crispiest chicken cutlets – smitten kitchen

  • 1 1/4 to 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Additional seasoning (optional) such as garlic or onion powder or a spice blend
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 cups plain breadcrumbs, either homemade (see above for instructions) or panko-style
  • Oil for frying (see above for suggestions)
Prepare your chicken: Pat your chicken dry. If you’d like thinner cutlets, you can pound them flatter. I find the neatest way to do it is either in a large freezer bag or between two pieces of plastic; I do about half at a time. Arrange chicken on a large tray and season on both sides well with salt, pepper, and another spice or seasoning blend you wish.

Coat the chicken: In one wide, shallow bowl, beat egg with a fork or whisk until very loose. Fill a second wide, shallow bowl, with your breadcrumbs. Dip each piece of chicken in the egg, let all excess drip off, and dip in the crumbs, pressing them on. Repeat with remaining pieces of chicken.

Fry the cutlets: Pour just under 1/2-inch of oil into a large frying pan and heat over medium-high until a droplet of water flicked into the pan hisses dramatically or until the temperature is 350°F. Place your first few breaded cutlets in the oil — don’t crowd them or it will lower the temperature a lot, leading to heavier and greasier chicken. Cook chicken, flipping once, until it’s a deep golden brown on both sides, about 4 to 5 minutes on the first side and 3 to 4 on the second. Remove from oil, letting excess drip off for 10 to 20 seconds, and drain on paper towels or paper bags. Season right away, while still sizzling hot, with salt. Repeat with remaining cutlets.

Serve: Eat right away — I love these with some chopped herbs on top and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice. Shown here is also a quick dip of mayo, whole-grain mustard, a dash of hot sauce, and squeeze of lemon juice, plus salt and pepper, which also makes a great sandwich spread for these cutlets.

Do ahead: Breaded, uncooked cutlets keep in the fridge for up to a day before frying. Fried, cooled cutlets keep in the fridge for 3 days and in the freezer, if well-wrapped, for months. Rewarm in a 350°F oven until hot and crisp.

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