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:
- plastic cutting boards – I have blue boards for veggies and white boards for meat.
- Ergo Chef chef’s knife – I’ve had my set for several years and they work well.
- food processor or Vitamix — to make the breadcrumbs.
- sheet pans — Buying commercial pans was a game changer.
- parchment paper — because I don’t like dish washing.
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breast , trimmed
- 1 ½ cup fresh bread crumbs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon dried basil
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- olive oil spray
- 2 cup marinara sauce heated
- 2 oz mozzarella cheese (shredded) (½ cup)
- 1 oz Parmesan cheese (shredded) (¼ cup)
- 1 lb penne pasta cooked
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
- 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.
- In another shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, salt, basil, and oregano.
- 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 olive oil spray.
- Bake the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes or until cooked through.
- Serve the chicken with the pasta, topping with marinara sauce and sprinkling on cheese to taste.
Originally published February 15, 2010. Updated February 5, 2018.