For many adults, just hearing the words “chicken fingers” is enough to make them cringe. They immediately think back to the days when the only things their young children would eat were chicken fingers, tenders, McNuggets or whatever else that happened to be called that are sold in the frozen food aisle of your grocery store, at the local fast food restaurant or any of the dozens of family style convenience restaurants around today. While you may not be thrilled with the notion of what you get in those frozen bags, there are plenty of alternatives out there that you can try making on your own that taste good so that everyone in the family will enjoy them. This particular recipe, that I picked up from Sally’s Baking Addiction, covers just that, giving you a tasty chicken fingers alternative that get away from the frying and offer you a baked alternative that tastes great.
Baked Honey Barbecue Chicken Fingers
3/4 cup barbecue sauce (whatever your favorite may be)
1/4 cup honey
1/2 cup whole wheat or all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (or more, if needed)
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenders
Nonstick cooking spray
Combine the barbecue sauce and the honey in a large bowl. If you are using chicken breasts, pound the chicken breasts between two sheets of plastic wrap to 1/4-inch thickness and cut the breasts into strips. If you are using chicken tenders, cut them in half lengthwise. Add the chicken strips to the bowl with the barbecue sauce and honey and stir so all of the chicken is evenly coated. Cover the bowl tightly and marinate the chicken in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes and up to 6 hours. The longer you marinade, the more flavorful the chicken will be.
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat or coat the sheet with nonstick cooking spray.
Combine the flour. salt, pepper and the smoked paprika in a shallow dish. Pour the beaten eggs into another shallow dish. Pour the panko breadcrumbs into a third shallow dish. Coat each chicken strip with flour, shaking off any excess. Next. dip the floured chicken in the egg and allow any excess egg to drip off. Then roll the chicken strip in the panko breadcrumbs, coating completely before shaking off any excess. Place the chicken strips on the prepared baking sheet and repeat the process until all of the chicken has been coated. Spray each chicken strip with the nonstick cooking spray to help seal the breading to the chicken, preventing the breading from staying raw and allowing it to bake into the chicken strips.
Bake the chicken fingers in the preheated oven for 10 minutes. Turn each piece over and continue baking until the outside of the chicken is crisp and the centers of the chicken pieces are cooked through, about another 10 to 12 minutes. Serve the chicken fingers with extra barbecue sauce for dipping.
The great thing about this recipe is that you can make a large batch and freeze any extras that you may have to use when you need a quick dinner for the kids or yourself or just want an easy snack. These are perfect for a meal any night with some homemade fries (I made some homemade baked sweet potato fries with ours) or you can use these for any type of buffet when you are having a party and you know kids may be around. They are also great snacks for watching the game or when you have a crowd over. You get good crunch from the breadcrumb mixture and underneath is great flavor from the barbecue sauce and the honey. This is definitely one to remember and you can experiment with this also, perhaps making the chicken fingers ranch flavored instead of barbecue with some spices, or maybe even adding some Parmesan to the breadcrumbs, eliminating the barbecue sauce and substituting tomato sauce to have an Italian-style chicken fingers. There’s lots of room to use your imagination with this one and the best part is you have control over the ingredients so you know what goes into each one, and they are baked, making them a better choice for you.
That’s all I have for today. Check back next time for another recipe. Until then, enjoy the rest of your day and enjoy your meal!