Cooking for One

Crispy Chicken Parmesan With Fresh Tomato Sauce

October  4, 2022
21 Ratings
Photo by Ty Mecham. Food stylist: Anna Billingskog. Prop stylist: Amanda Widis.
  • Prep time 15 minutes
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Serves 1
Author Notes

My take on parmigiana hits all the familiar notes of the Italian-American classic, but with a couple twists and turns: Fresh tomatoes make for a bright, savory base for a shatteringly crisp, panko-crusted chicken cutlet. As someone who grew up on those “Italian-style” bread crumbs from the can, I reach for a couple powerhouse pantry staples to sprinkle into my panko: garlic powder and dried oregano (the latter of which makes everything taste like pizza to me). And just to drive the “parmigiana” point home, a fat sprinkling of Parmesan cheese goes into this breading, as well, lending great flavor and frico-like texture to the chicken.

As for the blanket of mozzarella on top, usually recipes will ask that you turn on your broiler to melt the cheese, but all I do, lazily, is lay over a couple slices and cover the pan with a lid. The fresh, milky cheese will melt in the residual heat, offering that signature mild counterpoint to the sour-sweet tomato sauce and salty, savory cutlet. No oven. No extra baking dish. Speaking of which, the key to this recipe lies, for me, in the plating. Inspired by Gordon Ramsay and Chef John of Food Wishes, I like to lay the sauce down on the plate first, then top it with the crispy cutlet. I find that this eats better and stays crunchier than the more traditional layering of chicken, sauce, then cheese (which just becomes soggy after a while).

This chicken Parmesan feeds one hungry soul, though you could certainly double or triple the recipe to feed more mouths. Most importantly, I can say this, without an ounce of hesitation: In my two years of writing my column, Table for One, this is my favorite recipe I’ve ever developed for it.

Featured in: A Single-Serving Chicken Parmesan, Because You Deserve a Proper Dinner. —Eric Kim

What You'll Need
  • For the sauce:
  • 2 medium vine-ripened tomatoes (about 8 ounces), roughly chopped
  • 1 small yellow onion (about 4 ounces), roughly chopped
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • For the chicken:
  • 1 5- to 6-ounce chicken breast
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan, divided
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 pound fresh mozzarella, thinly sliced
  • Fresh oregano or torn basil leaves, for garnish (optional)
  1. In a small saucepan over medium-high heat, add the tomatoes, onion, butter, oregano, sugar, salt, and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and continue cooking for 15 more minutes, stirring occasionally, until reduced slightly. Transfer sauce to a liquid measuring cup (or just something narrower than the saucepan) and puree with a stick blender until smooth, or you could also blitz it in a food processor. Cover to keep warm and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, place the chicken breast between two sheets of parchment paper or plastic wrap, or in a large resealable plastic bag, and bash with a rolling pin until uniformly thin. Season with salt and pepper on both sides.
  3. Set up your breading station: On a large plate, stir together the mayonnaise and mustard. On another large plate, stir together the panko, garlic powder, oregano, 1/4 cup of Parmesan, salt, and pepper. Transfer chicken to the first plate and smother with the mayo-mustard mixture, making sure it’s completely covered on both sides. Then, transfer chicken to the second plate and press down, flipping and pressing down multiple times to ensure even panko stickage on both sides. Place breaded chicken in the fridge, uncovered on this second plate, to rest; or if you're ready to eat, go straight to the next step.
  4. In a large skillet, heat olive oil until very hot and shimmering. Add the chicken and fry for 2 minutes on the first side, and 1 to 2 minutes on the second side, or until cooked through. Sprinkle top with remaining 1/4 cup of Parmesan and lay over the slices of fresh mozzarella. Turn off the heat and cover the skillet with a lid until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes.
  5. To serve, first lay the sauce down, covering the entire plate. Then, place the fried chicken cutlet over the sauce and garnish with fresh oregano or basil. More often than not, I like to eat this just as is, maybe with a hunk of bread to sop up the sauce. But you could also serve it with a simple green salad or, if you're really hungry, with some buttered pasta.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Allison Klein
    Allison Klein
  • eluu
  • Pamela_in_Tokyo
  • Pamela Turner
    Pamela Turner
  • natalie
Eric Kim was the Table for One columnist at Food52. He is currently working on his first cookbook, KOREAN AMERICAN, to be published by Clarkson Potter in 2022. His favorite writers are William Faulkner, John Steinbeck, and Ernest Hemingway, but his hero is Nigella Lawson. You can find his bylines at The New York Times, where he works now as a writer. Follow him on Twitter and Instagram at @ericjoonho.

23 Reviews

Helen H. May 9, 2022
I made this meal last night, but used Spanish onions which sort of overwhelmed the sauce. I have enough left for tonight and will add tomato concentrate to balance it. Other than that, the chicken was tender, the taste spectacular.. such a step up from our normal “parmigiana”, so thank you Emma.. love your work!
mimi3 January 10, 2022
Both the mayo/mustard coating and the bread crumbs had great flavor. My only issue was that the coating fell off of the chicken in pieces when we cut into it. What can I do to avoid this if I make it again?
Allison K. August 12, 2021
this was great for my extra-ripe CSA tomatoes!
eluu August 29, 2020
Eric - do you think this chicken parmesan would hold up well in the freezer? Asking for my husband, who will be eternally grateful to you when our baby comes and midnight meals might become a new family tradition!
lisa August 3, 2020
WOW, Eric, just,WOW! I have a ton of fresh ripe heirloom tomatoes from my Virginia garden and you have helped with the conundrum. Our dinner was super lovely and my (chicken breast hating ) husband, was completely satisfied with the panko crisped thin breaded cheese topped yumm of a dinner. He is still savoring. I will make this again and I'm sure he will ask for it again, and again. What is next on your list? I'll be waiting.
Eric K. August 23, 2020
YUM. Next up is...
Pamela_in_Tokyo August 3, 2020
I can’t wait to try this ... it looks wonderful. I think I’m going to do it tonight!
Please, please, more recipes for one!
Eric K. August 23, 2020
Thanks, Pamela!

So curious: What are some of your favorite solo dinners in Tokyo?
M July 31, 2020
My kid is allergic to eggs, I wonder how this would work with omitting the mayo and adding a little olive oil to the mustard - she loves crispy chicken so this might be a winner.
Eric K. July 31, 2020
Mustard alone would be sufficient, actually!
Pamela T. July 30, 2020
Loved this! I skipped the refrigerator step and moved straight to cooking. I had rip roaring hot oil in my stainless skillet and the crust was beautiful. I was in awe—surprised and pleased—when I flipped it over to cook the second side. I half expected it to lose the crumb mixture. While luck was on my side, I felt like a satisfied and competent cook with th execution. My breast was ~9 oz. which made enough for husband and I to share one piece. The amount of mayo mixture and breading mixture adequately covered this bigger portion of meat, too. I did make the Marcella Hassan tomato sauce since I was out of fresh tomatoes. We look forward to having this one again soon.
thags July 27, 2020
Devouring it right now! As with all your recipes for 1 (which as a single I adore), it's fabulous.
Eric K. July 28, 2020
I'm so glad. Thank you.
natalie July 27, 2020
Eric- what skillet did you use to fry the chicken? We used our stainless steel and struggled with the breading falling apart. Any tips?

Fab recipe! Only personal preference was to cut the sugar a bit (probably due to the tomatoes I used) and added a wee bit of red wine vinegar and more garlic powder to tomato sauce!
Eric K. July 28, 2020
I used a large nonstick skillet, about 10 inches. Maybe the oil wasn't hot enough? Stainless steel skillets are notorious for sticky food unless they're ripping hot. A hot pan / hot oil also ensures that the breading crisps up immediately. You could also let the breaded chicken rest in the fridge for a few minutes before frying; I prep cutlets in advance like this all the time and feel that they fry up a little better than just-breaded chicken. Hope that helps!
Jana July 26, 2020
Weird, I commented on this from my phone before there were any comments and it's not here. I was excited about this as I too live alone, although I am never adverse to leftovers. I am using chicken thighs as I have no chicken breasts at the moment. They are boneless and skinless. I will let you know how they come out Eric. Thanks for this drool-worthy recipe!
Eric K. July 28, 2020
Thanks, Jana!
natalie July 25, 2020
CANNOT wait to try with the tomatoes that are almost ripe. Always love your cooking for one renditions!!!
Eric K. July 28, 2020
Thank you, Natalie!
Bevi July 24, 2020
This looks delicious and considerably less work than a chx parm I made about 2 weeks ago. In the meantime, I will try the breading on some eggplant discs and make the sauce as a nice bed for the eggplant to rest upon.
Eric K. July 25, 2020
Let me know how it goes! The breading itself is wonderful -- but I feel like anything with dried oregano and garlic powder tastes great :)
AntoniaJames July 23, 2020
Cannot wait to try this soon. I probably won't have any chicken breasts for a while, so in the meantime, I'm going to try that breading on the fried green tomatoes (from my garden!) which I'll put on tartines (Moxie bread!) for supper tomorrow evening. Stay tuned. ;o)
Eric K. July 25, 2020
That sounds so fab. Love fried green tomatoes.