My husband freaking loves chicken fingers.
I swear, any time we go out and he wants a taste of comfort, it’s all about the fingers.
Honestly, I am so happy when he orders them, because it gives me the opportunity to steal at least one off his plate.
How can anyone resist?
There’s the crispy exterior, wrapped around the warm and juicy poultry meat within. The flavor is familiar and yet somehow not bland, and it goes so well with all of your favorite dipping sauces.
Did you eat chicken fingers when you were growing up?
I feel like these dippable tenders had to be a staple in many kids’ lives– especially served up with french fries, of course.
Whether they were made from scratch or came from a freezer-aisle box, the truth is that they kind of all tasted the same (sorry, Mom).
While the outside was crispy and the interior was tender and juicy enough, there wasn’t a ton of flavor on the inside of them.
That’s why I would use so much ketchup for dipping, just to get that extra flavor.
To be honest, I’m still the same way to this day. I have yet to find a restaurant that serves a crispy tender that is really bursting with additional flavor.
But you’re in luck. That’s exactly where this recipe comes in.
There are two ways that these little strips of poultry are infused with flavor:
To start, there’s the marinade. The mixture that you soak the pieces of poultry in is one that is downright flavorful, made with tangy buttermilk that really helps the poultry to stay moist and tender as it cooks.
However, instead of simply adding salt and pepper, there’s hot sauce and garlic powder in there as well. This gives the tenders a nice flavor on the inside, instead of simply tasting like plain ol’ baked chicken.
Then there’s the breading. This particular mixture uses spelt flour for a bit of extra character, along with toasted breadcrumbs to really bring that crunch. The whole thing is jazzed up with salt, pepper, onion powder, and paprika for a big burst of savoriness on the exterior.
After being baked to golden brown perfection, you’ll never be able to eat a typical chicken finger the same way again. Plus, this recipe is so darn easy, you can make it on any night of the week for friends and family alike.
Just remember the golden rule: the longer you marinate it, the better it will taste in the end. I always recommend marinating the meat for the maximum time as listed in the recipe, which is four hours in this case.
You can certainly get away with whipping a batch of these up that still has plenty of flavor if you only have two hours to spare. But if you can, try to go for four.
These are great for game day, for snacking, for dinner, or even for a hangover breakfast topped with some salsa and a fried egg (not that I would know anything about needing a savory hangover fix in the morning or anything…).Print
Our baked buttermilk and crispy spelt chicken fingers aren’t like what your mom used to whip up when you were a kid.
- 1 large egg, beaten
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp hot sauce
- 3 tsp garlic powder, divided
- 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken tenders, trimmed of fat
- 1 cup spelt flour
- 1 cup toasted breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp sea salt
- 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/2 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 2 Tbsp vegetable oil, divided
- In a small bowl, stir together egg, buttermilk, hot sauce, and 2 teaspoons garlic powder. Pour this mixture into a large, resealable bag, and add the chicken.
- Seal bag, ensure that all of the chicken pieces are thoroughly coated, and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350˚F. In another large, resealable bag, combine flour, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, remaining garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and baking powder.
- Remove chicken from fridge, remove pieces from marinade, and place them into the bag of breadcrumbs. Seal bag and shake to coat all the pieces.
- Coat a large baking sheet with 3 teaspoons oil. Arrange the crumb-dredged chicken pieces in a single layer without touching. Brush the tops with remaining oil.
- Bake for about 30 minutes or until cooked through and an instant-read thermometer registers 165˚F, turning the pieces once halfway through.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Category: Chicken
- Method: Baking
- Cuisine: Dinner
Keywords: Chicken, Chicken Fingers, Healthy Recipes, Finger Food, Baking, Game Day
Cooking By the Numbers…
Step 1 – Beat Egg, Prep Poultry, Make Breadcrumbs, And Measure Remaining Ingredients
In a small bowl, beat one large egg.
Trim the chicken tenders of any fat.
Measure out the remaining ingredients as listed on the ingredients list.
Step 2 – Marinate
Add the egg, buttermilk, hot sauce, and 2 teaspoons of garlic powder to a small bowl. I like to use Tabasco for this recipe, but you can use whatever type of hot sauce is your favorite. Stir to combine.
Add the mixture to a large, resealable bag and add the chicken. Seal the bag, ensure that all of the pieces are thoroughly coated in the marinade, and refrigerate for 2-4 hours.
Step 3 – Dredge
When you’re ready to bake, preheat your oven to 350˚F.
In a separate large, resealable bag, combine the flour, breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, remaining garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and baking powder. Shake until the mixture is combined.
Remove the chicken from the marinade, and let any excess drip back into the bag. Add the chicken tenders to the breadcrumb mixture, seal the bag, and shake it to coat all of the pieces well.
Coat a large baking sheet with about 3 teaspoons of oil. Arrange the chicken pieces in a single layer without touching. Brush the tops with the remaining oil.
Step 4 – Bake
Bake for 30 minutes, or until cooked through, and be sure to flip the tenders about halfway through cooking. An internal thermometer should register 165˚F when they are done.
Be sure to keep an eye on any smaller pieces and remove them from the pan with tongs as needed, as they will cook more quickly.
Don’t Forget the Dipping Sauce!
What kind should you use? This important decision is totally up to you.
You can make your own homemade ketchup or use any variety of mustard, like Dijon, spicy brown, or honey.
You can also use any of the creamier sauces like ranch or blue cheese dressing.
In addition, you can always feel free to reach for one of my all-time favorites – barbecue sauce. I personally love to pair these particular chicken fingers with a spicy barbecue, because the flavors of the breading are really complemented nicely.
Do you need more baked chicken ideas for dinner the whole family will love to eat this week? Here are some recipes you’ll love:
- Crunchy Buffalo Baked Cutlets
- Healthier Gluten-Free Chicken Fingers
- Blackened Cajun Chicken
- Chicken Cutlets with Tomatoes
What’s your favorite sauce to dip chicken fingers into? Tell us in the comment section below, and be sure to come back to rate the recipe to let us know how much you enjoyed it!
Photos by Meghan Yager, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Originally published by Shanna Mallon on November 15, 2010. Last updated: August 22, 2021 at 10:55 am.
Nutritional information derived from a database of known generic and branded foods and ingredients and was not compiled by a registered dietitian or submitted for lab testing. It should be viewed as an approximation.
About Meghan Yager
Meghan Yager is a food addict turned food and travel writer with a love for creating uncomplicated, gourmet recipes and devouring anything the world serves up. As the author of the food and travel blog Cake 'n Knife, Meghan focuses on unique foodie experiences from around the world to right at home in your own kitchen.