I am a big fan of easy chicken recipes like crispy cheddar chicken, chicken caprese sandwich, and baked bone-in chicken. They are lean, healthy, protein-packed, and satisfy the hunger in all of us. And on those occasions when I find myself craving restaurant-style chicken parmesan, but without all the guilt and extra calories, I turn to this easy baked chicken parm with panko.
Why Should You Try This Recipe?
I can assure you this no fry chicken parmesan will give you that same warm, cozy feeling as though it took hours to prepare. I know you’ll love it because:
- It’s crisp, crunchy, and cheesy – all the things you want in a hearty Italian meal without frying.
- This quick chicken parmesan in the oven is ready in around 45 minutes and it is great to serve along with a simple green side salad, garlic bread, or serve with zucchini noodles.
- Two simple techniques ensure moist, juicy, and evenly cooked chicken breasts every time.
- The bonus – it’s super quick to make with already prepared homemade tomato sauce.
The ingredient list for this oven fried chicken parmesan recipe is broken down into two parts – the chicken and the tomato sauce.
For the chicken, gather together panko breadcrumbs (aka Japenese breadcrumbs), olive oil, Parmesan cheese, flour, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, egg whites, water, chicken breasts, shredded mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil.
For the tomato sauce, you will need canned crushed tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, tomato paste, red pepper flakes (optional), and fresh basil.
Ingredient Substitutions & Notes
- Breadcrumbs: While I think what makes this recipe so special is the crunch factor coming from the panko breadcrumbs, you can use traditional or seasoned breadcrumbs. Though please be aware that it will not have that nice crispy coating after it is baked in the oven.
- Chicken Thighs: There have been multiple requests for replacing the chicken breasts with chicken thighs. I found that chicken breasts deliver better taste and texture mainly because of their shape so I wouldn’t recommend using chicken thighs for this recipe.
- Cheese: Swap out the mozzarella cheese for provolone, asiago, or fontina. Or, slice thin medallions of fresh mozzarella cheese to layer on top before melting.
- Seasoning: Add 1-2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning for even more flavor.
- Tomato Sauce: If you are short on time, you can use your favorite jarred marinara sauce instead of making your own.
How to Cut Chicken Breasts in Half
This chicken parm recipe calls for three 6-8 ounces chicken breasts each. As a part of the ingredient prep, you need to cut chicken breasts in half. To do so, simply cut through the middle of the chicken breast horizontally (as if you were going to butterfly the chicken) while holding it firmly on the top of a cutting board. You will end up with two thinner chicken breasts.
This creates chicken breast halves roughly the same size in thickness throughout. Even thickness promotes even (and faster) cooking every time.
How to Make
This is one of those baked homemade chicken parmesan recipes I believe to be that much better than the original. Below are the steps on how to make and how to layer chicken pieces for baking in the oven.
- Toast breadcrumbs: Place the panko bread crumbs in a large non-stick skillet with olive oil and cook until it is golden brown, stirring frequently, 9-10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Prep equipment: Preheat the oven to 450 F degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray it with olive oil spray or brush it with oil.
- Set up the breading station: First shallow dish – Mix flour, salt, black pepper, and garlic powder. Second shallow dish – Place the egg whites and water and whisk until incorporated. Third shallow dish – Stir in the Parmesan cheese with the now cooled panko.
- Coat chicken: Pat-dry each chicken cutlet with a paper towel. Dredge the cutlets into flour (shake off the excess flour), second, dip chicken into the egg wash and then lastly, coat with panko and Parmesan breadcrumbs. Press the panko mixture to coat. Place it on the wire rack. Repeat the same process for the rest of the chicken cutlets.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or the internal temperature of a chicken breast inserted with a digital thermometer reaches 165 degrees F.
- While the chicken cooks, make the tomato sauce: Saute the olive oil, minced garlic cloves, tomato paste, and optional red pepper flakes in a large skillet over medium heat. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Cook, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the fresh basil.
- Assemble chicken parmesan: Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven. Place 2 tablespoons of tomato sauce on each chicken cutlet and top it off with 2 tablespoons (or more) mozzarella cheese. Return to the oven and broil until the cheese melts, about 5 more minutes.
- Serve: Sprinkle each chicken cutlet with ribbons of basil and grated cheese and serve.
What To Serve it With?
You can easily turn this baked panko chicken parmesan into a whole meal by serving it with a number of dishes. I rounded up all my favorite side dishes in a round-up post and published it under What To Eat with Chicken Parmesan, but here are a few sides to get you started:
Here are a few of my favorite chicken parm recipe variations to truly make it your own:
- For a crowd: Double or triple the recipe for a healthy and homemade Italian dinner party.
- Without mozzarella (Skinny & Low Calorie): Omit the cheese completely and finish with fresh basil.
- Without eggs: Replace the egg whites and water with 1 cup milk instead.
- Kid friendly: Cut the chicken breast halves into thinner strips (aka chicken tenders) for a fun and festive meal for the whole family. I would even recommend keeping some extra sauce on the side for dipping.
- With Italian breadcrumbs (without panko): Replace the panko breadcrumbs with seasoned Italian breadcrumbs.
- Ragu: Take a little help from the grocery store with store-bought jarred tomato or marinara sauce such as Ragu or Rao’s.
- With chicken thighs: Technically, you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts in this recipe. However, due to the difference in shape the end product might not be as crispy and flat.
- Set a wire rack over the baking sheet. This ensures the hot air from the oven circulates all the way around the surface of the chicken. Be sure to brush it with oil to avoid the breaded chicken breasts sticking to the wire rack. This wire rack (aka cooling rack) (affiliate link) is the one I use and recommend.
- Set up the breading station in order – flour, whisked egg whites, breadcrumb mixture, prepared baking sheet – for a seamless prep station.
- The tomato sauce that we make in the recipe below makes more than you need to top off the parmesan chicken. You can use the rest as a pasta sauce.
Other Chicken Recipes You’ll Enjoy:
- Chicken Fricassee
- Chicken Lo Mein Recipe
- Chicken and Potato Bake
- Healthy Creamy Chicken and Rice Soup
- Chicken with Lemon and Olives
- Air Fryer Chicken Legs
Oven Baked Chicken Parmesan Recipe
For The Chicken
- 1 1/2 cups panko
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 oz. freshly grated Parmesan cheese (approximately 1/2 cup)
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 3 egg whites
- 1 tablespoon water
- Vegetable cooking spray
- 3 large skinless chicken breasts sliced into cutlets – (6-8 ounces each)
- 3/4 cup mozzarella cheese shredded
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
For The Tomato Sauce
- 2 cans crushed tomatoes* (14 oz. each)
- 4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil leaves
- Place the panko in a large non-stick skillet with olive oil and cook until it is golden brown, stirring frequently, 9-10 minutes. Set aside and let it cool.
- Preheat the oven to 450 F Degrees. Cover a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray it with vegetable oil cooking spray.
- Arrange 3 shallow bowls (or pie plates) side by side. First shallow dish: Mix flour, garlic powder, salt and black pepper. Second shallow dish: Place the egg whites and water and whisk until incorporated. Third shallow dish: Stir in the Parmesan cheese with, now cooled, panko.
- Pat-dry each chicken cutlet with a paper towel.
- First, dredge the cutlets into flour (shake off the excess flour), second, dip into the egg whites and then lastly, coat with panko and Parmesan breadcrumbs. Press the panko mixture to coat. Place it on the wire rack.
- Lightly spray the top of each chicken with vegetable oil spray prior to placing it in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes or the internal temperature of a chicken breast inserted with a thermometer reaches 165 degrees F.
- While it is baking, make the tomato sauce: Cook the oil, garlic, tomato paste, red pepper flakes in a large skillet (in medium heat), until it coats the bottom of the pan. Stir in the crushed tomatoes and season it with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is thickened, about 15-20 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the basil.
- Once the chicken is cooked, remove it from the oven. Place 2 tablespoons of the tomato sauce on each chicken cutlet and top it off with 2 tablespoons (or more) mozzarella cheese. Return it into the oven and broil until the cheese melts, for 5 more minutes.
- To serve, sprinkle each chicken cutlet with ribbons of basil and Parmesan cheese.
- If you can’t find crushed tomatoes, you can buy diced tomatoes and process them in the food processor.
- The tomato sauce makes more than you need to top off the parmesan chicken. You can use the rest as a pasta sauce.
- To Make Ahead: You can make the tomato sauce up to 4 days in advance and store it in a tight-fitting jar. I would recommend working on the rest of the recipe on the day you are preparing to make it.
- Storage Instructions: Bring breaded chicken cutlets to room temperature and place them in an airtight container. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. When ready to serve, place chicken parm in the oven that is preheated to 350 F for 10-15 minutes or until it is warmed thoroughly. If you have it, you can add in more cheese and tomato sauce on top.
- Freezer: Place the boneless baked chicken breasts in a freezer-safe container with strips of parchment paper between each layer. Freeze for up to 1 month. The tomato sauce can be stored in a freezer-safe glass jar and frozen for up to 4 months. With this being said, please know that the thawed and heated panko chicken parmesan will not be as crispy as the one that is freshly baked.
- This Baked Chicken Parm recipe was originally in 2013. It is updated with new photos and helpful information in Jan 2022. There were some minor edits done to the original recipe after testing it several times.