Chicken Parmesan and Mozzarella Sticks are two of my most favorite things in the world. And it makes perfect sense since they have three major things in common: an oil-fried breadcrumb crust, cheese and marinara sauce. Now imagine the two combined into one dish where this will be the original recipe that spawns a slew of copycats.
Friends, as I was sitting on my couch after a few cocktails one late night, a lightbulb went off (literally – Alexa turns it off late at night) and I immediately went to work on a groundbreaking new recipe, where you have a Chicken Parm that’s perfectly pan-fried with a glorious, golden-brown crust and then given an additional breadcrumb and cheese treatment not only on the top, but also the bottom! I’m talking a melty, caramelized cheese bottom that will be talked about for days to come. This is, bar none, the greatest Chicken Parmesan I’ve ever had because it’s not just Chicken Parmesan, it’s Mozzarella Stick Chicken Parmesan! And you’re going to have it on your table in only 30 minutes.
Watch The Video!
Dredge (Coat) The Chicken Cutlets
Pan-Fry The Chicken
Prepare the The Assembly
Assemble The Mozzarella Stick Chicken Parmesan
Prepare The Sauce
Serve The Chicken
The Taste Test
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups unseasoned Panko breadcrumbs (NOTE: they MUST be Panko for optimal results)
- 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for topping
- 2 teaspoons dried parsley flakes
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 2-3 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into cutlets about 1/4-1/2 inch thick (I use 4 breasts at about 1/2-inch thick)
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) salted butter
- 16 slices mozzarella cheese (for best results, it should be deli-style like Sargento’s where it’s sliced as thin as American cheese, not thicker and creamier like Polly-O); use 4 slices per chicken cutlet
- 1-2 cups marinara sauce (use your favorite jarred brand - see Jeff's Tips)
- Pasta of your choice, cooked separately according to package instructions, if you wish to serve it over pasta
- Hero roll of your choice, if you wish to serve it as a hero
- Preheat the oven to 425°F and set-up the dredging line (Stations A, B & C, in that order, with C being closest to the stove): A: Place the flour on a large plate. B: Crack the eggs in a shallow bowl and lightly beat with a fork. C: Place the breadcrumbs, Parmesan, parsley flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt and pepper in a large bowl and whisk together until combined.
- Add 1/2 cup of the olive oil and the butter to a nonstick 4-5-quart sauté pan (one with higher walls) and bring to medium-high heat. Once the butter's melted, tilt the pan so the butter and oil are evenly combined and reduce the heat to medium-low.
- Time to bread the chicken! But let’s make sure to bread the cutlets only just before pan frying each batch of them (2 at a time). In assembly line fashion, place each chicken cutlet in the flour mixture (station A) and dredge both sides until fully coated, then coat both sides in the egg (station B), and finally dredge in the breadcrumb mixture (station C) on both sides until fully coated. (NOTE: You'll have leftover breadcrumbs. Set the bowl aside and we'll come back to them in Step 5).
- Add the chicken directly from the assembly line to the heated pan (this is why having Station C closest to the stove makes the most sense). You'll likely get two cutlets in at a time, so if using 4 cutlets, you'll do this in 2 batches, and so on. Cook on each side for about 2-2 1/2 minutes, but check on the cutlets every 30-45 seconds or so to make sure the breadcrumb crust doesn't burn. Rather than 2-2 1/2 minutes on each side continuously, you can flip it a couple times every 30-45 seconds over 4-5 minutes to make sure of this. When done, the crust of the cutlets should be mostly golden-brown in color with a few darker specks or shades here and there. (NOTE: If using cutlets thicker than 1/4-inch, they will most likely not be fully cooked at this point, and that's perfectly okay as they will be in Step 6). Using tongs, remove the pan-fried cutlets to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside. Repeat the process until all the chicken is pan-fried.
- Add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil to the remaining breadcrumbs and mix with a fork until absorbed. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. (see Jeff's Tips). Layer as follows per chicken cutlet (NOTE: scroll up to look at the step-by-step photos for simple visuals): 1. Sprinkle enough breadcrumbs to cover the footprint of the cutlet. 2. Lay 2 slices of mozzarella cheese on top of the breadcrumbs, so it serves as a "sheet" for the cutlet. 3. Lay the cutlet on top of the cheese. 4. Lay another 2 slices of cheese on top of the cutlet so it serves as a "blanket," mostly covering it. 5. Sprinkle the top of the cheese-covered cutlets with the remaining breadcrumbs.
- Place the baking sheet with the cutlets on the rack 3/4 to the top of the pre-heated oven. Bake for 10 minutes, which will ensure the bottom cheese layer looks nice and browned/crisped on the edges.
- Just before the chicken is about to be done, heat the sauce in the microwave for 30-60 seconds, or until hot (see Jeff's Tips).
- After the chicken is baked, let it rest for 2 minutes before serving. (NOTE: The chicken should certainly be fully cooked. But, as all ovens vary, if you want to be safe to make sure, slice a cutlet in half. The inside should look perfectly white and juicy. If you see any traces of pink, you'll need to bake it a bit longer until it's done. You can also stick a meat thermometer in the center of cutlet where it should read 165°F.)
- Use a spatula and slide it under the crusty, cheesy bottom of each cutlet. It will very easily come right off the tray thanks to the parchment paper! and place on a plate. Drape some of the heated marinara over the chicken (how much you want is totally your call) and top with additional Parmesan, if desired. You can also serve over pasta or on a hero roll as an incredible sandwich!
You must use parchment paper! Why? Because it's what's going to make a spatula very easily slide in to scoop up a slice of the crusty, cheesy mozzarella stick bottom after its baked. Aluminum foil won't do the trick as the cheese will stick to it and I don't trust non-stick foil will (even if spritzed with nonstick cooking spray). And forget doing it directly on the baking sheet itself because it can burn quickly. Bottom line: just use parchment paper 😉
The reason I don't add the sauce until after baking is because I don't want the breadcrumbs to get soggy in the oven. However, if you'd rather the sauce on the chicken before baking, drape it over the cutlets in Step 5's sub-Step 5 just after topping the cutlets with the final breadcrumbs.
I'm giving you a range of 1-2 cups of sauce because some prefer their chicken parmesan saucier than others.
Want a different sauce? Try out an Alfredo, vodka, or pesto sauce! My fave brands are Rao's, Victoria and Costco's Kirkland Signature.
If making pasta, start boiling the water right after you turn on the heat for the sauté pan in Step 2.
The reason I say this yields 4-8 is because although we're using 4 cutlets, they're pretty big and loaded with baked and fried breadcrumbs and cheese and one can easily be shared.
Want it as a hero/sub/hoagie/grinder? Place it in a long roll and enjoy!