Healthy Chicken Parmesan (Dairy Free, Paleo and Whole30)

This healthy chicken parmesan recipe is cheesy, saucy and crispy, and that despite being baked, not fried.  Made without cheese thanks to cashew cream and therefore dairy-free, paleo, and Whole30-approved. An easy chicken dinner perfect for a crowd! 

overhead shot of healthy chicken parmesan with a side of green butter lettuce

Guys, straight the point –  I want you to have this great recipe for cheesy, saucy, crispy, healthy chicken parmesan! This is an easy chicken dinner the whole family will love to bits! Made with homemade marinara sauce and dairy-free cashew cheese sauce. SO GOOD, yet paleo, dairy-free, Whole30, and gluten-free. Say WHAT?

What is chicken parmesan ?

So, for those of you who are not familiar with chicken parmesan, think of it as a delicious mix of breaded chicken, warm tomato sauce, and gooey cheese. Seems like an Italian staple but it actually isn’t. Not exactly anyways.

Chicken Parmigiana has its origins in the United States, where it was popularized within Italian-American communities. However, it does take its inspiration from authentic Italian dishes like Eggplant Parmigiana, or Mellenzana Alla Parmigiana.  So basically breaded and fried eggplants topped with fresh tomato sauce and Parmesan cheese, and then baked.

So why chicken? Well, in the USA, Italian restaurant owners predicted a preference for meat over eggplant, and Italian immigrant workers also were able to afford meat now that they had better-paying jobs. That, and eggplants just weren’t as common in the United States back then. Probably a combination of all those things.

overhead shot of three pieces of chicken parmesan on parchment paper

This is a great moment to point out that you can use my homemade marinara sauce and my cashew cheese sauce recipe to make eggplant parmigiana, if you’d prefer that over chicken.

This healthy chicken parmesan recipe comes together rather quickly, especially if you make cheese sauce and marinara ahead of time.  We all love this dish in my home, it’s ideal for a weeknight dinner yet good enough to serve when company is coming.

How to make Healthy Chicken Parmesan:

Make the dairy-free cheese sauce:

picture collage of how to make dairy-free cheese sauce for healthy chicken parmesan

Cheese Sauce

Step 1 – Prepare “cheese” sauce. In a powerful blender or food processor, add all the ingredients (cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, water, olive oil, garlic powder and salt) and process until very smooth.

Step 2 – You will need to stop the machine and scrape down the sides with a spatula a few times. You are looking for a pretty thick but easily spreadable texture. Add a bit more water if needed, just one teaspoon at a time, until you reach the perfect consistency.

Prepare the Chicken

Step 3- 5– Preheat the oven to 200C/400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside. Slice the chicken breasts in half lengthwise.

 

chicken breasts being prepared to make healthy chicken parmesan

Step 6 –  Prepare three large bowls/stations: one with arrowroot or cornstarch, one with beaten egg, and one with almond flour, Italian seasoning, and salt mixed together. Place all breasts in arrowroot/cornstarch and toss until they’re all well covered.

chicken being breaded and placed on a baking sheet for making healthy baked chicken parmesan

Step 7 & 8 – Then one by one, dip in eggs, then almond flour mixture. Press down so it sticks and makes a thick layer. Wash your hands between each breast so the mixture doesn’t clump.

Step 9 –  Place the coated breast on a prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining breasts.

healthy chicken parmesan being baked on a sheet pan and coated with Marinara and cashew cheese sauce

Step 10 –  Bake for 15 minutes on the middle rack of your oven, then move the baking sheet closer to the grid and broil for 2-3 minutes until it’s lightly golden. Make sure to keep an eye on the oven because it can burn quickly! It won’t get as golden as a fried breaded chicken, it’s normal.

Step 11 & 12 – Remove from the oven. Top each chicken piece with marinara sauce, about 2 to 3 tablespoons each; then top with cheese sauce, about 1 tablespoon each. Bake for 3/4 minutes (back on the middle rack, no broiling) just until marinara and cheese sauce are heated. Remove from the oven and serve immediately, with more marinara sauce on the side if desired.

overhead shot of healthy baked chicken parm on parchment paper

What goes well with Chicken Marinara?

Serve this with mashed sweet potatoes, mashed celeriac or mashed cauliflower, zucchini noodles, roasted veggies, or with a large salad to keep this chicken marinara on the lighter side. Another great side would be sauteed or steamed greens like asparagus, or if you want to keep it traditional, serve it with pasta (but it won’t be paleo/Whole30 anymore).

a fork piercing into a piece of homemade chicken parmesan

Tips:

  • For the best possible results, use homemade marinara sauce. Here’s my easy recipe!
  • Oil your baking sheet, this is how you get perfectly brown “fried” chicken breasts.
  • Use high-quality organic chicken breast meat.
  • All the halved chicken breasts should be the same size and thickness to make sure everything bakes evenly.
5 from 5 votes
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Healthy Chicken Parmesan

Healthy chicken parmesan recipe is cheesy, saucy and crispy, and that despite being baked, not fried.  Without cheese thanks to cashew cream and therefore dairy-free, paleo, and Whole30-approved. An easy chicken dinner perfect for a crowd! 

Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword baked chicken parmesan, chicken parmesan no cheese, healthy chicken parmesan
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Servings 4

Ingredients

Breaded chicken

  • large chicken breasts
  • 1 1/2  tablespoons  arrowroot flour or cornstarch
  • 1 large egg beaten
  • 1 cup  almond flour
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • teaspoon  sea salt

“Cheese” sauce

  • 1 cup raw cashews - soaked in hot water for 30 minutes if you don’t have a high speed blender
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water + more if needed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Everything else

  • 3/4 cup marinara sauce click to see my easy + delicious recipe
  • fresh parsley chopped to serve

Instructions

Cheese Sauce

  1. Prepare “cheese” sauce. In a powerful blender or food processor, add all the ingredients (cashews, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, water, olive oil, garlic powder and salt) and process until very smooth.
  2. You will need to stop the machine and scrape down the sides with a spatula a few times.
  3. You are looking for a pretty thick but easily spreadable texture. Add a bit more water if needed, just one teaspoon at a time, until you reach the perfect consistency.

Chicken

  1. Preheat oven to 200C/400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, spray with oil and set aside.

  2. Slice chicken breasts in half lengthwise.
  3. Prepare three large bowls/stations: one with arrowroot or cornstarch, one with beaten egg, and one with almond flour, Italian seasoning, and salt mixed together.
  4. Place all breasts in arrowroot/cornstarch and toss until they're all well covered.
  5. Then one by one, dip in eggs, then almond flour mixture. Press down so it sticks and makes a thick layer. Wash your hands between each breast so the mixture doesn’t clump.
  6. Place coated breasts on a prepared baking sheet and repeat with the remaining breasts.
  7. Bake for 15 minutes on the middle rack of your oven, then move the baking sheet closer to the grid and broil for 2-3 minutes until it's lightly golden. Make sure to keep an eye on the oven because it can burn quickly! It won't get as golden as a fried breaded chicken, it's normal.
  8. Remove from the oven. Top each chicken piece with marinara sauce, about 2 to 3 tablespoons each; then top with cheese sauce, about 1 tablespoon each.
  9. Bake for 3/4 minutes (back on the middle rack, no broiling) just until marinara and cheese sauce is heated.
  10. Remove from the oven and serve immediately, with more marinara sauce on the side if desired.

Recipe Notes

  • Serve this with mashed potatoes or mashed cauliflower, a green salad, greens like asparagus or if you want to keep it traditional, with pasta (but it won’t be paleo/Whole30 anymore).
  • For the best possible results, use homemade marinara sauce. Here's my easy recipe! 
  • Oil your baking sheet, this is how you get perfectly brown “fried” chicken breasts.
  • Use high-quality organic chicken breast meat.
  • All the halved chicken breasts should be the same size and thickness to make sure everything bakes evenly.

If you tried this healthy chicken parmesan recipe don’t forget to rate the recipe below and let me know how it went in the comments – I love hearing from you! You can also follow me on InstagramPinterest and Facebook for more deliciousness and behind-the-scenes!

More healthy chicken recipes you will love:

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Chicken Clean Eating Dairy Free Gluten free Italian Inspired Main Dishes Paleo Quick & Easy Meals Recipes Whole30
10 Comments
  1. I’m so happy you made one of my favorite dishes with a healthier twist. Now I can enjoy it without the guilt. Can’t wait to try your marinara sauce too. Thanks!

  2. I love a good chicken parm and this recipe was great! Perfectly crisp and tender, and the cheese was the cherry on top.

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