The mozzarella chicken sandwich is a popular sandwich found at many restaurants and fast food chains. It typically consists of a breaded and fried chicken cutlet, melted mozzarella cheese, marinara sauce, and sometimes other toppings and condiments, all between two buns or slices of bread. With its crispy chicken, gooey cheese, and tangy marinara sauce, this sandwich is a flavorful and satisfying option for many. But what exactly goes into making this sandwich? Let’s take a closer look at the key ingredients and components that can be found on a mozzarella chicken sandwich.
The star of the show in any mozzarella chicken sandwich is the chicken. This is usually a chicken breast or thigh that has been breaded or battered and then fried. The chicken provides the protein and bulk of the sandwich.
Some key points about the chicken:
– The chicken is usually sliced or pounded to an even thickness before breading. This helps it cook evenly.
– The breading provides a crispy, crunchy exterior texture. The breading is typically made from flour, eggs, breadcrumbs or crackers, and seasonings like salt, pepper, garlic powder, and parsley.
– The chicken is deep fried in oil until golden brown and fully cooked through. This gives it a crispy crust.
– Fried chicken helps distinguish this sandwich from a regular chicken sandwich. The crispy breading pairs well with the melted cheese and sauce.
As the name implies, mozzarella cheese is a key component and flavor of the mozzarella chicken sandwich. Mozzarella is a soft Italian cheese with a distinct creamy, milky flavor.
On this sandwich, the mozzarella is usually sliced or shredded and then melted on top of the fried chicken cutlet. When melted, mozzarella becomes soft, gooey, and stretchy. This provides a delicious cheese pull and rich, creamy texture that perfectly complements the crispy chicken.
The mozzarella adds a boost of dairy flavor and fat which balances out the other flavors. The amount of mozzarella can range from a light sprinkle to several thick slices depending on preference. Provolone, cheddar, Swiss or American cheese are also sometimes used.
What really brings all the components together is the marinara sauce on a mozzarella chicken sandwich. Marinara sauce is a tomato-based sauce that contains tomatoes, olive oil, garlic, herbs and spices like basil, oregano and red pepper flakes.
The sauce adds a tangy, savory flavor that cuts through the rich cheese and fried chicken. It also provides moisture and brings the dish together. Just a few tablespoons of marinara sauce are usually drizzled over the chicken before adding the cheese.
To hold everything together, the mozzarella chicken sandwich is served between two slices of bread or on a bun. Some options include:
– Italian bread – Has a crisp crust and fluffy interior to stand up to the juicy fillings.
– Hoagie roll – The perfect vehicle for overstuffed sandwiches. Sturdy and slightly chewy.
– Pretzel bun – Adds a touch of savory flavor and crispy exterior texture.
– Brioche bun – Provides a soft, rich, buttery flavor and tender mouthfeel.
The bread should be toasted or warmed to add crunch and absorb some of the delicious juices.
While the main components are chicken, cheese and sauce, mozzarella chicken sandwiches are also commonly topped with:
– Tomato slices – Provide moisture and flavor.
– Spinach – Contrasting green color and texture.
– Onion – Sliced red or white onion gives crunch and bite.
– Banana peppers – Pickled peppers add tangy heat.
– Pesto – Basily, garlicky herbal flavor.
– Roasted red peppers – Sweet, smoky and soft.
– Sliced mushrooms – Earthy, meaty notes.
These extras help make each bite more dynamic by adding layers of flavor and texture.
To bring all the components together, mozzarella chicken sandwiches may be finished with condiments that add moisture, flavor and creaminess:
– Garlic aioli
– Ranch dressing
– Caesar dressing
These condiments can be spread on the bread, drizzled over the fillings, or served on the side for dipping. They help make each bite even tastier.
How It’s Made
Now that we’ve looked closely at the ingredients, let’s discuss the step-by-step process for assembling a mozzarella chicken sandwich:
1. Pound or tenderize chicken breast to an even thickness, season with salt and pepper.
2. Prepare breading station – flour, beaten eggs, breadcrumbs.
3. Coat chicken in flour, egg wash, then breadcrumbs to adhere.
4. Fry breaded chicken in 350°F oil until crispy and golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
5. Lightly toast sandwich bread or buns. Spread condiment on one side such as mayo or mustard.
6. Place fried chicken cutlet on bottom bun.
7. Top with marinara sauce, mozzarella slices or shreds, and any additional toppings.
8. Place top bun and press down gently to allow cheese to start melting from residual heat.
9. Optionally place sandwich in a hot skillet, panini press, or oven for 1-2 minutes to melt cheese fully.
10. Slice sandwich in half diagonally and serve immediately while hot!
The mozzarella chicken sandwich packs a satisfying amount of protein from the chicken and cheese. A typical sandwich may contain:
– 350-450 calories
– 25-35g protein
– 15-25g fat
– 30-40g carbs
The majority of calories come from the breaded fried chicken and cheese. There are also contributions from the bread and small amounts of fats and sugars in the sauce and condiments.
While not the healthiest option, the sandwich provides energy, protein, and satisfaction. It can be sensible in moderation as part of an overall balanced diet. A side salad also helps increase nutritional value.
Ways to Make It Healthier
Some easy ways to lighten up a mozzarella chicken sandwich include:
– Use chicken breast instead of fried chicken. Season and grill or bake.
– Choose low-fat mozzarella or reduced-fat cheese slices.
– Opt for light mayo or mustard instead of full-fat condiments.
– Use whole wheat or multigrain bread or bun for more fiber.
– Load up on veggie toppings like tomatoes, spinach, onions, peppers.
– Stick to a single slice of cheese instead of two.
– Share the sandwich and add a side salad or soup.
There are many tasty ways to customize or put a spin on the classic mozzarella chicken sandwich:
– Use chicken cutlets, nuggets, or tenders instead of a breast or thigh.
– Substitute marinara for barbeque sauce, ranch, or buffalo sauce.
– Add crispy bacon.
– Use balsamic vinegar and fresh basil instead of marinara.
– Grill or pan-fry the chicken instead of deep frying.
– Omit marinara and just use garlic butter.
– Add sauteed mushrooms, caramelized onions, roasted peppers.
– Use fresh mozzarella slices instead of shredded cheese.
– Make it a buffalo chicken style sandwich with hot sauce and blue cheese.
– Turn it into a flatbread, wrap, or pizza.
The possibilities are endless! Feel free to get creative to make it your own.
Where To Eat It
You can find tasty mozzarella chicken sandwiches at:
– Italian restaurants and pizzerias
– Sandwich shops like Subway or Jersey Mike’s
– Chicken shacks and fast food chains like Chick-fil-A
– College campus dining halls
– Local cafes and delis
– Food trucks
Some restaurants known for their takes on this sandwich include:
– Olive Garden – Offers a chicken parmigiana sandwich.
– Red Robin – Fiery Ghost Chicken Sandwich with pepper jack cheese.
– Applebee’s – Parmesan Chicken Sandwich with marinara and parmesan.
– Shake Shack – Chicken Shack Sandwich with hot sauce mayo.
– Wendy’s – Asiago Ranch Chicken Club with asiago cheese.
You can also easily make your own at home! Pound chicken breasts, bread and fry them, top with cheese and sauce, then bake or pan-fry.
Mozzarella chicken sandwiches are moderately priced, ranging from $6 to $15 depending on the restaurant.
Here are some average prices:
– Fast food chains – $6 to $8 for a basic sandwich.
– Casual dining restaurants – $9 to $12 for a sandwich with extra toppings and sides.
– Upscale Italian restaurants – $12 to $15 for a gourmet, freshly prepared sandwich.
– Sandwich shops – $8 to $10.
– Food trucks and street vendors – $6 to $9.
The ingredients are fairly inexpensive. The convenience of eating out makes restaurant sandwiches cost more than homemade. But it’s a great middle ground between fast food and a restaurant entree.
Is It Healthy?
The mozzarella chicken sandwich is moderately healthy depending on preparation and toppings, providing:
– Lean protein from chicken breast (or grilled instead of fried).
– Calcium, protein, vitamins from cheese.
– Antioxidants and nutrients from marinara sauce tomatoes.
– Fiber from whole grain bun or bread.
– Added veggies like spinach, peppers, onions, mushrooms.
However, fried chicken, cheese, condiments, and white bread make it higher in saturated fat, sodium, and carbs than other options.
In moderation as part of a balanced diet, it can be reasonably healthy. Have it occasionally along with plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole foods. Share it or have a side salad to increase nutritional value.
To make a mozzarella chicken sandwich more nutritious, you can:
– Use grilled chicken instead of breaded fried chicken.
– Choose whole grain breads and buns.
– Load up on vegetable toppings like lettuce, tomatoes, onions.
– Opt for just one slice of low-fat mozzarella cheese.
– Use only 1 tablespoon of sauce to limit sodium.
– Skip the mayo and use mustard or hummus for creaminess instead.
– Share the sandwich or have it open-faced.
– Enjoy it with a serving of veggies, fruit or salad on the side.
The mozzarella chicken sandwich blends flavors and ingredients from Italian, American, and diner cuisines into a modern sandwich.
Its origins can be traced back to:
– Chicken parmigiana – An Italian-American dish with breaded chicken, cheese, and tomato sauce. It was brought over by immigrants.
– Fried chicken sandwiches – Popular at fast food chains and diners since the 1960s-70s.
– Mozzarella becoming more mainstream – Previously a gourmet ingredient, mozzarella became affordable and accessible by the 1990s.
– Gourmet panini sandwich trend – Grilled and pressed sandwiches rose to popularity in the 1980s-90s.
The influences of these dishes and trends culminated in the creation of the mozzarella chicken sandwich. It combines the satisfaction of fried chicken and the flavors of Italy for a comforting, craveable sandwich.
While difficult to pinpoint the exact origin, this sandwich became widespread on menus in the 1990s and 2000s at restaurants like Olive Garden, Applebee’s, sandwich chains, and casual dining spots. It continues to be a customer favorite today.
In the U.S., mozzarella chicken sandwiches are:
– A favorite at Italian-American restaurants, paying homage to chicken parmigiana.
– A popular offering at nationwide chains like Chick-fil-A and Olive Garden, providing familiarity and consistency.
– A menu staple at local cafes, diners, and sandwich shops, where they can put a creative spin on the classic recipe.
– A go-to game day food for sports watching and tailgating.
– A convenient meal choice for families, students, and on-the-go diners who want something satisfying and fast.
The mozzarella chicken sandwich brings together the customization of sandwiches with the bold flavors of Italian-American cooking in an accessible and crave-worthy package. It crosses boundaries of cuisine and price point, appealing to many demographics.
The mozzarella chicken sandwich has become increasingly popular over the past couple decades, for reasons such as:
– Nostalgia and familiarity – Its reminiscent of old-school chicken parm.
– Satisfying flavors – Crispy fried chicken, hot melted cheese, and tangy marinara is hard to resist.
– Customization – Easy to add all your favorite toppings.
– Affordability – Less expensive than other Italian chicken dishes at restaurants.
– Portability – Easy to eat on the go, for takeout or delivery.
– Wide availability – Offered at most casual dining chains, pizzerias and sandwich shops.
– Family-friendliness – Appeals to kids and adults alike.
– Speed – Can be made quickly for a fast meal compared to other entrees.
Its crave-worthy flavors, indulgent textures, customization, and convenience help explain why the mozzarella chicken sandwich remains a popular choice on menus today.
With its irresistable combination of hot, melted mozzarella cheese, crispy breaded chicken, sweet marinara sauce, and toasted bread, the mozzarella chicken sandwich has become a contemporary American classic. This Italian-American hybrid brings together the satisfaction of fried chicken with indulgent cheese and savory sauce flavors between slices of bread or on a bun.
It offers a balance of nostalgia along with plenty of variety through potential toppings and condiments. Affordable and accessible, the sandwich has become a menu staple at restaurants across the U.S., from fast food chains to upscale Italian spots. More than just convenience food, the mozzarella chicken sandwich has a unique place in American cuisine and culture, satisfying cravings for generations to come.