How to Bread Chicken at Home
Learning how to bread chicken is easier than you think.
I don’t know about you, but I always try to have some kind of breaded chicken in the freezer. For me, popcorn chicken is something that I can rely on in a pinch, while at the same time is tasty, comforting and reminds me of childhood. I usually rely on the frozen foods section at the grocery story for chicken, but until recently never realized how easy it was to learn how to bread chicken myself.
Making breaded chicken at home takes only a little more effort than heating up frozen nuggets. With a little research and advice from Taste of Home’s Deputy Editor James Schend and Food Editor Rashanda Cobbins, we put together a guide to provide you with everything you need to know when it comes to learning how to bread chicken.
Ingredients for Breading Chicken
Besides the chicken, of course, there are three basic ingredients that are essential to breading chicken: flour, eggs and breadcrumbs. In that order, these ingredients create a coating that seal the chicken, keeping the juices inside until you’re ready to dig in. Called “standard breading procedure” in culinary school, each ingredient has a specific role in the process of breading chicken.
When the chicken is dredged in flour, it dries off the outside of the chicken, making it easier for the other ingredients to stick. This is why it makes for a great first step!
The egg is always the second step in breading chicken. The protein in eggs cooks quickly, and acts as an agent to keep the breading on the chicken. Plus, when combined with the flour, the egg turns into a gel that makes it easier for the breadcrumbs to adhere to the chicken cutlets.
Breadcrumbs bring texture and flavor to breaded chicken. Many types of breadcrumbs will work as this last step in the process, but keep in mind the courser the crumb, the crunchier the breading will be. That’s why panko breadcrumbs are a popular option for breaded chicken.
How to Bread Chicken
After gathering flour, a few beaten eggs and the breadcrumb mixture of your choice, it’s time to get started.
Step 1: Prep the chicken and set up your workstation
Grab three shallow bowls: one for flour, one for beaten eggs and one for your breadcrumb mixture. Fill each with enough to coat several pieces of chicken. Setting these up in an assembly line will make it easy for you to bread the chicken efficiently.
Once you’re set up, assess how thick your chicken is. If the thickness on a cutlet is uneven, consider butterflying the chicken or using a meat mallet to even it out. Having even thickness across the cutlet or breast gives your chicken a better chance of even cooking.
Step 2: Coat the chicken in flour
After butterflying or flattening your meat, make sure it is completely dry by dabbing it with a paper towel (wet chicken means the breading won’t stick as well). Once it’s dry, dredge the cutlet in the flour, and shake off any excess.
Step 3: Dip the chicken in egg
Next, dip your floured chicken cutlet in the beaten eggs. Let the excess drip off, and move it to the breadcrumb bowl.
Step 4: Coat the chicken in breadcrumbs
Press the chicken into the breadcrumb mixture, flip it and press it again. Make sure the entire cutlet is coated thoroughly. Shake off any excess crumbs here too.
Step 5: Cook the breaded chicken and serve
Whether you decide to fry, bake or air-fry your breaded chicken, when the chicken is golden brown and crisp, it’s done! If you choose to fry, check out these deep frying tips.
Find creative sides to serve with fried chicken, or simply opt for mac and cheese or french fries for the perfect combination of comfort food.
Tips for Breading Chicken
Breading chicken ahead of time
If you need, you can bread chicken up to one day ahead of time. During storage in the refrigerator, make sure to lay the breaded cutlets flat and avoid stacking them on top of each other. If the breading gets mushy by the next day, you can toss the cutlets in additional breadcrumbs to crisp them up.
Benefits of butterflying chicken
You don’t have to butterfly the chicken before breading it, but it sure helps! If your cutlets have uneven thicknesses, butterflying your chicken is a good idea to ensure more even cooking. Plus, it creates more surface area for crunchy breadcrumb goodness. However, since butterflying creates thinner cutlets, it’s more susceptible to overcooking, so keep a close eye.
While egg is going to be your best bet, there are a few items you can use in its place. Consider mayo, mustard, tomato paste, sour cream or heavy whipping cream if you don’t have eggs on hand.
Picking a cut for breading chicken
Whether it’s breast, thigh, wing or drumstick, this method will work for any cut of chicken!
Guarantee a crispy breading
If you want to make sure your breading is extra crispy when baking or air frying your chicken, Rashanda recommends spraying breaded cutlets with cooking spray for crispiness and color. Otherwise, you can double bread your chicken—it will just be extra thick!
Making breading mixtures from scratch
Panko breadcrumbs are one of the most popular types of crumbs for breading chicken. No matter which type of breadcrumbs you choose, you can add dried herbs and spices to enhance the flavor. James recommends rosemary.
If you want to go beyond breadcrumbs, opt for crushed cornflakes, Doritos, crushed tortilla chips, crackers crumbs or even Cheetos. Check out our recipe for homemade breadcrumbs, or find more breaded chicken recipes!