Cutlets: Types, Creation, and Cooking Techniques

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Cutlet (derived from côtelette, côte (“rib”)) refers to a thin slice of meat from the leg or ribs of veal, pork, or mutton (also known in various languages as a cotoletta, Kotelett, kotlet or kotleta).

A cutlet is a great way to use tougher cuts of meat like pork or veal. It’s usually pounded thinner before being breaded and cooked. It’s usually pounded thinner before being breaded and cooked. 

Cutlets are usually served with mashed potatoes, rice, or vegetables. Let’s look at what makes a cutlet so special and how to cook them properly.

What is a cutlet

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Everything You Need to Know About Cutlets

A cutlet is a dish made from meat that has been cut horizontally into thin slices. The term “cutlet” refers to the way the meat is cut, not the type of meat used. Cutlets can be made from a variety of meats, including chicken, beef, pork, and lamb.

How to Make Cutlets

Making cutlets is a pretty simple process that involves a few basic steps:

  • Choose your meat: Decide what type of meat you want to use for your cutlets.
  • Slice the meat: Use a sharp knife to slice the meat horizontally into thin slices.
  • Pound the meat: Use a meat mallet to pound the slices of meat until they’re even thinner and flatter.
  • Bread the cutlets: If you want to make breaded cutlets, dip the cutlets in egg and then coat them in breadcrumbs.
  • Cook the cutlets: Cook the cutlets quickly in a pan with some oil or butter, ensuring that they’re cooked through but not overcooked.

Where to Find Cutlets

Cutlets can be found in most grocery stores and butcher shops, and are usually sold by the pound. If you can’t find cutlets explicitly labeled as such, look for thinly sliced meat that could be pounded into cutlets.

Recipes That Use Cutlets

Cutlets can be used in a variety of recipes, from simple pan-fried cutlets to more complex dishes like chicken parmesan or croquettes. Here are a few recipes that use cutlets:

  • Chicken cutlet with garlic and parmesan: This recipe calls for chicken cutlets that are quickly cooked with garlic and parmesan cheese.
  • Pork cutlet with orange salsa: This recipe uses pork cutlets that are cooked quickly and served with a fresh orange salsa.
  • Beef cutlet stuffed with mushrooms and cheese: This recipe uses beef cutlets that are stuffed with mushrooms and cheese before being cooked in the oven.

The Many Types of Cutlets

When most people think of cutlets, they think of meat cutlets. These are thin cuts of meat that are usually breaded and fried. Here are some of the most common types of meat cutlets:

  • Chicken cutlets: These are made from ground chicken and are a popular substitute for beef or pork cutlets.
  • Turkey cutlets: These are made from ground turkey and are a healthier alternative to beef or pork cutlets.
  • Beef cutlets: These are made from thin cuts of beef and are usually served with a red or white sauce.
  • Pork cutlets: These are made from thin cuts of pork and are often marinated or pickled before being cooked.
  • Veal cutlets: These are made from thin cuts of veal and are a popular ingredient in Italian cuisine.

The Art of Creating Cutlets

Cutlets can be served on their own or as part of a larger dish. They are often served with mashed potatoes or rice and a side of vegetables. Cutlets can also be used in sandwiches or as a topping for salads.

The Spruce Eats’ Cutlet Recipes

Looking for some inspiration for your next cutlet dish? Check out The Spruce Eats’ collection of cutlet recipes, which include:

  • Classic Wiener Schnitzel
  • Chicken Saltimbocca with Mushrooms and Capers
  • Veal Milanese with Arugula Salad
  • Swiss Steak with Tomatoes and Peppers

The Art of Cooking Cutlets

When it comes to cooking cutlets, the right tools and cuts are essential. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

  • Choose the right type of meat: Veal, chicken, turkey, and pork are all great options for making cutlets.
  • Use a sharp knife to cut the meat into thin, short pieces. Alternatively, you can ask your butcher to do this for you.
  • Use a meat mallet to pound the meat until it’s even thinner. This is necessary for tougher cuts of meat, like veal or pork.

Cooking Methods

There are several methods for cooking cutlets, each with its own advantages:

  • Pan-frying: Heat oil in a pan and cook the cutlets until they’re golden brown on both sides. This method is great for thin cuts of meat, like chicken or turkey.
  • Simmering: Place the cutlets in a sauce and simmer until cooked through. This method is great for thicker cuts of meat, like pork or veal.
  • Breading: Coat the cutlets in flour, then dip them in beaten egg and coat them in breadcrumbs. This method is great for adding flavor and texture to the cutlets.

Sauces and Toppings

Cutlets are often topped with sauces or other ingredients to enhance their flavor. Here are some ideas to try:

  • Lemon sauce: Combine lemon juice, butter, and salt in a pan and simmer until thickened. Pour over cooked cutlets for a tangy flavor.
  • Saltimbocca: Top cooked cutlets with prosciutto, sage, and mozzarella cheese. Broil until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
  • Milanese: Bread cutlets and pan-fry until golden brown. Top with a mixture of mushrooms, capers, and lemon juice for a savory flavor.

Tips and Tricks

Here are some additional tips to help you cook the perfect cutlets:

  • Use parchment paper or plastic wrap to cover the entire piece of meat before pounding it. This will prevent it from tearing or breaking apart.
  • Season the raw meat with salt and pepper before cooking to enhance its flavor.
  • Take advantage of tougher cuts of meat by pounding them thinner. This will make them less chewy and more tender.
  • Apply even pressure when pounding the meat to ensure consistent results.

Cooking cutlets may seem simple, but there are many techniques and tricks to master. With these tips and recipes, you’ll be able to create delicious cutlets that are sure to impress.

Conclusion

Cutlets are a great way to use up leftover meat. They’re also a great way to introduce kids to new meats, since they’re so easy to make. 

So, now you know what a cutlet is and how to use them.

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Joost Nusselder, the founder of Bite My Bun is a content marketer, dad and loves trying out new food with Japanese food at the heart of his passion, and together with his team he's been creating in-depth blog articles since 2016 to help loyal readers with recipes and cooking tips.