Cast Iron

Chicken Fingers (Chicken Thigh Tenders)

April 21, 2021
12 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Makes 10 to 12 large chicken fingers
Author Notes

For instructions on how to bake the chicken tenders, look at the last step of this recipe. —Merrill Stubbs

What You'll Need
  • 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
  1. Put the flour in a wide, shallow dish and season generously with salt and pepper -- stir through with a fork.
  2. Put the breadcrumbs in a second wide, shallow dish, add the parmesan and oregano, and season generously with salt and pepper. Stir through until everything is well-combined.
  3. Crack the eggs into a third dish and beat them lightly with the fork.
  4. Line a baking sheet with a double layer of paper towels and get out a large, clean plate. Coat each of the chicken strips with the seasoned flour, shaking off any excess. Dip them in the egg mixture, and then in the breadcrumbs, pressing lightly so that the breadcrumbs adhere. As you finish each one, set it on the plate.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a large, heavy skillet (I like to use cast iron) over medium heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter. When the butter has finished foaming and just starts to brown, gently lay half of the chicken strips in the pan, being careful not to crowd them. Cook for 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, until the bottom is golden brown and crispy. Use tongs to turn them over and cook for another minute or two, until both sides are evenly browned and the chicken is cooked through. Transfer the chicken fingers to the paper-towel lined baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the chicken, adding more oil and butter to the pan as needed. Serve the chicken fingers warm. (It reheats well in a 300° F oven the next day.)
  6. Editors' Note: Alternatively, you can bake these chicken fingers in the oven, as Amanda Hesser suggests in A New Way to Dinner. Heat the oven to 450° F. Generously coat the base of a rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil and add 2 tablespoons of butter. Place the baking sheets in the oven to heat. When the butter has finished foaming and just starts to brown, gently lay the chicken strips on the baking sheets. Cook for 10 minutes, until the bottoms are golden brown and crispy. Use tongs to turn them over and cook for another 10 minutes, until both sides are evenly brown and the chicken is cooked through. Add more butter and oil as needed.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Traci Kim
    Traci Kim
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    Erin Mcglaughlin
  • arhoad

41 Reviews

masa December 15, 2020
It’s so gooooooood! Life affirming experience!
Traci K. January 13, 2020
My partner and I really enjoyed this. I used the baking instructions instead of the frying instructions, and I went to a Mexican grocery store to buy chicken breasts that were marketed for making milanesa de pollo--thus, the chicken came thinly sliced, and saved me the trouble of having to pound them.
Elle October 5, 2019
This recipe turned out incredible. The chicken was tender and the breading was smooth and well-seasoned. I served the chicken with barbecue sauce, caesar dressing, and mustard. I may not have pounded the chicken thin enough as a few minutes each side was not enough to cook through the chicken; therefore, I put the chicken fingers in the oven at 300 degrees for an additional 10-15 minutes after cooking in the cast-iron.
goonll July 22, 2019
This recipe is FANTASTIC!! I altered it by using almond flour to make it gluten free. I also used gf bread crumbs, no oil and oven baked them. They were delicious! This is our favorite chicken finger recipe!!! I also used the above ingredients and pan fried them and they came out just as good!
Erin April 19, 2019
LOVE!!! I made this gluten free using chicken tenders. I used GF all purpose flour and GF bread crumbs and used the oven option with avocado oil and earth balance. They were so good and all four kiddos devoured them. Will be on repeat. Thank you!!
Claire February 2, 2019
I have made this countless times. Its one of the few things everyone in the family devours without modifications.
DC's P. December 6, 2018
I have been eying this recipe for awhile, and I have made this recipe twice using the baked version recently and really liked the taste and method.

The only changes I made after the first time staying true to the recipe were to bake 15 minutes (10 minutes one side then flipped for 5 minutes on other) and to cut in half the amount of oil and butter and butter I used the second time around. This is a keeper for me and I will make this a part of my rotation.

Thanks so much!
Merrill S. December 17, 2018
So happy you liked them!
Glenn October 14, 2016
If I wanted to make gluten free, any suggestions? Almond flour instead of breadcrumbs?
Sarag October 14, 2016
I make them gluten free all the time, using whatever gf flour I happen to have on hand. Almond flour and cashew meal work. Whole Foods sells a gf panko that is good. I've made them with Bob's Red Mill potato flakes mixed with a bit of gf flour mix and they were fantastic.
Sarah D. September 14, 2015
Does the chicken freeze well? I'd like to keep some in the freezer for my son as "emergency food".
Erin M. August 19, 2015
If no one likes your cooking.. it probably needs salt just saying.
stephanie August 19, 2015
arhoad January 13, 2015
I serve these with fresh lemon. You could add a simple pasta with butter and cheese.
Kris J. January 13, 2015
What kind of sauce would you serve with these?
Two T. December 8, 2014
Loved these! Going into the rotation
Esther September 3, 2014
Very good. Kids loved it, we had ours on salad. Pounding does make all the difference...! Also keen to try mustard as others suggest, made mine plain without cheese etc. Will make a regular appearance from now on!
ghainskom May 13, 2014
I almost hid from my kids to eat this, that's how delicious it is.
carol S. December 25, 2013
since i love dijon, especially Roland from France, I use about a Tablespoon per pound.
carol S. December 4, 2013
I have been making an interpretation of this, once or twice a month, for years. Personally, I use panko, and add a bit of Dijon mustard instead of Parmesan cheese, as we keep Kosher. Served with - in summer - sliced, fresh tomatoes and cucumbers, or in the cooler season, roasted vegetables, and whole grain bread, it makes a wonderful meal.

And I cannot get over how big your daughter has gotten!
jevyn December 25, 2013
I'd like to try it with mustard instead of cheese too. How much mustard did up you use?
carol S. December 25, 2013
sorry, put the response above. about a tablespoon per pound, pound and 1/2.
John J. September 6, 2013
i'm not a salt lover..maybe a light sprinkle if needed. thts one of the reasons I do not care for prepared foods in stores.ive been making my own tenders..cheaper also! the dipping sauce is my un healthy choice..usually a honey mustard with a dollop of mayo.
Sarag August 21, 2013
From my typing, you can see that today I am summer-crazy. Chicken was crazy- good! Thanks!
Merrill S. August 21, 2013
So glad you liked it!
Sarag August 21, 2013
OH my goodness, Merrill, follows your recipe to the letter ( even waiting for the butter to stop foaming despite my impatience!) and I have today that my cranky, bad-tempered babies were soothed by this deluxe nursery food. And I, an alternately summer- lazy, summer crazy mom who is often heard to say each noon day " eat a Popsicle, make a sandwich, fry an egg! Eat anything youwant but leaveme alone; I just finished the breakfast dishes!", lookalike Mother of theYear.
And, my babies ages? Three nineteen year olds with back to school jitters. Still cranky before naps.