This crusted chicken romano is a cross between The Cheesecake Factory's crusted chicken romano and classic chicken parmesan. What is crusted chicken romano you ask? We coat a thin chicken breast with a combination of romano cheese and panko breadcrumbs, pan fry it, then top it with marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese and bake it until the cheese is bubbly and perfect. It's so so good, trust me.
Crusted chicken romano is perfect for a casual dinner party or your average Wednesday night. It's super easy, but it'll seem like you put a lot of effort into it. Looking for other easy (but impressive) dinner recipes that the whole family will love? Try our chicken and orzo with tomatoes and burrata or creamy pesto fettuccine with summer vegetables.
- Chicken breast- big fat ones work the best.
- Panko breadcrumbs- I like panko better than traditional breadcrumbs because it provides a bit more crunch.
- Romano cheese- we buy fresh Romano cheese because it's SO. DANG. GOOD. It has a lovely nutty flavor, a lot like Parmesan. If you can't find fresh Romano cheese, you can substitute shredded, or you can substitute Parmesan cheese. Trader Joe's, Lidl, and Whole Foods all have great fresh Romano cheese, though.
- Marinara sauce
- Fresh mozzarella- we buy pre-sliced logs of fresh mozzarella at Trader Joe's.
- Other ingredients: eggs, cooking oil, salt, Italian seasoning, and ground cayenne
See recipe card for amounts.
This chicken is best when it's super thin. To get the perfect thin chicken breast, butterfly each chicken breast, then cut each breast into two separate pieces (making four individual pieces of chicken).
Next, beat the chicken. Yeah, you read that right. Take out all your rage on the chicken.
Cover the chicken with plastic wrap and use a meat tenderizer to beat the chicken even thinner, to about ¼ inch thick. If you don't have a meat tenderizer, use something else that's heavy. A hammer maybe? I don't know. You make the rules. Just remember to wash it later.
The key to great texture on this chicken is making your romano cheese powder-ish. If your box grater has super small holes, that may work, but we find the easiest way to achieve a great texture is by processing it in a food processor. You're looking for a texture similar to powdered Parmesan cheese (the kind that comes unrefrigerated in a cylindrical container).
Next, bread the chicken. Add a beaten egg to one small bowl and the cheese, breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, ground cayenne, and salt to another bowl. Mix the breadcrumb and cheese mixture until combined.
Submerge each piece of chicken in the egg, then in the breadcrumb mixture. Fully coat each piece with breadcrumbs, then place on a clean plate to the side. I find it's easiest to have an egg hand an a breadcrumb, otherwise, the egg hand sticks to the breadcrumbs and you make a mess of yourself. But maybe that's just me.
After you're done breading the chicken, add oil to a pan over medium-high heat and let it got hot for 2-3 minutes. I don't check the temperature or anything fancy--if it sizzles when I drop a couple of breadcrumbs in, I call it good.
Add two pieces of chicken to the pan and cook for 3 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 2.5 minutes. Your oil may get hotter than mine, so make sure you're checking every once in a while to make sure the bottom isn't burning. It's done when the coating is golden brown and the internal temperature of the chicken is 165 degrees. Repeat with the other two pieces of chicken.
This last step is optional, honestly. You could throw the chicken over some pasta as is and it'd still be great. But if you want cheesy, saucy goodness, top each piece of chicken with sauce and mozzarella, and bake on a baking sheet at 400 for 5-10 minutes, or until the cheese is melty and bubbly. I mean...come on.
Top with fresh basil if you're into that, and serve on its own or over pasta.
- Exclude the cheese and sauce on top for a Cheesecake Factory crusted chicken romano copycat
- Swap out the romano cheese for parmesan cheese
- Use alfredo sauce instead of marinara
- Make chicken nuggets instead of big pieces of chicken
Frequently asked questions
You sure can! Swap out the panko for gluten-free breadcrumbs, gluten-free cracker crumbs, or ground up pork rinds.
Use parmesan! Parmesan and romano have a similar texture and flavor, so parmesan would be an easy substitute.
We love serving this over spaghetti or angel hair, usually tossed in a simple marinara sauce. It's also great served by itself with a side of vegetables or a salad.