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Lighter Chicken Parmesan

Before Mr. P moved to Italy and I had the privilege of spending lots of time traveling the country, my exposure to Italian food was…Olive Garden. Don’t laugh. I still love Olive Garden. However, America has made-over the Italian cuisine, just as they have Mexican and many, many others.

In Italy, there is no Chicken Parmesan. SHOCK! AWE! HORROR!

I know.

You can find chicken in the esselunga (grocery store), but I never once found it on a restaurant menu. Beef, veal, and seafood were the most common proteins of choice in Italy. While I know Chicken Parmesan isn’t “Italian”…it doesn’t make me love it any less. In typical Prevention RD fashion, the chicken was rolled in Panko and baked to a crisp. A perfect, lightened-up rendition of the popular deep-fried faux-Italian favorite!


Lighter Chicken Parmesan as seen on Melissa Bakes and Brown Eyed Baker, originally from Cook’s Illustrated, October 2006

1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs
1 Tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper
2 large egg whites
1 Tbsp water
non-stick cooking spray
3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (~8 oz each), halved width-wise to create thinner breasts
1 cup marinara sauce, warmed (plus more for pasta, if desired)
1/2 cup part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded


Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees.

Heat a large skillet over medium heat and add oil. When the oil is hot, stir in the panko and stir often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Spread the bread crumbs in a shallow dish and cool slightly; when cool, stir in the Parmesan.

In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper together. In a third shallow dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, place a wire rack on top, and spray the rack with vegetable oil spray. Lightly dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the egg whites, and finally coat with the bread crumbs, Press on the bread crumbs to make sure they adhere. Lay the chicken on the wire rack and bake about 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the oven. Spoon 2 tablespoons of the sauce onto the center of each cutlet and top the sauce with 2 tablespoons of the mozzarella. Return the chicken to the oven and continue to bake until the cheese has melted, about 5 minutes. Serve over whole wheat pasta and additional marinara and parmesan, if desired. Yield: 6 servings (4 ounces each).

Nutrition Information (per serving): 264 calories; 6.3 g. fat; 66 mg. cholesterol; 483 mg. sodium; 16.3 g. carbohydrate; 0.8 g. fiber; 34.8 g. protein

Result: This was delicious! I am a sucker for Chicken Parm (even though it’s not “Italian” 😉 ). The outside was crispy and flavorful which helped to keep the chicken nice and tender. You can add a personal touch with your favorite marinara – meat, vegetarian, garlic & herb, cheese, and so on! This meal was also ready in about 30 minutes – bonus! Enjoy!


I am going to a women’s hockey drill/practice session tonight. I have a feeling it’s going to be rough…but I can’t wait! 😀 I’m ready for a break from the treadmill!

Question: Do you like Olive Garden?

Be well,

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  1. July 26, 2011 / 7:09 am

    I guess I don’t really remember eating chicken while I was in Italy either. Hmm.

    This looks so good! A great lightened version of a classic.

    Have fun at hockey! I always welcome a break from the gym.

  2. July 26, 2011 / 7:09 am

    I think we have “Americanized” so many different dishes that it’s hard for us to distinguish what is what (I know Mexican food is a good example of this).

    However, I still love food and will try it every which way… lol. I like Olive Garden (hellloooooo salad and breadsticks!), but prefer the non-chains…

  3. July 26, 2011 / 8:12 am

    I like Olive Garden.. unlimited salad?! I’m totally in. Plus, they have gluten-free pasta now, but I haven’t tried it yet!

  4. July 26, 2011 / 8:17 am

    Funny that what we think of as a classic Italian dish isn’t at all! I love your lightened version.

  5. July 26, 2011 / 8:40 am

    Wow…and here I thought Chicken Parmesan was the epitome of Italian food. *tsk tsk tsk*
    I still love the taste of it nonetheless! Thanks for sharing your lightened up version, Nicole! I can’t wait to make it! ๐Ÿ˜€

  6. July 26, 2011 / 9:07 am

    I don’t think I have ever made Chicken Parmesan, but your version looks and sounds wonderful! I know my boys would love it!

    I haven’t been to Olive Garden in years, but I do remember some great lunches there with some ex-workers.

  7. Liz
    July 26, 2011 / 9:42 am

    I love the idea of toasting the panko breadcrumbs! I’m going to try the technique with a few other recipes I have (fish + panko + lemon = delicious).

    I’ve only been to the Olive Garden a couple of times and if I never went again I would be okay with that. I’m half Italian, so I’ve been spoiled with good Italian (and Italian-American) food. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  8. July 26, 2011 / 11:26 am

    YUM! This looks delicious! I’ve got to say I’m going to keep this one in the file for winter time as it looks like a great healthy dish.

    But I’ve got to say I’m a little disappointed ๐Ÿ™ most posts lately have been about indoor foods…what about the grill!!!! You live in the midwest girlie get out side and use that grill and give us some ideas to brighten up our summer table too!! Challenge accepted? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Miss you tons! Come up with your hubby next time he’s got a trip to michigan planned!

    • Nicole
      July 26, 2011 / 5:13 pm

      I know! I’m disappointed, too! It’s been SO flipping hot!!!

  9. July 26, 2011 / 12:29 pm

    I LOVE Olive Garden. Their potato soup may be my all time favorite food.

  10. July 26, 2011 / 3:12 pm

    I’m not afraid to admit that I love Olive Garden ๐Ÿ˜‰ I know what you mean about “Americanized” cuisine – despite being half Chinese, I didn’t know that General Tso’s chicken is not authentic Chinese (although I probably should have guessed). It wasn’t until I went to China that I learned how much better real Chinese food is.

    Have fun at hockey, Nicole!

  11. July 26, 2011 / 3:13 pm

    I’ve never been a nig fan of chicken OR pasta (I know right?) but this looks REALLY tasty!! good job!

  12. July 26, 2011 / 4:18 pm

    This looks yum yum! I need to work on trying some different gluten-free bread crumbs because the one’s I tried using for my fried pickles made gluten-free crumb balls instead of breaded pickles.

  13. July 26, 2011 / 5:16 pm

    Oh Nicole, this looks DEE-LISH!!!!! And call me naive, but I would NEVER have guessed you couldn’t get Chicken Parmesan over in Italy! I’ve never been to an Olive Garden (we don’t have them here in Canada) but I’m pretty sure I’d like the endless breadsticks I see advertised on tv. (and THAT would explain why I’m on weight watchers! ๐Ÿ™‚ )
    Hope the practice/drills didn’t hurt too badly!!!

  14. July 26, 2011 / 9:28 pm

    Love love love Olive Garden and chicken parm! But I tend to overdo the breadsticks and salad so I limit my trips to the OG. This is a great chicken parm recipe ๐Ÿ™‚ I’d probably serve mine with spaghetti squash.

  15. July 26, 2011 / 10:01 pm

    Lol, you are too funny, Nicole! I love Olive Garden too! ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I’m a huge fan of chicken parm and this looks incredible…love that Panko coating!

  16. July 27, 2011 / 12:01 am

    Chicken parm is one of our favorites – love your lightened up version!

  17. July 27, 2011 / 10:34 pm

    I’m so glad you commented on my blog, because now I have discovered yours. I love your “story” and your happy weight – you look wonderful!

    If you lived in Tulsa and miss it, I understand. I grew up 10 miles south (in Bixby), and I would LOVE to eventually end up in Tulsa (we live near OKC).

    This chicken parm looks amazing! I am excited to bookmark and make it. I do like Olive Garden and never turn down an invitation there, but I prefer Carrabba’s for Italian food. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Nicole
      July 28, 2011 / 6:20 am

      We were in Owasso and LOVED it! Thanks for your sweet comments! ๐Ÿ™‚ Looking forward to reading more at OK Peach Fuzz ๐Ÿ™‚

  18. Shannon
    January 3, 2012 / 2:23 pm

    I really want to try making this (I actually have all the ingredients on hand), but I don’t have a wire rack. Would it work if I just baked it directly on the foil lined baking sheet? Thank you!

    • Nicole
      January 3, 2012 / 4:17 pm

      Shannon, yep! No problem…just flip the chicken half-way so its gets crispy on both sides ๐Ÿ™‚

      • Shannon
        January 5, 2012 / 7:04 am

        I actually picked up a rack at Target yesterday so I made the recipe last night and it got rave reviews from both my dad and husband. Thank you!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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