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Cooking Hacks

This Unexpected Ingredient Made the Juiciest Chicken Cutlets I’ve Ever Tried

It's a fast and easy weeknight dinner!


One of my earliest cooking memories is making chicken cutlets with my mom. We’d arrange bowls of flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs like an assembly line, then dip the cutlets into the bowls one by one, trying to keep the ingredients from caking on our fingers — a tricky feat! To me, this always seemed like the only way to make chicken cutlets, but I recently discovered a way to make this go-to weeknight meal even more tender and delicious: Substituting ranch salad dressing for flour and eggs!

This trick first came on my radar when Lifehacker writer Sarah Showfety suggested it as a way to satisfy any picky eaters at your dinner table. Although I have pretty adventurous taste buds, I decided to try it out for myself. I figured if ranch dressing can do great things for carrots and celery, what can it do for chicken cutlets? After all, it’s packed with tasty seasonings like onion powder and dill. I also thought that using it in place of eggs and flour would be a huge time-saver — and possibly less messy. Here’s how it went down!

How To Make Ranch Dressing Chicken Cutlets

First, I cleaned a pound of chicken cutlets, then sprinkled them with plenty of salt and pepper. After placing the cutlets in a bowl, I measured out one cup of store-bought ranch dressing (I used Hidden Valley Original Ranch Salad Dressing & Topping — Buy from Walmart, $3) and poured it over the chicken. This was enough to completely coat each of the cutlets, but you’ll want to adjust the amount you use, depending on how much chicken you’re cooking.

Once the cutlets were covered in the dressing, I let them sit covered in plastic wrap for 10 minutes, so they would marinate quickly. However, you can go straight to the next step if you’re in a hurry. Next, I poured about two cups of seasoned panko breadcrumbs onto a plate and breaded each cutlet until they were all completely coated.

Ranch chicken cutlets during the breading stage
Alexandria Brooks

Then, I heated one inch of vegetable oil in a pan over medium heat before placing two of the cutlets in the skillet. Each side took about five minutes to cook, and I had to be careful when flipping them, since the breading was prone to sliding off. (Since I didn’t coat them with flour first, the ranch dressing didn’t have anything to stick to.)

After frying each of the cutlets so they were coated with a crispy shell, I let them sit on a paper towel to drain any excess oil before doing a taste test.

Ranch chicken cutlets
Alexandria Brooks

My Taste Test

Taking the first bite, I immediately noticed how moist the chicken was. Marinating them quickly with the dressing really did wonders, breaking down some of the meat’s proteins to make it more tender. I loved how the ranch dressing gave the chicken a zesty, herby kick. Plus, it was much quicker to bread the chicken with ranch dressing than the usual flour, egg, and breadcrumb dipping routine.

The verdict? Ranch dressing and chicken cutlets make a fast, flavorful main course that’s perfect for a busy weeknight. Plus, it’s a great way to use up leftover salad dressing, so it doesn’t spoil or go to waste!

This article was updated on Thursday, August 11 at 11:30 am EST. It was originally published on December 7, 2021.

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