home cooked dinners by the season

Crispy Panko Thyme Chicken

Crispy Panko Thyme Chicken

It has been well over a year since I last posted and I hope you are still with me. Grandbabies and a Board commitment kept me happily busy but left me with not enough big chunks of time to create and test thoughtful recipes. I was still cooking dinner most nights of the week because the lure of take-out and delivery food really have not replaced a home cooked meal for me. I am always following food trends and trying out new and relevant recipe ideas for those of us who want to cook dinner but do not want to spend a lot of time doing it.

So I am jumping back in with sharing Crispy Panko Thyme Chicken which checks all the boxes for me. A brief list of ingredients, easy and fast to put together and a simple to follow cooking method.

Let’s start with this — who doesn’t love fried chicken? I trace my love of it back to that impressionable young age when food memories take hold and last a lifetime. It was the red striped bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) my family got on special occasion picnics. Greasy and crispy, and you needed about a hundred napkins when you ate it.

With that memory happily tucked away, I have evolved to be a light-weight when it comes to the real thing. What real fried chicken eaters love about it — the skin, the bones and deep-frying — are what I can do without. As well as the lengthy time it takes to prep and cook it.

Panko bread crumbs are what make the difference in this recipe. Different from regular bread crumbs, they are made from only the inside of the bread, and not the crust, and then processed into flakes and dried. The result is airy, large flakes that give foods a light and crunchy coating.

Fresh thyme gets a mention here too as it lends its distinct blend of woody, floral and citrus aroma to the breading. I highly recommend using it fresh in this recipe and not substituting dried.

If your grocery store stocks it, buy the boneless skinless chicken breast “cutlets” which are sliced thin enough that you do not need to slice the chicken in half lengthwise. The thinness makes the chicken cook quickly and gives more thyme and parmesan cheese flavor to every bite.

To make this a “dinner-in-one”,  serve the cooked chicken over a tossed Ceasar salad or simply arugula or spring baby greens tossed with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

Crispy Panko Thyme Chicken
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Serves: 4
  • 1 cup panko crumbs
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 4 boneless and skinless chicken breast cutlets (about 6 ounces each) OR 2 regular size breasts (about 12 ounces each) cut in half widthwise (see note for details)
  • Kosher salt
  • Fresh ground black pepper
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  1. In a shallow pan, stir together panko, parmesan and thyme leaves. In another shallow pan, whisk together eggs and water.
  2. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with salt and pepper; dip both sides of chicken in egg mixture, then transfer to panko mixture and coat one side, patting lightly to adhere then flip and coat the other side. Transfer breaded chicken to a sheet pan. Cover and refrigerate 15 minutes as this will help coating adhere when cooking (chicken can be prepared up to this point and refrigerated overnight).
  3. To cook chicken, heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat (I prefer a cast iron skillet). When the pan and oil are hot (if you are not sure, test by dropping a few panko crumbs into the skillet and they should sizzle), add the breaded chicken in a single layer and cook until lightly browned and crisp on one side, about 2 to 3 minutes (if chicken is browning too quickly, adjust the heat a little lower). Turn chicken over and cook the other side until lightly browned and crisp and chicken is cooked through, about 3 to 4 minutes.
If using regular boneless and skinless chicken breasts: Put chicken on a flat cutting surface and slice in half widthwise to create two thin pieces.


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