Merrill's baby Clara has quite the appetite -- and it's all Merrill can do to keep up. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, she steps into the fray. 

Today: Merrill shares her own mother's recipe for chicken fingers.

Clara chicken fingers from Food52

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Well, I said I was going to do it, and now I'm doing it: I'm writing about my mother's amazing chicken fingers.

Her chicken fingers were among our favorite treats growing up. I'm sure they were the most requested food item for any birthday party we had at home between the ages of 5 and 12 -- which was most of them. After all, this was back in the 80s, when a well-orchestrated scavenger hunt or a game of Sardines constituted a birthday party.

Clara chicken fingers food52

The chicken fingers were just as good the next day, long after the birthday cake crumbs ground into the rug by little feet had been vacuumed away, either reheated gently in a warm oven or -- yes, I'll admit it -- eaten straight from the fridge.

The breadcrumb coating my mother used was packed full of flavor (and plenty of salt, which is key), and she was careful not to overcook the chicken, so it was tender rather than stringy. She sautéed the chicken fingers in a mixture of oil and butter and drained them well on paper towels, so they were never greasy.

Clara Chicken Fingers from Food52

After some strategic interviews with my mother about her process and some fiddling with the breading ingredients, I think I've come up with a reasonable simulation of her beloved chicken fingers. So far, Clara seems to like them. It remains to be seen if she'll request them for birthday parties.

Chicken Fingers from Food52

Chicken Fingers

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 breasts, cut lengthwise into 1-inch strips and pounded gently until about 1/3-inch thick

See the full recipe (and save and print it) here. 

Photos by James Ransom

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I'm a native New Yorker, Le Cordon Bleu graduate, former food writer/editor turned entrepreneur, mother of two, and unapologetic lover of cheese.


barbara S. August 12, 2013
These look wonderful I'll be trying them on my 6 year old grandson for his next sleep over.

Joe B. August 11, 2013
Much, much better and healthier than bread crumbs or panko is almond flour, which contributes both taste and texture, while reducing fat and sugar.
Kankay August 11, 2013
Almond flour, if it is the almond flour I am familiar with has about 14 grams of fat in a fourth a cup....panko usually none. No doubt it is nutritionally superior but less fat and sugar?
Racr M. August 12, 2013
It is much healthier- it's a good fat- and for those of us who gluten free, the smarter solution
Kankay August 12, 2013
If you are subbing it for the crumbs AND the regular flour to be gluten free, seems it would sure alter the end product, texture and taste wise, but yes, a very healthy fat!
Joe B. August 13, 2013
In fact, I regularly roll chicken thighs in a mixture of half almond flour and half parmesan cheese and toss them in a toaster oven for 20 minutes. Simple. Adding fresh oregano is nice, but a teaspoon of pesto as they cool is even better.
Elycooks August 10, 2013
Merrill this is exactly the recipe I've been making for my kids for years. They are now 16 and 18 and still request them!
Amy T. August 9, 2013
I made these for dinner last night. Your recipe works beautifully and they were wonderful. Thanks for the great addition to my repertoire.
Merrill S. August 9, 2013
So glad you liked them!
sexyLAMBCHOPx August 6, 2013
I love your recipes and your daughter is just too stinkin' cute.
Merrill S. August 6, 2013
Thank you!
Brette W. August 6, 2013
These were seriously the best chicken fingers I've ever had.
Kenzi W. August 6, 2013
ChefJune August 6, 2013
I'm wondering how Clara liked sharing HER chicken fingers with the staff! :) Those look seriously delicious.
Merrill S. August 6, 2013
Thanks, ChefJune. Happily, she's still at the stage where it's fun to share!