Let me be the first to sing the praises of this dish: I love chicken milanese.
This recipe checks all the boxes. Simple enough for a weeknight? Yes. Something my entire family can enjoy? Absolutely. Dinner party worthy? YEP. I mean, it doesn’t get much better than that. We’ve been making this chicken milanese recipe for years — it is the BEST; foolproof every time!
What is chicken milanese?
Sometimes referred to as chicken milanesa, this dish is very similar to a parmigiana, except that it’s pan-fried in less oil. Milanesa refers to breaded thin cuts of meat common in Italy — in this case chicken milanesa — coated in breadcrumbs or panko, then fried until golden brown. You won’t need a ton of oil to pan fry the chicken cutlets; they’ll finish cooking in the oven. As a result, this chicken milanese recipe never feels greasy or heavy! In fact, just the opposite: it eats light!
Ingredients for chicken milanese
We’re keeping this recipe simple, as it should be! Grab the following and let’s get cooking!
- Fennel bulb plus fennel fronds (don’t discard, we’ll use them in the light salad served on top!)
- All-purpose flour — Used for dredging the chicken cutlets
- Eggs, lightly beaten — On top of the flour, used to adhere and keep the panko breadcrumbs securely on the chicken!
- Panko breadcrumbs — Because nothing adds crunch like panko!
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese — This goes into the panko breading to add a touch of nuttiness!
- Fresh sage — The sage adds the most wonderful, fresh flavor that I love so much! Chopped finely, this gets mixed in with the panko and parmesan.
- Kosher salt
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Chicken cutlets — if you can’t find chicken cutlets, use chicken breast! Simply pound the chicken breast into cutlets about ½” thick and proceed with the recipe.
- High quality extra virgin olive oil — Dress the light fennel salad with high quality extra virgin olive oil, something that’s special, nutty, and a step up from your everyday cooking olive oil.
- Mixed salad greens — To serve on top of the pan-fried chicken cutlets
- Flaky sea salt — As with most of my recipes, I give the finished dish a generous sprinkle of flaky sea salt. It brings all the flavors out and adds the loveliest crunch!
- Lemon wedges — A bright hint of acidity rounds out the flavors of the pan-fried chicken cutlets and the distinct anise flavor of the raw fennel.
- Canola or vegetable oil — To fry the chicken cutlets.
Season pan-fried chicken cutlets with flaky sea salt as soon as you remove them from the hot oven to serve! The salt sticks better when it hits the hot baked chicken milanese (versus room-temp).
Variations on chicken milanese (milanesa)
You can totally use something other than breaded chicken cutlets! Other common preparations of classic Italian milanese include beef, pork cutlets, veal chops, or even eggplant (an absolute favorite for me and my hubby!). Speaking of… leftovers from this recipe on an Italian hero roll? Um, yes please — makes one heck of a chicken milanese sandwich!
The pans above are a breading set I purchased years ago from Williams Sonoma. They make breading chicken cutlets SO MUCH EASIER. You can achieve the same breading station setup by using ⅛” sheet pans!
Prep time for chicken milanese
I wish I could say this recipe was ready in 10 minutes or less, but when you’re breading anything, it takes time. If you’ve got your ingredients mise en placed (prepped and ready to go before you begin cooking), you should be able to breeze through the breading process in 15 minutes, start to finish.
To cook chicken cutlets on the stove
- Heat a few tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. The amount of oil will depend on the size of the pan you use — you need an even layer on the bottom of the pan that goes up approximately ⅛” – ¼” up the side.
- When oil is hot, transfer breaded chicken cutlets to pan and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown, but not burned. Flip and cook another 3 minutes.
You can transfer chicken cutlets directly from the hot pan into the oven to finish cooking (6-8 minutes at 350F, or until chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165F).
If you’re making a larger quantity to feed a crowd, move chicken cutlets directly from the skillet to a baking sheet with a cooling rack on top. The chicken will stay crisp as long as it’s not directly on the baking sheet and air can circulate beneath.
Serving suggestions for chicken milanese
I always serve this chicken milanese recipe with mixed spring greens or arugula and a shaved fennel salad. Dress the fennel very lightly with olive oil and kosher salt – super quick and easy! It’s beyond simple, but exactly what I crave with pan-fried chicken. A squeeze of lemon juice on top of the cooked chicken is the perfect finishing touch. If you enjoy arugula as much as I do (that peppery bite is the BEST), you will love that here as well!
As far as side dishes for chicken milanese, roasted potatoes, mashed potatoes, or couscous would be lovely and not too lengthy in terms of prep or cook time (remember, we’re making this simple enough for a weeknight!).
Can breaded chicken milanese be frozen?
I always enjoy eating classic milanese fresh, but yes you can pre-cook the chicken cutlets, let them cool completely, and then store in an airtight container in your freezer until needed. To reheat, simply place on a baking sheet and heat at 350F until warmed up and crispy again, about 10-12 minutes.
Regardless of whether the chicken is cooked fresh or reheated, don’t toss the mixed salad greens or arugula and shaved fennel in olive oil until just before you serve! Otherwise, they’ll wilt and look very sad. Ain’t nobody want sad salad!
Classic breaded chicken Milanese is nothing new — pan-fried chicken cutlets, seasoned with breadcrumbs or panko and parmesan cheese, usually served with a light green salad on top is loved by many. It’s the shaved fennel salad, however, that take this over the top.
Fennel is essentially the vegetable version of licorice. To prevent the flavor from overpowering the chicken milanese, soak thin slices of fennel in ice water while you prep the rest of the dish. A mere 10 minutes in an ice bath is all you need!
Toss the thinly sliced fennel with salad greens or arugula just before serving. And don’t forget to use the reserved fennel fronds — they add SO much flavor to the salad. Perfect every single time!
Give this breaded chicken milanese recipe a chance and I pinky promise it’ll become a favorite in your household, just as it has in ours. Elevated weeknight classics for the win!
As part of my Date Night In series, I’m offering up a few wine suggestions to serve alongside. The distinct flavor of raw fennel is a match made in heaven medium-bodied, crisp white wines.
White wine: The grassiness of Sauvignon Blanc (especially Sancerre) is a natural pairing with crunchy, bright fennel. Another good option is Viognier, with its luscious, viscous, full-flavored mouthfeel with notes of apricot and nectarine.
Red wine: A fruit forward, medium-bodied Pinot Noir is your go-to here! Sebastopol Hills Pinot Noir is my FAVORITE. With its luscious notes of black cherries and it’s nice long finish, it drinks far more expensive than the moderate price tag that accompanies it. I always keep a few bottles on hand!
If you make Weeknight Chicken Milanese, please let me know by leaving a review below!
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For more simple weeknight meals, check out the following recipes:
- Weeknight Salmon with Herb-Shallot Butter
- Easy Chicken Meatballs
- Sausage Stuffed Acorn Squash with Shiitakes and Apples
- Veal Saltimbocca (Saltimbocca alla Romana)
- Turkey Feta Burgers with Apple Cabbage Slaw
- Asian Stuffed Peppers
Chicken Milanese with fennel salad
- ⅛" sheet pans for breading
- 1 large or 2 small fennel bulbs fronds reserved
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 3 eggs
- 1 ½ cups panko breadcrumbs
- ½ cup parmesan cheese grated
- 2 Tbsp fresh sage finely chopped
- 2 Tbsp kosher salt divided
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 6 chicken cutlets
- 3 Tbsp high quality olive oil divided
- 3 cups mixed salad greens
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges for serving
- flaky sea salt
- canola or vegetable oil for frying
- Cut the fennel. Preheat oven to 350F. Cut the stems and fronds off the fennel (reserve ¼ cup of the greens!), then discard any bruised outer layers. Cut the fennel bulb in half lengthwise, then using a paring knife cut out the tough part of the core (you essentially cut a small triangle shape to remove). Thinly slice the fennel and place in a bowl of ice water.
- Set up the breading stations. In a small, shallow container or bowl, combine 1 cup all-purpose flour with 1 Tbsp Kosher salt and 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper. Whisk 3 eggs in a medium bowl to combine. Combine 1 ½ cups panko, ½ cup Parmesan, 2 Tbsp sage, and remaining 1 Tbsp salt in a separate dish.
- Preheat oil. Heat a few tablespoons of olive or vegetable oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. The amount of oil will depend on the size of the pan you use — you need an even layer on the bottom of the pan that goes up approximately ⅛" – ¼" up the side.
- Dredge cutlets in flour. Move chicken to the eggs, turning to coat on all sides, then shake off any excess. Evenly coat cutlets on all sides in panko breadcrumbs. When oil is hot, transfer chicken and cook for 3-4 minutes per side, until golden brown, but not burned.
- Finish in the oven. Move pan to the oven and bake for 6-8 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked through. Chicken is safe to eat at 165F, but you can remove it from the oven when it’s reached ~155F — it will continue to cook while it rests.
- Make the salad. While chicken is resting, toss salad greens with 1 Tbsp high quality olive oil in a medium bowl to coat; season with additional salt and pepper to taste.
- Season the fennel. Drain the fennel and pat dry on a paper towel to remove any excess water. Toss with 1-2 Tbsp olive oil and toss to coat.
- Finish and serve. Season chicken with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, then sprinkle each cutlet with a pinch of flaky sea salt. Mound salad atop chicken, then top with plenty of sliced fennel. Garnish with reserved fennel fronds. Serve immediately.
- To freeze: pre-cook the breaded chicken cutlets, let cool completely, then store in an airtight container in your freezer until needed. Will last up to 3 months.
- To reheat: simply place frozen breaded chicken milanese on a baking sheet and heat at 350F until warmed up and crispy again, about 10-12 minutes. Do NOT toss fennel and mixed greens until just before serving!
- Gluten free: while this chicken milanese recipe is not gluten free, you could substitute gluten free panko breadcrumbs in place of traditional.
- Variations on milanese: other common proteins include veal cutlets or pork cutlets.
This chicken milanese recipe was originally posted in fall of 2017 and has since been updated with tips, tricks, and new photos to make it easier to follow along at home!