Here’s a way to make Chicken Parmesan that’s super-easy—just topping the chicken with seasoned breadcrumbs instead of coating it! And it’s super-fast too, because you can make it the air fryer!
Is there anything better than Chicken Parmesan? Cheesy, saucy, meaty, and comforting—it’s one of my favorite meals. And now that I’ve figured out a way to make it that’s quicker to prep and quicker to cook, I like it even more.
Chicken Parm every night! (Just kidding.) (But not completely kidding.)
Traditional Chicken Parmesan
To make traditional Chicken Parmesan, you start by coating chicken pieces in seasoned breadcrumbs. Most recipes have you do that by first dredging the pieces in flour, then beaten eggs, then breadcrumbs. It’s kind of messy and dirties several bowls.
Then you fry the coated chicken in oil. Then you put it in a baking dish with tomato sauce, top it with cheese, and bake.
That’s too many steps for me, especially on a weeknight.
Easy Air Fryer Chicken Parmesan
When I created my from-frozen version of Chicken Parmesan, I found that I can make it much simpler by just brushing the chicken with a little tomato sauce, then sprinkling on the bread crumbs (the tomato sauce helps the breadcrumbs stick), then baking. Once the chicken is cooked through, I add more tomato sauce, plus cheese, then bake for a couple minutes more to melt the cheese. Done!
To make that method work in the air fryer, I’ve altered it only slightly—I wait until the chicken is halfway cooked before adding the breadcrumbs. It helps keep the bread crumb mixture from getting overly browned before the chicken is cooked through. And with that slight adjustment, it comes out perfect.
What Kind Of Chicken Should I Use?
I’ve used boneless, skinless chicken breasts here. But, you can use boneless skinless thighs. Simply unroll them from the bundles that they come in in the packaging so that you have a flatter piece of meat.
As to the chicken breasts, I find that they’ve been getting a bit too big in the stores lately. So, I tend to cut them in half and make two portions out of one. I cut it in a way so that they still look like full chicken breasts though. To do that, put a chicken breast on a cutting board. You’ll see that one end comes to a point while the other end is more bulbous. Start with your knife on the outside edge near the bulbous side, about an inch down from the end. Cut in a diagonal from there downwards. You’ll end up with two portions that are shaped like usual chicken breasts with a pointy end and a rounder/fuller end.
If that rounder end is a lot thicker on any of your portions, you can pound them a bit flatter there to get them to a more even thickness so that they cook more evenly (learn how to pound chicken breasts in this post).
Instead of all of this cutting and flattening, you can instead buy chicken cutlets, which are essentially chicken breasts that have been halved thickness-wise.
Enjoy! -Christine xo
Podcast Episode On Making Air Fryer Chicken Parmesan
Listen to me explain briefly about how to make this air fryer dish, with some great tips along the way, by clicking the play button below:Print
Here’s a way to make Chicken Parmesan that’s super-easy—just topping the chicken with seasoned breadcrumbs instead of coating it! And it’s super-fast too, because you can make it the air fryer! Don’t forget that you can use chicken thighs instead of breasts if you prefer. And if you’re feeling fancy, garnish with a little chopped fresh parsley or basil.
- 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts, halved and pounded to an even thickness (see this post for how to do that) or 4 chicken cutlets (or 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs unrolled into 4 flat pieces)
- 3 tsp. olive oil, divided
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/3 cup tomato sauce, divided
- 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
- Put the chicken portions on a plate and rub all over with 2 teaspoons of the olive oil. Season lightly with salt and pepper.
- Set the temperature to 400°F and cook for 6 minutes.
- Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, combine the breadcrumbs, garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, 1/8 teaspoon of pepper, and the remaining 1 teaspoon of oil. Make sure it’s well mixed such that all of the breadcrumbs are moistened with oil. Set aside.
- After they’ve cooked for 6 minutes, brush the top of each chicken breast with about 1 teaspoon of the tomato sauce, then sprinkle each with one quarter of the bread crumb mixture.
- Continue cooking for 6 to 8 minutes, or until an instant read thermometer inserted into the chicken registers 165°F.
- Top each chicken breast with one quarter of the remaining tomato sauce, then sprinkle with one quarter of the cheese. Turn off the air fryer but leave the chicken in the there with the lid closed until the cheese is melted and tomato sauce is warmed, about 2 minutes.