This is a great baked chicken tender recipe I created for Kitchn. It's easy, quite casual, and uses boneless skinless chicken breasts for the fingers. I steal a biscuit making technique to ensure that craveable, crispy crust we all love in a chicken tender, pre-heating the cast iron skillets with the oven to get them good and hot.
For the BBQ sauce:
- 2/3 cup ketchup
- 1 tablespoon Sriracha hot sauce
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 teaspoons grated peeled fresh ginger
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
For the chicken:
- 2 cups well-shaken buttermilk
- 1½ tablespoons dried chives, divided
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 4 to 5 dashes hot sauce, such as Cholula
- 1½ pounds chicken tenderloins or chicken breasts sliced into strips
- 4 cups no-sugar cornflakes
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder (no salt)
- 1½ teaspoons Kosher salt, plus more for seasoning
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning
- 1½ tablespoons dried parsley
- 2/3 cup cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
Make the BBQ sauce:Combine all the ingredients in a small bowl. Refrigerate until the tenders are baked and ready to serve.
Make the chicken:Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven. Place a 12-inch or larger cast iron skillet or 2 (10-inch) ovenproof skillets in the oven and heat to 400°F. Meanwhile, prepare the chicken.
Place the buttermilk, 1 tablespoon of the chives, garlic, and hot sauce in a large bowl and whisk to combine. Season the chicken with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the buttermilk mixture and stir to coat the chicken. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, place the cornflakes, garlic powder, remaining ½ tablespoon chives, 1½ teaspoons salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse into fine crumbs. Transfer to a long, shallow baking dish to dredge the tenders in and stir in the parsley.
Place the cornstarch on a large plate and set alongside the cornflake mixture. Have a baking sheet ready. Remove the bowl of tenders from the refrigerator. Dredge the tenders in cornstarch to fully coat, and then dip the tenders back in the buttermilk mixture to fully moisten. To finish, dredge in the cornflake coating to form the crust. Place on the baking sheet.
Carefully remove the skillet(s) from the oven. Place the oil in the skillet(s) and tilt the pan to cover the entire bottom with oil. Arrange the tenders in the skillet(s). Bake until browned on the bottom, 12 minutes. Flip the tenders and bake until golden and crispy, 8 to 10 minutes more.
Remove from the oven and let the tenders rest in the skillet 5 to 10 minutes so the crust can settle. Transfer to a serving platter and serve with the BBQ sauce.
Chicken: If you can't find chicken tenderloins, use boneless, skinless chicken breast cut lengthwise into ½-inch-thick pieces.
Gluten-free: If you want to keep this recipe gluten-free, make sure you use gluten-free cornflakes.
Storage: Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
Make ahead: The sauce can be made and stored in the refrigerator up to 3 days ahead. The cornflake mixture can be made and stored in an airtight container at room temperature up to 5 days ahead.