Our air fryer chicken Milanese recipe is an easy, hassle-free take on one of Milan’s classics.
Chicken Milanese is one of our favorite healthy meals. The meat is thin, nicely spiced, and so crispy it’s almost impossible not to crave a second helping. When chicken parmesan just seems too heavy, chicken Milanese is indeed what to look for.
Our trick is to coat the meat in a thin layer of oil before layering on the flour. It works just like moisturizers on your skin — the fat traps moisture inside, keeping the meat nice and juicy.
What Is Chicken Milanese?
Chicken Milanese is one of Milan’s staples, featuring chicken breasts that have been pounded thin, breaded, and deep-fried to perfection. Think of it as a no-cheese, no-sauce version of chicken parmesan.
Originally, the dish was made with veal, but that has lost popularity in recent decades. People opt for chicken breasts instead, which are more widely available and possess a softer texture.
A restaurant may match it with a side salad and a lemon wedge — typical items with which chicken Milanese is often served. We present ours with fresh arugula and cherry tomatoes, tossed with vinaigrette and topped with shaved parm.
Is This Recipe Healthy?
The position of fried foods on the healthy-unhealthy scale is controversial. Valid concerns over high levels of (carcinogenic) acrylamide and calories are unavoidable. In an attempt to make the dish healthier, we take the following measures:
Using the air fryer instead of deep-frying: this helps us control how much oil gets absorbed and thus how many calories we eat.
Spritzing the chicken with little oil: fewer calories from oil leaves more room for healthy calories. Plus, a shorter cooking time also means a lower level of acrylamide.
Additionally, our view on healthy eating is more about moderation than strict bans on certain ingredients, so fried foods are acceptable in small amounts along with other more nutrient-dense options. By ‘moderation,’ we mean regulating the calories, saturated fats, sodium, added sugar, and alcohol intake of your day in accordance with the USDA’s suggestions.
For this dish and most main dishes, we focus on those first three. By reducing excess oil and sodium from salt and cheese, we created a healthy chicken Milanese recipe with:
7.2 g saturated fats
542 mg sodium
We used data from the USDA’s food data library to calculate these totals. There will always be a little variation since ingredient quality varies, but nonetheless, you can treat our calculations as reliable approximations.
This air fryer chicken Milanese recipe calls for the following components:
1. Butterflied Chicken Breasts
Chicken breasts can’t be flattened quite enough with just a meat mallet, so we also ‘butterfly’ them. This technique makes the meat both flatter and wider, so it looks more appealing on the plate.
To butterfly a chicken breast, place it on the cutting board and press it down with one hand. Hold the knife with the other hand, and from one side, start slicing it in half until the blade almost reaches the other side. Leave about 1 inch connected, then open it up and pound it with a meat mallet.
The flattened chicken is then spiced with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. We also add some lemon juice to make the meat tender, and coat it in olive oil to seal in moisture.
Next, the meat goes through a breading station of flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs:
We diluted the eggs with some water to make the crust thinner, but if you like it thick, leave the water out.
The crust won’t be crispy without some fat, so we mix it with room-temperature butter. We use a fork to mash the butter and mix it in, until there are no large clumps of crumbs left.
Arugula, halved cherry tomatoes, shaved parmesan and vinaigrette dressing is a simple but effective accompaniment. The dressing is made of olive oil, pepper, and balsamic vinegar that you can tailor to your liking.
How to Make
Our air fryer chicken Milanese recipe can be divided into two parts: making the chicken and making the salad. Because the salad is quick to make, we suggest chilling the ingredients and waiting to toss them until just before serving.
Begin by butterflying the chicken breasts and pounding them with a meat mallet. Season them nicely and coat them in flour, diluted eggs, and breadcrumbs.
Once they’re breaded, cook them at 375°F for 17 minutes. The air fryer needn’t be preheated — it heats up really quickly.
All there’s left to do is make the side and enjoy!
How to Store and Reheat the Leftover
We don’t suggest storing fried foods, but if you must, keep these chicken breasts in the fridge for no more than 5 days or in the freezer for up to 3 months. Place them in a container before you do.
A better option is to bread the raw meat and store it in the freezer that way. Again, it’ll be good for up to 3 months. Since you already flattened the chicken, it’ll only take a couple extra minutes of cook-time from a frozen state.
The salad components can be stored separately in the fridge for about 5 days.
What to Serve With This Dish
We served this crispy chicken and arugula salad with some air-fried potatoes (and ketchup) and a glass of orange pineapple juice. It lends the meal a summery vibe.
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6 oz cherry tomatoes (preferably in shades of yellow and chocolate)
3 oz arugula
1 oz parmesan (shaved)
1 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
3 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 medium egg
2 tbsp unsalted butter (room temperature)
2 tbsp olive oil (divided)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper (divided)
1 tbsp water
2 tbsp parsley (finely chopped)
Butterfly 24 oz skinless boneless chicken breasts, then pound them flat with a mallet.
Place the meat into a bowl along with 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp lemon juice, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp salt, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Mix well and set aside.
In a bowl, use a fork to mix 1 cup breadcrumbs with 2 tbsp room-temp unsalted butter. Mash the butter to make sure there are no lumps.
In another bowl, whisk 1 egg with 1 tbsp water.
Dredge the seasoned chicken through flour (3 tbsp in total), diluted egg mixture, and buttered breadcrumbs. Shake to remove the excess.
Place the breaded chicken into the air fryer and cook at 375°F for 17 minutes. No preheating needed.
Right before serving, toss 3 oz arugula and 6 oz cherry tomatoes with 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar, 1 tbsp olive oil, and 1/4 tsp pepper. Top with 1 oz shaved parmesan. Plate the chicken. Garnish with 2 tbsp parsley and enjoy with the salad.
Air Fryer Chicken Milanese
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 457Calories from Fat 180
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 7.2g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2g
Monounsaturated Fat 9g
Vitamin A 1132IU
Vitamin C 16mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Natalie Butler is a registered dietitian nutritionist with a passion to help others live their best life through food, fitness, safer beauty and a healthy lifestyle. She has expertise with a variety of diets and diseases and believes that there is no one-size-fits-all approach for health.
Air fryer chicken Milanese is a crispy and flavorful dish that's easy to make and perfect for a healthy and satisfying meal.