Best Baked Chicken Fingers
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My least favorite part about making breaded cutlets is standing at the stovetop frying them. Even with two large pans going, I can never get away with cooking all of the pieces at once. Stovetop frying demands monitoring — adjusting the temperature here and there, replenishing oil as needed.
This is why I love the chicken fingers recipe in A New Way to Dinner, the latest cookbook from Food52’s Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs. The breaded strips of chicken bake on briefly preheated sheet pans. After 20 minutes (with a flip at the 10 minute mark), they’re done — there’s no monitoring, no oil replenishing. Why have I never done this?!
In the recipe notes, Amanda describes these as “the best chicken fingers on earth,” crediting the use of thighs (as opposed to breasts) for more flavor and the inclusion of both parmesan and oregano in the seasoning.
I have to confess I’ve yet to use the oregano — the little people in my house might protest — but even without it, these chicken fingers are utterly delicious. The crust gets incredibly crispy thanks to both panko and parmesan, which browns so nicely, and the meat remains juicy.
I’ve been making a “special sauce,” A&M’s suggested condiment if you intend to make sandwiches — for the adults and squirting ketchup out for the littles, who would be happy if I never made them anything else for the rest of their lives. Winner winner chicken finger dinner!
Merrill’s Chicken Fingers
- Total Time: 35 minutes
- Yield: 6
Adapted from Food52’s latest cookbook A New Way to Dinner, which has already being put to great use: I’ve made the shaved Brussels sprouts salad with anchovy dressing, Tad’s roasted potatoes (seriously irresistible), spicy roasted cauliflower, and I have the ricotta gnocchi shaped and ready to be boiled then browned with Brussels sprouts, sage, and pine nuts. I’ll keep you posted!
Note: The original recipe calls for the traditional flour-egg-breadcrumb assembly, but I’ve combined the flour and the eggs with a little water — my friend Holly taught me this trick, and I use it often when breading to save time. I’ve also adjusted the quantities of panko and parmesan to account for using 2 lbs. of chicken thighs, but know that you can’t really go wrong here. If you want to follow the recipe exactly, it’s here on Food52.
Also, if you want to make the chicken fingers ahead of time, you can. Store them in the fridge, then reheat on a baking sheet at 300ºF uncovered until heated through. This book, if you are unfamiliar, is all about preparing ahead — making lots of things over the weekend to use in various meals throughout the week — so it’s filled with lots of good information in this regard. One of the suggested uses for these chicken fingers are a sandwich with pickles and a special sauce, which sounds incredibly delicious.
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup flour
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 cups panko
- 3/4 cup grated parmesan
- 2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut lengthwise into 1-inch strips
- kosher salt and pepper to taste
- neutral oil
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butterfor the special sauce:
- ⅓ cup mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
- 1 tablespoon ketchup
- few dashes favorite hot sauce, I’ve been using Cholula
- Set your oven to 450ºF. Whisk together the eggs, flour and water in a large bowl. Season generously with salt and pepper. Toss the panko and parmesan together in a 9×13-inch or other large vessel. Have ready another sheet pan or large vessel for placing the coated chicken pieces.
- Drop the chicken strips into the bowl with the egg mixture. Toss to coat, then transfer a few at a time to the panko-parmesan pan. Coat in the crumbs, pressing them to adhere, then transfer to the clean sheet pan. At this point, the breaded strips of chicken can be refrigerated for up to a day (maybe longer).
- Coat a rimmed baking sheet with neutral oil (a teaspoon or so). Add the 2 tablespoons of butter. Place the baking sheet in the oven for 3 to 4 minutes or until the butter has finished foaming and just starts to brown. Remove pan from oven, and gently lay the chicken strips on the baking sheets. Cook for 10 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy. Use tongs to turn them over and cook for another 10 minutes, or until both sides are evenly browned and the chicken is cooked through. Let cool briefly then serve with special sauce: In a small mixing bowl, combine the mayo, mustard, ketchup, and hot sauce to taste
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 20 minutes
- Category: Chicken
- Method: Baked
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: baked, chicken, fingers, best, easy, parmesan, panko
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36 Comments on “Best Baked Chicken Fingers”
These sound great! A year ago I found Lydia Bastianich’s recipe. I highly suggest giving it a try… They are fantastic, and kids never know vegetables are “hidden” in the crumb. Additionally, these too are made in the oven. https://www.tastingtable.com/cook/recipes/how-to-make-chicken-tenders-cheesy-chicken-tenders-recipe-lidia-bastianich
Wow, so interesting! I absolutely will! The oven trick is a game changer. Thanks for writing in!
I know this is a family-friendly blog, so I will suppress the urge to swear, but…holy YUM.
Haha, I love it. The children’s ears are covered!! xoxo
I’ve had these marked since I read that recipe too! They look so darn good. You may have swayed a dinner this week….. I was going to try a chicken shwarma recipe….but this one looks like the kind of tasty/easy combo I need right now. You are a rock star Ali!
Ooooh, let me know how the chicken shwarma turns out! And thank you, Dana!
I’m excited you’re stepping out of the box. I have gone gluten free. Last night I oven fried chicken fried steak in the oven, 350 degrees F, for 35 mins, it was cubed steak from Whole foods, in almond flour seasoned with Weber’s GF Kick’n Chicken, sea salt _ white ground pepper. First dip in the flour, then 3 beaten eggs, then again in the flour. I did not have to turn it, it was on parchment paper on a large baking sheet,. You brush the parchment with melted butter, lay the steaks (4) on top of the melted butter, then with a teaspoon drizzle more melted butter on top generously. The second large sheet had red potatoes cut in wedges, tossed in melted butter, salt & peppered, never turned, cooked about 25-30 mins. I cannot eat any oils at all, I am checking into coconut oil, we’ll see, I am diabetic, eating by Critical Health News. com, no meds at all, and I am doing well. Thank you, I love yr recipes! P.S. The steaks were tender, moist, & no oil to toss, I am free!!!
Thanks so much for all of this, Laura! No turning is so nice, and your sheet pan supper sounds lovely. I hope coconut oil is safe for you — I love its flavor. Thank you for the kind words!
Haha, I love it. They wouldn’t touch those dark leafy greens with a ten-foot pole. I hope B approves!
Do you think white rather than dark chicken would be too dry?? I have no dark chicken fans in my family, so this makes me nervous! 🙂
I’ve been making it with chicken tenders and it’s not too dry. The recipe posted at Food52 says you can use either.
Thank you for pitching in here, Sally!
Nancy — I haven’t tried breasts, but when I make cutlets stovetop, I always use breasts, and I pound them first so that they are 1/2-inch thick and cook evenly/quickly. So I think Sally’s right — breasts or tenders will be fine. You’ll probably just have to adjust the timing a little bit — the breasts will take less time.
I first saw this recipe on Food52, just prior to the book being released. It is one of two recipes I’ve found recently that have become favorites (the other is Peasant Bread). I particularly liked the list of ways to use the chicken fingers they gave: Chicken Parmesan, Chicken Piccata, Chicken Milanese among others. I made a Buffalo Chicken version which I put on a salad with blue cheese dressing.
I’ve taken Lidia Bastianich’s suggestion to use dried oregano instead of fresh. In this recipe I used about a teaspoon. Next year I plan to grow some and dry my own.
So great to hear this, Sally. Your buffalo chicken version with blue cheese dressing sounds so good! How do you change up the seasonings to make it buffalo chicken? Would love to make this for my husband.
I omitted the Parmesan and oregano. I think you could add cayenne, but I don’t use it (ground cayenne gives me an asthma-like attack). When the chicken fingers were cooked I dipped them in a mixture of melted butter and Frank’s Hot Sauce.
Oh my gosh that sounds amazing. Love Frank’s. Thanks for the tips!
Such a hit in our house Ali! My youngest Molly (20 months) dubbd it “crunchy chicken” and exclaimed “I LIKE IT!” when she tried it. She speaks for all of us. She is in a picky eating phase so THANK YOU for making dinner time a little more fun tonight. I hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and that you and your family are well! xoxo
Emily!! Hieee and yay!! I’m so happy to hear this. Tig (my youngest, also 20 months) is going through a SUPER picky phase (like she’s living on milk alone) but she approves of this one, too. Maybe it’s the texture. In any case, I’m so happy Molly approves! And I’m so happy to hear from you. Hope you and your family are well, too. Would love to see you. Wishing you a happy happy holiday season!! xoxo
Quick question, please? What “neutral oils” would you use? Thank you in advance for answering!
Hi Susan! I use grapeseed often but also canola or vegetable. If you don’t have anything, olive oil is fine.
Late to the game, but these were so delicious! Such a pleasant surprise for someone who is generally very suspicious of oven
fried dishes – I’m a little bit of a fried chicken purist 😉 I used tenders instead of thighs since I already had some in the fridge, but your times were still perfect! What an easy dinner. And that sauce is SO yummy.
So happy to hear this, Kelly! And I so appreciate being a purist on anything 🙂 🙂 🙂 so I’m especially glad you like these. Thanks for writing in!
I cannot use the Parmesan so should replace it with some bread crumbs or corn flake crumbs? If not, what kind of Panko is best? What can I use in place of the butter? Cannot wait to try for my grandchildren!
Hi Jean! I would simply omit the parm. Any panko will be fine — I buy whatever variety I see at the store. They are all pretty similar. In place of butter, I would just use more neutral oil. Good luck!
So good! Had never tried with thighs; something different.
So happy to hear this!
This was the perfect easy lunch today! My grumpy, hangry three year old gobbled them up (as we all did). Thank you!
Wonderful to hear this, Jessie!
wow this sounds so delicious! definitely going to make it for dinner tomorrow night. is it ok to leave out the Parmesan? I don’t have any at the moment! 💕 I tried out you lemon blueberry breakfast cake this morning, it’s already gone! my family loved it! 🍰
Hi Lauren! Yes, absolutely, leave out the parmesan. Yay re blueberry cake!
Great way to make chicken thigh filets. Easy and quick. Had them with Mac and cheese and broccoli florets. Thank you!
Great to hear, Jo! Sounds like a perfect dinner 🙂
Hi Ali! I hope you find this question on this older recipe… Do you think there is any way these could be frozen? I think that my future self would be SO happy if I could prep a lot of these and freeze them ahead of time.
Hi Kelly! Yes, absolutely. I would freeze them once they are completely breaded. You could freeze them on a sheet pan; then once they are frozen you could transfer them to an airtight container. I would bake them directly from the freezer.
Made this a few nights ago for a casual dinner for friends w/ kiddos. Brilliant, and practically no effort. I left the chicken to sit in the egg-flour mixture (BRILLIANT) in the fridge rather than after breading — fear of sog – and that worked beautifully. Crispy, delicious. I *may* have upped the parm a bit…
Yay! So great to hear all of this, Laurie 🙂 🙂 🙂 Thanks so much for writing and sharing your notes. Haven’t made this one in ages, and my kids love it. Must revisit soon.