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My goal is not to disrupt the frozen food industry. Instead, if I can convert just one person into believing that good, crispy chicken tenders can be made at home, I’ll consider it a goal accomplished!
I get it. The frozen chicken strips that we’re all so accustomed to consuming have a consistent outcome. They’re quick and easy, requiring minimal effort to get from the freezer to the oven.
But have you looked at the ingredients? What if instead of a long list of ingredients, added fats, and too much salt, we just use real chicken breast and make our own?! I know it’s a far-out idea. But I believe these crispy chicken strips are the ones that could make you a believer. They’re real pieces of chicken (nothing fake here!) and the coating is super crispy.
The hands-down best part of this entire recipe is that no fryer or oil is needed! Everything is simply baked in the oven.
The ingredients in these crispy chicken strips
- Flour is the first necessary ingredient to coat the chicken. A thin layer of flour will dry out the meat and allow the next coat to adhere. It’s crucial!
- Cornstarch is mixed with the flour to ensure a light texture. We do not want gummy, gluey flour, so cornstarch helps maintain the correct texture.
- Garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper provide some of the seasoning when mixed with the flour. Since this is the layer that’s the closest to the meat, the seasoning is super important.
- Eggs are the second coating. The flour mixture is added first so the egg has something to which to adhere. The egg mixes with the flour to create a glue for the crispy final coating.
- Chex cereal in crushed form is the final coating. This cereal has the unique ability to create a crispy coating that will remain crispy without the need to fry in oil.
- Parmesan cheese mixed with the cereal act as an additional seasoning. The saltiness in the Parmesan provides a rich flavor to the coating and also toasts during baking, which creates even more flavor!
How do we make sure the chicken is crispy?
There are three main steps that will ensure the final baked chicken strips are crispy:
- Three coatings on each chicken strip: flour mixture, egg mixture, and cereal mixture. Each coating is essential in helping the other coatings stick. When each coat works as it should, the end result is a crispy chicken tender.
- High oven heat will allow the coating to dry on the outside of the chicken and become crispy. If you have a convection setting on your oven, now is the time to use it!
- Fit the baking sheet with a wire rack. During baking, air will freely move under and over the wire rack, which makes sure all sides of the chicken are evenly crispy. This also helps to prevent a soggy bottom!
The ingredients are simple and can be found in most pantries. In fact, I often have Chex cereal leftover from making batches of party mix during the holidays and need ways to use it up! Maybe you’re in that same boat too.
To make this recipe extra special, I created a quick homemade honey mustard sauce. It may require a little more effort, but it’s totally worth it.
Here’s what I love: I love the idea that we can make good food at home and do not need to rely on the frozen food section at the grocery store.
Common questions about this recipe
Not at all! Many kinds of cereal will work to create the necessary crispy exterior. I have used corn flakes, which works tremendously as well!
No, the chicken strips will still be crispy even if the convection setting is not used. Some ovens do not have a convection setting, so that should not stop you from making these strips.
Of course! An air fryer is pretty much a little convection oven.
A chicken tender is an actual part of a chicken. They’re a small piece of meat attached to the underside of the breast or breast bone, often used for their tender texture and small size. In this recipe, we’re simply taking chicken breasts and slicing them to make strips. Chicken breasts are easily found in grocery stores whereas chicken tenders can be more difficult to find for some.
Watch how to make these crispy chicken strips
Baked Crispy Chicken Strips
For the chicken tenders
- 2 lb chicken breast each breast sliced into 4-5 tenders
- 1 ½ cups crushed Chex cereal
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 ½ tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 ½ tsp salt
- 1 large egg whisked
- ¾ cup buttermilk
For the honey mustard
- 1 large egg
- 1 clove garlic peeled
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
- ½ tsp salt
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup honey
- ½ cup neutral oil
For the chicken
- Preheat oven to 375°F. Prepare a baking sheet fitted with a wire rack to elevate the chicken and set aside.
- Prepare the chicken by cutting each breast into desired pieces, 4-5 slices per breast. Set them aside.2 lb chicken breast
- In three low bowls or pie plates, prepare the coatings. In one bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, and salt. In the second bowl, whisk the eggs and buttermilk until smooth. In the last bowl, combine the crushed cereal and the Parmesan cheese.1 ½ cups crushed Chex cereal, ⅓ cup all-purpose flour, 2 tbsp cornstarch, 1 ½ tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp onion powder, ½ tsp cayenne pepper, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 ½ tsp salt, 1 large egg, ¾ cup buttermilk, ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- Dredge the chicken slices first in the flour, tapping off any excess. Next, dip the chicken in the egg mixture and allow the excess to drip off. Finally, roll in the cereal mixture, making sure the chicken is evenly coated on all sides. Lay the chicken on the prepared baking rack and continue until all of the chicken is coated.
- Once all the chicken is prepared, bake in the preheated oven until the chicken registers 160°F, 15-20 minutes.
For the honey mustard
- In a blender container, combine the egg, garlic clove, mustard, salt, smoked paprika, and apple cider vinegar. Using the blender or an immersion blender, combine the ingredients until smooth. Add the honey and blend. With the blender running, drizzle in the oil until the mixture becomes the consistency of a thick sauce. This will not be as thick as mayonnaise. Serve with the chicken tenders.1 large egg, 1 clove garlic, 2 tbsp Dijon mustard, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp smoked paprika, 1 tbsp apple cider vinegar, ¼ cup honey, ½ cup neutral oil