
- 3 large eggs beaten
- 1 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1-2 cups olive oil for frying
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For optional arugula salad
- 1 bunch baby arugula
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice fresh
- 1 ounce parmesan cheese shaved
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- In a large bowl add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and a ¼ teaspoon of black pepper to flour and mix well.
- Prepare frying station with the bowl of flour from step 1, a bowl of beaten eggs, and a large bowl of Italian seasoned breadcrumbs.
- Dredge dry chicken cutlets into flour, shake off excess and place into eggwash. Make sure egg completely coats the flour, then place chicken into breadcrumbs and set breaded chicken cutlets onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet.
- Pour oil 1" high into large cast iron or heavy pan and heat until temp reaches 350f.
- Fry chicken cutlets for 3-4 minutes per side. Work in batches and do not crowd. When cutlets finish cooking set on wire rack or plate lined with paper towels.
- Enjoy chicken cutlets by themselves or serve with an optional arugula salad with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, and shaved parmesan cheese. Enjoy!
- Ingredient Amounts - If you need a touch more breadcrumbs, flour or another egg just add it in as required. The thickness of the chicken cutlets will dictate how much of these ingredients are needed for the breading.
- Thin Chicken - Fillet the chicken cutlets and pound out to no more than ½" thick. The thinner, the better. A lot of grocery stores sell ultra thin cutlets these days.
- Oil temp - 350f is the target temp for frying cutlets. An oil thermometer is a good kitchen tool to have.
- Prep - Cutlets can be breaded ahead of time and stored in the fridge before cooking for up to 24 hours.
- Storing and Leftovers- The cooked cutlets can be stored for up to 3 days in the fridge. Reheat at 325 for 12-15 minutes when ready to serve.