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We’re in the height of farmer’s market season in our area (take a video tour of our market). It’s hard not to buy all the things each week: tomatoes of all varieties, kohlrabi, sweet berries, tiny French radishes, and juicy citrus. Tomatoes usually find their way into my basket on a regular basis. So I’m always looking for ways to put those tomatoes to use. Today, I want to share what’s become one of our favorite easy dinners: an easy baked chicken parmesan with fresh tomatoes.
I grew up with a great love for chicken parmesan. There was something so appealing and delicious about this messy dish. Maybe it was the fried chicken or the blobs of melty cheese.
Recently, I had a craving to recreate the chicken parmesan that I loved as a child, but this time I wanted to create a recipe that really highlights and celebrates each component of this classic meal: the acidic and flavorful tomato sauce, crispy chicken, and melty cheese. Less mess, more freshness. Of course, I wanted to take full of advantage of farmer’s market tomatoes as well, so decided to skip the sauce (you can use sauce instead, I’ll share how) and use fresh tomatoes instead.
The Secret to Making the Best Baked Chicken Parmesan
I wanted to simplify this recipe as much as possible, making it mostly a sheet pan meal that could easily be whipped up on a busy weeknight. After testing this recipe, I realized one issue…
There is so much flavor in the crispy golden crust of classic chicken parmesan. 100% baking the chicken on a sheet pan just didn’t produce that flavor.
As I retested and retested, I found the secret to making amazing BAKED chicken parmesan…Brown the chicken first on the stove-top, then finish off the chicken in the oven. Yes, this adds an extra step to this recipe, but it’s 100% worth it.
I would suggest that this extra step is absolutely essential. It takes baked chicken parmesan from good to delicious. There’s something about the browning of the chicken, in a bit of olive oil, before baking that really brings out the flavor.
Now if you’re thinking, “Wait a minute, I want a 100% baked, no browning on the stove-top recipe” then you’re welcome to skip the browning part. Personally, I feel like it’s worth your time for the extra flavor. I’ll provide you with directions on how to do that in the recipe card.
How to Make Baked Chicken Parmesan
Okay, so let’s talk about how to make this meal, step by step.
- First, prep the chicken by dunking each chicken breast in a whisked egg, followed by a mixture of panko breadcrumbs, flour (I use einkorn flour–what is einkorn flour?), parmigiano reggiano cheese, and some seasonings. Set the chicken aside.
- Next, it’s time to get the tomatoes in a 400F oven so they can begin roasting.
- As the tomatoes cook, heat a skillet with olive oil. Once hot, add the floured chicken and brown on each side for about 4-5 minutes. The crust of the chicken should be crispy and brown–that’s where the flavor is!
- Remove the tomatoes from the oven once they begin to crack and burst and push them to the perimeter of the sheet pan. Add the the browned chicken breast to the center of the pan, top the chicken with slices of fresh mozzarella cheese, and bake for about 20 minutes or until cooked through. This is where time can vary, depending on the thickness of the breasts.
- (Optional) If you’d like to add extra veg content in the way of some leafy greens, add a few cups of spinach upon removing the sheet pan from the oven. The heat from the tomatoes and pan will reduce the spinach, melting into the tomatoes.
What if you don’t have fresh tomatoes?
This recipe is made with fresh tomatoes, no tomato sauce here. But what if you don’t have any tomatoes? No problem. Here’s my suggestion…
After browning the chicken on the stove-top, top each piece of chicken with about 1/4 cup of your favorite pasta sauce (here’s mine), followed by mozzarella cheese over top. You can then transfer the chicken, in the skillet which should be oven-safe, to the oven to finish off baking. No sheet pan is needed if you plan to use sauce.
How to Make Gluten-Free Chicken Parmesan
This recipe uses both flour (einkorn flour, or any all-purpose flour you have on hand) and breadcrumbs to make the breading for the chicken. If you can’t consume gluten, my suggestion is to use gluten-free breadcrumbs (this is my favorite brand) and almond flour in place of the all-purpose flour. Almond flour has become one of my favorite ingredients to use for breading chicken (such as when making chicken tenders) so I think it would be the perfect substitute here. Just keep an eye on the chicken when browning on the stove-top as almond flour can easily burn. If you notice the crust is burning, you may want to turn the oven temperature down to 375F.
What else to make with chicken breasts?
- Chicken Tenders
- Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas
- Instant Pot Chicken Teriyaki
- Instant Pot Chicken and Yellow Rice
Easy Baked Chicken Parmesan with Roasted Tomatoes
The easiest and best chicken parmesan made with fresh tomatoes. Easy and healthy. A family favorite recipe with a tasty spin on tradition.
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts around 6-8 ounces each
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup flour I use einkorn flour, other options: almond flour, all-purpose, whole wheat
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated parmigiano reggiano cheese
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- salt to taste, I add just a few pinches. If your panko contains salt, you may want to do just a pinch or two or skip this ingredient. Remember the cheese is also salty.
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
- 6-8 ounces fresh mozzarella ball drained (if in water) and torn into 1-inch pieces
- 1 1/2 lbs cherry tomatoes or grape tomatoes
- 4 garlic cloves roughly chopped
- 2 TB extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil or you could use parsley instead if you don't have dried basil on hand
- 3 cups baby spinach a few handfuls (optional, if you want to add some leafy greens to this)
Preheat the oven to 400F.
To a medium-size bowl, add the panko, flour, grated parmigiano reggiano cheese, oregano, parsley, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper.
Whisk the egg with a fork.
Dip a chicken breast in the egg and flip to coat both sides. Shake off the excess egg, then dredge the chicken in the flour mixture so it's well coated. Set the chicken aside and continue until all the chicken is coated.
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. Add the tomatoes and garlic to the sheet pan, drizzle with olive oil, salt, oregano, and basil. Place the tomatoes in the oven and allow to roast for 15 minutes, or until just beginning to split and burst.
Drizzle 1/4 cup of olive oil in a skillet. Over medium-high heat, allow the oil to get hot. Once hot, place the floured chicken in the oil and cook for 4-5 minutes. Flip the chicken and allow to cook for another 4-5 minutes. The chicken should be brown on each side. If you're using almond flour, you may need to reduce this time and the temp slightly as almond flour can easily burn.
Remove the tomatoes from the oven. Push the tomatoes to the perimeter of the sheet pan. Place the chicken in the center of the sheet pan and scatter the mozzarella pieces over the top of the chicken.
Return the sheet pan to the oven to bake for 15-20 minutes, OR until cooked through (this will greatly depend on the thickness of the chicken, if your chicken breasts are on the thin side, 15 minutes will be plenty, if it's on the thicker side, 20 minutes will be needed). If using spinach, add spinach to the sheet pan, scattered in with the tomatoes, upon removing the sheet pan from the oven. If needed, you can place the sheet pan back in the oven for just a couple of minutes until the spinach wilts.
Serve the tomatoes on top or on the side of the chicken, with or without your favorite pasta or zucchini noodles. Garnish with chopped fresh basil, if desired, before serving.
Don't have fresh tomatoes? No problem
After browning the chicken on the stove-top, top each piece of chicken with about 1/3 cup of sauce, followed by the mozzarella cheese over top. You can then transfer the chicken, in the skillet which should be oven-safe, to the oven to finish off baking.
Want a 100% oven baked chicken parmesan? Try this
Browning the chicken first on the stove-top adds flavor and is 100% worth the extra effort in my opinion. But if you would like to skip this step, I recommend placing the floured chicken with cheese on top on the sheet pan after the initial tomato bake (after the tomatoes have cooked for about 15 minutes). Push the tomatoes to the perimeter of the pan and allow the chicken and tomatoes to bake for 20-25 minutes OR until chicken is cooked through.