pastrami chicken schnitzel

Breaded chicken, also known as “schnitzel” in German, is a real culinary delight. I am sure you have heard of wiener schnitzel, which is quite popular in Austria, one of the countries my family descends from. And who can forget the timeless song “My Favorite Things” in which Julie Andrews sings “schnitzel with noodles”. Thus, pastrami chicken schnitzel is a new take on an old classic.

Schnitzel meat is typically pounded to a thin slice, dredged in flour, dipped in egg, and covered with a fine layer of breadcrumbs, then fried up to crisp perfection.

For this pastrami chicken schnitzel, I have omitted the flour and opted to bake the schnitzel instead of frying it for a lighter, less laborious process. In place of the flour is a pastrami spice blend that has been finding its way into our cooking quite often. We use the smoker to make hot smoked salmon, all kinds of jerky, and meat — so we decided to create a pastrami spice mix to compliment it.

The best part of this pastrami chicken schnitzel recipe is that you will have leftovers of the pastrami spice mix after making this recipe, which you can use for other meat, potatoes, veggies, fish!

Note: The proportions on this spice blend are suggestions — feel free to add or subtract to your liking — but this is the essence of a pastrami seasoning.

serves 4


for the pastrami spice mix

  • 2 tablespoons coriander seed
  • 1 heaping teaspoon juniper berries
  • 2 teaspoons caraway seed
  • 2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • 1 teaspoon Spanish style smoked paprika 
  • 1 pinch of Aleppo pepper
  • 1 teaspoon mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar

for the chicken

  • 2 8-ounce boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2 cups breadcrumbs

In a saucepan, toast coriander, juniper berries, caraway seed, and black peppercorns individually, each for 3 minutes. Add to spice grinder and grinder until powdered. Add to a bowl and mix in the smoked paprika, aleppo pepper, mustard powder, salt, and brown sugar. Set aside.

Butterfly chicken breasts by running your knife alongside the middle and splitting in half. You will have 4 pieces.

Place one piece into a plastic freezer bag and pound it with a mallet or a rolling pin until it is about ⅛ inch thick. Repeat with 3 remaining pieces.

Generously season the chicken with pastrami mix and and let sit for 10 minutes.

Place the egg in a small shallow bowl. Place the breadcrumbs in a second small shallow bowl.

Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper. 

Dip one piece of chicken in the egg then immediately in the breadcrumbs. Place on the sheet pan. Repeat with remaining chicken. Cook for 10 minutes then flip schnitzel on pan and cook for another 10 minutes on the other side. Schnitzel is finishing when it begins to turn golden brown. It will cook fairly quickly since the pieces are so thin.

Serve with noodles!

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