Food 101: How To Make Chicken Cutlets
Possibly one of the greatest, most useful foundation blocks of a balanced diet is the mighty chicken cutlet. Hailing from almost all corners of the world, almost every cuisine on the planet features some variation of a breaded cutlet made from chicken, pork, or veal. In America we’ve come to embrace chicken as the one true cutlet in modern times, since chicken is objectively better than other meats in every way, shape, and form. Plus, not only are they fairly easy to make and pretty good for you health-wise if fried in olive oil, but they’re also amazingly versatile and can be used to make a like eight billion different dishes. Seriously, the sky is the limit if you have a steady supply of chicken and breadcrumbs. Everyone on the planet should know how to whip together a quick batch of chicken cutlets, as if it were a rite of passage (and in some Italian households it is, haha). If you were never scolded or shamed into learning how this late in the game, then you’ll be happy to know it’s something that nearly anyone can make.
Easy Basic Chicken Cutlet Recipe
- 3-5 boneless skinless chicken breasts OR 2-4 pounds of boneless skinless thin-sliced chicken breasts
- 1-2 cups bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup finely grated cheese (parmesan, romano, asiago, etc…)
- 1/2 cup flour (optional)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp salt
- 2 tbsp pepper
- Olive oil, for frying (Substitute vegetable or canola oil if not available)
- If using whole chicken breasts, trim the fat and waste off of each one, then slice in half horiztontally so you’re left with a smaller, leaner cutlet.
- In a small, flat bowl, beat two eggs loosely and add in a splash of water (about 1 tsp) using a fork or a whisk. Continue beating the egg mixture until it has become pale yellow and smooth.
- Combine breadcrumbs, cheese, salt, and pepper into a shallow pan or try and mix until well blended.
- Dip each chicken breast into the egg batter, then into the breading. Scoop breadcrumbs onto the top of the chicken, pat down, and flip over to repeat. Set chicken aside to rest.
- Add olive oil to a large frying pan until it has reached a depth of aproximately 1/3″ in the pan and turn stove onto medium-high heat.
- When oil is hot enough, add in chicken pieces, one by one, to fill pan and begin frying with pieces not touching. Allow the chicken to cook for approximately 5 minutes, until sides are golden brown.
- When the chicken is browned around its edges, flip the chicken over onto its other side and let cook for five more minutes. Once edges are browned again, flip chicken to its original side one more time and allow to cook for approximately two more minutes until it appears thoroughly cooked.
- Remove chicken and place on paper towel-lined dish, and pat dry to absorb excess oil.
- Flour added into the breadcrumbs will produce lighter breading on the cutlets. You can also add it in to bolster your breadcrumbs if you’re running low.
- Keep an eye out for pre-sliced chicken breast at your local butcher or market since it allows you to skip the entire cleaning/cutting process. Sometimes you can find packages of boneless skinless chicken breasts which are labeled as “thin sliced”, and sometimes butchers will even clean your chicken into cutlets FOR you if you ask them to! Be wary however, as the pre-sliced packages tend to be a bit more expensive.
- After slicing your breasts you can even pound them with a meat tenderizer (or your fists if you’re badass) to flatten them out a bit. This makes them more tender, and go further since they’re bigger-looking.
- NEVER dispose of your oil at the end down your sink or in your compost. Cooked oil is a tremendous pain in the ass in that it must be thrown out in your regular garbage.
- You can technically use almost any oil to fry these cutlets, however we recommend olive oil or canola oil as your go-to oil since they’re far healthier than others.
That’s all there is to it! A well-laid kitchen will result in a cooking time of about an hour for these, and it should serve about 2-4 people give or take. As mentioned, frying in olive/canola oil makes these chicken cutlets pretty innocuous health-wise, and at very least not bad for you since contrary to misbelief, frying certain oils does not automatically make them bad for you. Olive oil will produce cutlets low in fat, with almost no saturated fat or cholesterol meaning you can have a few without feeling guilty.
Best of all, chicken cutlets are notorious for saving well. These bad boys will stay good in the fridge for upwards of two weeks! Use them to make sandwiches and other dishes that can be shortened by using leftover chicken breast! Some examples of things you can make using chicken cutlets:
- Chicken parmigiana
- Chicken fried rice
- Chicken katsudon (rice bowl)
- Virtually any sandwich you can imagine
- Chicken and waffles
- Chicken pizzas
- Chicken paillard
- Faux chicken fingersAnd this week’s featured recipe…
Or honestly, you can just eat the damn things on their own. They’re delicious and simple enough to just eat straight. Season with a little salt and pepper after they come out of the frying pan and they don’t even need anything on them. Or if you would so indulge, they’re great dipped in ketchup or honey mustard in the same vein as chicken fingers. No matter how you eat them, they’re not just a cooking staple, they’re a diet staple. Make them once a week, it’s worth it!