A restaurant classic made healthier while still being just as crispy and juicy as the original! This Healthy Chicken Parmesan recipe features a crisp golden-brown crust, juicy moist chicken, and of course, delicious melty cheese.
Most chicken parmesan served in restaurants are comprised of a thin chicken breast coated in a thick greasy layer of deep-fried breading. The result is an ultra-heavy dish lacking in flavor.
This healthier chicken parmesan features everything you love about the classic without all the heavy greasiness.
Chicken: boneless, skinless chicken breasts are perfect for chicken Parmesan. They’re lean, high in protein, and tender. Be sure to use fairly large chicken breasts (about 8 ounces each), you’ll be halving them horizontally into thinner breast halves.
Breadcrumbs: in this case we’re using Panko (I like whole-wheat Panko). No regular breadcrumbs or flour—just the good stuff! Panko is light and super crispy, which is perfect for baked breaded chicken.
Cheeses: this is chicken Parmesan, so of course there is Parmesan cheese! Parmesan is used in the coating mixture while shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese is sprinkled over the crispy golden-brown chicken and baked until melty.
Herbs: basil and parsley are both great. I like to use a combination, but you can certainly use one or the other.
Pasta (optional): spaghetti is classic with chicken Parmesan, and here I serve it with whole-wheat spaghetti. Feel free to substitute with zucchini noodles for an even lighter, low-carb dish.
How to make healthy chicken parmesan
- Preheat the oven and a baking sheet.
- Make the breading—combine Panko, Parmesan, olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Beat the egg.
- Prep the chicken—cut the chicken breasts into two equal, thinner halves and pound out into an even ¼-inch thickness.
- Bread the chicken—dip the chicken pieces in egg, followed by the Panko mixture to coat.
- Bake—coat the hot baking sheet with nonstick spray, place breaded chicken pieces on baking sheet and bake until golden brown.
- Top with cheese—flip the chicken pieces and top with mozzarella; bake until nearly cooked through.
- Boil—turn the oven, move sheet to top rack and broil chicken until cheese is bubbly and starting to brown.
- Serve—serve chicken parmesan over pasta or zoodles with tomato sauce and herbs.
Test Kitchen Tips
Don’t sauce the chicken—most chicken Parmesan recipes call for spooning sauce over the breaded chicken before adding the cheese. This defeats the whole purpose of creating a crisp golden crust! Instead, top the breaded chicken with cheese and bake until melted and bubbly. Serve the crispy, cheesy chicken with the marinara sauce.
Preheat the baking sheet—since we aren’t frying the chicken, it can be challenging to get a nice crispy crust. A hot baking sheet helps with this. The moment the breaded chicken hits the sheet, it start to toast and get crispy.
Broil the chicken—bake the chicken just until it’s about cooked through (160ºF), then turn the oven to boil and transfer the sheet to the top rack to finish cooking. Broiling the chicken to finish makes it more crispy and browns the cheese, which adds flavor.
Use high-quality ingredients—this is a pillar of good cooking, especially when it comes to recipes with few ingredients. The better your ingredients, the better the end result will be.
- Use slices of fresh mozzarella instead of part-skim
- Add Italian seasoning to the Panko mixture
- Serve over zoodles (spiralized zucchini) instead of spaghetti
- Make it gluten-free by using gluten-free Panko and gluten-free spaghetti or zoodles. Use certified gluten-free spaghetti sauce.
Make it a meal, serve healthy chicken Parmesan with…
- Creamy Cucumber Salad
- Healthy Broccoli Salad
- Simple Fennel Salad
- Salad with Oranges and Candied Pistachios
- Instant Pot Steamed Broccoli
How to store chicken parmesan
Healthy Chicken Parmesan is best enjoyed immediately after cooking. If you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a skillet with some olive oil over medium-heat. Or slice and serve cold over a salad.
More Chicken Recipes to Try
- Our one-pan Chicken Marbella recipe is loaded with flavor and far quicker to make than the traditional version. A must-try!
- Make our favorite Crispy Oven-Fried Chicken Cutlets. Serve them alongside our Celery Salad with buffalo sauce.
- Give our Healthy Baked Chicken Parmesan a try! Serve it with whole-wheat spaghetti and marinara.
Juicy, moist chicken coated in a light and crispy breading. Topped with melty cheese and served with tomato sauce and pasta—this healthy Chicken Parmesan is a delicious and quick weeknight dinner.
- 1 cup whole-wheat Panko
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 1 large egg
- 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (8-ounces each)
- Nonstick spray
- ¾ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella
- 1 pound dry spaghetti, optional
- 1 recipe Quick Red Wine Pasta Sauce, or marinara of choice
- Parsley and/or basil
Preheat oven to 450ºF (232ºC) with racks set in top and bottom thirds. Place a baking sheet on bottom rack while oven preheats. If serving with pasta, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
Combine Panko, Parmesan, oil, and ½ teaspoon each salt and pepper in a shallow dish. Lightly beat egg in a second shallow dish.
Halve chicken breasts horizontally into two thinner halves. Cover breast halves with plastic wrap and pound to an even ¼-inch thickness with a meat pounder; pat chicken dry.
Dip chicken pieces in egg, then dip in Panko mixture, pressing to coat thoroughly.
Working quickly, remove baking sheet from oven and coat with nonstick spray. Transfer breaded chicken to baking sheet and bake, on bottom rack, 6 minutes.
Remove sheet from oven, flip chicken pieces, then top each piece with 3 tablespoons mozzarella. Continue to bake chicken on bottom rack until mozzarella melts and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest parts of chicken registers 160°F (71ºC), about 5 minutes.
Transfer sheet to top rack, turn oven to broil and broil chicken until cheese is golden brown and breading is crispy, 1–2 minutes.
Meanwhile, generously season boiling water with salt*, add spaghetti and cook according to package directions.
Drain spaghetti and return to now-empty pot.
Serve chicken over pasta with tomato sauce and parsley and/or basil.
GLUTEN-FREE: use gluten-free Panko instead of whole-wheat or regular.
*Seasoning pasta water: when I say generous, I mean generous. Add 1–2 tablespoons kosher salt.
- Serving Size: 1 chicken piece
- Calories: 305
- Sugar: 0.5g
- Sodium: 634mg
- Fat: 15g
- Saturated Fat: 5g
- Carbohydrates: 4g
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 36g
- Cholesterol: 132mg
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