These Oven Fried Chicken Fingers were inspired by the Shake ‘n’ Bake style chicken my Mom made when I was a kid. She’d get a bunch of bone-in chicken pieces, coat them in a mixture of crushed saltines, flour and spices and bake them, all topped with a pat of butter. I hadn’t had that chicken in ages and wanted to resurrect it.
The Recipe Testing Process
For the initial test of this recipe, I stuck pretty close to Mom’s recipe. But, I wanted to increase the crispy factor and add a bit more savory flavor. Instead of regular wheat flour, I went with cornmeal. I also added in some shredded parmesan that I had on hand and some fresh rosemary. After a few more tweaks, we hit crispy chicken finger gold!
I did find that I liked these best when I didn’t crush up the coating mixture too much. On one test, I blended it in the blender, making it a finer consistency. But, it lacked the crunch and texture after it was cooked up. I find that just smashing everything together in a bowl with your hands worked best for my taste.
Another recommendation, if you’re planning to do more than eight tenders, is to halve the coating and use only a half at a time. After eight tenders are tossed in the crumbs, everything starts to get a little damp and soggy. So, if you divide the coating and use the second batch when the other gets soggy, you’ll be in good shape.
- 14 saltine crackers
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
- ½ cup corn meal, divided
- ¼ tsp garlic salt
- ¼ tsp salt
- 2 Tbs fresh grated parmesan cheese
- ¼ tsp pepper
- 1 cup half and half or whole milk
- 4 Tbs butter, melted
- 8 chicken tenders
- Preheat the oven to 450F
- Drizzle melted butter all over a baking pan
- Place ¼ cup of the divided corn meal into a shallow dish or plate
- Combine the crackers, rosemary, remaining cornmeal, salt, garlic salt, parmesan, and pepper into a bowl and smash with your hands so as to break up the crackers into small pieces. This will be our chicken breading.
- Take one chicken tender and roll it in the plain cornmeal to coat, then dunk it into the milk and then roll it in the cracker crumb mixture, pressing the crumbs into the chicken to make sure it's well coated.
- Place the tender on the baking pan that has been coated with butter. I place it directly on a baking sheet, but if you want to protect your sheet, use parchment paper (tin foil will stick to the chicken).
- Repeat with remaining tenders until they're all coated and on your baking sheet.
- Place in the 450F oven for 8 minutes, then flip the tenders and cook for another 8 minutes until the tenders are golden brown, sizzling and register at least 160F in the thickest part.
- Serve hot!