Skip the deep frying and give these shallow fried chicken cutlets a go. They’re crispy, juicy and absolutely loaded with flavour!
These cutlets make an awesome dinner and pair perfectly with so many different things. Better still, they’ve got an awesome crunchy batter, and without all the faff of deep frying! Follow me…
First things first, just so we’re all on the same page…
What are chicken cutlets?
Chicken cutlets are simply boneless skinless chicken breasts, that have been halved to create thinner, even sized breasts.
How do you make chicken cutlets?
You essentially want to butterfly the breast, but go all the way through. Starting half way up one side of the breast, you’ll want to horizontally slice right through to create two even sized breasts.
By doing this the chicken will not only cook quicker than a regular breast, but they’ll also cook more evenly too.
Process shots: add chicken breast to chopping board (photo 1), horizontally slice through the centre (photo 2).
Preparing Fried Chicken Cutlets
Like all good fried chicken, we’re going to let the cutlets marinate in a bath of seasoned buttermilk. Not only will this help inject flavour into the meat, but the slight acidity from the buttermilk will also help tenderize it.
How long should I marinate for?
Overnight is perfect, a few hours is great, but if you’re in a rush even just 10-15mins will help. I’ve done this in the past when in a rush and the chicken still comes out delicious!
Bringing to room temp
After you’ve marinated the chicken in the fridge, you’ll want to bring it back close to room temp. I find that frying any meat in general straight out the fridge will cause it to seize up and leak out a ton of moisture. Because we’re breading the chicken, it’s important to avoid this otherwise you risk the batter coming off.
Process shots: add buttermilk to bowl (photo 1), add spices (photo 2), stir to combine (photo 3), add cutlets (photo 4), stir to combine (photo 5), cover and marinate (photo 6).
Breaded Chicken Cutlets
This is where you create the crispy batter. When you dredge the chicken through the seasoned flour really make sure you press the flour into the meat. Get in every crevice and shake it about. This will create lots of tiny craggy bits, which is what gives you that classic crunchy fried chicken batter.
Working one by one
Although slightly tedious to work cutlet by cutlet, it’s important to give the chicken room to build a crust. If you add all the cutlets at once you’re going to end up will a sludgy mess wrapped around the chicken.
Can I use breadcrumbs instead of flour?
You can – I suggest following my Crispy Chicken Wraps recipe where I coat the chicken cutlets in breadcrumbs before frying.
Process shots: add seasoning to flour (photo 1), stir to combine (photo 2), add chicken (photo 3), dredge in flour (photo 4).
Fried Chicken Cutlets
Alrighty, time to fry. In terms of deep frying vs shallow frying, here’s what in my personal experience I find to be the main differences:
Pros of shallow frying vs deep frying
- Less Oil – You use considerably less oil when shallow frying, which if anything reduces mess and waste.
- Less Risk – Shallow frying is a great introduction to frying if you’re at all weary. Deep frying can be slightly daunting due to the large amount of hot oil.
- Pan – You don’t need a large pot of deep fat fryer to shallow fry. I typically use a cast iron skillet, but a large deep pan works just as well.
Cons of shallow frying vs deep frying
- Crispiness – No false promises here, whilst a fairly close call, deep frying will give you crispier chicken. When you deep fry you have space all around the chicken, however when you shallow fry chicken it pretty much has direct contact with the pan. This means some of the moisture that’s released from the chicken can get trapped underneath as it fries. This in turn can cause the batter to soften, as it has nowhere to escape.
To shallow fry the chicken you want enough oil to cover at least half of the meat. You also need to make sure it’s the correct temp (around 180C/350F) and try your best to maintain the heat. Too high and the batter will burn before the meat cooks, too low and the batter softens too much and potentially falls off.
You’ll also want to work in batches, just so the oil temp doesn’t lower too much. This will also ensure the chicken has enough room to fry without sticking together and steaming on one another.
Process shots: add chicken to hot oil (photo 1), fry both sides until golden/cooked through the centre (photo 2).
Serving Fried Chicken Cutlets
When the cutlets are crispy & cooked through the centre, I recommend placing them on a wire rack to drain off excess oil. You can also finish with an extra pinch of salt to help draw out the final bit of moisture to help crisp up the chicken.
How can I serve fried chicken cutlets?
Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe for these fried chicken cutlets shall we?!
How to make Fried Chicken Cutlets (Full Recipe & Video)
Shallow Fried Chicken Cutlets
- Cast Iron Skillet or Heavy Deep Pan & Tongs (for frying)
- Large Mixing Bowl & Cling Film (for marinating)
- Large Shallow Dish or Small Baking Tray with curved edges (for breading)
- Sharp Knife & Chopping Board (for slicing chicken)
- Wire Rack & Paper Towels (for resting chicken)
- Kitchen Thermometer (optional)
Ingredients (check list):
- 3x 7oz/200g boneless skinless Chicken Breasts
- 1 1/4 cups / 300ml Buttermilk (see notes)
- 1 tsp EACH: Paprika, Salt
- 1/2 tsp EACH: Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, White Pepper, Cayenne Pepper
Shallow Fried Chicken
- 1 3/4 cups / 250g Plain/All Purpose Flour
- 2 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp EACH: Baking Powder, Oregano, Salt
- 1/2 tsp EACH: Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper
- 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
- 1 cup / 250ml Vegetable Oil, or as needed (see notes)
- One by one, place a chicken breast on the chopping board and horizontally slice it right through the centre to make 2 even sized breasts.
- In a large mixing bowl combine 1 1/4cups/300ml buttermilk with 1 tsp paprika & salt and 1/2 tsp onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper & white pepper. Add in the chicken cutlets and use tongs to fully coat them. Cover with cling film and marinate in the fridge for as long as you have time for. Overnight is perfect, a few hours is great, but even just 10-20mins at room temp as you prep the other ingredients will work. If marinating in the fridge, take the chicken out 30mins before needed to bring close to room temp.
- In a large shallow bowl or baking tray with curved edges combine 1 3/4cups/250g flour with 2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp oregano, baking powder & salt, 1/2 tsp onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper & 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper. One by one take a chicken cutlet straight out the marinade and dredge in the flour. Really make sure you work the flour into the meat to create lots of small craggy bits. Give it a shake, then place to one side and repeat.
- In a cast iron skillet or heavy deep pan heat up 1 cup/250ml veg oil over medium heat. The oil should comfortably cover the base of the pan, and come up to just over halfway up the chicken. When the oil is around 180C/350F, or shimmery, but not smoking, carefully place in 2-3 cutlets. You can check with a crumb that the oil rapidly sizzles before you do this if you want.
- Leave to fry for 3-5mins, or until the bottom side has turned crispy and deep golden. Flip and fry for another 3-5mins, then place on a wire rack with paper towels underneath. Repeat with remaining chicken, adding more oil and bringing back up to heat as needed.
- Serve up and enjoy! See notes for serving suggestions.
Quick 1 min demo!
- Room temp - Important to bring the chicken close to room temp before frying. I find cold meat always seizes up and releases a lot of moisture if it's fried straight from the fridge.
- Dredging - Really work the flour into the meat. Don't just give it a light dusting and be done with it. You can also let it sit for 15mins or so to help the crust form and glue together.
- Oil - Important to keep it at the right temp. Too low and the batter with just become sludgy and fall off. Too high and it'll burn and fall off. Also make sure there's enough oil in the pan.
- Moving - Handle the chicken as little as possible when moving from the batter to the pan to the wire rack.
Your Private Notes:
For more deep fried chicken recipe check out my Buttermilk Fried Chicken!
For more similar recipes check out these beauties too:
Chicken Cutlet Recipes
If you loved this Shallow Fried Chicken Recipe recipe then be sure to pin it for later! Already made them or got a question? Give me a shout in the comments below and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!