Chicken Parmesan: Our First Date Dinner

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Chicken Parmesan is the ultimate date night dinner. In fact, it was what I served my husband on our very first date. Give this Chicken Parmesan recipe a try: succulent, breaded chicken served aside pasta and a simple red sauce. 

Many, many moons ago… in fact, about 26 years ago, I made dinner for the man who later became my husband and the father of my children. Chicken Parmesan was the first meal I ever cooked for Bryan. The chicken turned out okay, but you should have seen the look on his face when I broke the spaghetti in two!

That’s how we always did it in my family. Doesn’t everybody? Uh, no.

True pasta connoisseurs do not break the spaghetti noodles in half. But, thankfully, he didn’t hold it against me. He married me anyway. And the rest, as they say, is history.

For the last few years I’ve recreated that first date dinner for Valentine’s Day. We enjoy the meal with our kids and take a walk down Memory Lane.

Over the years, I healthified  just a tad. Instead of coating the chicken in eggs and white bread crumbs, I now use buttermilk, whole wheat bread crumbs, and non-stick cooking spray. Instead of frying it in oil, I bake the chicken. These adaptations result in an easier, more hands-free meal that is a little bit healthier for us.

How to make this good and cheap:

Here are some of the strategies you can use to make this recipe more economical:

  • Stock up on ingredients when they are on sale. Instead of paying full price, buy more than you need when you see it on sale. Then you always have it when you want it. I do this with chicken and spices.
  • Culture your own buttermilk. It’s so much cheaper once you get it going. I start a fresh batch with this culture, but then make repeated batches with a little of the last batch.
  • Shop the stores that have the best prices. When I did my big grocery store showdown, I learned that ALDI and Costco have the best prices for a lot of the things I buy. I regularly stock up on chicken at ALDI now.
  • Make your own bread crumbs. My youngest child doesn’t like to eat the crusts on her bread. It’s a hill I’ve chosen not to die on. She cuts off the crusts and adds them to a bag in the freezer. I do the same when I make tea sandwiches. Whenever I need bread crumbs, I whiz them up in the food processor.

How I make this recipe easy:

This recipe really couldn’t be easier than it is, but having the right kitchen tools can really make your time in the kitchen more enjoyable. Over time, I’ve honed my collection so that they are perfect for my needs.

Here are the tools that I use for this recipe:

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Chicken Parmesan
Prep Time
15 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
40 mins
Give this Chicken Parmesan recipe a try: succulent, breaded chicken served aside pasta and a simple red sauce. It’s the ultimate date night dinner!
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American, Italian
Keyword: breaded chicken, chicken parmesan, crispy chicken
Servings: 4
Calories: 321 kcal
Author: Jessica Fisher
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves , trimmed
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh whole wheat bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 2 cups favorite marinara sauce heated
  • shredded mozzarella or grated parmesan cheese
  • for serving: hot cooked pasta
  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
  2. In a shallow dish, combine the buttermilk, garlic powder, and black pepper. Place the chicken in the buttermilk, turning to coat. Allow to the chicken to marinate while you prepare the breading.
  3. In another shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, salt, basil, and oregano.
  4. Remove the chicken pieces from the buttermilk marinade and dip in the bread crumb mixture, turning to coat all over. Place each breaded chicken piece on the prepared baking sheet and spray with nonstick spray.
  5. Bake the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through.
  6. Serve the chicken with the pasta, topping with marinara sauce and sprinkling on cheese to taste.
Recipe Notes

Promptly store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator, for up to 4 days.

Nutritional values are approximate and do not account for pasta.

Nutrition Facts
Chicken Parmesan
Amount Per Serving
Calories 321 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Fat 7g11%
Saturated Fat 2g13%
Cholesterol 79mg26%
Sodium 1343mg58%
Potassium 905mg26%
Carbohydrates 42g14%
Fiber 6g25%
Sugar 10g11%
Protein 32g64%
Vitamin A 663IU13%
Vitamin C 18mg22%
Calcium 97mg10%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.


Chicken Parmesan Recipe | Good Cheap Eats

Originally published February 15, 2010. Updated February 5, 2018.

About Jessica Fisher

I believe anyone can prepare delicious meals—no matter their budget.

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  1. Chris says

    Can I prepare the chicken breasts up to the point where you dip them in the breadcrumbs and then freeze them until a later date to bake?

    • Jessica says

      I haven’t done it yet, but I’m going to guess that you can. But don’t quote me on that. I’ll add it to my list of things to test. 🙂

    • Updating my reply: you can do so, though you may lose some crispiness in the breadcrumb texture.

  2. Dana says

    I love that the changes you made actually made it cheaper too!

  3. This sounds so yummy! I will definitely have to try it asap! I am like you, I always have broken the pasta. My mom always did so I did too. LOL
    God bless,

  4. Courtney says

    This is so funny, I think that Chicken Parmesan was one of the first dinners I made my husband when we were dating also. We love it and have it regularly. While I still saute my chicken in EVOO, I do use Dijon mustard sometimes instead of eggs or buttermilk. But I think I’ll give this one a try also. Thanks. As always, a huge fan of your site!

  5. I HAVE to try this soon! Thanks!

  6. AllieZirkle says

    We ended up trying out this recipe last night. I baked it on a cooling rack nestled on a cookie sheet. It worked out great! But we decided to saute the cooked breasts in olive oil and butter and bake in some sauce (topped with mozzarella!). It was super easy and super tasty! And yes, it was served with crockpot red sauce and spaghetti with a side salad. YUM!

  7. ray says

    I made this for our Family Valentine’s Dinner last night and the family just couldn’t get enough of it. I like the fact that the chicken is baked and not fried. I did add some parmesaen cheese to bread crumb mixture. The house smelled so good while chicken was in the oven. I served it with noodles and Caesar salad and Malasada’s for dessert.

  8. Tasty says

    Hadn’t intended making chicken parm tonight but, guess what, that’s what we’re going to have tonight. It just sounded good!!
    Thanks Jessica.

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