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Chicken Parmesan with a Homemade Marinara

Chicken Parmesan with a Homemade Marinara

This dish is an Italian American classic that’s full of flavor. I love to make this for my mother, who is from an Italian American family, because it reminds her of her childhood and going to family-owned Italian restaurants on the East Coast. It’s a take on eggplant Parmigiana that uses chicken instead of eggplant. The chicken is breaded and fried and layered with marinara, mozzarella, Parmesan, and parsley. It’s an easy meal to make and celebrates the simple, wonderful flavors of tomatoes, garlic, and basil. The marinara sauce is so flavorful that I sometimes just make it to serve on pasta.

Tips: The marinara sauce can be made a day ahead of time. It can also be made on its own and used as a pasta sauce. When tenderizing the meat, it is important to start in the center and work your way out to the edges. This gives you more control and helps to keep the thickness of the tenderized meat consistent. The chicken is tenderized so that it cooks consistently and quickly, and so that the frying is consistent. This way you get a nice, even golden brown color and great flavor without burning or under or overcooking.

Chicken Parmesan with a Homemade Marinara

Special Equipment: Meat tenderizer or rolling pin, Plastic wrap

Recipe makes 4 servings. Total time 50 minutes. Active time 50 minutes.


For the Marinara Sauce:

  • One 28 ounce can of whole peeled roma tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 5 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • ½ cup fresh basil leaves, roughly chopped into small pieces
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano

For the Chicken:

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 breasts total)
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs, for dredging chicken
  • 1 cup all purpose flour, for dredging chicken
  • 1½ to 2 cups olive oil, for frying chicken 
  • 4 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces low-moisture mozzarella cheese, very thinly sliced
  • 4 ounce Parmesan cheese, freshly grated
  • ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, roughly chopped


  1. For the marinara: Heat the oil in a medium heavy pot over medium heat. Add the garlic and salt and cook until the garlic turns light golden brown. Pour the tomatoes with their juice into a bowl. Use your hands to tear each tomato in half and then crush them. Add the tomatoes and oregano to the pot and bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring occasionally.
  2. Simmer the sauce for 10 to 15 minutes, until it thickens and reduces by about half. Turn off the heat and add the basil to the pot. Taste and add more salt if desired.
  3. For the chicken: Place a layer of plastic wrap on a large cutting board. Place the chicken breasts side by side on top of the plastic and cover with another layer of plastic wrap. Use a meat tenderizer or rolling pin to gently flatten and tenderize the first chicken breast, starting in the middle and working your way to the edges, until it is about 1/2 inch thick. Turn the breast over and tenderize the other side until the entire piece is 1/4 inch thick. Repeat with each chicken breast.
  4. Remove the plastic and transfer the chicken breasts to a baking sheet. Season the breasts on both sides with the salt and pepper. Set aside.
  5. Set up a breading station. Place the flour on a wide plate and the panko on another wide plate. Whisk the eggs together in a medium bowl. Pour enough olive oil into a skillet to come 1/4 inch up the sides. Place the skillet over medium heat and heat to 350℉ on a deep-fry thermometer.
  6. Dredge a chicken breast in the flour, making sure to coat it completely, and shake off any excess. Dip the chicken in the egg mixture, making sure to coat it completely. Hold the chicken over the bowl to catch any drips. Coat the chicken in the panko, making sure every surface is covered.
  7. Place the chicken breast in the skillet. Cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until the first side of the chicken is a rich golden brown color and looks crispy, then turn the chicken with tongs and cook the other side until browned, another 3 to 4 minutes. (Depending on cut and size of chicken it might take 4 to 5 minutes per side.) Transfer the chicken to a cooling rack set over a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken breasts.
  8. When all the breasts have been browned, arrange them on a baking sheet. Top each one with 1/4 cup of the marinara sauce. Divide the mozzarella evenly between the chicken breasts and arrange on top of the sauce. Sprinkle the Parmesan over the mozzarella, dividing it evenly between the breasts.
  9. Preheat the broiler. Broil the chicken for 2 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and is bubbling and golden brown. Remove from the oven.
  10. Spoon the remaining marinara onto four individual serving plates and place a chicken breast on top of each. Sprinkle with parsley and serve hot.

Recipe first featured on Ranch To Table Season 4 Episode 4: "Lunch with Mom" on the Magnolia Network.



Photographs by BJ Golnick and Brian Skope

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