Whip up made-from-scratch comfort food with these crispy Fried Chicken Cutlets smothered in creamy country gravy. The quick-cooking pan-fried chicken cutlets are an easy dinner for busy weeknights. Just add mashed potatoes and green beans for the ultimate down-home feast!
Crispy Pan Fried Chicken Cutlets
Who doesn't love fried chicken and gravy?! Of course, if gravy's not your thing (or your kids' thing), you can leave that off -- the crispy, golden-brown fried chicken cutlets are still delicious on their own.
Chicken cutlets are really just thin pieces of boneless chicken that have been cut from a thick breast or pounded flat. I typically purchase thinly-sliced chicken breasts or "chicken cutlets" at the grocery store to save some time on the prep work.
Chicken cutlets are ideal for pan-frying for a couple of reasons:
- Less Oil. You don't need nearly as much oil to fry a thin cutlet as you need for larger bone-in pieces. This means less mess, less expense, and less prep time (because it doesn't take the oil as long to heat up).
- Faster. The thinner pieces of chicken cook in just minutes, which means that it's easier to get dinner on the table quickly. Less time at the stovetop is always a good thing! Plus, you're less likely to burn the outside of the chicken because you don't have to leave it in the oil for very long.
How to Fry Chicken Cutlets
These chicken cutlets are dipped in buttermilk and dredged in seasoned flour for a family-friendly, easy dinner that’s ready in about 30 minutes.
Ingredients for Buttermilk Fried Chicken Cutlets
- Chicken cutlets
- Self-rising flour
- Salt and pepper
- Dried thyme, garlic powder and paprika
- Oil for frying
What does buttermilk do for fried chicken?
I always use buttermilk for my fried chicken because it adds flavor, it tenderizes the meat, and it keeps the chicken juicy.
Step 1: Prepare Fried Chicken Seasoning
Combine salt, pepper, thyme, garlic powder and paprika. Set aside ½ teaspoon of the seasoning mix to use in the gravy later, and add the rest to the flour for dredging.
Step 2: Dip in Buttermilk and Dredge in Flour
Place self-rising flour in a shallow bowl with the seasoning mix. In a separate bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg.
Dip each chicken cutlet in the buttermilk mixture first, then dredge in the seasoned flour. Place the breaded cutlets on a wire rack to rest for a few minutes while you heat the oil and preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
Step 3: Fry
Pour oil to a depth of about ½-inch in a Dutch oven or deep cast iron skillet. You'll likely need about 1-2 cups of oil to reach the appropriate depth, depending on the size of your skillet.
Best Oil to Fry Chicken Cutlets
Use either peanut oil, vegetable oil or canola oil to fry the cutlets. I typically use peanut oil because it’s affordable, it has a high smoke point, and it will not flavor your meat. You can use olive oil since it has a relatively high smoke point, but extra-virgin olive oil is not recommended.
So long as you don’t smoke the oil or use it to fry fish, it’s fine to strain the oil and reuse it. Just refrigerate the strained oil and reuse it up to 3 times.
Oil Temp for Fried Chicken Cutlets
Heat the oil over medium heat until it reaches 350 degrees F. It can get as high as about 375 degrees F and as low as about 340 degrees F, but you want to try to keep it within that general range.
You don’t need a thermometer to fry the chicken. Instead, when the oil is hot (but not smoking), add a drop of water to the pan — if it sizzles, the oil is hot enough for the chicken. You want to maintain a fairly steady temperature as the chicken cooks, so don’t overcrowd the pan with too many pieces at once (which will bring down the temperature). If the oil is really flying and it seems to be too hot, you can turn down the heat slightly.
How Long to Fry Chicken Cutlets
Working in batches, fry the chicken cutlets in the hot oil until they're golden brown and crispy -- about 3-4 minutes per side. Drain on paper towels and season with additional salt and pepper while they're still warm.
How to Keep Chicken Cutlets Warm
Once the cooked chicken drains on paper towels, transfer it to a wire rack on top of a baking sheet. Place the baking sheet in a 200 degree F oven to keep it warm while you continue frying the remaining batches and prepare the gravy. Do not cover the chicken or tent with foil -- that will make it soggy.
Step 4: How to Make Gravy from Chicken Stock and Flour
Just before serving, whisk together the creamy gravy in a separate skillet.
Ingredients for Country Gravy
- Oil from the fried chicken (or sub with butter)
- All-purpose flour
- Chicken stock or broth
- Reserved seasoning mix
Whisk together oil and flour, then gradually pour in the chicken stock and milk. Add the reserved seasoning and cook, whisking constantly, until the gravy thickens.
Season with salt and pepper, then spoon the warm gravy over the fried chicken.
What to Serve with Easy Fried Chicken Cutlets
Chicken, mashed potatoes and gravy is a classic combination! Here are a few other simple sides to serve with chicken cutlets:
- Southern Buttermilk Biscuits or Drop Biscuits
- Pumpkin Bread or Pumpkin Muffins
- Cowboy Baked Beans
- Crock Pot Mac and Cheese or Creamy Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- Skillet Cornbread or Corn Muffins
- Southern Macaroni Salad
- Southern Collard Greens
- Baked Potato Wedges
- Easy Potato Salad
- Arkansas Green Beans with Bacon
- Broccoli Salad
- Fried Apples
- Southern Succotash
Fried chicken is best when it is fresh and crispy. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 2 to 3 days; however, the breading will not be as crispy when reheated.
You can freeze the fried chicken cutlets for up to 3 months. You do not need to defrost them before reheating.
How to Reheat Fried Chicken Cutlets
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Meanwhile, place the chicken on a wire rack over a baking sheet. Next, reheat the chicken until the breading feels hot and very crispy, about 10 minutes for room temperature chicken cutlets or about 20 minutes for frozen chicken cutlets (flip halfway through).
Country Fried Chicken and Gravy - Recipe Variations
- Adjust the Seasoning. Add cayenne to the seasoning for spicy fried chicken and gravy. Use other herbs that you enjoy, such as parsley, chives or rosemary. Anything goes, so play around with the mix to suit your preferences.
- All-Purpose Flour. The self-rising flour puffs up a little bit when it's cooked, making the chicken cutlets extra light and crispy. If you don't have self-rising flour, you can substitute with all-purpose flour.
- Parmesan. Add grated Parmesan cheese to the flour mixture for a cheesy touch.
- Buttermilk. If you don’t have any buttermilk on hand, you can make your own buttermilk by placing 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice in a liquid measuring cup and adding enough milk to measure 1 cup. Stir, then let stand for 5 minutes.
- Chicken Cutlet Sandwich. Skip the gravy and serve the fried chicken on a toasted sandwich roll with lettuce, tomato, mayo and pickles!
Tips for the Best Fried Chicken Cutlets Recipe
- Give the breaded chicken time to rest (dry) for a few minutes while the oil heats. This will help the breading adhere to the meat when it cooks.
- Never cover your warm fried chicken cutlets with foil. This traps steam and moisture, which will make your chicken soggy.
- If you’re using a meat thermometer to know when the chicken is done, the thin chicken cutlets will be best at 165 degrees F.
- Keep the oil at a steady temperature of about 350 degrees F. Don’t overcrowd the pan by trying to cook too many cutlets at once, which will bring down the temperature. If the oil is too cool, the chicken will absorb the oil and have a soggy texture when done. Too hot, and the breading will burn.
- Don't have chicken cutlets? Make your own cutlets by slicing two large chicken breasts in half horizontally. Pound the chicken to an even thickness (so that it cooks evenly in the skillet).
More Thin Chicken Cutlet Recipes to Try
- Lemon Chicken Piccata
- Chicken Marsala
- Dump-and-Bake Chicken Rice Casserole
- Garlic Chicken with Mushroom Sauce
Fried Chicken Cutlets and Country Gravy
- 4 chicken cutlets (or two large chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise and pounded flat), about 1 ½ lbs. total
- 1 cup self-rising flour
- 1 teaspoon salt, plus more to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg
- Peanut oil, vegetable oil or canola oil, for frying (about 1-2 cups, depending on the size of your skillet)
- 2 tablespoons oil from the fried chicken (or sub with butter)
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- ½ cup chicken stock or broth
- ½ cup milk
- Let the chicken come to room temperature on the counter for about 15-20 minutes.
- In a small bowl, prepare the seasoning mix by combining salt, pepper, thyme, garlic powder and paprika.
- Place self-rising flour in a shallow bowl. Set aside ½ teaspoon of the seasoning mix to use for the gravy later; whisk the rest of the seasoning mix into the flour.
- In a separate shallow bowl, whisk together buttermilk and egg.
- Dip each cutlet in the buttermilk mixture first, then dredge in the flour mixture. Place the breaded cutlets on a wire rack to rest for a few minutes while you heat the oil and preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
- Pour oil into a large Dutch oven or deep cast iron skillet to a depth of about ½-inch. Warm over medium heat until it’s really hot (about 350 degrees F). The oil is ready when you drop a little bit of water on it and the water sizzles and pops.
- Working in batches so that you don’t overcrowd the pan, fry chicken in oil until golden brown on both sides (about 3-4 minutes per side). Transfer to a paper towel-lined tray, season with additional salt and pepper (if desired), and then place (uncovered) on a tray in a 200 degree F oven to keep warm.
- Repeat with remaining chicken.
- While the chicken stays warm in the oven, make the gravy.
- Whisk together broth and milk in a large measuring cup; set aside.
- Spoon 2 tablespoons of oil that the chicken was fried in into a medium skillet (you can substitute with melted butter in lieu of the oil, if you like). Over medium heat, sprinkle in the flour and cook while whisking, until the flour is browned, about 1-2 minutes. Very gradually, whisk in the broth and milk. Add the remaining ½ teaspoon of seasoning mix that you set aside earlier. Cook and stir until gravy thickens. Remove from heat, taste and add seasoning if necessary, then spoon over chicken.