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Pssst: 8 Very "Adult" Ways to Eat Chicken Fingers for Dinner

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The recipe for the best chicken tenders on earth? According to Amanda Hesser in A New Way to Dinner, it belongs to her co-author, Merrill Stubbs.

Merrill makes hers with thighs (as opposed to the less-flavorful breasts, though you could use either), seasons them with oregano and Parmesan, and gives an option for cooking them in the oven on a baking sheet of browning butter—a neater alternative to frying that doesn't sacrifice the flavor.

Chicken Fingers
Chicken Fingers

While chicken fingers can't be dinner every night (but, Mom!), they can be repurposed into a number of meals that are different (and delicious) enough that you won't mind—or even know!—that you're repeating.

Make a double batch at the beginning of the week...

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Chicken Fingers

Cbfb27ea 071f 4941 9183 30dce4007b50  merrill Merrill Stubbs

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Makes 10 to 12 large chicken fingers
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup dry breadcrumbs (panko works well)
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 large eggs
  • 4 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts, cut lengthwise into 1-inch strips and pounded gently until about 1/3-inch thick

...and eat as many as you'd like! Then store the cooled chicken fingers (you'll have about two dozen) in an airtight container in the fridge.

Then, for the next four days, turn them into something new like this:

  • (Almost instant!) Chicken Parmesan. Layer the cooked tenders with tomato sauce, sliced mozzarella cheese, and herbs (or even pesto). Ta-da!
  • All hail chicken Caesar. Warm the chicken tenders (Merrill reheats them on a baking sheet, uncovered, in a 300° F oven), then slice them into strips and serve over a Caesar salad (or any salad that needs some bulking up, for that matter). Pro move: Sprinkle the tenders with finely grated Parmesan before you rewarm them. (You could also make this a sandwich! Keep reading.)
  • Open your own sandwich shop. With chicken tenders in the fridge, you're more than halfway to...
    -- Green Goddess Chicken Sandwiches (just add avocado-herb-yogurt sauce) AND
    -- Chicken, Caponata, and Pesto Sandwiches (just add your favorite caponata and a slather of pesto) AND
    -- Chicken Tortas (plus roughly mashed black beans, pickled jalapeños, and avocado slices)!
Green Goddess Chicken Sandwiches

Green Goddess Chicken Sandwiches by foxeslovelemons

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken, Caponata, and Pesto Sandwich

Parmesan-Crusted Chicken, Caponata, and Pesto Sandwich by sdebrango

  • Chicken ramen(ish). Make soup with miso paste and chicken stock (and vegetables or various seaweeds, if you have them!). Boil ramen noodles (or udon, or rice noodles) in a separate pot, then spoon your broth over top. Add chunks of cubed chicken tenders as a garnish.
  • Piccata it. Remember when we said you can picatta anything? We meant it. Warm the chicken in the oven. Meanwhile, sauté onions in some oil on the stovetop, then add chicken stock, lemon juice, and a splash of white wine. Add lots of capers, let it bubble and reduce (add a spoonful of flour if you want it to be thicker!), then ladle over the chicken. Might as well have some pasta with this, too!
  • Chinese chicken salad. At Joan's on Third in Los Angeles, the Chinese chicken salad is made with breaded chicken. Yours can be, too!
  • Chicken enchiladas. Start with this guideline, using chopped chicken fingers as the protein in your filling.
  • Very easy chicken Milanese. Warm your chicken in a sauté pan with a little olive, then spritz with lemon juice and top with arugula tossed with salt, pepper, and another squeeze of lemon.
How to Make Enchiladas without a Recipe

How to Make Enchiladas without a Recipe by Amanda Sims

How to Piccata Anything

How to Piccata Anything by Marian Bull


What's your favorite kids' food to serve to adults? Tell us in the comments!