Chicken Schnitzel is a popular and tasty treat served throughout Israel. Schnitzel is Austrian in origin; it was traditionally made with veal (known as Wiener Schnitzel) or pork. The dish later found its way to Israel with European Jewish immigrants. Like many Jewish foods, immigrants adapted this regional dish to suit their unique dietary kosher laws. In the case of schnitzel, pork (which is treif) and veal (which was expensive and difficult to obtain) was replaced by chicken and turkey. The result is a tasty treat that can be found in nearly every restaurant in Israel.
Schnitzel is a simple, budget-friendly dish to prepare; kids love it. It is often served with French fries, but I prefer to serve it with a fresh Israeli salad to cut down on calories. This easy recipe is sure to become a mainstay in your kitchen; I make it once or twice a month because it’s so simple and tasty. Try breading it with panko for a lighter, flakier, Japanese-style coating.
The traditional way to serve schnitzel is with fresh lemon juice. A squeeze of lemon juice really suits schnitzel, but funny enough, the origin of this pairing is less than appetizing. Before refrigeration was invented, lemon juice was used to mask the flavor of meat that had gone bad. The tradition of lemon juice stuck, and we still serve schnitzel with lemon slices to this day!
While I do love lemon juice on my schnitzel, I also like to get creative with mine and dip it in spicy mustard or Louisiana hot sauce. Yuuuuuummy!
Click the links for two other versions of this dish:
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- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breasts (4 large breasts)
- 1 cup flour for dredging
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup breadcrumbs, matzo meal, or panko
- 2 tbsp paprika
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds (optional)
- Salt and pepper
- Oil for frying (pick one with a high smoke point like grapeseed)
- Fresh lemon wedges for garnish
You will also need
- Plastic wrap, mallet, skillet, paper towels
- Lay down a 2-foot long strip of plastic wrap on your kitchen countertop. Place chicken breasts on the plastic, leaving a 2-inch space between each breast. Cover the breasts with another strip of plastic, so the meat is sandwiched between two layers of plastic. Use a mallet to pound the breasts until they are a little less than ¼ inch thick.
- Set up three wide, shallow bowls and a large plate on your countertop. In your first bowl, put the flour. In your second bowl, beat the eggs. In your third bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, paprika, 1 tsp salt and sesame seeds (optional) till well blended. Leave an empty plate nearby where you will place your coated schnitzels.
- Pour oil into a skillet until it’s deep enough for frying (about ½ inch). Heat the oil slowly over medium. While oil is heating, dip each breast one by one into your breading bowls—first coat with flour, then with egg, then with breadcrumb mixture.
- The ideal temperature to fry schnitzel is around 375 degrees F. When the oil is hot (but not smoking or splattering), fry the coated breasts in single-layer batches until they are golden brown on both sides. If your oil is at the right temperature, it should take about 3-4 minutes per side. Don’t fry more than two breasts at a time in a regular sized skillet, or the oil temperature will drop and the schnitzels will become greasy.
- After frying, set the schnitzels on a paper towel and pat them dry to soak off excess oil.
- Sprinkle the schnitzels with salt to taste. Serve hot garnished with lemon wedges and your favorite condiment.