I am a fiend for schnitzel; Schweineschnitzel (Pork), Wienerschnitzel (Veal, originally from Vienna), Jagerschnitzel (schnitzel with a mushroom gravy known as “hunter’s sauce”), and even Hanchenschnitzel (chicken).
Schnitzel in Munich, absolut ja! In Prague, Ano prosím! In Rostock, Sie wetten! I order this simple dish whenever I see it on a menu. But making schnitzel at home is easy, and here’s the recipe.
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What Exactly Is Schnitzel?
Schnitzel is German for a cutlet or small piece of meat, typically breaded and fried in a shallow layer of fat. When you hear the word schnitzel, you almost immediately think of German cooking.
In the United States, we tend to think of Wienerschnitzel. And this is the schnitzel my mother loved to make—thin slices of tender veal, gently breaded and cooked to a golden brown in butter.
More common in Germany is Schweineschnitzel, a pork cutlet or Hanchenschnitzel, chicken cutlet. At Oktoberfest a couple of years ago, I had a fantastic plate of Hanchenschnitzel and roasted potatoes.
Wienerschnitzel is unique as it is one of the best-known Viennese dishes and can only be made with veal. But honestly, this dish may not have any direct correlation to Viena at all.
Actually, people all around the world have been cooking meat this way for centuries. Think French escalope, Japanese tonkatsu, and Italian Milanese.
And there is a good reason this method for cooking meat is so popular worldwide; it’s fast and easy. With a little planning and maybe some help from your partner or kids, you can have dinner on the table in around 30 minutes!
Dressing Up Your Schnitzel
These cutlets are fantastic served on its own with just a spritz of lemon. The acid of the lemon juice cuts the heaviness of the oil from the frying. But if you want to dress up your schnitzel, doing it “jager” style is a fun way to go—the mushroom and red wine gravy add an excellent earthy component to the cutlet.
Schweineschnitzel is often served with spaetzle in Germany. Making spaetzle is not hard, but it does take some time. Plan for a longer time in the kitchen if you go this route. You can buy spaetzle at some grocery stores like Whole Foods or Cost Plus World Market. But the pre-packaged product is not inexpensive, nor is it very fresh.
In Italy, the cutlet’s breading may have some herbs like oregano or basil added along with parmesan or romano cheese. Here I chose to serve the pork Milanese with mashed acorn squash and green beans.
The Milanese-style cutlet could also be dressed with a little red sauce and parm on top. And there you have the famous chicken parmesan. A side of pasta, like a simple Cacio e Pepe would go well with this dish.
No matter which country’s culinary renderings you choose for your cutlets, you can keep the veggie side simple with a nice salad or steamed green beans.
A Few Quick Tips For The Perfect Schnitzel
The most essential step in achieving an excellent schnitzel is to pound the cutlet very thin, no more than 1/4 inch thick. The meat must be thin because you will fry the cutlet at high heat for a short time. This is the way to get the perfect crispy crust and have the meat cooked through.
When cooking the cutlets, clarified butter certainly makes the cutlets more succulent. But a high-heat, neutral oil, like canola oil, is easier to cook with. Don’t use olive oil as it doesn’t hold up well to the heat you need to achieve for quick cooking.
Closely monitor the heat of your cooking fat. If the pan is too cold when you lay the cutlets in, the breading will absorb too much oil. If the pan gets too hot, you will quickly burn your cutlet.
Chicken Schnitzel is easy and fast to make at home. A good choice for a quick weeknight dinner
- 1 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- canola oil for frying
- salt & pepper
- lemon wedges for serving
- Line a baking sheet with wax paper or a silicone mat.
- Line a second baking sheet with paper towels.
- Set up your dredging station with 3 separate pans.
- Place 1/2 cup of flour in pan 1 (add more if needed).
- Beat eggs in pan 2 until thoroughly combined.
- Place 1 cup of the breadcrumbs in pan 3 and season with salt and pepper.
- Place your chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap. Using a meat pounder or other heavy item, like a rolling pin, pound the breasts as thin as possible. The end product should be no more than 1/4" thick.
- Coat each piece of chicken starting with the flour, then the egg, and finally the breadcrumbs.
- As you finish each piece, lay it on your prepared baking sheet until ready to cook.
- Place enough oil to cover the bottom of a large skillet on medium heat. Your pan will need to be large enough to hold two of the chicken breasts.
- Add two breasts to the pan and cook for 3 - 4 minutes on each side.
- Remove the breasts to a paper towel-lined baking sheet and season with salt, and place in a warming oven (about 170 degrees F).
- Add more oil to the skillet, if needed, and repeat the cooking process with the remaining chicken breasts.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 422Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 189mgSodium: 392mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 44g
Nutritional Information is an estimate and will vary depending on the specific ingredients used