‘Make it’ Chicken Parmesan: Healthified! I promise, it’s true!


Make It

The Mister’s favorite food in the entire world is Chicken Parmesan, specifically from Olive Garden (although he claims anything from Burger King is a VERY close second –gag!)

Are you drolling, Mister? (image credit: Olive Garden)

Are you drooling, Mister? (image credit: Olive Garden)

Let me just say, for the record, I am not a fan of the Olive Garden. Sorry, we’re not friends. The Mister and I are lucky enough to live in Cleveland’s very own Little Italy. Our neighborhood has the most authentic Italian restaurants in the area! For the Mister to even CONSIDER the Olive Garden after dining in restaurants such as Trattoria, La Dolce Vita and Mama Santa’s is sinful! (note, in some cases Olive Garden is actually MORE expensive, so don’t go thinking this is a price issue!) Whatever, he and my darling brother love the Olive Garden and always taunt me with it when we’re trying to decide where to go out to eat. Gross. If I’m going to eat Italian food I want it to taste like authentic Italian food. OK — I’m done. Rant over ;)

Cleveland's Little Italy (image credit: Cleveland.com)

Cleveland's Little Italy (image credit: Cleveland.com)

My hood (image credit: Cleveland.com)

My hood (image credit: Cleveland.com)

La Dolce Vita - one of my faves (image credit: Cleveland.com)

La Dolce Vita - one of my faves (image credit: Cleveland.com)

While I also happen to enjoy Chicken Parmesan, I try and save the dish for special occasions since it’s pretty high in fat and calories. I normally grill my portion of the chicken and just add the sauce and cheese. It’s not that I don’t like crunchy fried coating, because trust me, I do! I know it’s delicious. But I also know that I’d rather spend the calories and fat on ice cream ;)

It wasn’t until I ran across a Cooks Illustrated light ‘oven-fried chicken’ recipe that I realized I could probably lighten up the dish a bit. See, the chefs at Cooks Illustrated realized that by cooking the chicken in a different way, using an iron rack on top of a baking sheet instead of a frying pan, the fried tasting crunchy coating could still be achieved without all the fat and calories! I did a bit of research, read a bunch of recipes and came up with a dish that the Mister likes BETTER than the original. (He says this method makes the coating extra crunchy — his favorite part!)

You’ll need:

Your favorite homemade marinara sauce, or in my case — your favorite store bought marinara sauce (don’t judge!). I figure, If I’m making Chicken Parmesan from scratch, I’m not going to feel bad about short-cutting it with the sauce!

Preheat oven to 475
Combine panko crumbs and oil and toast over medium heat for about 10 minutes — until golden. This will help achieve the crunchy coating we all know and love. Set crumbs aside in a dish, cool and stir in the Parmesan.
Combine flour, garlic powder, 1 tablespoon of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of pepper in a separate dish.
In a third dish, whisk together egg whites/beaters and water.

Now here is the secret behind the crunchy crust (no frying required!)
Line your baking sheet with foil.
Place a cooling rack on top and coat with non stick spray (using an iron rack on top of the baking sheet, instead of just the baking sheet, allows hot air to circulate around the chicken and help make the breading crispy — eliminating soggy bottoms!).

Dab chicken with paper towels and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Dunk cutlet into the flour mixture, shaking off any excess. Dip into egg whites, letting the excess drip off, and then coat with the panko bread crumbs. Press bread crumbs firmly into chicken to ensure they adhere. Place chicken on iron rack.
Spray the chicken with non stick cooking spray (this will help give the chicken the ‘fried’ taste, without all the oil!).
Bake for about 15 minutes

Remove from oven and top with sauce and cheese (as much as you desire! – recipe recommends 2-3 tablespoons of sauce and cheese per cutlet).
Bake until cheese melts.
Garnish with basil and parsley. .

You’re done! See, wasn’t that easy?

Serve up with some of your favorite whole wheat pasta or cooked vegetables. Sometimes I just enjoy it alongside of fresh bread and olive oil. Yummmmm.

What’s your favorite dish? Do you have a special way you lighten it up, or do you just occasionaly indulge?

16 Responses to “‘Make it’ Chicken Parmesan: Healthified! I promise, it’s true!”

  1. That looks fantastic!!! I did a “healthed up” mac and cheese last night… I think you’d like it!

  2. VeggieGirl says:

    LITTLE ITALY!!!!! Love it :-D And your dish looks fabulous!!

    My favorite dish = my signature B-S-Cubed Dish (scroll down in the linked post):


  3. K says:

    My favorite dish to both indulge in and make healthier (sometimes) is tiramisu! I love it!!

    Well done healthifying the chicken parm!!

  4. Anais says:

    I’ve never tried chicken parmesan, believe it or not lol! I just might have to now ;) I’m a BIG fan of eggplant parmesan though…yum! I think I just might have to make some soon ;)

  5. Well, if the Mister likes this light version better than the original then maybe I’ll be able to fool my chicken parm lovin’ hubby! Thanks for the great recipe!

  6. Kirwin says:

    I love seeing photos of your “hood.” I had no idea what Cleveland looks like–it’s adorable!

    Umm…that sounds good. I may have to try that this week. thanks for the recipe!

  7. Ashley says:

    that recipe sounds delicious!! thanks girly!

  8. Marion says:

    Ugh… I am totally in agreement with you on Olive Garden. This sounds delicious, though! I’m definitely going to make this sometime soon.

    If you love Italian food, I highly recommend Jamie Oliver’s cookbook Jamie’s Italy. Not only are the recipes good, the photography and book design are beautiful! :)

  9. This sounds really good! Thanks for the secret to the crunchy crust. I love crunchy food… :)

  10. sue says:

    i love little italy! what a fun and extremely delicious neighborhood to live in!

  11. Haley says:

    That looks deeeelicious! Must try it!

  12. rychelle says:

    we make this a lot at my house. and it is delish!

  13. Elina says:

    I love chicken parm. I’ve made Ellie Krieger’s version before and it was very delicious. I’m going to save your recipe as well :)

  14. that looks great, i love a good chicken parm.

  15. Michelle says:

    Reading this makes me miss living in Cleveland. I’m a former resident of Lakewood and I loved driving to the East Side to roam around Little Italy and do some people-watching. I TOTALLY agree with you — Olive Garden has NOTHING on the restaurants in Cleveland’s Little Italy.

    Taste As You Go

  16. [...] Best.Pasta.Ever. No joke. And I live in LITTLE ITALY! This gnocchi was sensational. Each pillowy noodle melts in your mouth and sets your taste buds [...]

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