This healthier chicken parmesan recipe is so delicious and so full of flavor! The chicken is crusted with nuts, then served with marinara sauce and a dairy-free cashew “cheese” sauce. This chicken parmesan is keto-friendly, Paleo-friendly, and Whole30 compliant, too.
I’ve had so much practice cooking Chicken Parmesan in my 15 years of marriage that I want to refer to myself as a “Chicken Parmesan Connoisseur”. The only person that knows about this is probably my husband, but now I am letting you in on the secret.
As a nutritionist, one of my favorite things to do is to take classic flavors I love and turn them into a lightened-up and healthier dish! Italian food is such a classic example. My favorite examples are my Chicken Piccata, Keto Chicken Alfredo, or even classic Zuppa Toscana. These dinners are traditionally heavier with dairy, or with a breading, but it’s easy to create a more nutritious meal with a few swaps! I also use a similar method with my Keto Chicken Cordon Bleu That’s what we are doing here with this chicken parmesan.
What is Chicken Parmesan?
So what is chicken parmesan? It includes crispy breaded chicken, gooey cheese, Italian herbs, smothered in marinara sauce. One of my early versions of chicken parm included dipping chicken breast in a butter and garlic, then coating with bread crumbs and shredded parmesan. I would transfer to the oven and bake for an “oven fried” version. But, over the years, I have transitioned to creating a healthy chicken parmesan. A Keto chicken parmesan that is dairy-free, Paleo, and Whole30!
Flash forward a few years, and I started experimenting using finely pulsed almonds in place of bread crumbs. And then I transitioned to the skillet…… So dang good. Finally during my last round of Whole30, I experimented with a “cheesy” cashew sauce.
So I now introduce to you to my new favorite way to make Chicken Parmesan! You’ll love that we use just one pan and it only requires 15 minutes of cook time!
How to make Skillet Chicken Parmesan:
We’ll start by gathering up our ingredients:
- roasted almonds
- Italian seasoning
- butter or ghee
- Garlic cloves
- chicken breast
- olive oil or avocado oil
- raw cashews (soaked in boiling water for at least 15 minutes)
- nutritional yeast
- dijon mustard
- sea salt
- chicken broth
- marinara sauce
- fresh basil
- zucchini noodles
It’s best to start by making the coating. I pulsed my almonds and Italian seasoning in a food processor so they resemble bread crumbs. If you want to add shredded parmesan cheese to this mixture, it’s definitely a tasty addition!
Make sure you heat a large cast iron skillet to medium high heat at this point. I then placed the crumb mixture in a bowl. In a separate bowl I placed melted butter (or ghee) with garlic cloves. I then prepared the chicken by first dipping in the butter, then the breadcrumbs.
Cook in the hot skillet for 4-5 minutes per side. Once heated through, reduce the heat, and pour in the marinara sauce. Let it bubble on the hot skillet for a few minutes.
While the chicken is cooking in the skillet, you will make the “cheesy” sauce. In a blender, combine the drained cashews, dijon mustard, chicken broth, salt, and nutritional yeast. Blend until smooth.
To serve, plate over zucchini noodles with sauce. Pour sauce on top and then add fresh basil.
What is the best cut of chicken for Chicken Parmesan?
I have a personal preference of using chicken cutlets or chicken breast that have been pounded thin. This makes for quick cooking in the skillet!
- Nuts: You can easily use whatever nut you prefer in this dish! I used roasted and salted almonds, but pecans or walnuts are also a great idea. With a nut allergy, you could try sunflower seeds (although I have never used that variation before). I have also used Nut Crumbs as a breading when I want a shortcut, and it turns out so delicious.
- Cheese: If you follow a Keto diet, you could add in 1/4 cup parmesan cheese to the nut mixture and it would be compliant. Another option is to add in sliced buffalo mozzarella to each chicken breast and broil in the oven for a few minutes before serving.
- Sauce: feel free to use your own favorite sauce. Rao’s is my personal favorite, but you can use your own variation.
Storing and Re-heating:
- Store: I would separate the sauce and chicken as much as possible if you plan to store and re-heat! That helps to prevent any type of soggy texture. This dinner will hold up well in the fridge for up to 5 days.
- Re-heat: in a skillet is the best way. You can start with the chicken on it’s own with a little bit of cooking oil. Once it’s mostly warm, pour in the tomato sauce.
Other Easy recipes you will love:
- Instant Pot Classic Spaghetti Sauce
- Chicken Cordon Bleu
- Slow Cooker Turkey Meatballs
- Italian “Pasta” Salad with Zoodles
- Mediterranean Chicken Skillet with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto
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15-Minute Skillet Chicken Parmesan (Keto-Friendly)
15 minutes of cook time and one pan is all you need for this simple and delicious Skillet Chicken Parmesan! Made with a nut crumb topping, and dairy-free cheese sauce that make it Keto-friendly.
For the Chicken:
- 1 cup roasted and salted almonds
- 2 tsp Italian Seasoning
- 1.5 lbs chicken breast or cutlets
- 4 tbsp melted butter or ghee
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 cups marinara sauce*
For the dairy-free "cheese" sauce:
- 3/4 cup raw cashews
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 2 tbsp nutritional yeast
- 2 tsp dijon mustard
- 1/4 tsp sea salt
- fresh basil for serving
- zucchini noodles for serving
In a food processor, pulse the almonds with Italian seasoning. Pulse until it resembles a coarse mixture. Set aside in a flat bowlor plate.
In a separate bowl, melt the butter or ghee and stir in the minced garlic.
Ensure that the chicken breast are pounded less than 1/2 inch thick. You can cut large chicken breast in half.
Heat a large skillet to medium high heat. Prepare the chicken by dipping the chicken in the butter mixture first, then the crumb mixture. Coat on both sides.
Once the skillet is hot, add in 1-2 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil. Place the chicken in the pan, and cook for 4-5 minutes per side. Once heated through, pour in the marinara sauce. Heat the sauce until bubbly.
While chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce. In a blender, blend cashews, chicken broth, dijon mustard, nutritional yeast, and salt until smooth.
Serve chicken over zucchini noodles with marinara sauce, cheese sauce, and fresh basil.
*Use a high quality marinara sauce that is sugar free like Rao’s.