This easy Parmesan crusted chicken recipe layers mayo, bread crumbs, and high heat to make it crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and ready to eat in just about 30 minutes.
A few years ago, my Aunt Jill bequeathed to me an entire gallon freezer bag filled with my Grandma’s recipe cards. Totally organized as only Aunt Jill would be sure to do. She figured as the most visible cook in the family, there may be some family jewels I hadn’t yet mined. She was right. I’ve gone back to that bag of recipes several times and every time I do, I discover a new to me, easy family classic I realize readers would love to.
This Parmesan crusted chicken recipe is just one of the recipes Grandma Mary Jane had made multiple copies of. To me that means she and Grandpa must have really liked it, or maybe the ladies in her golf group couldn’t stop raving about it so she wrote it down more than once.
This easy baked chicken breast dinner recipe is so good stripped down as is, with the addition of veggies for a simple sheet pan meal, or turned into a healthier baked Chicken Parmesan with marinara sauce and noodles.
No matter if you dress it up or not, Grandma was right: It’s a classic that should be repeated again and again.
What’s In Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Grandma had two versions of this recipe, essentially the same but with one ingredient variation that’s your call to make: To use mayo or butter to dredge the chicken breasts before the bread crumb mixture. Because it adds just a bit more tang and moisture to low-fat chicken breasts, I choose to use mayo most every time.
Here’s what you’ll need for this recipe:
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Italian seasoned bread crumbs
- Grated Parmesan cheese
- Garlic powder
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
What’s In the Parmesan Bread Crumb Coating
Baking these chicken breasts is a healthier way to get the crunch we all love.
Use seasoned Italian bread crumbs instead of panko. Thinking this recipe might be better with the extra crunch panko bread crumbs provide, I tried it with both panko and regular bread crumbs. While the panko did have a nice crunch, my family preferred good old Italian seasoned bread crumbs more. The coating mixes in better with the grated cheese, and covers the chicken uniformly for an extra crisp crunch.
Skip the canned cheese and use freshly grated Parmesan. Freshly grated Parm is the only way to go no matter what you’re cooking. I use the grated Parmesan from the deli department. If grating your own, be sure it’s extra fine so it melds in with the bread crumbs, making the exterior crisp and not soggy.
Add paprika for color. Paprika doesn’t add much flavor, but it does add a warm sheen to the crust as it bakes.
How to Prepare the Chicken Breasts
Halve the boneless, skinless chicken breasts for faster cooking time. To make my grandma’s recipe faster to cook, I took a page from some of my other fast chicken dinners like Chicken Marsala and Chicken Piccata and halved the chicken breasts lengthwise with a long, sharp knife. This makes a thinner cut that cooks quicker and also gives more surface area for crispy sides. Because let’s be real, the crispy parts are everyone’s favorite parts.
Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise then place between two pieces of plastic wrap on a cutting board.
Use a meat tenderizer to gently pound the chicken breasts thinner, flattening them to about ⅜-inch thick. Not only does this make the meat more tender, it also stretches the amount needed and is a more appropriate serving size.
How to Make Baked Parmesan Chicken With Mayo
Dredging meats usually calls for eggs, milk, and flour before coating it with bread crumbs. Not this recipe. We’re consolidating steps and ingredients by using mayonnaise to adhere the bread crumbs instead.
Butter is an option my grandma gave, but here’s why I use mayo instead:
- A ready-made combination of eggs and oil, mayo does the job in one easy slathering step.
- Mayo acts as a tenderizer that melts into the meat, adding tang, fat, and flavor to the low fat, skinless chicken breasts.
- It also protects the chicken than butter would to keep the thin fillets juicy while cooking at the higher heat.
The Clean Secret: How to Dredge the Chicken
When it comes to dredging anything and avoiding a big, clumpy mess is to use only one hand for all the dirty work. Transferring the meat, dredging, patting…Keeping one hand free is the key to keeping things clean.
Be sure to gently pat the bread crumb mixture into the mayo glazed chicken breasts then shake off any excess before baking.
How Long Does It Take to Cook Parmesan Crusted Chicken
Because these chicken breasts have been halved and pounded thin, the cooking time is cut by more than half as my grandma’s original recipe suggested.
Bake these boneless chicken breasts at 400°F for 17-20 minutes, or until golden on the outside and cooked through, yet still juicy on the inside.
A higher oven temperature creates a crust that crisps faster and keeps the meat juicy.
Notes and Substitutions
- Avoid adding extra cheese to the bread crumbs. While more cheese always seems like a good thing, in this case adding extra can make the crust mushy as the cheese melts.
- Instead of garlic powder, use 1 clove of fresh garlic that’s been pressed or very finely minced instead.
- Rather than Italian seasoned bread crumbs, use regular bread crumbs with 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning added to it.
- If you don’t like mayonnaise, use 4 tablespoons melted butter instead.
What to Serve with Parmesan Crusted Chicken
- Easy Parmesan Buttered Noodles
- Greek Pasta Salad with Cucumbers and Artichoke Hearts
- Grilled Vegetables with Chimichurri Sauce
- Healthy Quinoa Salad
- How to Make THE BEST Potato Salad
- Mediterranean Orzo Salad
If you make this recipe, please let me know! Leave a rating on this recipe below and leave a comment, take a photo and tag me on Instagram with #foodiecrusheats.
Parmesan Crusted Chicken
- 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 1 cup seasoned Italian breadcrumbs
- ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon ground paprika
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. In a large shallow bowl or on a large plate, combine the breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and paprika. Set aside.
- Use a thin, sharp knife to slice each chicken breast in half lengthwise to create two thin fillets. Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap on a cutting board, and gently pound to about ⅜-inch with a meat tenderizer.
- Brush both sides of the chicken fillets with mayonnaise to evenly coat. Dredge each of the chicken fillets in the breadcrumb mixture and place on a baking sheet sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 17-20 minutes or until cooked through and the outsides are golden and crispy.
- Instead of garlic powder, use 1 clove of fresh garlic that's been pressed or very finely minced instead.
- Instead of Italian seasoned bread crumbs, use regular bread crumbs with 1 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning added to it.
- Instead of mayonnaise, use 4 tablespoons melted butter.
More Easy Chicken Dinner Ideas
- Asian Glazed Orange Chicken
- Potato Chip Crusted Chicken Breasts Recipe
- Cheesy Mustard Baked Chicken Breasts
- Crispy Parmesan Buttermilk Chicken Tenders (Baked or Air Fryer)
- The Best Greek Chicken Marinade
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