Schnitzel: Fried, Cheap, and Easy

Happy New Year! I took a brief hiatus over the holidays to overindulge in good food and drink, but I am back and ready to cook! All the new year’s resolutions to eat healthier are getting trite, so I decided to buck the trend and start 2012 by coating chicken breasts in bread crumbs and frying them in oil, aka schnitzel. The recipe is available here.

Schnitzel was a staple at my house growing up, and I have learned that I’m not alone. Almost every country offers some variety of schnitzel, whether it be veal, pork, or chicken. My vegetarian friends have scared me away from veal and I don’t eat pork, so chicken schnitzel it is! I loved this recipe for a few reasons: 1) it was delicious, and 2) it required forming a short assembly line and this girl loves process! I ended up with a lot of unused flour and bread crumbs, so I would recommend cutting down on those ingredients. I also would recommend donning an apron because all the dipping, flouring, and breading can get messy.

So how does the whole experience rank? On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being “bad” and 5 being “good”

Prep time: 5

Prep time totaled about 15 minutes. I decided to reduce the thickness of some chicken breasts I already had instead of buying new ones, so I had to slice the cutlets in half horizontally before tenderizing. The final step was setting up the dunking stations: flour, eggs, and the bread crumbs and paprika mixture.

Overall ease: 5

This recipe is super easy. Cooking it also reminded me why it’s such a great family recipe; what kid doesn’t love assembly lines?!

Cook time: 5

Once you ease the cutlets into the hot oil, it only takes about 2 minutes per side for the chicken to cook through. This is a great recipe if you have limited time but still want a savory dish.

Cost: 5

This is a very low-cost recipe, especially if you already have chicken handy.

Taste: 5

This dish was savory and delicious. The paprika was a critical addition and really enhanced the taste. The breading was crispy and golden brown, and the chicken was very tender. All around yummy.

Chicken Schnitzel

  • 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 large breasts)
  • 1 cup flour for dredging
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs or matzo meal
  • 2 tbsp paprika
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
  • Salt and pepper
  • Oil for frying
  • Fresh lemon wedges for garnish
  1. Lay down a 2-foot long strip of plastic wrap on your kitchen counter top. Place chicken breasts on the plastic, leaving a 2-inch space between each breast. Cover the breasts with another strip of plastic, so the meat is sandwiched between two layers of plastic. Use a mallet to pound the breasts until they are a little less than ¼ inch thick.
  2. Set up three wide, shallow bowls and a large plate on your counter top. In your first bowl, put the flour. In your second bowl, beat the eggs. In your third bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, paprika, 1 tsp salt and sesame seeds (optional) till well blended. Leave an empty plate nearby where you will place your coated schnitzels.
  3. Pour oil into a skillet until it’s deep enough for frying (about ½ inch). Heat the oil slowly over medium. While oil is heating, dip each breast one by one into your breading bowls—first coat with flour, then with egg, then with breadcrumb mixture.
  4. The ideal temperature to fry schnitzel is around 375 degrees F. When the oil is hot (but not smoking or splattering), fry the coated breasts in single-layer batches until they are golden brown on both sides. If your oil is at the right temperature, it should take about 3-4 minutes per side. Don’t fry more than two breasts at a time in a regular sized skillet, or the oil temperature will drop and the schnitzels will become greasy.
  5. After frying, set the schnitzels on a paper towel and pat them dry to soak off excess oil.
  6. Sprinkle the schnitzels with salt to taste. Serve hot garnished with lemon wedges and your favorite condiment.