Crispy Chicken Cutlets are a cult-favorite in our family. We serve them all kinds of different ways, but our current favorite is serving them with a big dollop of creamy ricotta cheese and a zippy tomato and cucumber salad.
Crispy Chicken Cutlets with Ricotta and Tomato Salad
Everyone has their favorite weeknight dinners they whip up time after time. For some, it may be an easy crockpot meal, for others it’s homemade pizza. Because of my profession, there isn’t a lot of repetition in our meals, but when there is, you can bet it’s some form of crispy chicken cutlets. It’s quick, easy, and gets my kids to eat chicken like no other dish does.
Sometimes I’ll treat it like Chicken Piccata, or serve it with marinara and a side of pasta for a play on chicken parmesan. If I have a great side salad (like our fav Brussels sprout salad), I’ll just leave it as is. However, considering we’re on the brink of tomato and cucumber nirvana, I found it only appropriate to turn our family favorite into something totally summer-worthy.
We take our baseline crispy chicken cutlets and dollop them with a little olive oil-spiked ricotta and then smother them in an easy tomato and cucumber salad. When the crispy chicken mixes with the creamy, luxurious ricotta and the acidic tomatoes, it’s a serious match made in heaven.
Ingredients in Crispy Chicken Cutlets
Chicken. I don’t like big thick cuts of chicken in this recipe. Instead I’ll buy a regular chicken breast, and cut it in half lengthwise so I have two thin-cut pieces of chicken breasts. We then pound it out so it’s even thinner. Remember, the thinner, the crispier!
Flour. Flour, egg and bread crumbs are your standard breading ingredients and this crispy chicken cutlet recipe is no different. We start off with a base of seasoned all-purpose flour.
Egg. I mix a little bit of egg with water to thin it out.
Panko. I like to use panko bread crumbs. They’re light and super crispy. If all you have is regular breadcrumbs or homemade bread crumbs, that works just fine as well.
Garlic powder. You don’t necessarily have to season the breadcrumbs as long as you add plenty of salt and pepper, but I like the subtle upgrade garlic powder gives the breading.
Parmesan. Similar to our sheet pan chicken parmesan tenders, I add a little bit of parmesan cheese to the panko coating. It helps it crisp up a little bit better and adds a lovely nutty flavor in the end.
Olive oil and butter. I cook the crispy chicken cutlets in a combination off olive oil and butter. Olive oil allows you to cook at a higher temperature without burning the chicken, and butter adds lots of flavor. If you only have one or the other, that will work as well.
Ricotta. I only buy whole-milk ricotta, it’s creamier and pairs well with savory dishes better than lower-fat versions.
Tomatoes. You can use whatever tomatoes look best at the market. Right now, little heirloom cherry tomatoes are abundant so that’s what I went with. Plus, they’re so darn pretty. Just cut them in half.
Cucumber. Any kind of cucumber will work, but I’m partial to an English or Hot House cucumber because their skin is a little bit thinner and they are seedless.
Red Onion. Not only is red onion pretty, but it adds a nice bite to the tomatoes and cucumber.
Lemon juice and olive oil. All you need to dress the salad is a little bit of lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Let’s make Crispy Chicken Cutlets
Make the salad. Toss tomatoes, cucumber, red onion, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper together in a small bowl. Set aside while you make the chicken.
Flatten the chicken. Cut each chicken breast into two thin pieces of chicken. Place one in between two pieces of plastic wrap. Use a meat mallet or large rolling pin to flatten the chicken until it’s about 1/8-1/4-inch thick. (The thinner the chicken, the crispier it will be.)
Bread the chicken. Start off by adding flour and panko to two medium-sized plates. Season the flour with salt and pepper. Add a little bit of grated parmesan cheese, garlic powder, salt, and pepper to the panko. Mix to combine.
Add the egg to a shallow bowl. Whisk with a little bit of water.
Season the chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. Dredge in the flour. Pat off any excess. Dip in egg. Let any excess drip off. Coat in panko. Repeat with remaining chicken cutlets.
Cook the chicken. Heat a large skillet to a medium heat. Add about three tablespoons of olive oil and two tablespoons of butter. Once the butter melts, add two of the chicken breasts. Cook until the chicken is golden brown and crispy, about 3-4 minutes. Flip and cook another 2-3 minutes until crispy and brown on the other side. Remove and chicken and place on a wire rack set on top of baking sheet. Keep the chicken warm in the oven until you cook the other chicken breasts.
Make the ricotta. Mix ricotta with a little bit of olive oil. salt and pepper.
Assemble. Once all of the chicken is cooked. Divide between four places. Top with a dollop of the ricotta. Spoon tomato salad on top. If you like a little extra kick of salt, top with a sprinkle of Malden sea salt.
What is a chicken cutlet?
So you may be wondering if a chicken breast and a chicken cutlet are the same thing, and the answer is yes. Sort of. So a chicken cutlet is basically a large breast that’s been cut in half and flattened, like we did here. These days, you can probably find chicken breasts already sliced into cutlets at your grocery store. (I know Trader Joe’s does this.)
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Make sure you shake off any excess breading ingredients before going to the next step in the breading process. You want the crispy chicken cutlets to be fully coated, but you want a nice even breading.
- Swap out panko for regular or homemade breadcrumbs.
- If you don’t love ricotta, you could also whip up some goat cheese to serve with our crispy chicken cutlets.
- Be sure you don’t cook the chicken on too high of a temperature. I always hover somewhere between medium and medium-high. You want the temperature to be high enough to brown, but you don’t want it to burn.
- To keep the chicken warm without drying out, place in a 250 degree oven on a cookie cooling rack set over a baking sheet.
- If you want to lighten this crispy chicken cutlet dish up, bake the chicken instead of frying it. It will still be crispy!
- 1/2 cup halved cherry tomatoes
- 1/2 cup diced cucumber
- 1/4 cup sliced red onion
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- 7 tbsp + 2 tsp olive oil, divided
- 2 large chicken breasts
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 large egg + 1 tbsp water
- 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 2 tbsp grated or shredded parmesan cheese
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
- Large skillet
- Preheat oven to 250 degrees. Set a cookie cooling rack over a baking sheet.
- Add tomatoes, cucumber, and red onion to a medium bowl. Add lemon juice and 1 tablespoon of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- Take a very sharp knife and cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise, so you have four thin pieces of chicken breast. Place a chicken breast between two pieces of plastic wrap. Pound out chicken with a meat mallet or rolling pin until it's about 1/8-1/4-inch thick. (The thinner it is, the crispier it will be.)
- Add the flour to a medium plate. Season with salt and pepper. Add the egg and water to a shallow bowl, whisk to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Add the panko, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspooon salt, and parmesan cheese to another medium plate. Toss with fingers to combine.
- Season chicken on both sides with salt and pepper. Dredge in the flour. Pat off any excess flour. Dip in the eggs, let any excess egg drip off. Coat with bread crumbs. Repeat with remaining chicken breasts.
- Heat a large skillet to a medium heat. Once the skillet is hot, add 3 tablespoons of olive oil and 1 tablespoon of butter. Once the butter has melted, swirl the pan to coat. Add two chicken breasts. Cook until golden brown and crisp, about 3-4 minutes. Flip over and cook another 2-3 minutes until golden brown and crisp on the other side. Remove and place on the cookie cooling rack. Keep warm in the oven while you make the rest of the chicken. Repeat process for remaining two breaded chicken cutlets.
- While the second batch of chicken cooks, mix ricotta, remaining 2 teaspoons of olive oil, and a little bit of salt and pepper together. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- To assemble. Place the chicken on the plate. Top with a dollop of ricotta cheese. Scatter the tomato salad on top. Spoon any excess juice over the top of the salad and chicken. If you would like, sprinkle with a little bit of maldon sea salt.