We took a page from Nicki Minaj’s playbook to find the best chicken cutlet recipe out there:
“I don’t f*ck with them chickens unless they last name is cutlet
Let it soak in, like seasonin’…”
As Nicki so eloquently stated, chicken cutlets are a fantastic way to prepare chicken, especially for poor and time-crunched college students. So we tested five classic recipes, from our grandmothers to famous Food Network chefs, to find the best one out there. Here’s what we found:
[Disclaimer: Our baseline chicken was skinless boneless chicken breasts from Trader Joe’s. We cut the chicken lengthwise to make it thinner and used Italian bread crumbs, regular flour, unsalted butter, and extra virgin olive oil when frying.]
As the queen of chicken, Ina’s recipe highlighted her prowess as the knower of all things chicken. She coats the chicken cutlets in a mixture of flour, salt, and pepper; then dunks them in beaten eggs with a little water; then covers them (generously) with Italian breadcrumbs. She sautés the cutlets in a mixture of hot olive oil and butter. Once browned, she puts them on a paper towel to drain the excess oil.
We found the chicken to be juicy, nicely coated, and delicious. The hot oil allowed for a nice crusty suit of crumbs to coat the chicken. We thought we had found a winner after our first taste.
[Disclaimer: we are both HUGE Ina fans.]
2. Nana’s Chicken Cutlets
Sydney’s Italian grandmother is known worldwide (or maybe just in the family) for her famous chicken cutlets. She puts the thinly sliced chicken cutlets into eggs beaten with some chopped parsley. Then, she puts the chicken into Italian breadcrumbs mixed with a little lemon zest. She fries the chicken in hot oil, places them on a paper towel once browned, and then hits the cutlets with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
The chicken was delicious and the lemon added a fresh flavor to the dish.
[Disclaimer: Sydney loves her grandmother so she felt biased about the chicken.]
A supporter of simple recipes, the Pioneer Woman’s recipe was definitely the easiest to make. She dredges chicken cutlets into a mixture of flour, salt, and pepper, and then places them in a hot skillet of oil.
Despite the ease of the recipe, the lack of flavor put this recipe in last place. The chicken tasted very chicken-y, but we weren’t impressed with the flavor.
4. Marge’s Chicken
Abby’s late great-grandmother, a famous and beloved Pittsburgh native known for her fabulous chicken, gave us our second grandmother recipe. Her methods differed the greatest from the other recipes; she dunks the chicken cutlets into melted butter and then coats them in Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs), salt, and pepper. She bakes the chicken on a sheet pan in a 400º oven for 25-30 minutes until golden brown.
The chicken was buttery and delicious, but didn’t have the crunchy coating of a chicken cutlet fried in oil that we very much missed.
[Disclaimer: Abby also loves her great-grandmother and felt the dish was fabulous.]
We returned to the queen of chicken for our final recipe, but added a kick of parmesan to change up her classic recipe. The only change to her original recipe was the addition of grated parmesan cheese to the breadcrumb coating.
Although the end result didn’t produce the original chicken cutlet taste, the boost of flavor from the tangy cheese added a delicious element to the recipe. We really loved the hot and crusty brown chicken, and what dish doesn’t taste better with some cheese?
[Disclaimer: we LOVE Ina.]
Ultimately, after careful consideration and much deliberation about each aspect of the chicken cutlet dish, Ina’s parmesan chicken was too good to deny its place atop the leader board. Although the other chicken recipes excelled in their own way, the flavor of parmesan chicken proved unbeatable. Using really hot oil and thin chicken cutlets allowed the chicken to have a beautiful brown coating and cook very quickly.
Once again, Ina remains the queen of chicken. Never look again when deciding what chicken cutlet recipe to use.