The Key To Perfectly Crunchy Chicken Parmesan Every Time

In the wide world of Italian-American comfort food, there's perhaps no dish more homey and warming than saucy, cheesy chicken parmesan. A layered dish of seasoned breaded chicken breasts that are pan-fried until golden brown and then piled into a baking dish with tomato sauce and cheese — an ideal chicken parmesan comes out of the oven juicy, cheesy, and filling the whole kitchen with its tantalizing aroma. All that's needed, at that point, is some spaghetti or fresh bread to absorb all the saucy goodness.

Chicken parmesan is said to be an American variation on authentic Italian eggplant parmesan that was created by new arrivals to the country and which became all the rage at Italian-American restaurants by the 1950s, according to Paesana. Since then, the dish has remained pretty much the same, with minor variations including cutlets that are baked instead of fried (via Food Network) and a recipe that's prepared in the slow cooker (via Taste of Home). But if you've always loved versions of chicken parmesan that boast an extra-bready, extra-crunchy crust, then you're going to want to try out a cutlet-breading innovation suggested by Serious Eats.

A fried chicken hack for extra-crunchy chicken parmesan

If you love chicken parmesan but find that those golden, irresistibly crispy chicken cutlets tend to lose their crunchiness after their trip to the oven, then you might want to take this chicken parmesan hack from Serious Eats for a test run. As explained by recipe developer J. Kenji López-Alt, the idea for the extra-crunchy breading was inspired by López-Alt's Chick-Fil-A chicken sandwich copycat recipe.

In that recipe, one technique López-Alt used focused on the cutlets' breading. In order to create a nubbly, super-textured crust, he dredged the cutlets in a breadcrumb mixture to which he'd added a bit of buttermilk, then worked the breadcrumbs-buttermilk mix with his hands. This creates little balls of breading that will adhere to the chicken cutlets when they're dredged. Then, when the cutlets are fried, those breading nubs will create extra cragginess and crispiness that will stand up to all the moisture imparted by the sauce and cheese in chicken parmesan. 

In order to safeguard that hard-won breading, López-Alt also recommends starting the chicken cutlets in super-hot oil. Its temperature should read between 375 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit when you start to drop the chicken in, and will drop to 325 degrees thereafter. With these tips, your next batch of chicken parmesan should come out with an enviably crispy, fried chicken-like crust — and we doubt you'll have any leftovers.