Italian chicken cutlets are a classic comfort food for so many families, especially in the NYC and NJ area. Here, I’ve pared the recipe down to make the breading process easier and converted it for the air fryer so you can have the same crispy breading you know and love without any eggs or flour.
- Cooks in just 5-10 minutes. Each batch of chicken takes just 5 minutes to cook, so dinner is ready so fast!
- 5-ingredient recipe: We’re going to keep things super simple: no egg, no oil, and no frying! (Note that while these don’t use fresh eggs, they are no egg-free for allergy purposes since they use mayonnaise)
- Versatile. Make a sandwich, turn them into chicken parmesan, slice them onto a salad or pasta, or serve them with your favorite dipping sauce.
How to Make Crunchy Chicken Cutlets in 5-Minutes
Breaded chicken cutlets were a staple of my childhood and I still love them when I’m craving classic comfort food.
Italian-style cutlets are available in just about every bodega and deli in the NYC metro region and even just the sight of them makes me so happy. They’re similar to German schnitzel, Japanese torikatsu, and Latin American milanesa, but with the addition of Parmesan cheese and Italian seasonings like basil, oregano, and garlic powder.
Traditionally, these crispy chicken cutlets are made by coating pounded chicken breasts with flour, then dipping them in oil and dredging them in breadcrumbs, and finally pan frying them in oil.
It makes a mess and takes a ton of time that I don’t have. So we’re not doing any of that.
Instead, we’re going to coat chicken cutlets with mayonnaise and sprinkle them with a bread crumb and parmesan mixture before cooking them in the air fryer.
They come out just as crispy and delicious as the traditional cutlets, but in a fraction of the time.
Ingredients you’ll need:
Thin sliced chicken breast filets. Chicken breast filets, sometimes labelled chicken cutlets, are great for convenience. If you have a few extra minutes to spare and don’t mind touching raw meat, you can also use boneless, skinless chicken breast that has been butterflied and pounded to about 1/4-inch.
Mayonnaise. Mayonnaise is made from eggs and oil, and it replaces both of those items in this easy recipe. It also eliminates the need to use flour, and the fat in the mayo helps breadcrumbs crisp and brown beautifully!
Parmesan cheese. No need for anything fancy here, just some old-school grated Parmesan or Romano cheese. Look for it in the refrigerated cheese aisle, usually near the deli case.
Traditional breadcrumbs. Traditional Italian-style breadcrumbs (not panko) will give these air fryer chicken cutlets the most even coating. Use Italian-seasoned breadcrumbs or add your own Italian seasoning blend.
Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. You’ll only need these if you’re using plain, unseasoned bread crumbs.
How to make it
- Spread the chicken with a thin layer of mayonnaise.
- Coat with breadcrumbs, cheese, and seasonings.
- Spritz with oil spray, if desired, for extra crispiness.
- Air Fry until the chicken cutlets are crisp and golden brown!
Busy Foodie Tip
- Chicken cutlets are typically pan fried, so the breading is crispy (you should heard it crackle when you cut into it!) but it doesn’t form a super hard crust like deep frying does. For extra crispy chicken spritz generously with cooking oil spray before placing the chicken in the air fryer basket.
What to serve with air fryer chicken cutlets
- Caesar salad
- Pasta salad
- Cole slaw
- Katsu sauce
- Buttered egg noodles
Air fried chicken cutlets are also great for meal prep since they’re so versatile. They can be rewarmed, but they’re also delicious served cold right from the fridge! You can:
- Top them with sauce and mozzarella cheese and serve with spaghetti
- Serve on a brioche roll with pickles
- Serve cold on Italian bread with fresh mozzarella and roasted red peppers
- Dice and mix into your favorite pasta (like this one pan pesto pasta!)
- Make a Nashville hot chicken sandwich
Frequently asked questions
Yes! As discussed above, chicken cutlets are great for meal prep! If you aren’t planning to eat them right away, I suggest letting them cool on a wire rack so the air can circulate underneath them. This will help keep the bottom layer of breading crisp.
Leftovers will keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days.
Yes, but the texture will be different and it’s harder to get an even coating on the chicken.
“Cutlet” refers to the thinly cut meat that these breaded chicken cutlets are made from. They’re made from boneless chicken breast that’s been sliced crosswise into wide, thin filets. They’re often pounded to an even thickness, so they cook evenly and very quickly. They have a delicious ratio of breading to meat, and cooking them quickly means the meat stays juicy inside!
Mayonnaise is surprisingly good at holding the breadcrumbs into place, especially when you use the back of a spoon to press them down, and I haven’t had issues with the breading falling off when following this method. If you have an extra few minutes to spare, let the breaded chicken sit for 5-10 minutes before cooking it — this will give the breading a chance to dry out, helping it adhere to the chicken.
OMG yes! Kids love these air fryer chicken cutlets. They’re basically a super-sized chicken finger and they’re perfect for little hands. Slice them into strips and let them dunk into their favorite sauce.
Each batch only takes 5 minutes to cook, but the total cooking time will depend on the size of your air fryer basket and how much you’re cooking.
An air fryer is essentially a countertop convection oven, so it’s perfectly safe to use them to cook raw chicken! Just be sure to cook the chicken cutlets to an internal temperature of 165ºF and thoroughly wash your air fryer basket when you’re finished cooking the same way you would with any pan.
More air fryer recipes you might like:
- Air fryer Nashville hot chicken sandwiches
- Air Fryer Potato Croquettes
- Smoky Air Fryer Mac and Cheese
- How to Make Aldi Red Bag Chicken in the Air Fryer
- How to Air Fry Chicken Drumsticks
- How to Air Fry Frozen Sweet Potato Fries
Italian Breaded Chicken Cutlets in the Air Fryer
- 4 chicken cutlets or 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into filets
- 2 teaspoons mayonaise
- 1 cup unseasoned breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- olive oil spray
- Lemon wedges for serving (optional)
- Preheat your air fryer to 400ºF. In a small bowl, combine the bread crumbs, cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
- Arrange the chicken cutlets on a cutting board. Spread about half the the mayonnaise onto the chicken in a thin layer.
- Sprinkle with half of the breadcrumb mixture, using the back of a spoon to press the breading into the chicken. Spritz with oil spray.
- Flip the chicken over and repeat the breading process on the other size.
- Place the chicken cutlets in your air fryer basket in a single layer, working in batches if needed.
- Air fry at 400ºF for 5 minutes, or until the breading is crispy and golden brown and the chicken is cooked through.
- Serve with lemon wedges, if desired.