18 September 2009

Chicken fingers you don't have to feel bad about eating. Using panko bread crumbs gives these chicken tenders a super crispy coating without deep frying and uses only 1 tbsp of oil per four servings.

Baked Chicken Fingers

1½ cups panko bread crumbs
1 tbsp olive oil
½ cup flour
1½ tsp garlic powder
1 tbsp salt
½ tsp black pepper
3 large egg whites
1 tbsp water
8 chicken breast tenders
Cooking spray

Preheat oven to 400°. Combine the panko and oil in a medium skillet and toast over medium heat, stirring often, until golden, about 10 minutes. Spread the bread crumbs in a shallow dish. In a second shallow dish, combine the flour, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together. In a third shallow dish, whisk the egg whites and water together.

Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, place a wire rack on top, and spray the rack with vegetable oil spray. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.. Lightly dredge the cutlets in the flour, shaking off the excess, then dip into the egg whites, and finally coat with the bread crumbs. Press on the bread crumbs to make sure they adhere. Lay the chicken on the wire rack.

Bake until the meat is no longer pink in the center and feels firm when pressed with a finger, about 20 minutes.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Makes 4 servings, 2 tenders each.

This is a recipe I adapted to chicken tenders. The ingredients and method are used in the Chicken Parmesan recipe I use, that was featured on America's Test Kitchen. The recipe is no longer available online for free. I've been making that for a couple of years now (I'll post it the next time I make it). I thought it would be a great way of making oven-baked chicken fingers as well. And it is! Toasting the panko before breading ensures a crispy coating without overcooking the chicken. So the chicken stays moist and juicy and the coating delivers a nice crunch that will make you forget all about the deep-fried versions.

There are tons of dipping options with these chicken fingers.  The one pictured above is my Homemade Smoky Ranch Dressing, then there's Copycat Southwest Sauce (a chipotle mayonnaise), and my favorite bottled stuff, Ken's Honey Mustard Dressing.

Toasting the panko on the stovetop before breading the chicken. Watch them carefully; they burn quickly! (I had to throw out the first batch last night because I let it burn. Whoops!)

Ready to go into the oven.

I served these with Oven-Fried Sweet Potatoes for an all-out finger food meal. These are great for kids and adults alike.  

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