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What is Chicken Parmesan?

Tricia Christensen
Updated May 16, 2024
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Chicken parmesan and veal parmesan are delicious Italian dishes that are quite recognizable to many living outside of Italy. Italian-Australian and Italian-American cooks, and many Italian restaurants in these countries offer some version of the dish. Ironically, chicken parmesan may not contain that much parmesan cheese, but is instead named after the Italian region of Parma, where it said the dish originates.

The typical chicken parmesan features chicken breasts that are coated in breadcrumbs, and may be quickly pan fried to create a little crunch. The breasts are then placed in a baking dish and topped with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce. They are baked until the cheese melts and the chicken is fully cooked. The dish may be served on top of pasta or in some cases, rice. In Italy, veal parmesan is just as, if not more, popular than the chicken variant. The basic preparation requirements are the same.

Some versions of chicken parmesan completely deep-fry the coated chicken breasts (usually boneless), and then quickly bake them with a little bit of tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. In some cases, a fried chicken breast gets just a few minutes in the oven to melt the cheese. Baking the chicken for a longer period of time when it is not deep-fried allows for the chicken to absorb more of the tomato sauce flavor.

However, many people love versions of chicken parmesan on sub sandwiches or even from fast food restaurants. Deep-frying in these settings may be easier. The baked version can be much simpler to make at home, though. If you want to make a lower fat version, baking instead of frying is preferable, and you can lower calories more by using low fat cheese.

Some people do use a little bit of parmesan cheese to top the chicken when it's served. Alternately if they want to give the chicken a little extra bite and saltiness, they may add some grated parmesan to the mozzarella mix. You can really experiment with different cheeses to see which ones you best like. Other options to consider are a bit of cows’ milk romano or pecorino cheese, which is usually made of sheep’s milk.

Another “parmesan” recipe that can be very popular among ova-lacto vegetarians is eggplant parmesan. Instead of using chicken, slices of eggplant are coated with breadcrumbs. Unlike with chicken parmesan recipes, eggplant parmesan may be made up of several layers of sliced eggplant. Typically you don’t stack chicken breasts on top of each other in this manner.

Chicken parmesan can be a great family dish since you can easily adapt most recipes to feed more people. It may be a little impractical if you’re just cooking for one or two people. Yet you can downsize recipes if you like, or use the leftovers for terrific chicken sandwiches the next day.

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Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

By wizup — On May 22, 2011

@babylove – You can find recipes for skillet chicken parmesan by doing a search on the internet. There’s one that I particularly like that might fit your needs. I think I found it on Cooks.com but I’m not certain.

The first thing to do is brown both sides of the chicken in a couple of tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Now add your sauce, reduce the heat and cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Now add your cheeses, cover and simmer another 5 minutes until they’ve melted and your done.

It serves 4 so you can adjust it accordingly and you can have the pasta cooking in another pot at the same time. It’s the quickest and easiest chicken parmesan recipe I’ve found that doesn’t require an oven. I hope that helps. Good luck.

By babylove — On May 19, 2011

Does anyone know how to make chicken parmesan in a skillet? My neighbors are coming over for dinner and it’s just too hot to use my oven right now. My aunt used to fry the chicken then bake everything together in the oven.

I’ve already made the sauce, prepped and breaded the chicken and grated the mozzarella cheese, but I don’t know how to assemble it in the skillet. If anyone knows of a quick and easy way to do this, I desperately need your help.

By MsClean — On May 18, 2011

Chicken doesn’t keep long, so I would prepare it only one day in advance. After you dip it and bread it, you can store it in an air tight container or a zip lock bag until the next day.

It won’t take long to assemble and bake the chicken parmesan if you prepare all the ingredients the day before. But I wouldn’t assemble it until your ready to bake it.

By anon136596 — On Dec 23, 2010

How many days before baking can you assemble this dish? Want to make it for Christmas, but don't want to have to assemble it that day.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a DelightedCooking contributor, Tricia...
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