Cheesy Spinach & Chicken alla Vodka Sandwich


This cheesy spinach-and-chicken alla vodka sandwich is full of textures and flavors. Crispy chicken cutlets are smothered in creamy tomato sauce, wilted spinach and gooey mozzarella cheese. As an alternative to frying, you can coat both sides of the chicken cutlets with cooking spray and cook them in a preheated air fryer at 375°F for about 5 minutes on each side until they’re cooked through.

a recipe photo of the Cheesy Spinach & Chicken alla Vodka Sandwich

Photographer: Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Phoebe Hauser

Active Time:
55 mins
Total Time:
55 mins
the ingredients to make the Cheesy Spinach & Chicken alla Vodka Sandwich

Photographer: Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Phoebe Hauser


  • 4 (4-ounce) chicken cutlets

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt plus 1/8 teaspoon, divided

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper, divided, plus more for garnish

  • 1/3 cup whole-wheat flour

  • 2 large eggs, beaten

  • 1 cup whole-wheat panko breadcrumbs

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 4 (2-ounce) pieces baguette, preferably whole-wheat, halved lengthwise 

  • 4 cups packed fresh spinach

  • 1 cup vodka pasta sauce

  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, torn into 1-inch pieces (about 1 cup)

  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil


  1. Position oven rack in top third; preheat to 250°F. Place an oven-safe wire rack inside a large rimmed baking sheet. Sprinkle chicken evenly with 1/2 teaspoon salt, garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Place flour in a shallow dish. Place beaten eggs in a separate shallow dish. Place panko in a separate shallow dish.

  2. Dredge a seasoned cutlet in the flour, turning to coat; shake off any excess. Place in egg, turning to coat. Place in panko, turning to fully coat and gently pressing to adhere. Place on a plate. Repeat the process with the remaining cutlets. (Discard any remaining flour, egg and panko.)

    a photo of the chicken cutlets dipped in flour, egg, and the panko

    Photographer: Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Phoebe Hauser

  3. Heat oil in a large, wide skillet over medium heat until shimmering, about 8 minutes. Add 2 cutlets; cook, turning once, until golden brown and an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest portion registers 165°F, 5 to 6 minutes, adjusting heat as necessary. Transfer to the prepared wire rack in the baking sheet; place in the oven to keep warm. Repeat with the remaining 2 cutlets. Reserve 2 tablespoons oil from the skillet. (Discard the remaining oil or reserve for another use.) Wipe the skillet clean.

    a step in making the Cheesy Spinach & Chicken alla Vodka Sandwich

    Photographer: Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Phoebe Hauser

  4. Brush cut sides of baguette pieces with 1 tablespoon of the reserved oil. Place cut-sides down in the skillet, working in batches as needed. Cook over medium-high heat, undisturbed, until golden brown, about 3 minutes. Remove from skillet; set aside.

  5. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon reserved oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add spinach and the remaining 1/8 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; cook, stirring constantly, until the spinach is wilted, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. Remove the baking sheet from the oven; set aside the rack with the chicken on it. Increase oven temperature to broil.

  6. Place the baguette pieces cut-sides up on the baking sheet; spread evenly with vodka sauce. Place 1 chicken cutlet on each of 4 bottom baguette pieces; divide the wilted spinach among the cutlets and sprinkle with mozzarella.

    a step in making the Cheesy Spinach & Chicken alla Vodka Sandwich

    Photographer: Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Emily Nabors Hall, Prop Stylist: Phoebe Hauser

  7. Broil until the cheese is melted, about 2 minutes. Top with basil; sprinkle with pepper, if desired. Place the baguette tops on the cheese-topped bottoms to make sandwiches.

Nutrition Information

Serving Size: 1 sandwich

Calories 714, Fat 38g, Saturated Fat 10g, Cholesterol 158mg, Carbohydrates 49g, Total Sugars 5g, Added Sugars 0g, Protein 44g, Fiber 8g, Sodium 873mg, Potassium 632mg

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Are chicken cutlets healthy?

    Chicken breast cutlets are simply chicken breasts cut in half lengthwise. Chicken breast is an excellent source of lean protein—3 ounces of chicken breast has just 3 grams of fat, with just 1 of those grams being saturated, plus 26 grams of protein. You also get vitamins and minerals, including B vitamins and choline, in chicken breast. Choline is necessary for a healthy nervous system.

  • Is vodka sauce healthy?

    Vodka sauce is typically made with minimal main ingredients—vodka, butter, tomatoes, onion and heavy cream—all of which come together to offer a smooth, velvety texture. Because it tends to be richer than traditional marinara, a little bit of vodka sauce goes a long way. The fat from the butter and cream makes it easy to use a little bit since it clings to the pasta beautifully. The tomatoes and onions in vodka sauce are rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. When the sauce is made, as it cooks, most of the alcohol in the vodka cooks off—although there may be trace amounts of it. So while it should be safe for children to eat, if you’re uncomfortable with the potential trace amounts of booze lingering in the sauce, you can certainly swap in traditional marinara here.

  • Can I use regular breadcrumbs instead of panko?

    Of course you can use regular breadcrumbs, but know that the results won’t be the same as if you used panko, which is light and airy and maintains a crispy and crunchy texture when cooked. If you’re out of panko, you can try to mimic the intended results of panko with crushed ingredients such as dry stuffing mix, matzo meal, potato or veggie chips, cornflakes or cracker crumbs.

  • Can I make this recipe ahead?

    Yes, you can. If you plan to use them the following day, cook the chicken cutlets (Steps 1 through 3). Once the cutlets are cooked, let them cool on the baking rack and refrigerate them in an airtight container. When you’re ready to assemble the sandwiches, complete Steps 4 through 7, while also warming the cutlets in a 400ºF oven for about 12 to 15 minutes. Test the chicken with an instant-read thermometer to be sure you’ve reheated it to a safe temperature. It should be at 120°F. You can also make a batch of cutlets and freeze them for up to a month. Put the cooked cutlets on a tray in the freezer, check them in about an hour to see if they’re firm, and then store them in freezer-safe bags where they’ll be good for about three months. You can reheat the frozen cutlets in a 350°F oven for about 25 to 30 minutes.

  • What should I serve with cheesy spinach & chicken alla vodka sandwich?

    The sandwich already has the veggies and protein covered, so we suggest adding a simple potato side dish and a refreshing garden salad with one of our healthy salad dressings.

Additional reporting by Carrie Myers, M.S. and Linda Frahm, April 2024

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