Crispy Chicken Cutlets with Lemon

September 13, 2019

This used to be a recipe for crispy chicken with arugula, roasted potatoes, and maybe a sauce. I dreamt of an entire dinner emerging effortlessly from one recipe- but all I ended up with was a sheet pan of chicken cutlets. 

And I couldn’t stop eating them. 

This recipe needs no accompaniment. Better to skip the sides and save room for seconds and thirds and sneaky bites straight from the pan. 

Crispy strips of chicken sprinkled with flaky salt and a squeeze of lemon are as addictive as a bag of chips, but with a nutritional value that qualifies as dinner-worthy. 

Serve this with a lemony salad and it’s a complete, healthy meal.

Crispy chicken cutlets on a white plate with a green salad.

The golden-brown, panko crust appeals to even the pickiest eaters, while the lean, white-meat protein might just be America’s most agreed-upon food. Who says we live in polarizing times?

Everyone can get along over a plate of (lightly) fried poultry.

Crispy chicken cutlets save the night as a craveworthy, healthy-ish recipe that your family will love. Their superpower lies in simplicity, subtle spice, and universal appeal.

When you bring this to the table on a Wednesday night, you become everyone’s weeknight dinner hero. 

Let’s Make Crispy Chicken Cutlets

We’ll get the worst part of this recipe out of the way: halving and pounding the chicken breasts to an even thickness.

This can be tedious work. I find it easier to slip one or two of the halved breasts into a large ziplock bag, seal it, and then pound them. Dealing with a tangle of raw meat in plastic wrap can cause the tired weeknight cook to order a pizza. 

The next step involves dipping, so all of the labor is uphill from here. 

It’s the classic breaded chicken cutlet dipping formula: beaten eggs, breadcrumbs or panko, shake off excess, set aside. Repeat. 

Raw chicken breast being dipped in panko in a glass bowl.

Next you’ll sear the chicken in a shallow pool of olive oil until it crisps like a tanned beachgoer under the sun.

Once you see that gorgeously golden-brown crust for the first time, you’ll know your labor was worth it. I imagine new moms feel the same way about their first baby (no?).

A final sprinkle of flaky salt (use regular salt if you don’t have flaky) and a hit of lemon make a good thing great. Pass extra lemon wedges at the table for the citrus-curious.

If by some stroke of luck there are leftovers, the chicken cutlets would make a stunning addition to a sandwich with too many pickles and a slick of mayo.

In fact, set one aside for yourself before serving. Be your own hero and enjoy a good night’s work again, tomorrow.

Crispy Chicken Cutlets with Tarragon and Lemon

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (4 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)
Dinner American
By Samantha Serves: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes Cooking Time: 20 minutes Total Time: 40 minutes

A craveworthy, healthy-ish recipe that your family will love. Sometimes simplicity is the greatest superpower.


  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast
  • Salt
  • 2 cups panko, plus more as needed
  • 2 large eggs
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Flaky sea salt (such as Maldon)
  • 2 lemons, quartered into wedges



Halve the chicken breasts through the middle (opening the chicken like a book, then halving through the middle) so you are left with two thinner cutlets per chicken breast. Working with one or two at a time, place the chicken in a ziplock back and, using a meat mallet, rolling pin, or heavy-bottomed skillet, flatten chicken to 1/4-inch thickness. Set aside on a large cutting board, season on both sides with salt.


Place panko in a large, wide bowl. Whisk eggs in a separate wide bowl.


Dip chicken in beaten eggs, turn to coat and shake off excess. Dredge in panko mixture, using your hands to pat the panko into the chicken until it sticks and there are no bare spots. Set aside on a parchment-lined baking sheet or large plate.


Heat 3 tablespoons of oil in large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, cook cutlets until golden brown and cooked through, about 2-3 minutes per side, adding more oil after each batch. Transfer to a wire rack or large plate. Be sure to scrape off any burnt bits of panko in between batches to avoid a smoky kitchen.


Sprinkle the crispy cutlets with flaky salt and serve hot, passing the lemon wedges around the table.


  • 521 Calories


If you can find them at the grocery store, thinly-sliced chicken cutlets make this recipe a little easier; you can skip the step of halving and pounding full chicken breasts. A cold, light-bodied wine would pair nicely with the crispy fried chicken. Try a dry, crisp rosé or a lemony unoaked chardonnay.

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  • Reply
    September 19, 2019 at 7:54 pm

    Thank you for another tasty recipe. I used chicken thighs which are a bit easier to pound thin. Tasted fabulous. And I really appreciate all your helpful tips as I need all I can get.

    • Reply
      September 20, 2019 at 6:02 am

      Yes love the idea of using chicken thighs instead! They can be tastier too 🙂

  • Reply
    September 20, 2019 at 2:20 pm

    I tried to give 5 stars but it registered lower and I can’t fix it. 😳

    • Reply
      September 20, 2019 at 3:32 pm

      Haha it’s not your fault- it’s the recipe card’s fault!! You have to click it all the way to the right to register as 5 stars, my mom has accidentally rated my recipes lower a couple times. It’s confusing- I should get a different plug-in. Thank you 🙂

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