“Best” Chicken Parmesan

Normally I don’t like Chicken Parmesan because the marinara sauce feels too heavy and overcooked. So I was excited to try this recipe after seeing the photo on Chris Kimball’s website; the tomatoes looked fresh and bright. However, the reality is that he uses the same can of crushed tomatoes that I’ve always used to make my red sauce. On the plus side, the generous amount of fresh Parmesan in the breading adds great flavor. So it’s better than average, but the not the “best”. The continued use of canned tomatoes leaves in place the exact thing that I dislike about Chicken Parmesan. My red-sauce loving son gave this 5-stars, but I can only give it 3-1/2.

Better than average, but not the "best"

Better than average, but not the “best”


  1. Just as every sauce recipe that I’ve ever made, this recipe uses a whole, 28-oz can of crushed tomatoes. I only used about 1/4 of the sauce; but the sauce was so inexpensive to make (about $1.25) that there is no reason to make less. My son, who hasn’t eaten jarred red sauce in 3 years, was happy with the leftovers.
  2. I didn’t use the recommended Fontina, because I don’t generally use it and didn’t want to buy it for just 2 ounces. Instead I used 4 ounces of mozzarella.

Rating: 3-1/2 stars.
Cost: $7. ($3 of which was the basil)
How much work? Medium.
How big of a mess?  Medium.
Started: 4:30 pm. Dinner Time:  6:00.

Chris Kimball’s original recipe is here.  The descriptions of how I prepared it today are given below:

Sauce Ingredients:
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves
Kosher salt and pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Pinch red pepper flakes
28-oz can crushed tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon sugar
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped fresh basil

Chicken Ingredients:
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1-lb total)
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2-oz mozzarella cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
2-oz ounces fontina cheese, shredded (1/2 cup)
1  large egg
1 tablespoon flour
1-1/2-oz Parmesan cheese, grated (3/4 cup)
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup torn fresh basil

  1. Lay chicken breasts flat on cutting board and freeze them for 15 minutes so that they become firm.
  2. Trim away any excess fat and cut breasts in half horizontally to form two thin cutlets. Use a meat pounder to flatten only the fat ends; leaving a uniform 1/2″-thickness. Evenly sprinkle both sides of chicken with a total of 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. Allow to sit at room temperature for 20 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. Peel and mince the garlic cloves. Place a medium-size sauce pan over medium burner and pre-heat 1 tablespoon live oil until it begins to shimmer. Add pressed garlic cloves, 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano, and the pinch of red pepper flakes. Saute for 30 seconds, then add crushed tomatoes and 1/4 teaspoon sugar. Increase burner to high until it reaches a simmer, then reduce to medium-low and simmer for 20 minutes until the sauce has thickened. Remove from heat, add chopped basil and 1 more teaspoon of olive oil. Adjust season with salt and pepper according to your taste. Cover the pot to keep it warm while you finish cooking the chicken.
  4. While the sauce is cooking prepare your remaining ingredients. Shred your mozzarella and fontina, combine in a small bowl, and set aside until step 7. In a pie plate, whisk 1 egg and 1 tablespoon flour together until it becomes smooth. Grate your Parmesan cheese directly into a second pie plate, then combine with panko, garlic powder, oregano, and ground black pepper. Set an oven rack about 4″ from the broiler element and begin pre-heating.
  5. Use paper towels to pat the chicken dry. Coating on piece of chicken at a time, dredge through egg mixture and allow any excess egg to drip back into the pie plate. Put in bread crumb mixture and gently press so that the coating adheres to the chicken. Put coating chicken on a large plate, and continue coating the remaining chicken.
  6. Place in a 10″-nonstick skillet over medium-high burner. Pre-heat 1/3 cup vegetable oil until it begins to shimmer. Add two pieces of chicken at a time into oil, and cook for 2 minutes per side without moving. Carefully flip the chicken using tongs and cook the second side for 2 more minutes. Remove cooked chicken to a plate lined with paper towels. Cook the second batch of chicken.
  7. Put the cooked chicken on a foil-lines baking sheet and spread cheese evenly trying to cover as much of the chicken as possible. Broil for 3 to 4 minutes until the cheese has melted and is beginning to brown. Put chicken on serving platter and top with 2 tablespoons of sauce per chicken. Sprinkle with minced basil and serve immediately. Pass additional sauce separately.

5 Responses to “Best” Chicken Parmesan

  1. Anna says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this one. I think the problem I have with anything-parmesan is that it tends to be a) too salty and b) too heavy because of both the sauce and the coating.

    The only solution I can see is to deconstruct the whole thing with fresh tomatoes and herbs, for a lighter sauce, then using just enough really good parmesan to highlight the dish. Shaved over the top, not lost in the coating.

    We’re seriously low-sodium in our house these days, so it isn’t an experiment I can work on any time soon.

  2. Stephen says:

    Hey, I highly disagree. I believe this is the best recipe for chicken parm. Besides living in the Northeast, we never have good tomatoes, even during the summer they are borderline!

  3. Bali Tour says:

    Look Delicious 🙂
    Thanks for the recipe

  4. no Italian chefs add sugar to the tomato sauce, what’s the deal??? canned tomatoes are NOT that acidic

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