Dinner for Two: Lighter Baked Chicken Parmesan

by Andie Mitchell on August 12, 2012

chicken parmesan-2


If you’ve been missing the recipe portion of CanYouStayforDinner?, the only person I can blame it on is, you know who, my mother.

Though I can’t quite put my finger on what it is exactly, I’m sure there’s some misstep she took as a parent that lead me to my Intermittent Recipe Posting Dysfunction (IRPD).

Working through it,

chicken parmesan-4

The best part about this dish, as with all of my Italian recipes, is the marinara. In fact, it’s not even my recipe; it’s one I openly shoplifted from PJ, my stepdad. And it’s the thickest, sweetest, most full-bodied red sauce. If you love a hearty, rich sauce with a highly concentrated tomato flavor, you will never spend another second fiddling with other recipes once you try this one: My Favorite Meatballs and Sauce

The secret to achieving the authentic taste of your favorite breaded and shallowly fried chicken cutlets- to achieving the rich flavor of that oil drenched crust- is searing it in a thin pool of olive oil and then baking it in the oven to cook it all the way through.  What most baked versions of traditionally fried foods lack is that lovely and satisfying fatty flavor. Here, you don’t have to sacrifice; you don’t have to forego flavor for lightness’ sake.

Another secret? Marinating the chicken in buttermilk. Tender, tender, tender.

chicken parmesan-5

Lighter Baked Chicken Parmesan

  • Two, 6-ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 cup low fat buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup Italian seasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup of Perfect Marinara sauce
  • 1 ounce fresh mozzarella
  • fresh basil, for garnish
  1. Combine chicken and buttermilk in a shallow bowl or a resealable plastic bag. Marinate for at least 1 hour.
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk marinade and press each side into the breadcrumbs to evenly coat.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a medium frying pan over medium-high. Add the chicken breasts and sear on each side for 3 minutes.
  4. Remove the chicken and place on a flat baking sheet. Bake for 12 minutes.
  5. Divide the sauce, followed by the cheese, among the two chicken breasts and return the chicken on the baking sheet to the oven to allow the cheese to melt.
  6. Garnish with fresh basil and pasta or any low calorie/low carb spaghetti alternative 

Serves 2

Nutrition information for 1 serving (half of recipe): Calories 427.7 clip_image001  Total Fat 16.9 g clip_image001[1] clip_image001[2]  Sodium 1,041.6 mg clip_image001[3] clip_image001[4]  Total Carbohydrate 20.4 g clip_image001[5] Fiber 4.0 g clip_image001[6] Sugars 8.0 g clip_image001[7]  Protein 47.2 g

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Damyon August 12, 2012 at 8:56 am

I wonder if you have an answer to a question that has been bugging me for years? Why are dishes like this one called “Parmigiana” when mozzarella cheese has a much larger presence? Parmigiana usually means from the city of Parma which this dish is not. Is this another American misnomer like King Crab?


Beckett @ Birchwood Pie August 12, 2012 at 9:44 am

@Damyon, traditional chicken Parmesan includes Parmesan cheese in the breading – where you can’t really taste it, so it’s just wasted calories.


Lauren C August 12, 2012 at 12:27 pm

Oh Andie, you are so correct about the buttermilk! I don’t know what happens but it yields the most tender and amazingly moist chicken in the world. Yes. Please.


Sophie August 13, 2012 at 1:19 am

I tried this out for dinner last night and what can I say but wow! It’s so light and so tasty and I didn’t feel guilty about it being ‘fried’ when I was eating it – more of the same please :)


Halley August 13, 2012 at 1:57 am

Dude! Recipe synch I made chicken parm last night (stuffed with a cream cheese, chives and sun dried tomatoes) but this! This is glorious! Look at that crispy crust.



Samantha August 13, 2012 at 2:36 am

Mmmm totally need to try this, like all of your other recipes it looks delish! Also want to thank you for going back to putting nutritional values with the recipes, saves me the time of working it out ;)


Nancy @ Rivertreekitchen August 13, 2012 at 5:49 am

My husband is always begging for fried chicken, but I can’t make myself heat up a vat of fat to cook in–so unhealthy. This he’d love, and so would I. Nice photo, too.


Jennifer August 13, 2012 at 6:07 am

I just made the sauce recipe for a quick spaghetti dinner last night. I didn’t make the meatballs, though (I used some frozen turkey ones from Trader Joe’s, but I really-really-really missed PJ’s homemade meatballs…you’re right, they’re the best ever). That is my go-to recipe for when I want to make spaghetti and meatballs, and I love you for it!

Anyway, now I can’t wait to try the chicken. It looks delish.


Suzanne August 13, 2012 at 6:50 am

IRPD, LOL! That’s very creative and so is this recipe. It’s a treat to find a delicious, traditional dish that doesn’t have the traditional fat calories. Whoopee! Fixing this soon! Thanks :-)


Lindsey August 13, 2012 at 7:36 am

Yum!! I LOVE that you’ve added the nutritional information again! This looks delicious!


Miss McBooty August 13, 2012 at 11:11 am

Hooray! I bought eggplant this weekend at the market and I cannot WAIT to make eggplant parm. I’m going to try baking it like you did with your chicken. Have you tried that before?


Miss McBooty August 21, 2012 at 11:32 am

I used your recipe but subbed eggplant instead of chicken. Molto bene.


NeighborhoodTrainer August 13, 2012 at 12:44 pm

I was thinking about chicken parmigiana today on the treadmill. Which i guess is better than eating chicken parmigiana and thinking about the treadmill. I will be trying this one for my kids.


Cadi August 13, 2012 at 5:58 pm

HOLY COW. This looks so good! It’s so going to be dinner this weekend, served on a bed of spaghetti squash-as-noodles. I’m seriously salivating right now. *Slurp*


Eileen August 13, 2012 at 7:51 pm

Oh dear me… This looks absolutely perfect. Chicken parm is one of my favorites. Love this skinny recipe.


johnny August 14, 2012 at 2:21 am

I fell in love with that sauce the very first time you posted it! It is the staple in this family. Thank you Andie (and PJ) for a new way to use it. Just had baked lemon chicken last night, but this is the next way we do chicken! Keep um coming! Love you Andie!! :)


Dannii @ Hungry Healthy Happy August 14, 2012 at 9:01 am

I am going to have to make this for dinner sometime this week – yum!


Sonal August 16, 2012 at 3:21 am

Andie i don’t even eat chicken and i think this looks delicious :) will def try the buttermilk trick when cooking for other people !


kace August 16, 2012 at 5:38 am

YES I’ve been waiting for this : ) Can’t WAIT to try it.

Question – do you beat the chicken to get it flat, or do you go to a butcher to get the perfect cutlets? That’s one thing that always escapes me; the purdue breasts I buy aren’t that ideal, flat, even shape.


admin August 16, 2012 at 6:57 am

Hey Kace! Yes, I cover each chicken breast with plastic wrap or wax paper and then pound them down with a meat mallet or anything heavy and blunt. Sometimes the chicken breasts I buy are massive and they can simply be cut in half lengthwise to get two perfectly sized, thin pieces.


Maggie @ A Bitchin' Kitchen August 16, 2012 at 7:34 am

This looks delicious! I love chicken parmesan but it can be soooo calorific. Thanks for this lighter version!


admattai August 24, 2012 at 4:27 pm

just made this, it turned out great! will make again soon. I especially loved the sauce recipe (just omitted the sugar)


John October 24, 2012 at 12:44 pm

This looks great. I’ve been wanting a healthier chicken parm lately, for my wife. Thanks.


Ruthie D January 17, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I LOVED this recipe!!! Everything about it was perfect!!! The marinara is some of the best I’ve EVER tasted (now that’s saying something)!! I took a picture of what I made and sent it to my Mom and now I’m making it this WEEKEND for my parents.


admin January 17, 2013 at 12:38 pm

Ruthie, I’m so happy to hear it! Thank you!



cristina February 1, 2013 at 12:22 pm

this looks great! when you marinate the chicken and buttermilk do you keep it in the fridge?


Stacey August 12, 2013 at 11:41 am

This looks to die for! I’ve recently lost 90 lbs and transitioned back to regular meals and have been looking for low carb high protein alternatives. This would be a hit with my family! Thank you for sharing!


Elaine October 16, 2013 at 9:53 pm

I LOVE this chicken parm! But every time when I sear the chicken in the pan the beautiful and delicious breadcrumb coating just comes right off! I can’t figure out what I am doing wrong. Is the pan not hot enough? No enough oil? Help!


Joe June 4, 2014 at 8:28 pm

this sauce was absolutely amazing. Will never buy jar sauce again! the chicken parmesan recipe was also to die for, I cannot wait to try the meatballs


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