Olive Garden is a popular Italian-American restaurant chain serving salad, breadsticks, pasta — and main dishes, of course.
On the menu, you can find their crispy chicken fritta – also called chicken parmigiana or parmesan-crusted chicken.
In their recipe, Olive Garden coats the crusted chicken with parmesan cheese to make it really crispy. Traditionally drizzled with alfredo sauce, they top it with a homemade marinara sauce. On the side, the restaurant usually serves spaghetti.
Replicating crispy chicken fritta is really easy. Here, I’ll walk you through how to make this homemade Olive Garden dinner – with the traditional alfredo sauce.
Now, you can enjoy this decadent parmesan-crusted chicken meal at home easily at the fraction of the price.
What is Crispy Chicken Fritta?
Crispy chicken fritta is an Italian dish – the word “fritta” meaning “deep-fried” in Italian. This traditional dish is made with chicken breasts that are coated in breadcrumbs and milk and then fried in hot oil.
Afterward, you sprinkle grated parmesan cheese on top. On the side, you can serve lasagna, pasta, or a fresh salad.
Tips and Tricks for Making Olive Garden Chicken Fritta
Soak the Chicken Breasts in Buttermilk
For extra tender and juicy chicken fritta, Olive Garden-style, soak the chicken breasts in buttermilk. Buttermilk contains enzymes and acids. These tenderize the chicken by breaking down the strands of protein in the meat.
But if you can’t find buttermilk or you’re lactose intolerant, use regular milk or non-dairy milks like soy or coconut.
As an added bonus, your buttermilk will turn into a creamy sauce that will prevent your chicken from drying out.
For this, marinate your chicken in buttermilk for at least 24 hours – 48 hours being the maximum.
Use the Right Oil or Fat
When you fry food, consider the oil smoke point. The smoke point is the temperature at which an oil starts to burn. At this temperature, the oil breaks down and literally starts smoking. As a result, your food will taste bad.
So opt for an oil with a high smoke point, such as peanut or canola. Avoid olive oil which has a low smoke point.
As an alternative, use other fats like vegetable shortening or even duck fat – a popular option for deep-frying in Toulouse, France.
To guarantee a thick, crispy coating on your meat, double-dip your chicken breasts in flour.
After dredging the chicken in flour, dip it into an egg wash. Place it back into the flour. Then repeat the flour, then the egg, and then end with the flour.
You can also dip your chicken breasts in things other than flour. For a crispy, flaky coating, use cornstarch. For more texture, use cornflakes or panko breadcrumbs.
However, if you want to use flour, make sure it’s all-purpose. This flour tastes neutral, it will coat the chicken evenly, and it will give you a beautiful golden crust.
All-purpose flour is also good for frying chicken pieces because it can handle a lot of heat without burning. That way, you can cook your chicken all the way through without worrying about the flour.
But if you want to make your meal a little more upscale, try semolina flour. Semolina creates a crunchy fried coating, but it doesn’t have a grainy texture. Plus, semolina is great if you like to dip chicken in a sauce – the fried coating holds up so well that it won’t fall apart into the dip.
For a gluten-free version, use rice flour instead of using wheat flour. Japanese chefs actually use rice flour for deep-frying tempura. And it makes a deliciously light, golden crust on fried chicken.
Avoid The Crumbs To Fall Off
If the crumbs start falling off your breaded chicken, try these two tricks:
- Tap off any extra flour or milk when you’re coating the meat.
- Gently pat the meat after the second dip in the breadcrumbs so that the dry mixture sticks onto the chicken.
Always fry hot! (But not too hot.) If your oil is too cold, the chicken will absorb the oil and get soggy instead of crispy.
To get the perfect parmesan-crusted chicken, make sure your oil is hot – about 350 degrees F – before you put the chicken pieces into it. At this temperature, you’ll get a crispy crust that seals the meat so it won’t absorb the fat.
The easiest way to tell if your oil is hot enough is to use a kitchen thermometer. But if you don’t have one, do the popcorn test. Drop a kernel of popcorn into the oil. If it pops, you know your oil is between 325-350 degrees. Perfect!
And if you don’t have popcorn, you can simply use the handle of a wooden spoon. When you put the end of the spoon in the oil, you should see lots of little bubbles forming around it and floating to the surface. This means that your oil is ready.
But if the bubbles are boiling really quickly, the temperature is too high. Let the oil cool a little bit and check again.
Also, keep in mind that adding the chicken breasts will lower the temperature of the oil. Therefore increase the temperature a little when you add them in so that you maintain 350 degrees.
Olive Garden Parmesan Crusted Chicken Recipe
- Prep Time25 min
- Cook Time30 min
- Total Time55 min
- Boil the Pasta
Add water to your large pot, and bring it to a boil. Pour your pasta in. Follow the directions on the box to prepare pasta. Once cooked, drain the pasta and set it aside.
- Prepare the Chicken
In one of your bowls, add 2 tablespoons of flour, the breadcrumbs, and the grated parmesan cheese. Use a fork to mix thoroughly.
Pour the milk into your second bowl, and add a pinch of salt and pepper.
Take one chicken tenderloin and dip it in the breadcrumb-flour mixture. Quickly dip it into the milk and then into the breadcrumbs once more.
Set this piece aside and repeat the process with the remaining chicken tenders.
- Fry the Chicken
Put your large skillet on the stove and set it to medium heat. Once the pan is warm, pour 1 tablespoon of the oil into it.
Put your chicken pieces into the skillet. Be careful not to crowd the pan. Fry your chicken tenders for 4 minutes, and then flip them. Fry for an additional 4 minutes on the other side.
Also, don’t play with your chicken too much. All you need to do is flip it once. If you flip it more times, you can make the coating fall off.
- Make the Alfredo Sauce
Put your small saucepan on the stove and turn it to medium heat. Put in the 3 remaining tablespoons of vegetable oil and the butter.
When the butter has melted, sprinkle in the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour and whisk it thoroughly.
Add the half-and-half, sour cream, and minced garlic, salt, pepper and whisk once more.
Sprinkle in the grated asiago cheese and let it melt, whisking occasionally for about 3 minutes.
Finally, add the Italian seasoning and whisk once more. Remove the pan from the stove and set the sauce aside.
- Serve and Enjoy
For plating, use shallow bowls. First, put 1.5 cups of pasta in the bottom.
Next, place 2 pieces of parmesan-crusted chicken on top.
Finally, pour 1 cup of sauce over the chicken on each plate. Sprinkle more parmesan cheese on top if you like.
What to Serve With Crispy Chicken Fritta
- Pasta is always a great option for an Italian dinner.
- To change, serve with a fresh salad, wild rice, or French fries.
- For more green, pair with roasted veggies: roasted asparagus, potatoes, broccoli, or carrots. To make things faster, make them in the oven at the same time that the crispy chicken is cooking.
- If you want to experiment and try an unusual side dish, serve baked beans, grilled herb- and cheese-stuffed portobello mushrooms, coleslaw, or broccoli bacon salad.
- Try variations on your garnishes. Sprinkle red crushed pepper or chopped parsley on your chicken parmesan instead of extra cheese.
How to Store and Freeze Crispy Chicken Fritta
To keep bacteria from growing, wrap your crispy chicken fritta as tightly as possible and store it in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. To wrap securely, use tin foil or plastic wrap, or put it in a shallow, well-sealed container.
To keep it for longer, put it in the freezer and store for 3-4 months. Just like in the fridge, seal your parmesan-crusted chicken really well. Put it in freezer bags or airtight containers, or use freezer wrap or tin foil.
Please note that this crispy chicken fritta shouldn’t stay out at room temperature for a long time. Bacteria grows very fast between 40-140 degrees F so toss it if it’s been out for over 2 hours.
How to Reheat Crispy Chicken Fritta
For any meat, including crispy chicken fritta, the challenge is that it stays moist when you reheat it.
20-30 minutes before you want to reheat it, take your chicken out of the refrigerator. If you’ve put this dish in the freezer, take your frozen chicken tenders out earlier and let them thaw. This way, your crispy chicken fritta won’t spend as long in the oven, and it’s less likely to dry out.
Also, never put your parmesan-crusted chicken in the microwave. It will heat up, but it’ll be really soggy. Instead, use your oven.
Another tip is to raise the chicken pieces on a rack off the bottom of the pan. That way, the air can circulate around the chicken and keep all of the coating crispy.
For baking, first set your oven to 400 degrees F and let it preheat. Then, cook the chicken for 12-20 minutes.
You can check the temperature of your chicken with a meat thermometer. When the internal temperature is 120 degrees F, it’s ready. At that temperature, your dinner will be hot, but the meat will still be moist.
- 47.9g Fat
- 103.7g Carbs