Light Chicken Parmesan with lean chicken breasts, crispy panko breadcrumbs, and a savory tomato sauce is a healthy and easy dinner for busy nights.
Chicken Parmesan is always a crowd-pleaser in my house. From kids to adults, everyone loves crispy breaded chicken with tomato sauce and melty cheese. This version is lighter, faster and easier to make than most chicken parmesan recipes. Once you try it, expect regular requests for an encore!
Update: I’ve updated this oven-baked chicken parmesan recipe with new photos and cooking tips for you to enjoy.
How to Make Light Chicken Parmesan in the Oven
To make this recipe as fast and easy as possible, I recommend having all of the ingredients and equipment out and at the ready. Including lining a baking sheet with foil and a wire rack on top.
To prepare your chicken breasts for breading, cut them into thin cutlets. Do this by slicing the breasts horizontally, starting at the fatter end and working to the thinner end.
Cutting the breast in half horizontally helps them cook evenly and quickly without drying out.
When your chicken is prepared, you can toast the panko. I like to do this on the stove so I can keep a close eye on the breadcrumbs.
Once the breadcrumbs start to brown, they brown very quickly, so keep watch and stir often so they do not burn.
Tips for Coating Parmesan-Crusted Chicken
You will need three shallow dishes to coat your chicken breasts. One is for the flour and garlic mixture. Another is for the whisked egg whites. And the third is for your parmesan and panko bread crumbs.
Work in an assembly line fashion to dredge the chicken in its parmesan coating.
- First, pat the chicken dry, then coat in the seasoned flour mixture and gently shake off any extra.
- Next, move swiftly to the egg whites and coat the chicken evenly, letting any extra drip off.
- Finally, lay the chicken breasts into the bread crumbs and cheese flip to coat as needed. Shake off any extra.
Arrange the breaded chicken breasts on your prepared wire rack for baking. Before baking, spray all of the chicken breasts with cooking oil. This helps the coating get crispier without adding extra oil.
Quick Tomato Sauce for Light Chicken Parm
This sauce is a wonderfully flavorful compliment to this meal. Plus, it’s very easy to make with just five ingredients, including salt. Add more or less red pepper flakes to suit your tastes.
Leftover tomato sauce can be stored in an airtight container for about 5-7 days in the refrigerator.
Serving Oven-Baked Chicken Parmesan
When your parmesan crusted chicken breasts are fully baked, generously cover them with tomato sauce. Then sprinkle generously with mozzarella cheese and return to the oven to melt the cheese. Watch closely so the cheese doesn’t brown or burn.
To assemble beautiful plates, I like to spread a little sauce on my plates first. Then I place a chicken breast on top and garnish with fresh basil for a pop of green.
Store leftover chicken parm in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Note that the breadcrumbs will soften as they absorb the sauce on top.
More Easy Chicken Dinner Recipes
Here are some other favorite light and healthy chicken recipes for dinner:
- Quick and easy Chicken Piccata is a light, fresh lemony chicken dinner with your favorite pasta.
- Chicken Cordon Bleu Melts pair juicy chicken with gooey, melty cheese for a satisfying dinner all year long.
- Instant Pot honey Sesame Chicken from Pressure Cooking Today is one of our favorite Asian-inspired chicken dinner recipes.
Light Chicken Parmesan
- 1 ½ cups panko Japanese-style bread crumbs
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 ounce grated Parmesan cheese about ½ cup, plus extra for serving
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
- salt and ground black pepper
- 2 large egg whites
- 1 tablespoon water
- Vegetable cooking spray
- 3 large boneless skinless chicken breasts sliced horizontally into 6 cutlets
- 2 cups quick tomato sauce warmed (see below)
- 3 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese about ¾ cup
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh basil
Quick Tomato Sauce
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic pressed or finely minced
- 2 cans 15 ounces crushed tomatoes in rich puree
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 475 degrees. Combine the bread crumbs and oil in a 12-inch skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring 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 tablespoon salt, and ½ 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. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels, then season with salt and pepper. 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.
- Spray the tops of the chicken with vegetable oil spray. Bake until the meat is no longer pink in the center and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 15 minutes, flipping to the other side after 10 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. Sprinkle with the basil and serve, passing the remaining sauce and Parmesan separately.
- Quick Tomato Sauce: Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add garlic and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Add tomatoes, red pepper flakes, and salt and heat until it comes to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in basil. Cover and set aside until needed.