It’s kind of funny to think that chicken fingers are often a staple kids’ menu item at pretty much any restaurant in the US… because they then also make an appearance on the regular adult menu! I guess there’s just something about that crunchy, toothsome exterior that must really get people slavering! Plus, finger food is the bomb-diggity. And perhaps using our fingers to eat subconsciously speaks to our inner hominid… after all, can you imagine one of our ancestors trying to figure out how to use a fork?!
In any event, we’re all kids at heart. That’s why so many of us love chicken fingers! So let’s try to keep that youthful glow on the outside of ourselves, too, by skipping the deep fat frying and opting for something a bit more healthy (and Paleo)! Because nothing is sexy about self-inflicted obesity. Or a heart attack, for that matter.
Too many recipes for baked chicken fingers leave us a little underwhelmed. They inevitably end up flimsy and soggy, with none of the promised crunchiness. But I’m delighted to inform you… not THESE babies! Thanks to the use of a coarser brand of almond meal/flour and a light drizzle of olive oil, you can finally achieve a crisp, finger-lickin’-good exterior, just like you often dream of… because I know I’m not the only one who dreams of chicken fingers ’round here…
Two chicken breasts make 12 strips, which is enough for 2 to 3 people depending on your preferred serving size. Mike and I were feeling greedy when I made these, so we split them six and six… but if you’re serving these to the littler folk, then you could easily break them up into four servings of three, or three servings of four. Now that’s a good bang for your buck!
I highly recommend serving these with a side of some homemade Paleo Honey Mustard, especially if they’re for the kiddos. But a sweet and smoky Kansas City Style BBQ Sauce would work just as well, if that’s what floats your boat. And if you like to heat things up… in the kitchen, that is… you could try dipping them in Buffalo Sauce! Point is: the possibilities are endless.
Do your best to cut the chicken into six evenly sized strips per breast like I did, so that you get maximum crunch factor for the indicated length of cooking time. Too skinny, and they may dry out before they crisp up. Too thick, and they won’t cook or crisp up properly, and you’ll just end up back at square one. Remember: the magic number is 6.
As far as drizzling the olive oil on top of the chicken fingers, there’s nothing fancy to it. I listed a few tablespoons in the recipe as a guideline, but really, folks… just eyeball it. You want to drizzle a little oil up and down each chicken finger: not so much that there’s olive oil all over the parchment paper, and not so little that the strips have nothing to help them crisp up. Just use your best judgement, and don’t worry about sticking to the exact measurement on this part. You’ll end up with a much better result!
Share your thoughts… who eats more chicken fingers, you or the kids?? ;)
- 2 large skinless, boneless chicken breasts
- 1 cup almond meal/flour
- ¼ cup tapioca flour/starch
- ½ cup unsweetened shredded coconut
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp ground mustard powder
- ½ tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 whole eggs, whisked
- 2-3 tbsp olive oil, for drizzling
- Paleo Honey Mustard, for dipping
- Preheat oven to 400F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a small bowl, whisk the eggs. Set aside.
- Make your breading in a separate, larger bowl. To do this, whisk together the almond flour, tapioca flour/starch, unsweetened shredded coconut, garlic powder, ground mustard powder, smoked paprika, sea salt, ground black pepper and cayenne pepper.
- Cut each of your chicken breasts into about 6 lengthwise strips, for a total of 12 strips. Place them all into your egg bowl.
- One at a time, remove a chicken strip from the egg bowl and dip it in the “breading” mixture. Make sure to thoroughly coat all sides of the strip. Lay it on the parchment-lined baking sheet.
- Once you've breaded all the strips, drizzle a little olive oil over the tops of each one – not too much, but not too little either!
- Bake for a total of 17-20 minutes, depending on the size of your chicken fingers. Flip after 12-15 minutes of cooking time. (If the chicken fingers aren't looking golden or crispy enough at 20 minutes, turn up the heat to 425 and let them cook an additional 3 minutes.)
- When the fingers are done, remove them from the oven and let them cool for a few minutes before serving with a side of Paleo Honey Mustard.
- Store extra chicken fingers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days, or freeze for longer storage.
Recipe adapted from The Healthy Foodie
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