Golden crispy chicken schnitzel! Flavorful and perfectly juicy on the inside. Best part? Comes together in less than 15 minutes. Read on for tips and ideas for what to serve along!
It may surprise you to know that growing up in Egypt, schnitzel was a regular on the dinner table.
Mom made breaded veal cutlets (using Italian bread crumbs) regularly. And she also made chicken schnitzel, which we simply called fried chicken breast.And rather than serving them with fries, mom added a side salad or pasta.
So my love for this quick and comforting chicken dinner goes way back!
Today's chicken schnitzel recipe makes a comforting dinner in 15 minutes! And thanks to a couple of small tips, you'll get golden crispy chicken that's also perfectly juicy.
What is schnitzel? A little history
"Wiener schnitzel" is an Austrian term, and it refers to a thin slice of veal (about 3 to 6 ounces or so), covered in bread crumbs and fried. And traditionally served with a lemon slice, fries or potato salad.
This New York Times article takes us back to the history of schnitzel, stating that the dish came from Italy to Austria, although details on the time and place are fuzzy. One tale spoke of breaded veal cutlets from Milan that Field Marshal Radetzky spoke so enthusiastically of that the Emperor Franz Joseph immediately ordered his chefs to duplicate it.
But according to the same article, Malianese-style cutlets did not originate in Milan. The Spanish apparently had borrowed the idea from Arabs!
All the fun history aside, schnitzel is popular in many parts of the world today. And as far as what meat to use, you have a few options: veal, pork, or chicken schnitzel.
Three important tips
For perfectly fried chicken breasts--packed with flavor and crispy on the outside while juicy and tender on the inside--here are three important tips:
- Pound the chicken thinly. Chicken breasts are uneven and quiet thick in some parts. Use a mallet (or the back of a small cast iron skillet) to pound and flatten the chicken breasts as much as possible (they should about ⅛-inch thick). This will help them cook evenly and quickly without drying out.
- Season the chicken well first before dredging. Many recipes have you mixing the spices or seasonings with the flour. I've found that seasoning the chicken directly first gives me more flavor.
- Heat the oil well. The oil needs to be hot enough (it should be shimmering but not smoking) so that the chicken will cook well and crisp up. If the oil is not hot enough, the chicken will absorb too much oil (I use quality extra virgin olive oil, which has a high enough smoke point to fry the schnitzel, but you can use another healthy frying oil of your choice).
How to make chicken schnitzel
- Pound the chicken! Starting with 4 chicken breast halves, take each piece and place it in a large ziploc bag. Seal well. Using a mallet (or the back of a small cast iron skillet), pound...and pound some more until the chicken is pretty thin (about ⅛-inch thick).
- Season the chicken well on both sides. I like to start with a generous pinch of kosher salt and black pepper on both sides of the chicken, then I hit it up with a mixture of ½ tablespoon garlic powder, ½ tablespoon sweet paprika, and 1 teaspoon dried oregano.
- Dredge. First, coat the chicken with all-purpose flour on both sides (shake off any excess), then dip it in egg wash (a mixture of 2 eggs with 2 tablespoons of water), and finally coat the chicken on both sides with bread crumbs (I used panko bread crumbs here, but Italian bread crumbs will work as well).
- Fry! In a nice large skillet heat about ⅓ to ½ cup extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Working in batches if you need to, add the chicken carefully and cook on each side for about 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown.
- Drain. Place the fried chicken on a tray lined with paper towel to drain any excess oil.
- Squeeze lemon juice over the chicken while still hot.
What to serve with chicken schnitzel?
If you order schnitzel at a restaurant, it will often come with fries. But I find a fresh salad --lemony arugula salad (which is what you see in the pictures); white bean salad; or panzanella--a great addition next to the crispy fried chicken breast.
And if you still need a starchy side, you can do a side of potatoes or even pasta! Here are some ideas:
Easy Chicken Schnitzel Recipe
- Large skillet
- Put the chicken (one piece at a time) in a large ziptop bag and seal. Using a mallet or the back of a heavy cast iron skillet, pound the chicken. The chicken pieces should be large and quite thin (about ⅛-inch in thickness or so) by the time you’re done pounding.
- Season the chicken with kosher salt and black pepper on both sides. In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, paprika and oregano then sprinkle the mixture on both sides of the chicken.
- Preparing a dredging station. Put the flour in one bowl. Beat the eggs in another bowl and place it next to the flour. And put the panko in a third bowl next to the eggs.
- Take one piece of chicken, and place it in the flour bowl. Coat the chicken on both sides with the flour and shake off excess. Then dip the chicken in the egg bowl. Finally coat the chicken with the panko bread crumbs on both sides. Repeat with the remaining chicken.
- In a large skillet, heat ½ cup extra virgin olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not smoking. Carefully add the chicken. Cook on one side for 4 minutes or so, then carefully turn over and cook for another 3 to 4 minutes or until golden brown on both sides (if you need to, do this in batches and do not crowd the skillet).
- Place the fried chicken schnitzel on a tray lined with paper towel to drain excess oil.
- Squeeze lemon juice on top. Serve with more lemon slices and your choice of salad or side (ideas above)
- Cook's Tip: Be sure to pound the chicken well until quite thin, this will help it cook quickly and evenly without drying out.
- Dinner Prep Tip: Because chicken schnitzel will cook very quickly, and you do want to serve it nice and warm, be sure to prepare your salad or sides first before you begin cooking the chicken.
- Leftovers & Storage: Store leftover schnitzel in the fridge in a tight-lid container; it will keep for 3 or more days. Warm in a medium-heated oven.