Red Curry Chicken Fingers (Strips) With Crispy Onion Breading

February 12, 2020
9 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten. Prop stylist: Veronica Olson. Food stylist: Samantha Seneviratne.
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 20 minutes
  • Serves 4
Author Notes

I created these ultra-crispy, red curry–spiced chicken fingers as a way to punch up the flavor and texture of garden variety chicken fingers. A few simple tricks make them stand out: First, the chicken (either boneless, skinless thighs or breasts cut into strips, or packaged chicken tenders) is dunked in a zippy mix of yogurt and Thai red curry paste, then rolled in panko and crushed fried onions (the canned kind), a nod to fried shallots, which are no stranger to Thai cooking. They’re baked on a rocket-hot sheet pan with butter and oil, an easier, speedier, and less messy way to go versus frying them in batches on the stovetop.

More yogurt and red curry paste make a simple, flavorful dipping sauce—the creaminess of the yogurt being the perfect foil for each crispy, crunchy, flavor-packed bite. With their bold, spicy-sweet flavors, they may seem like a grown-up version of chicken fingers, but from my experience, they’ll be a big hit with kids and adults alike. A sheet pan of broccoli or cauliflower florets (roasted at the same time as the chicken) makes the perfect companion.

A few notes: since the level of heat varies between brands of Thai red curry paste, taste the yogurt–red curry marinade before coating the chicken, and adjust its spiciness to your liking. Same goes for the red curry-yogurt dipping sauce: make it as mild or kicky as you like. For the crispy breading, you can use all panko, but I recommend a mix of panko with crushed fried onions; they lend addictive crunch and flavor. (I use French’s or Trader Joe’s brands, but feel free to fry your own.) I prefer a 2:1 ratio of panko to fried onion crumbs, but feel free play around with the proportions. —EmilyC

What You'll Need
  • For the chicken fingers
  • 4 tablespoons whole-milk plain yogurt (regular or Greek)
  • 2 tablespoons Thai red curry paste (such as Thai Kitchen or Maesri)
  • 1 3/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs or breasts (cut into 1 1/4-inch strips) or chicken tenders
  • 1 pinch kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 pinch freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup French-fried onions (such as French’s brand), crushed into fine, panko-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • For the red curry–yogurt dipping sauce
  • 1 tablespoon red curry paste, plus more to taste
  • 2/3 cup whole-milk plain yogurt (regular or Greek)
  • 1 pinch kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1 pinch red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges (for serving)
  1. Start by marinating the chicken tenders. In a medium bowl, stir together yogurt and red curry paste until well integrated. Add the chicken, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper. Mix well until the chicken is evenly coated with the yogurt sauce. (This step can be done 8 to 12 hours in advance; cover and refrigerate chicken until ready to use.)
  2. Heat oven to 450° F.
  3. Combine the panko and fried onions in a wide, shallow dish, stirring until well combined. Coat the chicken strips, a few pieces at a time, in the breading, pressing lightly to adhere as much of the crumbs as possible. Set the breaded chicken aside on a large plate or tray.
  4. Add vegetable oil to the base of a metal sheet pan, tipping the pan to distribute it evenly, then the chunk of butter. Place the sheet pan in the heated oven. When the butter has melted and just starts to brown, remove the sheet pan from the oven, and working quickly, gently add the chicken. Bake until the bottoms are golden, about 7 to 10 minutes. Using tongs or a spatula, gently flip chicken and continue cooking until both sides are golden and crispy and cooked through (internal temperature should read 165° F in the thickest spot), another 7 to 10 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, to make the spicy yogurt dip: Swirl the red curry paste into the yogurt. Add a pinch of salt. (If you're using Greek yogurt, you may need to thin the dip with a drizzle of olive oil.) Taste; add chile flakes or more curry paste if you want a spicier kick.
  6. Once the chicken has rested, serve warm with the yogurt dipping sauce and lime wedges on the side.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Nora Emling
    Nora Emling
  • EmilyC
  • Jessamin
  • Allison Sturgill
    Allison Sturgill

Recipe by: EmilyC

I'm a home cook. I love salads. Two things you'll always find in my refrigerator are lemons and butter, and in my pantry good quality chocolate and the makings for chocolate chip cookies.

15 Reviews

Jessamin April 14, 2022
You CANNOT go wrong with an Emily C. recipe. The curry paste and fried onions are nice flavors together, and I’m into this method of frying things. The oven temp for the chicken strips is the same as for French fries and tater tots :)
Allison S. January 18, 2021
Loved. look forward to making again.

Found my greek yogurt had frozen solid in the back of the fridge and luckily saved the day using all sour cream which I happened to have.

Used chicken thighs, cut each one into 3 strips. Used more curry paste in both parts. Used the entire small can of Maesri between both parts - usually use more Thai curry paste in any recipe.

Used my Breville oven and one of the fry air sheets, set air fryer to 400 air fry setting instead of the sheet pan directions. 14 total minutes in the air fryer.
EmilyC January 19, 2021
Wonderful! Thanks so much for trying this and including your notes. Love the idea of making these in an air fryer. I don't have one but have to admit I'm tempted.... : )
TAYLOR W. September 3, 2020
These were so good! Mine turned out perfectly crispy. The red curry flavor was subtle, I may add more next time since we like spice. But if you're worried about them being too spicy, don't! I served these with sweet potato fries and sauteed zucchini. A big hit and I will definitely make again.
Nora E. July 31, 2020
Going to try this in the air fryer. I'll let you know how it goes.
HCW1298 May 1, 2020
I loved the flavor, so good, and love the addition of fried onions - super smart. But sadly, the coating came out soggy, not crispy/even like the picture (and I love when my cooking attempts look like the picture)... I think maybe I didn't have enough fat in the pan? I will try again though!
alexhoyt April 6, 2020
These are so good, I’m obsessed.
EmilyC April 7, 2020
Thanks Alex! : )
Eileen March 7, 2020
Forgot to rate in my earlier review
Eileen March 7, 2020
I made these last night and they were fantastic. They were crispy and not soggy at all. Definitely will be making again. New family favorite!
EmilyC March 7, 2020
Hi Eileen — so happy to know you tried and liked these! Thanks so much for leaving a note.
Björn March 3, 2020
Tastes great, but the coating was soggy when the chicken was done. What did I do wrong?
EmilyC March 3, 2020
Oh no! I’ve never had this experience so it’s hard to know what happened! A few thoughts: did you use a metal sheet pan and/or did you line it with foil? The chicken fingers will crisp the best on an un-lined metal sheet pan. Is it possible that your oven runs cold? High heat (450) is important to get the crispy coating. Also, a good, thorough coating of panko and onion crumbs is key. Hope this helps, and glad you liked the flavor!
Björn March 3, 2020
Could be the gluten free corn based panko. I did it direct in the metal pan. Maybe to deep pan? I’ll try the “hot air mode” of the oven to get it to crisp.
EmilyC March 3, 2020
Best to use a shallow, rimmed metal pan if you have one. Hope the second time is a charm! : )