Make-Ahead Monday: Breaded Chicken Cutlets

One of my strategies for getting dinner on the table quickly after a long day of work is having some go-to quick meals that I can make in large batches and freeze for later. One of the most versatile make-ahead meals that I almost always have in my freezer are these breaded chicken cutlets.

This recipe taught me how to successfully make a crispy cutlet that was still moist on the inside. I learned 2 things from this recipe:

  1. To have nice breading like what you have at a restaurant, you need 3 steps. First the flour, then the egg, then the breadcrumbs. This 3 step process leaves you with a nice crispy breading.
  2. Slicing the chicken breast to make 2 cutlets and pounding them to 1/4 inch thickness helps to keep the chicken moist since it won’t take as long to cook. By the time you shallow fry each side to crisp up the breading, the inside of the chicken should be cooked. This is the key to keeping the chicken moist.

I make this recipe about every 1-2 months, and I make larger batches with enough to freeze for a few additional meals. Before going to work, I’ll pull out the cutlets I need for dinner and allow them to thaw in the fridge throughout the day. Here are some of my favorite ways to use this chicken to have dinner on the table in under 30 minutes:

  1. Chicken Parmesan: I spread some marinara sauce in the bottom of a baking dish, add the cutlets, top with parmesan cheese and bake in a 350 degree oven until the chicken is warmed and the cheese is melted. You can serve this over pasta, or with a salad.
  2. Chicken with Artichokes: Heat about 1 TBSP of oil and 1 TBSP of butter in a pan and add 1 chopped garlic clove and a 6 oz jar of artichoke hearts (drained and rinsed). Cook until artichoke hearts are softened, about a minute. Then add about 1 cup of a dry white wine (if you don’t cook with wine, use chicken stock). Let it simmer for a few minutes until it has reduced, then add 1/4 cup of lemon juice and 1/2 cup of chicken stock. Finish the sauce with another pad of butter (about 1 TBSP) and some capers (1-2 TBSP). Continue to simmer it until it has thickened then add the chicken cutlets into the pan. Turn them in the sauce to warm them. This is great served over pasta.
  3. Chicken Cordon Bleu: Spread each cutlet with some dijon mustard, add some sliced deli ham, and bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Top with sliced Swiss cheese and return to oven for about 5 minutes or until cheese has melted.
  4. Chicken with Arugula Salad: This is my go-to! I just warm up the chicken in the oven at 400 degrees until it’s warm and crispy again, about 10-15 minutes. I make a salad with arugula, red onion, tomatoes, and capers. Depending on how many servings you’re preparing will depend on how much dressing you make. For dressing: Add equal parts red wine vinegar with olive oil to moisten the lettuce. Then add salt and pepper and toss the salad together. After tasting it, I’ll decide if I want to add more oil and vinegar. I add that to the bowls and top with the chicken cutlet. I love to finish with fresh shavings of parmesan, or even bacon if I have it.

Putting a little extra time in over the weekend to prep these cutlets in large batches will save you so much time on a busy weeknight. How will you use them for a quick weeknight meal?