How many calories is in chicken parm at Italian restaurant?

Chicken parmesan, also known as chicken parm, is a classic Italian-American dish that consists of breaded chicken cutlets that are fried or baked, then topped with tomato sauce and melted cheese. It’s a delicious and satisfying meal, but like many restaurant dishes, it can also be high in calories. So how many calories are actually in a typical chicken parm entree at an Italian restaurant?

Quick Answer

A full chicken parmesan entree at an Italian restaurant contains approximately 1,000-1,500 calories on average. However, the calorie count can vary considerably depending on the exact ingredients and portion size. At some restaurants, a chicken parm dish may contain up to 2,000 calories or more.

Factors Affecting Calorie Count

Several factors influence the total calorie content of chicken parmesan served at Italian restaurants:

Chicken Cutlet Size

The size of the breaded chicken cutlet is the main driver of calories in chicken parm. A larger or thicker cutlet will obviously contain more calories. A thin chicken breast cutlet may have around 200-300 calories, while a very large breaded chicken cutlet could have 600 calories or more.

Cooking Method

Traditionally, chicken parm cutlets are fried in oil before being topped with sauce and cheese. Frying adds a significant amount of extra calories due to the oil absorption. If the chicken is baked instead, the calorie count will be a bit lower.


The type and amount of breading impacts calorie content. More heavily breaded cutlets will have more calories than chicken parm with a lighter breading. Using flour, egg wash, and breadcrumbs adds extra calories compared to just flour or breadcrumbs alone.

Sauce Amount

The tomato sauce topping also contributes calories, especially if it is thick and heavy. A larger ramekin of sauce can add 150 calories or more. Lighter tomato sauces have a lower calorie density.

Cheese Type and Quantity

Finally, the type and amount of cheese plays a key role. Thicker, heavier cheeses like mozzarella have more calories per ounce than lighter cheeses like provolone or Parmesan. Covering the chicken in an extra thick layer of melted cheese boosts the calorie count of the entire dish.

Calories in Standard Italian Restaurant Chicken Parm

At a typical Italian restaurant in the United States, a full chicken parm entree contains approximately 1,000-1,500 calories, on average. However, some dishes may be significantly higher or lower depending on the factors discussed. Here is a breakdown of the calorie counts in an average chicken parm dish:

Breaded Chicken Cutlet

A 6-8oz breaded chicken cutlet fried in oil: 600-800 calories

Tomato Sauce

1/2 cup marinara or tomato sauce: 100 calories


2-3 ounces whole milk mozzarella: 200-300 calories

Side of Pasta

1 cup of cooked spaghetti or linguine: 200-300 calories

Total Calories

Total estimated calories for entire dish: 1,100-1,500 calories

So in an average restaurant chicken parm entree, the breaded chicken cutlet contributes around 600-800 calories, while the sauce, cheese, and pasta add another 400-700 calories. Portion sizes, cooking methods, and ingredients can push the totals higher or lower.

How Restaurant Preparation Influences Calories

The way that chicken parm is prepared and served at an Italian restaurant affects its nutrition profile:

Fried vs Baked

Frying adds calories compared to baking. But baking with oil spray or brushing with olive oil also adds calories over plain baked or grilled chicken.

Breading Technique

Double-dredging chicken in flour, egg, and breadcrumbs adds more calories than a lighter breading. Panko breadcrumbs tend to absorb less oil than regular breadcrumbs.

Cheese Type

Heavy, high-fat cheeses like regular mozzarella boost the calorie count versus lower-fat cheeses like provolone or Parmesan.

Pasta Portion

An extra-large tangle of spaghetti instead of 1 cup as a side can add a few hundred more calories from the pasta.

Sauce Ingredients

Rich sauces made with cream, butter, or oil add more calories than light tomato basil sauce.

Added Ingredients

Ingredients like mushrooms, peppers, ham, bacon, and sausage raise the calorie total if added as toppings.

So restaurants can prepare chicken parm in ways that either maximize or minimize the calorie content of the dish, depending on the cooking methods and portion sizes.

Calorie Differences Between Restaurants

While most restaurant chicken parm dishes fall within the 1,000-1,500 calorie range, the totals can vary significantly from one restaurant chain to another. Here are some calorie counts for chicken parm entrees at popular Italian restaurant chains:

Restaurant Chicken Parm Calories
Olive Garden 1,280
Carrabba’s Italian Grill 1,010
Macaroni Grill 1,330
Maggiano’s Little Italy 2,030

As you can see, calories range from around 1,000 at Carrabba’s to over 2,000 at Maggiano’s, with Olive Garden and Macaroni Grill falling in the middle. The preparation methods, portion sizes, ingredients, and recipes vary between restaurant chains, accounting for these major differences in calorie counts.

Lower Calorie Options for Chicken Parm

If you want to enjoy chicken parm but limit calories, here are some tips for lighter restaurant orders:

Choose Grilled or Baked Chicken

Opt for grilled or baked chicken instead of fried cutlets to save hundreds of calories.

Request Light Sauce and Cheese

Ask for light sauce and cheese portions to trim calories.

Swap Side Dishes

Substitute steamed broccoli or side salad instead of high-calorie pasta or garlic bread.

Share a Meal

Split one chicken parm entree between two people to cut the calories in half.

Take Home Leftovers

Take leftovers home rather than overeating high portions at the restaurant.

Lunch Portions

Order lunch portions which are often smaller than dinner servings.

Following these tips can help reduce the calorie intake from chicken parmesan at an Italian restaurant by 25-50% or more.

Health Impact of High-Calorie Chicken Parm

While chicken parm tastes great, eating extremely high-calorie versions can have negative health impacts over time, especially if consumed frequently. Potential issues include:

Weight Gain

The large amounts of calories, fat, and carbs in chicken parm can easily lead to weight gain if consumed often.

High Cholesterol

All of the cheese plus any frying in oil may raise cholesterol levels.

Blood Sugar Spikes

Large servings of white pasta coupled with breaded fried chicken can spike blood sugar.

Food Coma

Overeating extremely rich, heavy chicken parm may lead to low energy and food coma.

Reduced Diet Quality

Chicken parm often replaces healthier whole foods like lean proteins and vegetables.

While the occasional indulgent chicken parm won’t harm your health, it’s best not to make it a regular habit. Focus on lighter preparations with controlled portions to prevent overconsumption of calories.

Cooking Lower Calorie Chicken Parm at Home

To make healthier chicken parmesan at home, consider these tips:

Use Thin Chicken Cutlets

Pound chicken breasts thin and cut into smaller cutlets to reduce calories.

Opt for Lighter Breading

Skip the egg wash and double-breading. Stick to a light coating of flour or panko breadcrumbs.

Bake Instead of Frying

Baking avoids the large amount of oil used in frying.

Use Minimal Olive Oil

Lightly brush chicken with olive oil instead of drenching in oil for frying.

Choose Lower-Fat Cheese

Use reduced-fat mozzarella or part-skim ricotta. Sprinkle with Parmesan.

Make Tomato Sauce Lighter

Use a tomato basil sauce instead of heavy marinara or Alfredo sauce.

Control Pasta Portions

Stick to 1 cup pasta per person instead of overloading plates with extra carbs.

Add Veggies

Saute spinach, broccoli, onions or mushrooms and serve as side dishes.

Implementing some of these simple modifications enables you to enjoy home-cooked chicken parmesan more often while limiting calories and increasing nutrition.


Chicken parmesan served at Italian restaurants typically ranges from 1,000-1,500 calories for a full entree. The size of the chicken cutlet, cooking method, amount of cheese, and pasta portion all impact the calorie total. While an occasional high-calorie chicken parm indulgence won’t harm your health, preparing lighter versions at home enables you to enjoy this flavorful dish more frequently while controlling your calorie intake. By baking instead of frying, using thin chicken cutlets, going easy on breading, and using reduced-fat cheese, you can make delicious chicken parmesan at home with around 500-800 calories per serving. So feel free to enjoy chicken parm, just focus on healthier preparations to keep calories in check.

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