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Italian Chicken Cutlets with Pesto and Spinach

These Italian Chicken Cutlets are crispy, juicy and full of flavour. Served with baby spinach tossed in homemade pesto and freshly squeezed lemon juice. This recipe is simple, rustic and incredibly delicious!

An overhead shot of Italian chicken cutlets on a blue board with lemon wedges and pesto

This is one of my favourite ways to enjoy chicken. A crispy, lemon-drenched crumb with juicy, tender chicken and served with a big pile of fresh baby spinach tossed in homemade pesto << best thing ever.

So what makes these chicken cutlets Italian? This is simply the exact way I have seen it prepared whilst living in Italy (minus the spinach side). There’s no herbs, spices or even parmesan in the breadcrumbs but you can totally do that if you like because it is delish.

Instead, this chicken is very simply prepared and seasoned well with salt and pepper and not forgetting a good dose of freshly squeezed lemon juice because not everything needs a ton of extra ingredients thrown in, right? Simple, rustic food is always my favorite and the kind of recipes I keep going back to.

Plus they are a great base for experimenting so if you want to add some extra spices and switch it up this is the perfect recipe to follow!

The Difference Between Chicken Breasts and Chicken Cutlets

A chicken cutlet is a thinly cut chicken breast so they are exactly the same cut of meat it’s just the thickness that’s the main difference between them.

You can easily make chicken cutlets at home by cutting chicken breasts or you can find them pre-cut in most supermarkets to save time.

How to Make Breaded Chicken Cutlets – Step By Step

Cut each chicken breast in half using a sharp knife (photo 1). Place each cutlet in between two sheets of cling film (plastic wrap) and beat it evenly with a rolling pin or meat mallet until 0.5cm / 1/4 inch (photo 2).

Get three bowls ready, one filled with flour, one with beaten egg and one with breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper.

Dip each chicken cutlet one at a time into the flour, followed by the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Press it slightly to ensure the cutlet is evenly covered in breadcrumbs (photos 3-5).

Step by step photos for making breaded Italian chicken cutlets

Add olive oil to a large skillet pan, once hot add the chicken cutlets and brown on each side (around 3 minutes each side) the cutlets don’t take long because they’ve been beaten thin (photo 6-7).

Once cooked transfer to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain for a minute before serving.

Toss the pesto with baby spinach and serve with the chicken cutlets and lemon wedges, make sure to squeeze the lemon over the chicken (photo 8).

Step by step photos fro frying chicken cutlets and making pesto and spinach

Can You Prep this in Advance?

Absolutely, if you don’t have time for breading chicken you can do this part in advance and store them in the fridge either on a plate or container covered with plastic wrap.

Then simply fry them when you’re ready to eat. You can also freeze the chicken before cooking and simply defrost before cooking.

Top Tip: Bring the chicken out of the fridge around 10-15 minutes before cooking. If cold chicken is put in a hot pan it’ll tighten and toughen resulting in tough, dry chicken.

A side shot of breaded chicken cutlets on a blue serving board drizzled with pesto and lemon juice

An Alternative Method

This might sound crazy but did you know you can make breaded chicken without egg or flour? I saw this a few times in Italy and it actually works! It’s actually perfect because do you know how many times I’ve wanted to make breaded chicken and realised I have no eggs, ughhh, annoying.

I have a whole other recipe on how to prepare chicken using this method so go check it out if you forgot eggs too….oh, and put them on your list!

How to Cook and Store Leftovers

In the Fridge – Leftovers will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days, you can easily reheat them by playing on a baking tray in a preheated oven (200C/400F) for around 10 minutes until piping hot all the way through.

In the Freezer – You can also freeze leftovers in a suitable container. To reheat from frozen simply place the frozen cutlets on a baking tray in a preheated oven (200C/400F) and bake for around 20 minutes until piping hot all the way through.

Top Tips to Remember

  • It helps to dip the chicken in egg with one hand and keep the other hand free for the breadcrumbs, that way you don’t get in a sticky mess.
  • Panko breadcrumbs are the best for this recipe because they are super light and crispy but you can also use regular breadcrumbs.
  • Beating the chicken with a rolling pin or meat mallet helps tenderise the chicken making is extra juicy and delicious.
  • Make the pesto in advance but toss it with the spinach last minute before serving to avoid it wilting.
  • You can prep the chicken in advance and store it in the fridge on a plate or container cover with plastic wrap. This makes dinner even fast and all you need to do is fry them when you’re ready to eat.

More Easy Chicken Recipes You Might Like

If you’ve tried this Italian Chicken Cutlets or any other recipe on the blog please let me know how you got on in the comments below, I love hearing from you! You can also FOLLOW MEon FACEBOOKINSTAGRAM and PINTEREST to see more delicious food and what I’m getting up to.

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5 from 5 votes

Italian Chicken Cutlets with Pesto and Spinach

These Italian Chicken Cutlets are crispy, juicy and full of flavour. Served with baby spinach tossed in homemade pesto and freshly squeezed lemon juice. This recipe is simple but sure to be a favourite, perfect for any day of the week!
Course Main Course
Cuisine Italian
Keyword Breaded Chicken, Chicken Cutlets, Italian Breaded Chicken
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 354kcal
Author Emily Kemp

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 3 cups (100g) panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 cup (130g) all purpose flour
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 batch Homemade pesto
  • 4 cups (60g) baby spinach
  • 4 lemon wedges , for serving

Instructions

  • Cut each chicken breast in half using a sharp knife. Place each cutlet in between two sheets of cling film (plastic wrap) and beat it evenly with a rolling pin or meat mallet until 0.5cm / 1/4 inch.
  • Get three bowls ready, one filled with flour, one with beaten egg and one with breadcrumbs seasoned with salt and pepper.
  • Dip each chicken cutlet one at a time into the flour, followed by the egg and finally the breadcrumbs. Press it slightly to ensure the cutlet is evenly covered in breadcrumbs.
  • Add olive oil to a large skillet pan, once hot add the chicken cutlets and brown on each side (around 3 minutes each side) the cutlets don't take long because they've been beaten thin.
  • Once cooked transfer to a plate covered with kitchen paper to drain for a minute before serving.
  • Toss the pesto with baby spinach and serve with the chicken cutlets and lemon wedges, make sure to squeeze the lemon over the chicken.

Notes

  • It helps to dip the chicken in egg with one hand and keep the other hand free for the breadcrumbs, that way you don't get in a sticky mess.
  • Panko breadcrumbs are the best for this recipe because they are super light and crispy but you can also use regular breadcrumbs.
  • Beating the chicken with a rolling pin or meat mallet helps tenderise the chicken making is extra juicy and delicious.
  • Make the pesto in advance but toss it with the spinach last minute before serving to avoid it wilting.
  • You can prep the chicken in advance and store it in the fridge on a plate or container cover with plastic wrap. This makes dinner even fast and all you need to do is fry them when you're ready to eat.

How to Cook and Store Leftovers

In the Fridge - Leftovers will keep well in the fridge for up to 3 days, you can easily reheat them by playing on a baking tray in a preheated oven (200C/400F) for around 10 minutes until piping hot all the way through.
In the Freezer - You can also freeze leftovers in a suitable container. To reheat from frozen simply place the frozen cutlets on a baking tray in a preheated oven (200C/400F) and bake for around 20 minutes until piping hot all the way through.

Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Italian Chicken Cutlets with Pesto and Spinach
Amount Per Serving
Calories 354 Calories from Fat 63
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 7g 11%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Cholesterol 154mg 51%
Sodium 516mg 22%
Potassium 737mg 21%
Total Carbohydrates 57g 19%
Dietary Fiber 3g 12%
Sugars 3g
Protein 36g 72%
Vitamin A 59.3%
Vitamin C 11.9%
Calcium 13.5%
Iron 29.1%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Helpful Info for All Recipes
  • I always use extra virgin olive oil in all of my recipes unless stated otherwise
  • When I use canned or jarred tomatoes of any kind I always use this brand for the best results and flavour
  • All vegetables are medium sized unless stated otherwise
  • All recipes are tested and developed using a fan oven
  • Read more about how the nutritional information is calculated here
Did you try this recipe?Mention @insidetherustickitchen or tag #insidetherustickitchen! We'd love you see what you're getting up to in the kitchen!

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Karly
    March 10, 2019 at 6:04 pm

    Yum! These look so good!

  • Reply
    Jacqueline
    March 8, 2019 at 3:02 pm

    I love breaded meat cutlets, especially chicken, pork and veal! Yours look perfect. Love the use of pesto as a salad dressing. I definitely want to try that!

  • Reply
    Dannii
    March 8, 2019 at 2:50 pm

    What a great way to serve chicken – it would make a nice change. I love anything with pesto.

  • Reply
    Amy | The Cook Report
    March 8, 2019 at 1:36 pm

    This looks so delicious, I love the addition of the pesto!

  • Reply
    Adrianne
    March 8, 2019 at 1:20 pm

    Yum, this sounds and looks fantastic. I love crispy chicken and the pairing with pesto sounds delicious, yummo. Can’t wait to whip this up. Cheers!

  • Reply
    Bintu | Recipes From A Pantry
    March 8, 2019 at 1:19 pm

    These would be such a popular meal in my house, I am definitely going to have to give these a try!

  • Leave a Reply

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