Golden and crispy chicken schnitzel recipe that’s ready in about 15 minutes! See my tips for juicy, tender chicken breasts with the perfect crust.
It may surprise you to know that growing up in Egypt, schnitzel was a common meal served at our dinner table.
Mom made breaded veal cutlets coated in Italian bread crumbs regularly. When she wasn’t using veal she used chicken, commonly referred to as chicken schnitzel, however we just called it fried chicken breast. Rather than serving schnitzel with fries, mom added a side salad or simple pasta.
Today's chicken schnitzel recipe makes a comforting dinner in 15 minutes! Thanks to a couple of quick tips, you'll get golden crispy chicken that's also perfectly juicy.
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What is schnitzel? A little history
Wiener schnitzel (or Wienerschnitzel) is an Austrian term that refers to a thin slice of veal (about 3 to 6 ounces), covered in breadcrumbs and fried. It is traditionally served with a lemon slice, fries, or potato salad.
The New York Times states 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, which an Austrian general spoke so enthusiastically about that the Emperor Franz Joseph immediately ordered his chefs to duplicate it.
However, according to the same article, Milanese-style cutlets did not originate in Milan. The Spanish had apparently 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 for schnitzel, you have a few options: veal, pork, or chicken.
Tips for the best chicken schnitzel
For perfectly fried chicken breasts — packed with flavor and crispy on the outside while juicy and tender on the inside — there are 3 easy things you can do:
- Pound the chicken thinly. Chicken breasts are uneven and quite 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 be about ⅛-inch thick all the way around. This will help the breasts 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 and give you soggy, oily schnitzel. I use quality extra virgin olive oil, which has a high enough smoke point to fry the schnitzel. You can use another healthy frying oil of your choice.
Can you cook with olive oil?
Check out our guide to cooking with olive oil!
Can you cook with extra virgin olive oil? What is the smoke point? Is it good for baking? When should you choose a different oil? We answer all these questions and more! If you need even more olive oil facts checkout our guide: Olive Oil 101: Everything You Need to Know.
How to make chicken schnitzel
This chicken schnitzel recipe is a comforting dish that’s so tasty and so quick to make. I love that I can throw it together in about 15 minutes — perfect for busy weeknights! Here’s how to make it:
- Pound the chicken. Place a chicken breast half in a large ziploc bag. Seal well. Using a mallet (or the back of a small cast iron skillet), pound the chicken until it 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 the chicken breasts. First, coat the chicken with all-purpose flour on both sides and shake off any excess. Then dip it in egg wash, which is a mixture of 2 eggs and 2 tablespoons of water. Finally, coat the chicken on both sides with breadcrumbs. (I used panko breadcrumbs here, but Italian breadcrumbs 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. According to the USDA, cooked chicken is ready to eat when it has an internal temperature of 165°F when measured with a meat thermometer.
- Drain. Place the fried chicken on a tray lined with paper towels to drain any excess oil.
- Finish and serve. Squeeze lemon juice over the chicken while it is still hot. This helps to cut the richness of the fried chicken.
What to serve with chicken schnitzel
If you order schnitzel at a restaurant, it will often come with fries. But I find that a fresh salad is great alongside the crispy fried chicken breast, and filling without being heavy. Pair chicken schnitzel with my lemony arugula salad, white bean salad, or panzanella.
If you still need a starchy side, you can do a side of potatoes or even pasta! Here are some ideas:
- Greek-Style Oven Fries
- Roasted Greek Potatoes
- Boiled Potatoes with Garlic and Fresh Herbs (so easy!)
- Pesto Pasta
How to store and reheat leftovers
If you’re cooking for four people, chances are, you won’t have any leftovers. If you do, you can store leftover chicken schnitzel in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
To reheat: Preheat your oven to 400°F. Place the chicken breasts on a wire rack and pop in the oven for about 10 to 15 minutes.
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Crispy Chicken Schnitzel Recipe
- Large skillet
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breast pieces (about 1 pound and 5 oz)
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- ½ tablespoon garlic powder
- ½ tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 ½ cups bread crumbs such as panko bread crumbs
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 lemon, juice of
- 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.
*This post has recently been updated with new information for readers’ benefit
I cannot eat gluten. What would you recommend instead of pablo breadcrumbs? I love your recipes and your energy on your videos!
Hi, Dori. Often times, grocer stores will carry Gluten free breadcrumbs and gluten free panko breadcrumbs. You could also make your own breadcrumbs using gluten free bread.
I love so many of your recipes! In many of your videos, and pictured here, you have your raw chicken in that shallow rectangular white pan that’s trimmed in blue. What is that pan?? I want one. What material is it? I don’t know what to search for.
Hi, Amy. Those are metal pans from Creative Co-op. Such a great size, and they have held up very well over the years.