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Chicken Francese has breaded and pan-fried chicken cutlets smothered in a lemony butter, garlic, and wine sauce.
Judging by the name of this dish – Chicken Francese – you might think that this easy and delicious chicken recipe has origins in French cuisine. But it doesn’t!
Chicken Francese (also known as Chicken Francaise, or Chicken French) is believed to have originated in Rochester, New York – first prepared by Italian-American immigrants who adapted this “French-style” recipe when eating veal fell out of favor.
It became so popular, and so frequently served at local Italian-American restaurants in the upstate New York area, that it was suggested that the dish be called Chicken Rochester instead.
What is Chicken Francese?
It’s similar to Chicken Piccata, but without the capers. It has a breaded and pan-fried chicken cutlet, served smothered in a lemon, garlic, butter, and wine sauce. It’s simply seasoned with salt and pepper, plus a some fresh, chopped parsley and a lemon wedge on the side.
Chicken Francese is an easy meal that can be served any night of the week! But it’s another one of those dishes that would also make a wonderful dinner party entrée.
Key Ingredients and Substitutions
- Chicken – Choose boneless, skinless chicken breasts – or buy chicken tenderloins if you prefer.
- Flour – All-purpose flour is called for in this recipe. If you are eating gluten-free, you can use a one-to-one gluten free flour instead.
- Lemon – You’ll use both the lemon zest and lemon juice in this recipe.
- Parmesan Cheese – We added Parmesan to the coating on the chicken, and also served it over the top when serving.
- Eggs – A dip in beaten eggs gives the coating on the chicken a distinctive texture and flavor.
- White wine and chicken stock – Both are used as the base of the flavorful sauce.
- Fresh garlic and chopped parsley – Both of these fresh ingredients add bright notes to the sauce.
- Butter – Whisking butter into the sauce at the ends gives it a silky smooth texture and rich flavor.
- Spaghetti – We served our Chicken Francese over cooked spaghetti, but any pasta will do. Or, serve it over mashed potatoes or rice, or simply with vegetables on the side.
How do you make Chicken Francese?
- Butterfly the chicken – you’ll want each half breast to be about ¼-inch thick.
- Dredge the chicken into a flour and lemon zest mixture.
- Dip the chicken into the egg wash that has been seasoned with Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper, and fresh parsley.
- Boil your pasta in water to cook.
- Brown the chicken breasts on each side – then set aside.
- Make the sauce by sautéing garlic in butter. Deglaze the pan with white wine, then add chicken stock and simmer to reduce. Add lemon juice.
- Nestle the browned chicken into the sauce to finish cooking.
- Finish the sauce with fresh parsley, and whisking butter into the sauce at the end.
Frequently asked Questions
Can I make this sauce ahead of time? You could, although this dish is so quick and easy to prepare, you won’t really save that much time making the sauce ahead.
Can I add cream to my Chicken Francese? Sure – although adding cream is not traditional and it does mellow out the flavors in the sauce. If you insist, add half and half or light cream to the sauce towards the end of the recipe, and leave out the butter. Then heat just enough to warm the sauce through, but avoid simmering the cream.
Can I make this with other meats? Yes – originally, this recipe was Veal Francese – made with veal cutlets. You could also use pork tenderloin, cutting the loin into medallions and pounding them out flat or butterflying the slices to create a flat cutlet.
You may enjoy these other chicken recipes:
12 ounces dry spaghetti
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts (two breast halves)
1 cup all-purpose flour
Zest of one lemon
3 whole eggs
1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon freshly grated black pepper
1 teaspoon kosher salt
4 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped and divided
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
8 tablespoons butter, divided
2 large garlic cloves, sliced
½ cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
Juice of one lemon
Lemon wedges, to serve with portions
Bring a pot of salted water to boil while preparing the ingredients.
Butterfly the chicken into four pieces about ¼ inch thick.
In a wide plate or bowl, mix flour and lemon zest.
In another wide plate or bowl, beat eggs with the Parmesan, salt, pepper and 2 tablespoons of the parsley.
Dredge the chicken into the flour and shake excess, then into the egg mixture to coat on both sides. Place chicken on a platter after coating.
Place the spaghetti into the boiling water and cook according to package directions, then drain and hold.
As soon as you start the spaghetti, place a large saute pan over medium high heat and add the olive oil. Once shimmering hot, add two coated pieces of chicken and brown for 1-2 minutes on each side then transfer to a clean platter. Repeat for the last two pieces of chicken. The chicken will not be fully cooked during this step.
Reduce heat to medium low and once the pan cools a bit to that new lower temperature, add four tablespoons of butter and once melted, add the garlic slices and cook until just lightly browned.
Add the wine, increase heat medium high and cook to reduce completely, about 3-5 minutes.
Add the stock and cook to reduce by half, about 3-5 minutes.
Add the lemon juice and gently place the four chicken pieces into the pan and simmer on medium for two minutes. Gently turn each piece and cook for two more minutes. Then using a spatula, remove the chicken back to the platter.
Off heat, add the remaining parsley and butter to the sauce and whisk until the butter has melted to form a creamy sauce.
Place the drained spaghetti onto a serving platter, top with the four chicken pieces then pour the sauce over the entire platter.
Serve with lemon wedges and more grated Parmesan cheese on top.
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