Battered chicken breasts, pan-fried to golden-brown perfection, and topped with a buttery lemon sauce. Chicken Francese is an easy, unique Italian-American classic that makes a delicious meal! If you love this recipe, you will also love this Chicken Piccata and Lemon Roast Chicken.
Before the world turned upside down, my husband and I committed to a weekly date-night. We’d book the babysitter (let’s be honest, I called my parents), make a reservation, and go out for a night on the town! I miss this!
Our restaurant of choice was on rotation. Some weeks we craved Argentinian Steaks and others Spanish Tapas, but mostly we’d venture out for Italian. Both Fred and I are obsessed with fresh pasta, bubbly pizzas, and perfectly-layered tiramisu. I mean, isn’t everyone? My first trip to Italy is something I think about all the time.
Unfortunately, I don’t see myself eating calamari with my hubby anytime soon. So now I’m making some of our favorite restaurant classics. This week, we’re dishing out some Chicken Francese! I hope I did this wonderful Italian-American dish justice. This is definitely not authentic but I truly wanted to honor the incredible food I love from Italy.!
You can never go wrong with chicken for a simple, satisfying dinner. Chicken Francese is easy-to-make, and filled with wonderful Italian flavor. So, light the candles and pour the wine, it’s date-night y’all!
WHAT IS CHICKEN FRANCESE?
Chicken Francese is an Italian-American dish of flour-dredged, egg-dipped, sautéed chicken cutlets with a lemon-butter and white wine sauce. These tender, juicy cutlets are often served over pasta or mashed potatoes, and a side of roasted vegetables or a fresh salad. If you’ve never had this dish before, I’d liken it to a Chicken Piccata: lightly breaded chicken cutlets, pan-fried, and smothered in a lemon, white-wine sauce and briny capers.
HOW TO MAKE HOMEMADE CHICKEN FRANCESE
Whenever I see Chicken Francese on a restaurant menu, I have to order it! I just can’t resist that combination of crispy chicken in a light lemon sauce. Since going to a restaurant isn’t an option these days, I’ve learned to make this dish at home, and I think my version might even be better!
Here’s how it all goes down:
- OLIVE OIL is light and aromatic; it aids in crisping the breading without imparting unwanted flavor or adding heavy fat.
- BONELESS SKINLESS CHICKEN BREASTS should be fresh and quite thin. We want the breasts to cook evenly and quickly, while still retaining lots of flavor.
- ALL-PURPOSE (OR GLUTEN-FREE) FLOUR is used to bread the chicken, making for a crisp, golden-brown exterior.
- PAPRIKA is smoky, sweet, and vibrant. I also love the touch of color that this warm spice adds.
- EGGS work to bind the flour to the chicken. Be sure to allow the excess egg to drip off before tossing the chicken in flour!
- CHICKEN STOCK creates a base for the sauce and adds depth of flavor. If you don’t have any on hand, chicken or vegetable broth will work as well.
- WHITE WINE adds a sweet crispness to the sauce. If you’d prefer not to use alcohol (although the alcohol content will cook out), I’d recommend using white grape juice or a bit of white wine vinegar.
- LEMON JUICE is bright, zesty, and acidic! Even just a few squeezes adds an incredible amount of bold flavor. Looking to take it up a notch? Add the zest of your lemon too!
- UNSALTED BUTTER is decadent in all the best ways. Butter makes for a rich, creamy sauce that you’ll want to smother just about everything in.
- SALT & PEPPER is a must in any recipe! Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper are my go-to.
- LEMON WEDGES & CHOPPED PARSLEY jazz up the plate and make for a restaurant-worthy experience!
CHICKEN FRANCESE VARIATIONS
This recipe is delicious as-is! But, based on what I need to use up in my fridge, I like to mix things up.
Try out a few of these unique variations:
- Herbs– I typically have some sort of fresh herb leftover in the fridge. Try using something with a bolder flavor: rosemary, basil, sage, or thyme.
- Sauce– For a creamier sauce, add in ¼ cup of heavy cream or whole milk.
- Veggies– This is a great opportunity to get in some veggies. Add in a few handfuls of spinach, some asparagus, or sliced mushrooms.
- Cheese– Trying to clear out the cheese drawer? Top your chicken with some shaved or shredded Parmesan, or add it to the seasoned flour!
- Sandwich- If you’re exploring new ways to reinvent leftovers, make a sandwich! French bread, cheese, salad greens, and some drizzled sauce make for an incredible midday munch.
LEFTOVER STORAGE & REHEATING
I never let leftovers go to waste! With any dish, it’s important to know how to properly store and reheat your precious remnants. Any leftover Chicken Francese should be completely cooled, stored in an airtight container, and kept in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
While oven reheating is the best, you can also choose to reheat the Chicken Francese in the microwave.
To oven reheat:
Preheat the oven to 250 degrees, line a baking dish with foil, and place the chicken cutlets inside. Pour a couple tablespoons of chicken broth on top, to prevent it from drying out.
Cover the chicken with some aluminum foil, place the dish in the oven, and warm for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken over halfway. Once heated through, remove the Chicken Francese from the oven and serve immediately.
To microwave reheat
Layer the Chicken Francese into a microwave-safe dish or bowl, and add a little bit of broth into the sauce and over the meat. Cover the bowl with a moistened paper towel and heat for up to 2 minutes. Leave the dish for 2 minutes to allow the heat to equalize through the dish. If necessary, heat for 1 more minute. Serve immediately.
GRANDBABY CAKES’ BEST ITALIAN-INSPIRED DINNERS
Missing out on your old restaurant favorites? Fret no more! Instead, take matters into your own hands by tossing together a few of my FAVORITE homemade Italian-American recipes!
Check ‘em out:
- GRILLED PROSCIUTTO ARUGULA PIZZA
- CLASSIC LASAGNA
- LEMON CHICKEN PICCATA
- ITALIAN POT ROAST WITH BOLOGNESE SAUCE
- Olive oil for sauteeing
- 6-8 thinly sliced boneless skinless chicken breasts
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp flour divided
- 1/4 tsp paprika
- 4 large eggs beaten
- 1 1/2 cups chicken stock
- 1/2 cup white wine
- 1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter room temperature
- Lemon slices and chopped fresh parsley for serving
- Heat 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat.
- Season thin chicken breast pieces with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add ⅓ cup of flour to a separate shallow bowl and stir in paprika.
- Dip seasoned chicken one at a time into flour then shake off excess then dip into eggs coating both sides then place into the hot pan.
- Add two chicken breasts at a time to pan and cook on both sides until golden brown. As each piece is finished, place the chicken breast on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Add more olive oil and continue to cook until all pieces of chicken are cooked.
- After the chicken is done cooking, clean the pan and put it back over medium high heat.
- To make the sauce, add chicken stock, white wine, and lemon juice to the pan and wait for it to boil then lower heat to medium low.
- While waiting for sauce to boil, stir together butter and remaining 1 tbsp of flour until combined. Stir into the sauce to thicken then season with salt and pepper to taste.
- Add chicken back to the sauce, spooning sauce over chicken and simmer for just 3-6 minutes then remove from heat and serve.