crispiest chicken cutlets

Whether you call them milanese, schnitzel or “they’re just big chicken tenders and you like chicken tenders, please try them!”, I absolutely love perfectly seasoned, craggy bread-crumbed, deeply golden, crispy chicken cutlets but I absolutely hate making them. Which, as you can imagine, leads to a bit of an impasse. We’ve bought them at our local grocery store, but I disagree with the store on seasoning, in that I believe in it and they do not. Maybe it’s just that my kitchen counter is small, or maybe I’m just kind of lazy, but I find the whole process interminable: pounding the cutlets if you want them thin, dredging them in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, then frying them, then draining them on endless paper towels or paper bags, then trying to either reuse or dispose of the oil properly, and somehow, after all of this, dinner isn’t made. We still need salad and/or another vegetable. That is me, throwing my hands in the air, 370 days into a global pandemic, wondering why anyone bothers cooking at home.

old bread = best crumbsdip in eggroll in crumbsready to go

yes, friedso craggy and crisp

Early in our inside days, my mother in-law, saint that she is, made the kids some breaded crispy cutlets and I expressed this to her — that I love them but there’s step 1, 2, 3… — and she said “flour? No, I don’t use flour.” My MIL jumps right to the egg, then the crumbs, and somehow they’re ever better. Less heavy. Absolutely crunchy. Crumbs never fall off in soft-sided chunks. And if you’ve either gotten into breadmaking or into supporting friends that like to make bread (score!) and have leftover bread around, the crumbs you can make from it make all of the difference — I mean, do you want to coat your chicken in tangy rye sourdough crumbs or even, as seen here, grocery store country loaf crumbs or crumbs manufactured with the least flavor in mind? Somehow, removing a single step in the usual three-part dredgery was the semi-shortcut I needed to start making crispy chicken on the regular again and nobody is upset about this. I hope it does the same for you.

A few questions, preemptively answered:

  • Can I bake these? Yes, but it’s the difference between buttered toast and stale bread.
  • That’s not very helpful, Deb. I have tested baking, instead of frying, breaded chicken cutlets three ways: 1. Prepared as below but drizzled in oil and baked on a rack over a baking sheet in the oven at 450°F for 15 minutes. Result: Dry toast. 2. Toasting the dry crumbs on a sheet pan the oven until golden, coating the chicken with the toasted it, drizzling it in a little oil, and then baking. Result: The color is good but the flavor is no different from untoasted. 3. Frying breadcrumbs in oil in a pan and using these oil-crisped crumbs coat the chicken. Result: Not bad, but still not as great as pan fried. Plus, I still had to fry them in oil, leading me to question which part of the process I’m saving on. And, I needed two or more times as much crumbs because they clump once they’re oiled. In short: You can bake these, but my preference here is clear.
  • Can I use less oil? In general, I like to use enough oil that the chicken isn’t sitting fully at the bottom of the pan. I find that when I use a thinner puddle of oil to fry, I’m plagued by burnt crumbs that linger in the oil (unless you start with fresh oil between each panful) and the sides of the chicken, when thicker, remain pale. I find that the deeper puddle of oil is correctly heated, I have most of it left when I’m done. In short: Yes, but for me the negatives outweigh the positives.
  • Can I use breasts? Yes. I think they’re best when butterflied (cut into two thinner cutlets) first.
  • Can I turn these into tenders or nuggets? Yes, please. Just cut your cutlets into 1-inch strips for tenders, and then in shorter pieces for nuggets.
  • How do I turn bread into breadcrumbs? First, I remove the crust only if it’s very thick, dark, or hard and therefore won’t taste great fried a few shades darker. Then, tear leftover bread into bite-sized pieces and spread on a large baking sheet. Bake at 300°F for 15 to 30 (yes it can range that much) until dry and firm but not browned. Cool the bread then blend it in a blender or food processor until couscous-ish in size.
  • Can I use gluten-free breadcrumbs? I am almost certain you can, but didn’t test the recipe with them.
  • What oils do you fry in? I’ve used vegetable, canola, peanut, safflower, sunflower, and grapeseed in the past and all work. Check the label to make sure it’s specified for high heat or frying, i.e. doesn’t burn at higher temperatures.
  • How do I reuse frying oil? Strain the oil to remove any crumbs and let it cool completely. Pour in a bottle or jar and chill or freeze until you need it again. It can be kept in the freezer for months. Discard if it no longer smells fresh or neutral.
  • How do I dispose of frying oil? You’ll want to check with your locality, but here’s what NYC wants me to do.
  • Where have you been, Deb? Nowhere interesting, sadly. I was under the weather — not Covid, thankfully — and had very little appetite, which turns out to be a key piece of this whole operation. All better now, hooray, and cooking up a storm.

crispiest chicken cutlets



6 months ago: Kachumber Cooler and Mathilde’s Tomato Tart
1 year ago: Pina Colada and Chicken Leek and Rice Soup
2 years ago: Extra-Flaky Pie Crust
3 year ago: Luxe Butterscotch Pudding
4 years ago: Butterscotch Pie
5 years ago: Everyday Meatballs and Roasted Yams and Chickpeas with Yogurt
6 years ago: The ‘I Want Chocolate Cake’ Cake and Cornmeal-Fried Pork Chops with Goat Cheese Smashed Potatoes
7 years ago: Kale and Quinoa Salad with Ricotta Salata
8 years ago: French Onion Tart
9 years ago: Multigrain Apple Crisps
10 years ago: Pina Colada Cake and Whole Wheat Goldfish Crackers
11 years ago: Monkey Bread with Cream Cheese Glaze and Cauliflower and Caramelized Onion Tart
12 years ago: Devil’s Chicken Thighs with Braised Leeks and Red Kidney Bean Curry
13 years ago: Greens, Orzo and Meatball Soup and Big Crumb Coffee Cake
14 years ago: Strawberry Rhubarb Pecan Loaf

Crispiest Chicken Cutlets

  • Servings: 4
  • Source: Smitten Kitchen
  • Print

  • 1 1/4 to 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Additional seasoning (optional) such as garlic or onion powder or a spice blend
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups plain breadcrumbs, either homemade (see above for instructions) or panko-style
  • Oil for frying (see above for suggestions)

Prepare your chicken: Pat your chicken dry. If you’d like thinner cutlets, you can pound them flatter. I find the neatest way to do it is either in a large freezer bag or between two pieces of plastic; I do about half at a time. Arrange chicken on a large tray and season on both sides well with salt, pepper, and another spice or seasoning blend you wish.

Coat the chicken: In one wide, shallow bowl, beat egg with a fork or whisk until very loose. Fill a second wide, shallow bowl, with your breadcrumbs. Dip each piece of chicken in the egg, let all excess drip off, and dip in the crumbs, pressing them on. Repeat with remaining pieces of chicken.

Fry the cutlets: Pour just under 1/2-inch of oil into a large frying pan and heat over medium-high until a droplet of water flicked into the pan hisses dramatically or until the temperature is 350°F. Place your first few breaded cutlets in the oil — don’t crowd them or it will lower the temperature a lot, leading to heavier and greasier chicken. Cook chicken, flipping once, until it’s a deep golden brown on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes on the first side and 3 to 4 on the second. Remove from oil, letting excess drip off for 10 to 20 seconds, and drain on paper towels or paper bags. Season right away, while still sizzling hot, with salt. Repeat with remaining cutlets.

Serve: Eat right away — I love these with some chopped herbs on top and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Shown here is also a quick dip of mayo, whole-grain mustard, a dash of hot sauce, and squeeze of lemon juice, plus salt and pepper, which also makes a great sandwich spread for these cutlets.

Do ahead: Breaded, uncooked cutlets keep in the fridge for up to a day before frying. Fried, cooled cutlets keep in the fridge for 3 days and in the freezer, if well-wrapped, for months. Rewarm in a 350°F oven until hot and crisp.

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159 comments on crispiest chicken cutlets

  1. I love a good chicken cutlet, though I haven’t fried any type of chicken in over a year. This might get me into doing it though! I do love your analogy about the baking. Sometimes oven frying certain chicken dishes just doesn’t do it. Might as well just do a regular baked chicken dish and leave the breading out.

  2. Katherine

    Why would a vegan read through an entire blog post about chicken cutlets? Because the writing here is just that good. And because I’m always learning something new about cooking that more often than not also easily applies in one way or another to my meatless meals. Love your style, Deb. In cooking and in writing. Thanks for all you do! And so glad you’re no longer under the weather.

    1. Sydney

      I can second this comment. Although while I’m reading I’m also figuring out a way to apply this method to seitan cutlet. I think it’ll work.

      1. Sydney, please report back on your seitan adventures! I agree with you guys. Been a vegetarian for over 25 years. No way am I eating chicken. Still incredibly fun to read about Deb cooking chicken. Glad to hear you’re feeling better, Deb! We made the Swiss chard pancakes for St. Patrick’s day and they were a HUGE hit!

      2. Monica

        Carla Lalli-Music just put out a video frying pressed slabs of tofu like this for sandwiches – I bet (maybe) this dredging method would work for those, too?

    2. Oh boy, so I’m not the only vegan who has just looked at the whole recipe, thought it looked absolutely delicious, but know I can never make it! Maybe I can get my kids to make it so I can at least smell it.

  3. maria

    we never floured our chicken cutlets as a kid, just egg and seasoned bread crumbs, but we did have a great butcher who would pound those suckers as thin or thick as you liked.

  4. joy

    Here is my trick for thin chicken cutlets that don’t require pounding (which I hate). Use boneless chicken breasts, and freeze them for half an hour or so, so they are a bit firmer. Then, you can thinly slice the breasts, and you can proceed to flour-egg-crumb (or egg-crumb) your cutlets.

  5. Peggy

    I make schnitzel pretty regularly and have become more efficient with the entire process. FIRST, I ask my butcher to flatten them so I never mess with that. I do follow the 1,2,3 method and I’m a fan of panko. I am definitely going to try eliminating #1 – the flour – next time. Thanks!

  6. Jule Banville

    I have an even dumber reason for hating the dredgery. I only have two nice, wide Pyrex bowls that seem like the right vessel. Two steps! Two bowls! Two exclamations! Ok three. Thanks I love you and buy all your books.

    1. Tessa

      Hi from 1 year later :) I always use pie tins to dredge, they’re the perfect wide, shallow, flat container, just a thought if you have any of those.

      1. Lori

        Smitten Kitchen to the rescue once again! Did not know what to have for dinner. Saw this, thawed chicken cutlets I had, roasted some cauliflower, and heated up leftover rice. Everyone, even my pickiest eater, loved it. Boom!

  7. Emily S Rickers

    I make a dish like this with a side of what I call a “warm beans and greens salad,” basically chard or spinach or whatever green sauteed in the drained, wiped-out pan with or without some onion or garlic, depending on my level of energy, usually I at least try to saute the chard stems ahead of adding the greens. Usually add a healthy shot of vinegar to help wilt the greens, but it can also be sweet/sour with some maple syrup or whatever if that’s the mood. When the greens wilt, fold in a drained can of white beans, chickpeas, or my favorite great big butter beans. This goes fast enough that the cutlets, be they pork or chicken, hold well in the oven or even on a plate, and I’ve still only dirtied one pan (and all the breading dishes, but you’ve discussed that and improved the process in ways I will certainly try). Maybe not kid food, but it does leave me feeling like I’ve gone to some nice German restaurant when in fact I’m still just in my kitchen, waiting for a vaccine…

  8. Katie

    I started making them like this after friend told me her meal delivery kit did it this way… game changer! Trader Joe’s 21 Seasoning Salute is an amazing quick way to punch up the flavor. My favorite hack is for chicken parm- after the chicken is done, pour on a stripe of marinara and a thick coat of parmesan then send the pan for a trip under the broiler!

  9. Lisa H

    I’ve made chicken cutlets based on a Barefoot Contessa recipe for years. It calls for using 1/3 cup of grated Parmesan in 1 1/4 cup of breadcrumbs along with seasoning for the last step. She serves them just topped with salad greens with a lemony vinaigrette.
    I just butterfly breasts instead of pounding, and cut then into serving sizes before dredging. I do a three step dredge. I find that it’s super quick if I do it without a lot of measuring on three bread plates (mine are fairly high rimmed). I think I’ll keep doing it that way because I like to season the flour with lots of s&p. I like that I can assembly-line the plates, and drop the chicken right into the pan, then put the plates right into the dishwasher.
    I find that I can reheat these well on a baking sheet. They get nice and crisp, and I can do a second meal very easily. Sometimes I’ll wrap them well, and put them in the freezer.

    1. deb

      You can absolutely add 1/2 cup of parmesan to the crumbs if you want a parmesan chicken cutlet. I didn’t mention it because I thought the notes had run long enough, ha.

  10. Feli

    Schnitzel afficionado here! :D

    In the original, flour is used so the coating *doesn’t* stick to the meat – it should stick to each other, not the meat (it being stuck to your meat is a big no-no). :) Lightly brush your meat with water before you salt it and put it in flour – this helps with the soufflage (this is when the coating bubbles up slightly in places and turns extra crispy).
    For extra crispiness, add a touch of baking powder or tempura to your flour.

    Personally, I always fry in clarified butter or ghee, as I find that the crumbs soak up oil; but that would hardly make the dish lighter I guess. :)

  11. fmresq

    we missed you! I’ve been on a “fried chicken” / “crispy chicken” kick for, oh, the entire pandemic, and have been marinating thighs in sour cream overnight before cooking — you can even skip the egg that way. always worth the mess and time. glad you’re feeling better!

        1. Sarah

          I’ve made crumbed chicken with just yogurt and crumbs many times. It’s quick and easy, tangy and delicious. You don’t even need to marinate the chicken (but I’m sure it adds to the flavour if you do).

        2. stephanie

          yes it does! ali slagle made sour cream and onion chicken for the NYT this way :) (sour cream can be subbed with yogurt.) i mixed scallions and ranch powder into mine…it was really good. actually i almost forgot about that recipe so thanks for inadvertently reminding me!

          1. Sarah

            Hi! Thank you for this. Question: we’ve got an egg allergy around here – any thoughts about an acceptable replacement?

        3. Lynn

          Been making “Grandma chicken nuggets” with yogurt for years. Add a bit of seasoning to both yogurt and bread crumbs. I drizzle them with olive oil and bake.

          1. Meg

            If I remember correctly, Craig Claiborne used to dip the chicken in a mixture of Dijon mustard, lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce before breading and frying. It’s delicious and a workaround for those with egg or dairy allergies.

      1. Sara

        I switched to a different method years ago, and it’s been a huge hit. Skip the flour, dip chicken in equal parts honey and mustard, and then the crumbs. And matzah meal instead of bread crumbs makes for an even crispier version.

  12. Hannah

    Deb, these look amazing! One less step is always a good thing. Any thoughts on using MCT/avocado oil? We have a biggg bottle of it from Costco, but I don’t know enough about food and frying to know how it differs in practice from the oils you listed.

    1. LD

      I know I’m not Deb (if only I possessed all her kitchen acumen), but I have used avocado oil many times for stovetop frying. It’s a nice frying oil – high smoke point, but it doesn’t smell up your whole house like corn or peanut oil. :)

  13. Brenda

    I use a recipe from a blog that’s no longer in service (Big Red Kitchen). You mix egg yolks with minced garlic to coat the chicken. Roll in panko bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, etc. Then you mix a half stick melted butter and a few Tablespoons of olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 425 – 450 for 15- 20 (??) min. With the amount of oil/butter, it truly is oven-fried.

  14. Brenda

    I use a recipe from a blog that’s no longer in service (Big Red Kitchen). You mix egg yolks with minced garlic. Roll in panko bread crumbs mixed with Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, etc. On a rimmed baking sheet, mix melted butter (half stick) and a few tablespoons of olive oil. Bake at 425 or 450 for 20(?) min, flipping halfway. With the amount of oil/butter used, it truly is oven-fried. (my apologies if this is a duplicate – I typed it out, hit something and my comment, name, email all disappeared)

  15. Mimi

    Thank god you’re back… I was worried!
    Will definitely try this. I only ever did pork schnitzel, but actually like chicken better. I usually salt the egg as well.

  16. Giorgiana

    I have more saltines then I know what to do with (my husband was on a cracker buying spree last March. His early lock down stockpiling). I have never breaded with them. Could that be good? Or no. I know people use them to bread fish.

    1. Anne

      Giorgiana, I’ve used crackers for crumbs for lots of things. It will not be exactly the same, but the taste and crunch (and salt!) will be very good. I’ve even breaded oven-baked, bone-in, chicken legs with them – some kid’s cookbook – and it was very tasty!

  17. Sara

    We made these on the day the recipe was released—woohoo! Used breasts because that’s what was defrosted in the fridge and panko. These were SHOCKINGLY delicious. Our recent go to crispy chicken recipe is from the book Repertoire–that one has parmesan in it. Prior to that, we often made Ina Garten’s chicken Milanese, another great recipe. But this one is our new favorite and I’m printing it out to go in our favorite recipes binder. It’s much crispier! Also, love the word “dredgery.”

  18. Brigit

    Glad you’re feeling better! This looks great. It reminds me of the breaded chicken my mother used to make (although we were a low salt household, so she added lemon zest to the breadcrumbs to add flavour).

  19. Liz

    These look delicious! For another step in spreading things up I add ALL my chicken to the egg and toss it together, then just take the chicken out one at a time and dredge it in the bread crumbs. Somehow it is so much faster.

    1. Rachel

      Genius! Especially as then you don’t have to worry about using up too much egg on the first pieces & then running out. Thanks for the tip :)

  20. Mahtab

    So glad to hear you’re feeling better, Deb! I was close to sending you a DM to make sure you were okay since I often eagerly await SK’s new posts :)

    And I’m so excited to try this! I’ve been making quick chicken tenders for dinner lately – believe it or not with just mayo and panko and it does the trick (at least according to my 2.5 year old)!

  21. Lee Pellegrino

    Regarding gluten-free bread crumbs: yes, but don’t use the ones you can buy at the store, which are nothing but rice flour and turn gummy. Dry out homemade or store-bought bread that’s good enough to want to eat, and make crumbs as Deb describes (I actually bake them at 250 for at least an hour or until completely dry, then grind in the food processor and store at room temp). I find, though, that they are more likely than regular crumbs to fall off and burn, so you may need to scoop them out of the oil after each batch.

    Slicing chicken breasts thin works (1/4″) and avoids pounding. Add loads of minced garlic, salt, and parsley to the crumbs for Italian chicken for parmesan. Or add mustard to the egg and bread with half bread crumbs, half finely chopped walnuts or pecans, seasoned with nutmeg. And as one last twist – do any of this with thin-sliced turkey breast.

  22. TinaD

    Interesting. Pretty much the only other family recipe I’ve got (besides beigli) is for cutlets. Also a two-step dredge, but it’s egg and flour, not breadcrumbs, on a chicken tenderloin pounded painfully thin and pan fried in comparatively little oil, pretty much the same way you’d do a chicken piccata. It goes under the sauce of the week (generally tomato, because I’m seldom feeling the piccata and never marsala, and I cook 4 pounds of tomatoes for sauce every other weekend except in the winter), and it looks like I made an effort even though I pretty much phoned it in. Plus pounding chicken into paper is cathartic.

  23. Laurie

    After a friend posted about her “Chicken Katsu,” I decided never to call this breaded chicken, again. It’s Chicken Katsu, now and forever.
    I use a large rimmed 1/2 sheet pan with a pile of flour on the left, egg bowl in the middle, and seasoned bread crumbs on the right. When I’m finished with dredging, I toss the remains into the trash. Very little mess and counters stay clean.
    I will try your way without the flour next time.

    1. stephanie

      this is such a great idea laurie! i’m borrowing this for next time :) i will line mine with foil so i can just toss everything and not have to wash the pan.

      1. Tracy

        I jumped on this “no flour” idea last night and loved this recipe (I’m keto so I used ground pork rinds vs. breadcrumbs) and all these genius tips! LOVE your website and recipes ♥ Glad you’re feeling better and thanks for always sharing Ü

    2. jude

      i love your half sheet pan plan, laurie. just used it and it is infinitely better than the traditional plates and bowls all over the counter way. was able to keep the prepared cutlets on the tray and popped it into the fridge to await frying. thank you!

  24. Michele

    My little tip – save the plastic liner from cereal boxes for pounding chicken, pork, graham crackers, anything really. The heavier plastic never breaks and I feel like I am at least getting another use out of a (sigh) item that wont decompose. And I really pound chicken! Great outlet for stress.
    And, this recipe is perfect.

  25. Erin B

    To answer the gluten free question: I made these 2 ways, with GF panko breadcrumbs and GF Italian seasoned (non-panko) breadcrumbs (both versions were 4C brand). This method worked really well and the results were excellent. The discernible difference with the GF crumbs is that they can’t really successfully be piled on a sheet pan in the oven to keep a huge batch warm because the tapioca starch from the GF crumbs starts to ooze out after 10 minutes or so in a 250 degree oven, and if the cutlets are touching each other on the sheet-pan the breading will make them stick to each other and fall off. But if you serve them hot out of the pan or just let them rest, NOT in the oven, they are wonderfully crispy and delicious.


      Instead of buying GF breadcrumbs or panko I throw ricechex and/or cornchex cereal (which is GF) in a plastic bag and crush them with a rolling pin (or you can do it in food processor except I hate cleaning that thing). works great

      1. Felicia N Ballard

        So how about buying those little toasts at the grocery store that they sell for bruschetta and such, blending ’em up and using them. The flavor is fab!

        Also, while frying these up, I recommend listening to Neil Young. Just try it.

  26. Beth Davis-Noragon

    These sound wonderful! As soon as I saw this, I said to myself, I bet she’ll use thighs. And so you did. Perfect. These will be appearing soon in my house!

  27. Mel G

    I too have ditched the flour step, it never made sense to me. The egg sticks perfectly well without it, and I find the crumb coat sticks better once cooked where with the flour layer I found it tended to lift the whole thing off.

    Brb, off to make crumbed chicken!

  28. RS

    There’s a weird trick I learned about when frying Shnitzel (or anything, really) put a piece of carrot in the oil and it will stop the loose crumbs from burning and making that acrid smell. No idea why it works but it does!!

  29. stephanie

    i feel you, deb! there’s just no way to get around the work for such a simple dish. i also avoid it because we don’t have any sort of range hood and my kitchen is carpeted (take it up with my landlord) so abating the frying smell after the fact is it’s own project every time.

    for me, i do what another commenter does and partially freeze the chicken breasts so i can easily and thinly slice them myself, but then i do also pound them between plastic wrap because there’s just something about one giant schnitzel. (but you can just buy packaged thinly sliced cutlets, too!) i do the dredging earlier in the day – make the seasoned flour and seasoned egg, dredge in just flour and put the cutlets back on the cutting board. dump out any unused flour into the trash, and make the panko mix in the same bowl, saving yourself a dish. (and have your crumbs and seasonings open and ready so you can use your one clean hand for that stuff and not have to wash up in between.)

    now go with the egg and panko, and back again to the cutting board where you can put them in the fridge until it’s time to make dinner. then at dinner time all you have to do is heat the oil and drop the cutlets. (use a spare breadcrumb to test the oil.)

    also, please don’t try to strain hot oil. perhaps you just wrote the steps a bit awkwardly and didn’t intend to suggest that, but, wait till it cools – any gunk/crumbs will have sunk to the bottom and if you do spill at all it will just be messy, not injurious. i buy the smaller bottles of veg oil when i do fry, this way i use the entire bottle to fry, but can pour back into the same bottle to either re-use or dispose of. i mark the cap with an “F” for “fried in” so i can see at a glance which is the clean oil. (another reason not to strain hot oil if you’re straining into plastic, heh.)

  30. I might just brave the mess to make these. I loathe the dipping and the coating on my fingers and the drips over the counter :/ But have been wishing for something schnitzel-y recently and not willing to get that take out as it really needs to be eaten hot and fresh, I think.

    You mentioned being able to freeze frying oil and so I started frying things!! Thank you! And I also discovered that I can take the dreaded frying smell out of my house by boiling some vinegar with a cinnamon stick in it afterwards. When the vinegar smell disappears after the boiling, the frying smell is gone, too. So I have a vinegar jar and an oil jar for each frying session :)

    1. stephanie

      i think i learned this from frankie celenza on struggle meals, or maybe kenji…or maybe alton brown? i didn’t come up with it myself, anyhow, but it really helped me minimize the deep fried finger look. use one hand for wet and one for dry. so the wet hand dips the cutlet into the egg, and then places it into the breadcrumbs without touching the crumbs. then, use your dry hand to press/push/pile crumbs onto the eggy piece and once it’s fully crumbed, pick it up (still with the dry hand) and set it aside and repeat as needed. IME it doesn’t take any extra time or effort over the traditional method – i just wish it came across that way in text, lol!

  31. Jean

    Thanks for your detailed recipe. My mother never used flour. I’ve tried the flour method but I like it without flour much better. Thanks for the confirmation. If folks want to bake them I suggest coating them in mayo mixed with some mustard instead of the egg and preheat your sheet pan.

  32. I almost always hate making fried foods because they always seem to take forever to make— all the while dodging angry oil spitting—and a second to eat. But quarantine boredom has made the intimidating less so.

    Anyways, the lack of flour does help. I always dread the flour part of any recipe. It’s so messy to measure.

  33. TerryB

    This was my mother’s go to company meal, along with a big tray of stuffed shells and a nice salad. Of course it was the 70’s she used progresso Italian seasoned crumbs and good season’s dressing for the salad. The sauce was alway homemade though.

  34. Ashley GK

    Cornstarch. In. The. Breadcrumbs. Just like a spoonful, mix it all up, and proceed as you described here. My family has never bothered with the flour before eggs step, but when we started adding the cornstarch: please believe me when I tell you it magical (especially if you’re dealing with store bought breadcrumbs, which is usually the case for us because I am LAZY).

    Anyway, thank you for planning tomorrow night’s dinner for my family ☺️

  35. Jenn

    Flawless, absolutely delicious, made these for a fantastic Friday night dinner treat.
    I did a bit of a lazy-yet-functional move: I had enough chicken tender strips to make several batches, and I did the piece-by-piece egg-drip-bread-pan process until the last batch when, with the oil all superpiping hot, sizzling away on the stovetop, I just rapidly shovelled all of the remaining chicken into the egg, mixed it around and then scooped it all into the breadcrumbs, and grabbed each piece now slathered in breadcrumbs to put into the oil – – messier, but still an absolute triumph :)

  36. Amber

    I’ve been reading your site for over 10 years and been pushed to comment for the first time(!) by you saying fried v bake is like buttered toast v stale bread. I’m with you on the fried v bake but I thought…isnt it more like fried bread v buttered toast? And then it hit me that maybe you don’t eat fried bread in the states and for some reason it blew my mind! (Disclaimer, I don’t think many people eat it in the UK anymore but a fried slice is a quintessential component of a full English breakfast and you above just reminded me how good it is!)

    1. JP

      I don’t think I have ever had fried bread except for Native American “fry bread” when I lived in Utah. The only other bread we fry here, in the USA, I believe, is French toast, but that is, of course, dipped in egg batter. I was never even offered it when I visited the UK and did have a full English breakfast. Now I have to find out what I missed!

    2. stephanie

      amber, do you mean fried like, a slice of bread cooked in butter in a pan (like how a grilled cheese is made but without the cheese) or do you mean fried in oil? like deep fried or pan fried? i definitely have made bread the first way, but not the second. (and one of my favorite things my mom used to “make” was an english muffin, nook & cranny side down in a pan full of butter. put the tea kettle on top so it flattens it into the butter as it cooks. remove when crispy and golden brown. amazing.)

      to JP’s comment, in terms of deep fried bread, a doughboy is a national treasure, at least here in new england and especially at baseball games. (a big flat piece of dough deep fried, and then covered with powdered sugar and served on a paper plate.)

    3. Naomi

      Amber – as a Canadian who has lived in the UK, just confirming that the fried bread you know is incredibly rare / nonexistent in North America (unless you find a pub serving traditional English breakfast or something). and it is, indeed, delicious!! I really miss those English breakfasts.

  37. Carol B.

    If you do your breading a bit earlier in the day and then refrigerate the cutlets, the breading tends to stay on better when you come to fry them ( in my experience).

  38. Les Peat

    I’m surprised the word “panko” never appeared in your piece on ch. with bread crumbs — I’ve been using the stuff for years, always on BLCB with parmesan (and always shredded, not grated, which I buy in a tub from Whole Foods). And I always fry them in clarified butter — who would leave that behind on a paper towel? (I’ve heard you can buy it as ghee in Indian markets, but try that on Cape Cod. I have to take an extra five minutes or less to clarify it.)

    And your short rib recipe is THE BEST, esp. as I’ve learned from Ina G. that you can brown them on the oven (Cook Like a Pro) and avoid the stovetop mess. Once again, Cape Cod not the best place to find black lager, so I make do with Brooklyn Lager, which ain’t bad. (Bud Lite doesn’t cut it.)

  39. Shira Kestenbaun

    I make these in an air fryer (put on a piece of pam sprayed tin foil for easier cleanup). I just dislike frying.

  40. JJ

    This method is how my mum taught me to make them too – just straight to the egg then the breadcrumbs. I also agree that fried is definitely best! I will try using actual leftover bread next time instead of store bought panko. Sourdough breadcrumbs sound amazing.

    If your dietary/religious requirements allow or you can’t take strong spices, I recommend adding some grated parmesan to the breadcrumb mix and some celery salt. Celery salt pairs beautifully with chicken/egg.

  41. My mom taught me to add S&P with flour to a brown paper bag, toss in a few pieces of meat at a time, close and shake to coat.

    Been doing this for years but I’ll skip it next time. Thanks Deb!

  42. Erin

    I made these last night and could not. stop. eating them. I modified the egg dip and just scrambled an egg and dumped all of my split chicken breasts in, mixed them around, then took them out one at a time for dipping and frying. Deb, you are so right- eliminating just the one step of flouring made this recipe (inexplicably) way more accessible on a weeknight. And the lemon was the exact perfect compliment.

    One question- can you link your meat pounding situation? I have a mallet, which I don’t love, and would love to see your heavy hand held pounding device. On the other hand, slicing them horizontally was also awfully effective :)

  43. R

    If you plan on reusing the oil I recommend putting a baby carrot into the oil before you start frying. It will miraculously keep the oil perfectly clean and everything from burning. I don’t understand the science behind but, but it’s life changing!

  44. C

    I live in Germany and learned the majority of my cooking/baking here. An authentic Schnitzel (Veal, Pork, Chicken, Turkey) is never, ever cooked in oil. Always in clarified butter. The difference is amazing.

  45. Stef

    Oh my… these were delicious and straightforward.

    After I’d egged and panko’d my cutlets, I thought the panko looked a little sparse and was tempted to fill it in with regular italian-style breadcrumbs. I did not, and they fried up beautifully despite my reservations.

    On my gas stove, I needed the big burner just a smidge above medium to get the oil the right temp. “Medium-High” is always elusive for me, so hopefully that helps others!

  46. Laurie

    This is so well said, I had to read your introduction aloud to my husband. It is so true- you go through all those steps and you still have to do more! 370 days and counting!

  47. Lauren

    You know those cutlets were CRISPY when the top of your mouth hurts after dinner haha!! SO good. And I’ve been scared of frying things at home before this, but now I realize it’s super easy…this is dangerous information.

  48. Naomi

    For anyone else who has an annual tradition of making schnitzel during Passover, I’m happy to report that trying Deb’s method with panko-style matzah meal worked SO MUCH BETTER than doing a preliminary dredge in cake meal / potato starch / etc. The only things I’d change next year are: 1) veal cutlets can maybe stand to be cooked in slightly less oil since they’re thinner than chicken (my veal was almost totally submerged in the oil, as opposed to Deb’s pics above where the chicken is sticking out); 2) again, because they’re thinner, I would probably cook the veal cutlets a couple minutes less than Deb’s recommended times for chicken. But overall, this was really a Passover schnitzel game-changer for me, and I will not go back to my previous ways.

    1. Amy

      Perfect recipe. I used the thin cut chicken cutlets I had instead of pounding them out, added garlic powder, onion powder, and thyme to the salt and pepper seasoning. Eliminating the flour somehow made it the best and easiest frying I’ve done!

  49. Sarah

    One trick that has made frying chicken more pleasant (though less environmentally friendly) is to use gallon-sized Ziplock bags for the dredging. I usually marinate in buttermilk overnight by dumping all the chicken parts in a bag, then adding buttermilk to cover, but I imagine this would work just as well for egg (just add egg and flip the bag over on the counter a few times). Then I make the dredge in a new bag, add the chicken parts to that bag, and shake. Faster and infinitely less messy, and I think the extra time spent in the dredge helps it stick.

  50. These look delish Deb!! I don’t use flour either – actually I only season my breadcrumbs with salt and pepper and coat the cutlets without egg – just the breadcrumbs so I hear ya about not wanting pounding, etc! I do love toasting my leftover sourdough and I agree, the breadcrumbs make the difference. I haven’t made chicken cutlets in a while. Maybe time to revisit. Someone I follow on Insta also incorporates Calabrian chilis…spicy!

  51. TW

    Another great recipe from SK. I made this crispy chicken on a Monday night and served with spatzel and braised red cabbage for dinner. The next night I used the leftovers to make chicken parmesan sandwiches and then finally used up the last little bit in a chopped salad on day 3. Highly recommend!

  52. Sara Cobb

    I have already made these THREE times since recipe was posted, I have used panko crumbs, bread crumbs from the can and homemade from stale bread. I never felt comfortable frying, but these have come out perfect every time. So much better than all of the baked chicken tenders I have made over the years, rave reviews from my college daughter who came home to do laundry!
    I don’t need to try another recipe for chicken cutlets, this is a winner.

    1. Sara

      I would have said the exact same thing! I wish I had this recipe for all of the uninspiring floppy baked chicken tenders I made over the years for easy kid friendly meals. These are so much better!!

  53. Sara S.

    THANK YOU! I have a salad recipe cribbed from a restaurant that calls for a breaded chicken cutlet, and I hadn’t made it because I hate the three-step dredgery. I made these tonight for the salad and they are AWESOME. I expect they’re going to reheat super well in the toaster oven, too. (Salad is spinach, goat cheese, pecans, tomatoes, bacon, and chicken – I’m weird and don’t often use salad dressing; the original dish had a warm bacon dressing.)

  54. Catie

    Absolutely outstanding–thank you, Deb! I had some thighs that needed to be cooked up, and this was an absurdly quick and easy lunch with a big pile of arugula on the side. Whatever magic happens when you take out the flouring step is nothing short of miraculous!

    [For the record, I didn’t do any pounding, and the thighs were perfectly cooked through, tender, and super juicy in your recommended time.]

  55. Allison

    I make pork schnitzel by taking boneless pork chops and butterflying them then basically following your recipe for cutlets.

  56. Colette Stetler

    These cutlets are heavenly. My entire family loved these cutlets, even our picky eater. He said they were better than the frozen chicken patty I had made for him. He loves those, but now these are his favorite. THANK YOU, Deb. These will be made for dinner again.

  57. Sarah

    I’m recovering from covid and still have lingering symptoms, including having a pretty limited ability to taste/smell, so anything texturally pleasing is what I yearn for these days. These were (from what I could experience) so delicious! Super crispy, crunchy, and my husband (who’s taste isn’t malfunctioning) loved them. Made exactly as is using panko. Will be skipping the flour step from here on out. Thanks Deb!

  58. Tia

    One of my favorite things to make – I butterfly and pound the chicken breast and now I am going to try it without the flour (and also reuse the oil). I always serve it over sturdy greens and then make a brown butter-lemon-caper sauce to pour over which is a dressing for the greens and compliments the chicken – then I finish with flake sea salt.

    I also usually eat half a breast, and then heat the other one under the broiler the next day.

  59. Lisa Horowitz

    I think I made just a dumb mistake by leaving out flower from the beginning! Every time I combined flour and oil and chicken, all the good stuff seem to be left in the pan. So I thought if I want it crispy – with that great crunch left on the chicken – I’m going to just use an egg wash and breadcrumbs and I’ve been making it that way forever. It wasn’t until just this moment I found out that I’ve been a renegade all this time. I wish I knew that I was that cool about 20 years ago.

  60. Josephine Testa

    Just made these…too blah for me…at least I added Panko seasoned bread crumbs…will make again but next time will put pecorino romano cheese into the egg batter and pano breadcrumbs which will jazz it up some and not be so boring…will probable add some fresh garlic into the mix

  61. Mushka

    Don’t give up on baking them! Try this method for frying shnitzel in the oven:

    Pour oil onto baking sheet (a lot, like almost to cover the bottom), prepare chicken as usual, but then put directly in the oil on the tray, bake halfway, then flip the pieces over (add more oil if needed) and bake some more.

    Works best on a metal baking sheet, not disposable, but I do use parchment paper to help with easier clean up.

  62. Maria

    Wondering if you tested breading them and then freezing uncooked? Then defrost and fry. I like having breaded cutlets in the freezer for my husband to make for a quick dinner when I’m working. I too do the flour dredge but love the idea of leaving that step behind. Randomly, I also like adding a bit of Parmesan to the crumbs for added flavor and crunch.

  63. Em

    Deb! Big fan here. Not sure why I’m surprised (???) but this recipe is great. Maybe life changing? I love cutlets but rarely is the juice worth the squeeze. These most definitely are. Thanks! (Also to your MIL)

  64. I first learned about this 3 Step thing from here
    and was mind blown. She also uses tallow and Pork Panko (mind blown again)

    Similar to you, chicken tenders chicken nuggets were one of the few things I felt like I could only buy already-made, just too much freaking hassle to make your own! Until…recipes like these.

    Thanks to the pandemic, the list of foods I need to eat out for shrinks and shrinks. I’m more than satisfied with my amateur version.

  65. Shauna Wagner

    Just made these for the first time. Thought I made enough to have supper plus a bunch of sandwiches. Um, it’s ALL gone. My kids (23 and 16) were very appreciative!

  66. Bianca

    Little tip from my Nonna:
    She makes her cutlets thin thin and freezes them raw and breaded. Cooks from frozen – barely a minute or two before flipping. They’re thin enough to cook from frozen, and the freezer makes the breadcrumbs extra crisp. Perfection. And easy to make a big batch and freeze!

  67. Peg

    These are on an almost weekly rotation in my kitchen. I air fry the cutlets using this method below and they are always perfect! If using breasts that are thicker than cutlets, fry for a few more minutes on each side. For this Southerner, who misses fried chicken so much, this recipe was a life-saver!
    AIR FRY the cutlets:
    Preheat the air fryer at 400F for 5 minutes. Spray the coated chicken with olive oil. In batches, transfer to the air fryer basket and cook 8-9 minutes, turning halfway until golden and cooked through.

  68. Chris Wilson

    To the question of if you can bake them, I have found a Cooks Illustrated recipe (Best Chicken Parmesan) upon which I do a riff. You pound the chicken, salt it and let it rest. Then you dredge the chicken in a mix of egg with a bit of flour, and then panko with parmesan cheese and some seasoning. Instead of frying as in the recipe… I put a non-stick, flat grill pan in the oven while I am dredging. Let the oven preheat and the pan get hot, then put the cutlets on the pan and cook — usually about 10-15 minutes on 400F; flip halfway through. Works every time and I love the mix of panko and parmesan, upon which I happily can add salad for a Milanese style OR red sauce and cheese for more of a parm style. Give it a try!

  69. Phyllis

    My Sicilian mother and grandma would make this using beef round steak instead of chicken. They also did not include the flour step. They always said the secret to keeping the crumb mixture from falling off was to have your cutlets very cold when you dip them in the egg and crumbs. They liked to brown them then finish by baking in the oven. We kids always liked them best without the final baking.

  70. Deb, I’m so glad you’re feeling better! Since then, I was on the point of sending you a Message to see whether you were okay. And BTW love those crispy chicken cutlets! can’t wait to try!!!

  71. Paula

    I am Italian and grew up watching my grandmother and mother make these, my favorite. Took me a while to come around to frying. Now I love it. We never used flour, just egg and crumb. I do not pound. I think slicing thinner is better. When I pound it changes the texture. I do slice cross wise to get a thin cutlet. Lean into the frying, nothing compares, also using cast iron helps.

  72. Beth

    My Italian fiancee LOVED these cutlets! She grew up with a very talented cooking mother…so the bar for simple, delicious things is HIGH. I’m not a cutlet person, per se. This recipe (made with homemade bread crumbs) made us both very happy. I combined this with Ottolenghi’s Double Chicken recipe and used D’Artagnan chicken breast, which I pounded out: DELICIOUS.
    Thanks, Deb, for this! xx

    1. deb

      I hope this friend lets me know, because I love the idea. But I do wonder if it needs more of a breading layer since they’re so wet. I think Joy the Baker has a recipe? Always trust Joy!

  73. Katie

    I’ve made these countless times as nuggets and they come out fantastic every time. We’ve had a shortage of gluten free chicken nuggets in our area for a while now so I started baking my own. I’ve used GF bread dried and ground into breadcrumbs but I also can report success with GF panko as well. I sometimes mix in a little GF flour to stretch the breadcrumbs if I didn’t quite make enough and have replaced up to 1/3 of the crumbs with GF flour and still gotten a crisp crust.

  74. leigh

    I do my cutlets a very similar way except I add some flour to my breadcrumbs. It seems to me it fills in the gaps the breadcrumbs leave, but I have nothing to back that up.

  75. Stacy Reagan Downie

    I made these last night and they were absolutely delicious! I have been wanting to try for awhile, but I don’t feel I have much success with frying. I need a thermometer to be truly successful. BUT I dove in without it, and I am glad I did. With better oil temperature, they can only get better. Yummy!

  76. Barbara Jefford

    I’m so pleased to see the advice about omitting the flour. I’ve been leaving this step out for many years and I am convinced ut makes no difference. I also leave that step out when crumbing fish.

  77. Peg Syverson

    I have had good results for oven frying by adding oil to the egg, of all things. I add maybe a tablespoon per egg. Surprise! It actually works to provide a crispy delicious coating without frying. I’ve not seen this anywhere, but people are constantly trying to add the oil somehow to the coating. I also add a tablespoon of flour and a tiny bit of half and half to the egg. Just beat it together. Also, make a big batch of bread crumbs and freeze what you don’t need for later. This makes for an easy weeknight supper. I think you could probably use this technique for other things: fish, pork chops, tofu patted dry. Bake in a hot oven, 450º or so.

  78. Penny Strockbine

    A la Julia Child, I marinate chicken tenders (with the tendon removed) and thighs in lemon juice with some smashed garlic in it for maybe 15 minutes. And no minutes at all if I’m in a hurry. I love the idea of skipping the flour part of breading. Can’t wait to try.

  79. digitalcowgirl

    These were so good the next day as well-just warmed up in the toaster oven, sliced, and plopped on top of ramen. Why did I ever use flour? Thank you.

  80. Sarah

    These were worth the effort and put any freezer section cardboard box chicken in the shade. I pounded chicken thighs, breaded with egg and light rye crumbs, and fried in 75% avacado oil, 25% evoo for the time recommended. Served with lemon wedges and waldorf salad.

  81. I made these chicken cutlets last night for me and my daughter along with your green pasta and everything turned out so delicious! My daughter is very picky and ate every bite on her plate. Will be coming back to your website soon for more kid-friendly recipes. Thanks for sharing!

  82. Rich

    No flour dredge before the egg dip? I also like to bread them and let them sit on a wire rack for about 15 min to “dry out” before the fry..

  83. Aditi

    I recently discovered a product called fry away that you sprinkle into the warm oil and it will solidify as it cools. You can then compost this blob! I don’t know how it is different from something like gelatin, and I’ve never actually attempted to do this with gelatin which is considerably cheaper!

    Need to try this chicken now that I don’t have to worry about the leftover oil!

  84. Susan Harris

    My cutlets are wonderful. The secret is the pounding. I like them almost transparent. I never used flour. Just beaten egg with milk or cream whatever. Fresh toasted bread crumbs with fresh parsley, basil, garlic, lemon. Sometimes Im in the mood for a thick cutlet with a nice marinara. Fresh grated parmigiano, asiago, never romano. Hate it. My favorite is milanes with the arugala and tomatoes on top! Tata!

  85. Ariana

    I haven’t eaten schnitzel in almost 20 years due to A Bad Experience so I was dubious when my partner asked me for these. They were absolutely amazing though. Thank you for the recipe!! I only had bone-in skin-on thighs so I deboned them and deskinned them myself, it worked fine. I rendered down the fat from the skin as well and used that (mixed with vegetable oil) to fry the chicken in and it tasted great. We will definitely make this again.

  86. Laura H.

    This recipe for crispy chicken thighs is going to be my family’s new go-to crispy chicken recipe! It is soooo good and incredibly easy. I fried the thighs in peanut oil and think it was the total right move. I served it with some lemon tahini everything bagel seasoning sautéed red cabbage and a little mayo dip (lemon, salt, and red pepper flakes) and it was fantastic. The chicken came out so crispy, juicy, and flavorful! I will definitely make this again, and next time make more so I can freeze some!