Kids Cook for Themselves: Easy Chicken Parmesan

by | Jun 25, 2015 | Kids Cook for Themselves, Recipes | 12 comments

Okay, here we go again. It’s the second installment of Kids Cook for Themselves!

The three big kids around here (12, 11, and 9) have taken over dinner duties for the summer in anticipation of the new baby arriving next month. With a little advance planning and prep from me, each of them is really and truly able to make dinner, unassisted and unsupervised, for a family of nine.

I figured some of you might ALSO like to get out of cooking dinner, I mean . . .  encourage independence and accomplishment in your children and prepare them for a future of self-sufficiency and healthy eating. So I’m planning to share a recipe here on the blog every now and again, that my kids can make themselves.

Today . . .

Chicken Parmesan seems like a pretty fancy meal once it’s on the table, but it really couldn’t be easier.

The main course is just three ingredients: breaded chicken tenders, marinara sauce, and grated cheese. You have the option of going homemade or store bought with them. The recipe is still pretty easy if you make everything from scratch. But it’s REALLY easy if you don’t.

Betty made this dinner for us a couple of nights ago. I’m going to let her tell you how it’s done.

Hi everybody. I’m Betty and I’m eleven and I’m going to tell you how I made Chicken Parmesan for dinner.

First you need Breaded Chicken Tenders. We had a bag of frozen Tyson panko breaded chicken tenders left over from my brother’s birthday party, so we just used those this time. But it’s also easy to make them yourself. All you have to do is take fresh or frozen pieces of raw chicken, dip them in whisked egg, and then in panko crumbs. You can use them right away. Or you can lay them flat and not touching on a parchment lined cookie sheet and freeze them for another time.

1. Put breaded chicken in a dish.

Whatever chicken you are using today, lay them in a baking dish. It’s better if you can do one flat layer, so each piece gets sauce and cheese, but we had a lot of people and a lot of chicken, so it overlapped some.

The next ingredient is Marinara Sauce. Sometimes we just use a jar of sauce. but this time I made it from scratch using:

  1. 3 Tbsp olive oil
  2. 1 Tbsp. diced garlic
  3. 1 tsp. dried Italian seasoning
  4. 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  5. 1 can diced tomatoes
  6. 1 can tomato sauce

Put the olive oil in the pan and turn the heat to medium high. Put in the garlic, Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes, and let them cook until the garlic turns golden brown. Then dump in the diced tomatoes and tomato sauce. That’s it.

2. Pour Marinara Sauce over top of the chicken.

Whatever Marinara Sauce you’re using, pour it over the chicken.

3. Sprinkle a layer of grated cheese over the sauce.

I used a combination of mozzarella and Parmesan cheese.

4. Bake uncovered at 350 degrees until chicken is cooked through.

Cooking time will vary depending on it you are using frozen or defrosted chicken, and if you are using raw or already cooked chicken breasts, and how big the pieces of chicken are.  But 30-40 minutes has usually been the right amount of time to cook it.

5. Serve with spaghetti noodles and a salad.

And maybe milk.

Brothers approve.

I hope you like it!

For the first installment of Kids Cook for Themselves, see here:

Kids Cook for Themselves: A Universal Smoothie Recipe

P.S. We found out Tuesday evening that we didn’t get the house we were hoping to buy. I pretty much spent all day Wednesday moping about it. But I really appreciate your prayers for our family and, because of them, I know that it must not have been the right home for us. Even though it really, really, REALLY seemed like it was. So . . . we’re just going to keep looking. I’m off to see a very big ugly house today that would be perfectly good for living in and I’m sure would be very helpful in keeping me from forming attachments to possessions. So that’s good.


  1. Amy D.

    Thanks for the recipe! My child, at 1.5 years old, is a long way from cooking me dinner. However, recipes that 11 year olds can handle are totally my speed.

  2. Theresa

    I'm almost 50 and I've never made chicken parm. sigh… I've been schooled by an 11-year-old. Way to go, Betty!

  3. mel

    Betty, my oldest girl is my right hand in the kitchen, and she is leaving for college in a few seems like yesterday she was your age! 🙂

  4. Nicole Cox

    Wow, that is truly impressive! Way to go, Betty. Sigh… I seriously cannot WAIT till my two oldest can make dinner for our family! It sounds pretty much like a dream come true.

  5. Mama Bear, JD

    When I was last pregnant we did not get a house that I had mentally moved in to, and I took it hard. And then we missed an opportunity for the last lot on our street, which had an amazing view. But then, our neighbor said that the ditch across the street was actually a lot and he knew the owners. And so we are are building our house there and it's the best! You will find your best!

  6. Elizabeth

    This is a great post! *I* am going to try this out (with gluten free premade chicken tenders and gf noodles). Thank you for these sort of posts! Keep them coming please!

    Ps. I mean this with love, and I am not a crazy, overly-safety oriented mom. Maybe you can remind your girls with lovely long hair to pull it back while cooking near a gas stove? A friends bathrobe sleeve got set on fire while making eggs, so it is on my radar. Sorry if that's a nag! God bless you all!

  7. Katie M

    You are such a good mom! That looks delicious. My oldest is trying to make this tonight!

  8. Tori

    Sorry about the house! That can be so disappointing. We put offers on two or three different places before we got into our current house, and it was so frustrating! But this house turned out to be the best so I definitely think God's hand was moving the whole process.

    Betty is so adorable! And professional, she looks right at home in the kitchen. You can be adorable and professional at the same time, right? I'm looking forward to this stage someday.

  9. us

    I've remembered this recipe since I first saw it last summer and have been meaning to try it. Well, I finally got around to it and it was pretty darn tasty! Thanks for sharing such and easy to do and yet delicious meal idea.

    I used one bag of the frozen breaded boneless chicken breasts from Trader Joe, 1 can of their canned (not in a jar) Marinara, a package of their grated mozzarella cheese (and sprinkled on some grated parm as well). I happened to have some fresh parsley and basil, so that was chopped and added in too.

    I made this for my husband and daughter the other night and it was declared a "keeper".


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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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