These Baked Chicken Cutlets are perfectly seasoned, and have a truly deep golden crispy exterior, with an irresistibly tender and juicy interior, and is ready in about 30 minutes.
Crispy Baked Chicken Cutlets is basically a grown-up version of air fryer chicken nuggets. They boast an irresistibly tender and juicy interior, perfectly complemented by an exceptionally crispy and crunchy exterior.
What is a chicken cutlet? It is a boneless, skinless piece of chicken meat that is typically pounded or thinly sliced to create a thin, flat shape. They are versatile and often breaded or seasoned, before cooking to add flavor and create a crispy exterior. They can be served as a main dish along with instant pot mashed potatoes, used in sandwiches, salads, or incorporated into other recipes.
Most supermarkets carry chicken cutlets, but it's very easy to make at home by splitting boneless skinless breasts horizontally in half and then pounding them to ¼ to ½ inch thickness.
Why this recipe works?
Rather than following the conventional breading process of flour-egg mixture-bread crumbs, I have opted for a simpler and tested method. It involves coating them in a batter and then dredging them with breadcrumbs, which helps the crumbs stay intact and form a lovely crust on the outside like this air fryer chicken parmesan recipe.
The batter performs two functions. First, it helps bind the crumb coating onto the meat, also it serves as an insulator, preventing the meat from overcooking and drying out.
By sautéing the panko in a skillet, not only do they acquire a perfectly even golden crust, but it also eliminates the need to worry about overcooking and waiting for them to cook longer in the oven.
Initially, I believed that flipping the chicken cutlets halfway through baking would ensure even crispiness. However, after repeatedly testing this method, I discovered that it compromised the desired crispy texture. Instead, by allowing them to bake on a single side only, the cutlets developed an exceptionally crispy crust on the top side.
Scroll down to the recipe card below for full information on ingredients and amounts.
- Chicken - Use store-bought cutlets or you can start with boneless breasts, slice them in half, and pound lightly to get the desired thickness.
- Flour: Provides a sticky batter that the crumbs can latch on to.
- Eggs: Eggs become a solid gel when cooked, ensuring the crumbs stay put.
- Panko Breadcrumbs: For a lighter and crispier crust
- Milk and Lemon: This helps in tenderizing the meat, acting as a buttermilk substitute.
- Seasoning: A blend of garlic powder, cayenne, and black pepper creates a wonderfully uncomplicated yet immensely flavorful seasoning.
- Italian - Skip cayenne, toss Italian seasoning and red pepper flakes with the marinade. Mix in some shredded parmesan along with the outer coating, like in air fryer eggplant parmesan.
- Mexican - Skip cayenne and stir in taco seasoning with the marinade.
- Indian - Add ground coriander, turmeric, and cayenne pepper powders, along with grated ginger and garlic into the batter.
- Make it spicy - Increase cayenne and add a dash of sriracha.
How to make?
You can find full printable recipe below, but here is a quick overview of the procedure along with step-by-step photos.
1 & 2. Whisk egg, flour, milk, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and black pepper in a large bowl, until combined.
3. Use store-bought cutlets or slice your own - Using a sharp knife, cut chicken breasts in half horizontally and pound to ½ inch thickness, and transfer them into the bowl.
4. Toss the cutlets in the batter to coat thoroughly. Let marinade for about 30 minutes at room temperature (or a few hours in the refrigerator).
Tip: If you are pounding your meat, then I recommend making them about ½-inch thick for a juicy and tender cooked interior.
5 & 6. Place a saute pan over medium heat. Add panko and vegetable oil, and cook stirring constantly until golden brown. Transfer breadcrumbs onto a seperate plate to cool.
7 & 8. Working with one cutlet at a time, remove from the batter, drain excess batter, coat both sides with breadcrumbs and place them on a greased baking sheet.
Tip: Using hands or tongs, make sure to press the panko mixture well on all sides to help it adhere well and give a thicker coating.
Pro tip: The nooks and crannies of panko breadcrumbs increase the overall surface area, resulting in a superior crunch.
9. Spray the tops with a coating of non-stick cooking spray. Bake for 16 to 19 minutes, in a 400-degree oven, until cooked through or the chicken reaches 165°F.
Tip: They are baked at a high 400-degree temperature, to develop a crisp texture, without overcooking the meat.
Pro tip: Don't flip! I highly recommend cooking it on one side only, as this will yield a perfectly browned and mega-crispy top crust while maintaining a slightly softer bottom crust.
How to serve?
Baked chicken cutlets make a fabulous weeknight dinner, served with marinara, tomato cream sauce, lemon butter sauce, sriracha mayo, or bbq sauce and Yukon gold mashed potatoes. But, they are also excellent transformed to make various meals:
- All-American dinner: Serve with healthy mashed sweet potatoes, garlic bread made in air fryer, corn on the cob, or roasted carrots and parsnips, and just watch them clean the plates.
- With a side salad or rice dishes.
- Turn them into sandwiches: Make a classic sandwich with toasted buns, mayo, mustard, sliced tomato, and lettuce.
- Caesar Salad: Slice-baked chicken cutlets and top your favorite homemade Caesar salad with a couple of lemon wedges.
- Chicken Parmesan: Baked chicken cutlets are good enough on their own, but they make an irresistible meal, topped with some marinara sauce and a layer of gooey melted cheese.
- With Pasta dishes: Pair the baked chicken cutlets with a steaming bowl of any creamy pasta like fettuccine alfredo pasta, Alfredo Noodles or Spaghetti Aglio e Olio.
- Spicy Sandwich: Serve in between toasted brioche buns, sriracha mayo, and pickles.
Storage and reheating instructions
You can store any remaining baked chicken cutlets in the refrigerator for up to four days. However, I highly recommend freezing them instead, as they retain their quality for up to two months, and the breadcrumbs crisp up remarkably well when reheated from frozen.
- Reheat from frozen in an oven - Place them in a preheated 380-degree oven and cook for 10 to 12 minutes, flipping halfway or until warmed through.
- Reheat from frozen in an air fryer - Place them in a preheated 375-degree air fryer and cook for 3 to 4 minutes on each side, or until warmed through.
- Play around with different seasonings. While these baked chicken cutlets are delicious as-is, you can add some seasonings to the marinade to elevate the flavor even more.
- Use a meat thermometer to gauge doneness. The safe internal temperature of cooked chicken is 165°F. Take the guesswork out of gauging doneness by investing in an instant-read thermometer.
- Try to pound the meat into an even thickness so you don't end up in unevenly cooked areas.
- Dredge well – Using hands or tongs, make sure to press the panko mixture well on all sides to help it adhere well and give a thicker coating.
- Don’t overlap: Placing the meat in a single layer without overlapping will allow even cooking.
For best results, it is recommended to achieve a thickness of either ¼ inch or ½ inch thickness, depending on the intended method of preparation. In the case of this baked chicken cutlets recipe, I personally prefer a thickness of ½ inch. This allows the cutlets to endure the high oven temperature while providing ample time for the breading to achieve wonderful crispiness.
Tenders are little strips of meat that are tenuously attached to the underside of each breast. This cut is similar in location to beef and pork tenderloins and is typically breaded like buffalo chicken tenders, deep-fried or air fried, like these air fryer chicken tenders. Whereas the former is a very thin cut of the breast that is typically pan-fried or baked.
Place a boneless, skinless breast on a cutting board. Holding the breast in the palm of one hand, make a horizontal slit using a sharp knife in the other hand, all the way through, to obtain two pieces. Then, using a meat mallet, pound the meat until it reaches a thickness of approximately ¼ inch to ½ inch. If you prefer a visual demonstration, you can refer to this short video.
At 400F, the baked chicken cutlets should take no longer than 15-20 minutes. However, it depends on the thickness of the meat. An easy way to know for sure is to cook it until it reaches an internal temperature of 165F when you check with a digital food thermometer.
More chicken recipes
Baked Chicken Cutlets
- 2 chicken breasts boneless, skinless
- 1 egg large
- ½ cup milk
- ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon all purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper powder or use 1 teaspoon Sriracha
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper powder
- 2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 2 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
- Using a sharp knife, cut chicken breasts in half horizontally and pound to ½ inch thickness. Or use store bought cutlets.
- Whisk egg, flour, milk, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and black pepper in a large bowl, until combined.
- Toss the cutlets in the batter to coat thoroughly. Let marinade for about 30 minutes at room temperature (or few hours in the refrigerator).
- Place a saute pan over medium heat. Add panko and vegetable oil and cook, stirring constantly until golden brown.
- Transfer breadcrumbs onto a seperate plate to cool. (Refer notes to use parmesan)
- Pre heat oven to 400°F and spray a large baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.Tip: They are baked at a high 400-degree temperature, to develop a crisp texture, without overcooking the meat.
- Working with one cutlet at a time, remove from the batter, draining excess batter, coat both sides with breadcrumbs and place them on the greased baking sheet. Spray the tops with a coating of non-stick cooking spray.Tip: Using hands or tongs, make sure to press the panko mixture well on all sides to help it adhere well and give a thicker coating.
- Bake for 16 to 19 minutes, until cooked through or chicken reaches 165°F.Pro tip: Don't flip! Initially, I believed that flipping the chicken cutlets halfway through baking would ensure even crispiness. However, after repeatedly testing this method, I discovered that it compromised the desired crispy texture. Instead, by allowing them to bake on a single side only, the cutlets developed an exceptionally crispy crust on the top side.
Nutritional information, based on third-party calculations, should be seen as estimates, not guarantees, as various factors like product types, brands, processing methods, and more can alter the nutritional content in recipes.
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