Crispy Chicken Cutlets

emphasis on the crispy

Mmmmmmm crispy chicken cutlets, how could you not like it? Fried in a generous amount of olive oil, lotsa crunch, a little greasy, salty. Superb.

This is one of the only applications of a chicken breast I’m enthusiastic about. If ya didn’t know, I’m more of a thigh girl. And while you can certainly do this with a thigh, and I do, it’s a bit more of a fuss to pound it out and get it evenly thin, so we’ll be dealing with the breast for now. My main problem with chicken breast is that it gets easily dried out and has no flavor, but the fact that this is fried and aggressively seasoned with salt helps resolve both those issues.

This crispy chicken cutlet can certainly be eaten alone with a wedge of lemon, like I did here, or served with a simple salad on top, a base for chicken parm if you’re into that, whatever. Once you have that crispy chicken I trust you’ll figure it out.

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fresh breadcrumbs How to Make Crispy Chicken Cutlets
This is one of the only applications of a chicken breast I’m enthusiastic about. If ya didn’t know, I’m more of a thigh girl. And while you can certainly do this with a thigh, and I do, it’s a bit more of a fuss to pound it out and get it evenly thin, so we’ll be dealing with the breast for now.
Chicken Breast
Butterflied Chicken Cutlet
Pounded Chicken Cutlet
Breading a Chicken Cutlet
Making Chicken Cutlets
Breaded Chicken Cutlet
How to Make Crispy Chicken Cutlets
Crispy Chicken Cutlets
Crispy Chicken Cutlets
Breaded Chicken Cutlet

I like any recipe using bread crumbs cause I can use up those last bits of sourdough bread I have stashed in the freezer. And, while I’m a fan of making my own bread crumbs for these crispy chicken cutlets, you can certainly buy some. I would just recommend getting panko style breadcrumbs. That’ll give you the crispy crunch you’re looking for here. You don’t want those store bough bread crumbs that have the texture of sand, it’s too fine, you need the texture of panko or the fresh stuff.

Where did chicken cutlets originate? Are they Italian? Or Japanese?

The exact origins of the chicken cutlet are not well-documented, but breaded and fried cutlets can be traced back to various cultures. In Italy, a similar dish called “cotoletta” is made with veal or chicken, breaded and fried. It’s believed to have originated in Milan, hence “Chicken Milanese.”

In Japanese cuisine, a similar dish called “tonkatsu” is made with breaded and fried pork cutlets. Tonkatsu is believed to have been introduced to Japan in the late 19th century by Western influences, possibly from European breaded cutlet dishes.

In general, the concept of pounding meat thin, coating it in breadcrumbs, and frying it can be found in many cultures around the world. It is a technique that likely developed independently in different regions as a way to tenderize tougher cuts of meat and add flavor and texture.

What ingredients do I need to make crispy chicken cutlets?
Bread crumbs

Fresh Breadrumbs

Fresh breadcrumbs are made from, you guessed it, fresh bread. You can throw your fresh bread into the food processor and pulse till you have a size and texture you like. I like a larger crumb for this since the bigger bread crumbs get extra crispy when they’re all fried up. But it’s a total preference thing. Make them how you like. This is also one of the reason why you would want to make your own fresh breadcrumbs, you can have full control over the size, texture and type of bread you’re using.


Panko breadcrumbs are a type of breadcrumb that originated in Japan. They are made from bread without crusts, which is coarsely ground into airy, large flakes. Panko breadcrumbs are lighter and flakier than regular breadcrumbs, and they have a coarser texture. They are commonly used in Japanese cuisine as a crispy coating for fried foods like tonkatsu (breaded pork cutlets) and tempura. You can easily find them in your grocery store and I would recommend these to any other breadcrumbs you see available. They are superior.

Chicken Breast or Chicken Thighs

Chicken breasts are leaner and have a milder flavor compared to chicken thighs. They also contain less fat, so they can dry out and become tough much faster than a thigh would. But the quick cooking for this recipe, and the fact that we’re pan frying them, helps to keep the chicken breast moist.

Chicken thighs, on the other hand, are juicier, more flavorful, and have a higher fat content compared to chicken breasts. The higher fat content makes them more forgiving during cooking, as they are less likely to dry out. They are also usually less expensive compared to chicken breasts.

What is a cutlet

A chicken cutlet is a thin slice of chicken breast that has been tenderized, usually by pounding, to an even thickness. Chicken cutlets are versatile and can be cooked in various ways, such as breaded and fried, grilled, sautéed, or baked. They are a popular choice for quick and easy meals and can be served as a main dish, sliced and added to salads, or used as a filling for sandwiches and wraps.

Olive Oil

You want to use an oil that is labeled “virgin” or simply “olive oil”. You do not want to be using extra virgin olive oil here. You can also use any other neutral flavored oil you like. Just make sure it is one that can take high heat since you’re essentially frying in it.

Why are my crispy chicken cutlets rubbery? Or tough?

This can happen for two reasons here. The first being you overcooked the chicken. These chicken cutlets are very thing and cook quickly. Leave them to cook on the first side, and leave them until they start to turn almost completely opaque. Then you can flip them and let them cook for another 2-3 minutes. That way you know you will have cooked them all the way through, but not overcooked them. And if you are in any doubt you can temp them, make sure they are 165°F or just slice through one and make sure none of the flesh is pink. The other is that you didn’t pound the chicken thin enough. This helps to tenderize the meat, along with helping it cook quickly. So make sure it’s thin, like 1/4″ thin.

How long do I cook my chicken cutlets?

These should only take about 4 or so minutes per side. So, all in all, the cutlet shouldn’t take any longer than 10 minutes to cook.

Can I use chicken thighs instead of breasts?

Yes! Honestly, please do. I prefer a thigh over a breast any day of the week. But I will say that this and chicken tinga are just about the only two ways I really care about eating a chicken breast. These crispy chicken cutlets are tender, because you’ve thinly sliced and pounded them, which helps them cook quickly and evenly. So, you get a great texture and super moist meat. But, just imagine how much better it could taste if it was a thigh.

What to serve my crispy chicken cutlets with?

A few of my favorite suggestions would be to make a Chicken Cutlet Sandwich, Caesar Salad. Serve them topped with a Citrus Calad. Or simple just some arugula, parmesan and lemon.

Can I use these crispy chicken cutlets to make chicken parm?

Yeah. 100%. Please do!

crispy chicken cutlet
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5 from 1 vote

Crispy Chicken Cutlets

A basic recipe for how to make delicious crispy chicken cutlets. Great served with a squeeze of lemon or topped with bright, crisp salad.
Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time10 minutes
Total Time25 minutes
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: breaded chicken, chicken cutlets, fried chicken cutlets
Servings: 2


  • boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 c bread crumbs fresh or panko are great
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 c flour
  • salt
  • olive oil not extra virgin
  • lemon wedge
  • coarse salt maldon is great


  • First step, get your bread into crumb form. Go about this however you like, either get a few torn up pieces into the food processor or buy some good quality panko, either way it’ll be delish.
  • Next up, prep that chicken. You can certainly buy some thin cutlets if you like, or even better, get your butcher to do it for you. I like to do this myself, just cause. First, get it butterflied. Get the breast on your cutting board, place one hand firmly on top to hold it in place, and with you other knifed hand, slowly cut that breast in half, just keep the knife parallel to the cutting board and go slowly. You can either cut all the way through if you want smaller cutlets, or almost all the way through, like I did here, to get a nice big one.
  • You then want to pound that breast out to get it even thinner. It’ll also make the the cutlet super tender. Once again, go slowly here, there’s no rush. I like to put my chicken between two pieces of parchment paper and with a meat pounder, small pot or mini cast iron, start pounding it with a down and out motion, you’re thinning the meat here, not smashing it to a pulp. So while you need to be firm, you also want to be gentle at the same time. I like to aim for a little under a centimeter, but do whatever you have the patience for. Just try and get the entire cutlet to the same thickness, that way it’ll cook evenly.
  • Ok, the fussy chicken bit is done. Now you can get your flour, eggs and breadcrumbs into separate containers so we can start coating the chicken. Make sure to dry off your super thin chicken cutlets and season both sides with some salt. Then dip them into the flour, shake off any excess, then right into the beaten eggs, letting any excess run off, and then into your breadcrumbs. Be sure to get lots of breadcrumbs on everything, press em in a bit, that’s the good stuff.
  • Now that your chicken is all coated, it’s time to fry. Get a large sauté pan on medium-high heat. Once it’s hot add in a generous bit of olive oil, or whatever other oil you want to use, and once it’s doing that nice shimmer thing hot oil does, gently lay that chicken cutlet in. Be sure to shake the pan at first to make sure nothing is sticking and you have the bottom fully coated with oil. When you see the edges getting golden brown and the top part of the chicken turning opaque, you can go ahead and flip. Cook for another few minutes until both sides are a deep golden brown.
  • Pull the chicken from your pan and place it on some paper towel to drain off any excess oil and be sure to season with some coarse salt right away. You want the salt to stick to the hot chicken. You can also go ahead and wipe out any remaining bits from your pan if you’re making another breast, add in some fresh oil and get frying again.
  • I like to serve this with a nice lemon wedge, to brighten everything up, or I like to serve some salad on top, specifically a fennel salad but that’s for another post…Eat up!
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2 thoughts on Crispy Chicken Cutlets

    1. I would say about 4 mins per side. I pound them pretty thin so they cook quickly and don’t dry out. I typically look to make sure the edges are becoming opaque and no longer pink before I flip it, just to make sure I don’t end up with a cutlet that’s raw on the inside.

5 from 1 vote (1 rating without comment)

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