With football season in full swing we are forced to reckon with the inevitable sports fan temptations: fried chicken fingers, wings, cheese fries and nachos. To combat the grease without sacrificing the flavor, try these guilt-free crispy chicken tenders.
These bad boys are baked, not fried. The tender white meat is coated with a crispy crust made of whole grain cereal and nuts, which cuts carbs and adds heart healthy fats and fiber, making for a more ideal topping than traditional bread crumbs. To top it off, they are gluten free, making them a great option for those with gluten and wheat sensitivities. This recipe is fun for kids, especially if you allow them to crush the cereal and coat the chicken.
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders OR chicken breasts cut into 1.5-2 inch strips
1.5 tablespoons red wine vinegar
2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 cups crispy brown cereal, such as Rice Krispies*
1 cup slivered almonds**
2 teaspoons smoked paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Cooking spray (preferably propellant free olive oil spray)
* If making recipe gluten-free you must use cereal labelled “gluten free”
**For a nut-free version replace the almonds with an additional 1 cup of rice cereal.
1. In a small bowl, whisk eggs, red wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon of kosher salt.
2. Place chicken strips in a shallow baking dish and pour the egg mixture over the chicken, coating the chicken well. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
3. Remove chicken from the refrigerator and pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Spray a wire rack with cooking spray and place rack on top of a baking sheet. If you do not have a wire rack simply spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Set baking sheet and rack aside.
4. Lightly chop slivered almonds into smaller pieces until they are about the size of the rice cereal.
5. Take a shallow bowl and pour chopped almonds and cereal and lightly crush the mixture with hands once or twice, allowing the mixture to maintain most of its structure.
6. Add the remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, herbs and spices into the cereal and nut mixture and mix to combine. 7. 7. In systematic order, remove chicken from egg mixture one at a time, shaking gently to remove excess liquid, and place into the cereal mixture using hands to thoroughly coat each piece of chicken. Don’t be shy with adding extra coating onto the chicken.
8. Place the coated chicken on the wire rack on top of the baking sheet or straight onto the baking sheet and lightly spray chicken with cooking spray.
9. Place baking sheet and rack in the oven and bake or 10 minutes. Remove the tray, flip the chicken and mist again with cooking spray. Return to oven for an additional 12 minutes until chicken is cooked through and the crust is golden brown.
10. Serve with your favorite sauce (my favorites include hummus, Siracha & yogurt dip and/or spicy honey mustard dip).