A few years ago, my family took a missions trip to Panama. Aside from the questionable sanitation of our critter-filled hotel rooms and the language barrier (my four years of high school French didn’t help me out too much), it was a very rewarding experience.

I’ll never forget the laughter, the sweet young faces that were so excited to see us…

And the Chicken Parmesan.

Which one of these things is not like the other?

Yes, believe it or not, Chicken Parmesan became a staple in our Panamanian diet. You’d think we would’ve filled up on plantains and empanadas, but somehow we ended up spending a lot of time at this strange little cafe a few decades past its prime, where the Chicken Parmesan came highly recommended.

Truth be told, the Chicken Parmesan was nothing special. The place served up some delicious pollo asado, but the Italian-inspired chicken? Not so impressive. Or Italian.

It became the running joke. You know, “You’ve never tasted Chicken Parmesan until you’ve tasted it in Panama!”

When we returned to the States after a fun trip abroad, we hosted a reunion dinner for all of our travel companions, and it was never a question that Chicken Parmesan would be on the menu. :)

Chicken Parmesan with homemade marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella cheese

After sampling several different recipes, I finally settled on a Chicken Parmesan formula that I love…and it tasted nothing like the Panamanian version. :) I combined one of my mom’s favorite chicken recipes with a highly-rated homemade marinara from AllRecipes. The homemade sauce made all the difference! I’ve never been a big fan of canned tomato sauce, but this homemade version was in a different league altogether. Better yet, it was fairly simple to throw together on the stove!

This recipe has joined the regular meal rotation at my house, and it never fails to please. It may take a little more time to prepare than it would with a store-bought jar of marinara sauce, but the extra effort is worth it!

Chicken Parmesan

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 40 minutes

Yield: 6 servings

Serving Size: 1 chicken breast

Chicken Parmesan


  • 6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 4 oz. each
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tsp. ground oregano
  • 1 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. dried basil
  • 1 egg
  • 8 oz. fresh mozzarella, cut into 6 slices
  • 1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. dried oregano
  • 2 1/2 Tbsp. dried parsley
  • 1 tsp. onion powder
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 2 bay leaves


  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Using a meat mallet, flatten each chicken breast to 1/4-inch thickness.
  3. In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, cheese, and spices.
  4. In another small bowl, beat egg.
  5. Dip each chicken breast into egg mixture, then coat with crumb mixture. Place in a baking dish and bake for 20-25 minutes or until lightly browned.
  6. To serve, top each chicken breast with a slice of mozzarella. Place back in the oven for a few minutes or under the broiler for about a minute to melt the cheese a bit. Remove from heat and pour homemade marinara over each serving.
  7. FOR MARINARA: In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add garlic and saute until tender. Stir in remaining ingredients and reduce heat to low. Simmer for at least 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, so flavors can meld together. When you are ready to serve, remove and discard bay leaves. Serve marinara over Chicken Parmesan.

Nutritional Info:

Calories: 447.8
Total Fat: 16.9 g
Cholesterol: 137.8 mg
Sodium: 638.1 mg
Potassium: 1,131.3 mg
Total Carbs: 27.7 g
Dietary Fiber: 6.2 g
Sugars: 7.6 g
Protein: 44 g

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