Best Chicken Fingers – Ev-ah!

Years and years I have tried baking chicken fingers that taste almost as good as fried.  We have gone through real Shake N Bake, real Oven Fry, homemade mixes that are supposed to taste like Shake N Bake and even published copycat recipes for them.  Nothing really “did it”…. until now.  These were super crispy and crunchy, but nothing was fried.  Yes, they did take 10 minutes longer to make than the boxes and homemade mixes and it was soooo well worth it.  The recipe is still pretty fast – we made it for lunch even.

If you have trouble finding panko crumbs, I found mine at Trader Joe’s for a $1 something.  They were with the regular bread crumbs.

Best Chicken Fingers
yield:  2 hungry adults and 2 small kids;  I would recommend doubling the recipe for a normal size family

1 and 1/2 cups panko crumbs (Japanese style breadcrumbs)
1 and 1/2 Tb. canola oil
1/3 cup flour
3/4 tsp. garlic powder
2 pinches cayenne powder
2 large egg whites (or 4 Tb. of egg whites from the store)
3/4 Tb. water
3/4 Tb. mustard (I hate mustard, but you don’t really taste it.  Just gives it extra flavor)
3/4 tsp. fresh time minced or 1/4 tsp. dried thyme (I forgot the thyme once and they were still yummy.)
1 lb. of boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into strips OR 1 lb. chicken tenderloins (super easy and already cut into strips!)
salt and pepper

1.  Preheat oven to 475 degrees.
2.  In a big skillet, heat up the oil on medium heat and add the panko crumbs.  Stir often – especially towards the end.  This gets the crumbs nice and toasty golden looking.  Once done, remove from heat and put them in a separate shallow dish.
3.  Meanwhile, take a shallow dish like a pie pan and mix the flour, garlic powder and cayenne together in it.
4.  In a third shallow dish, mix up the egg whites, water, mustard and thyme.
5.  Now, prep your baking stuff:  Take a rimmed cookie/baking sheet or large bar pan stone and put your wire cooling rack on TOP of it.  Now you have air able to get under the chicken and get it crispy instead of soggy.  Spray the wire rack with cooking spray.   You may not be able to fit all the strips on it if you do a double batch… mine was pretty full.
6.  Let’s get cooking:  Dip your chicken strip into the Flour first and coat.  Then dip into the egg white mixture.  Finally, put the strip into the panko crumbs and press lightly.  Lay gently onto the wire rack.  Do this for all the strips.
7.  Bake for 10-12 minutes.  They cool off pretty fast.  Serve with ketchup, mustard, etc.

Recipe adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Healthy Family Cookbook


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