Chicken fingers are made of the healthiest type of meat and are unbelievably delicious. This recipe of chicken tenders baked in the oven is there to please our tastes, from simple to gourmands.
It is amazing how many recipes can be cooked using chicken breasts. White meat is easy to cook because it takes only a few minutes to soak in various tastes of aromatic spices, seasonal vegetables, herbs, and rich sauces. Chicken breast is a ridiculously versatile type of meat, that, if cooked correctly becomes a dish of juicy texture with aromatic taste.
Chicken fingers are no exception and today I will share with you my healthy version of oven-baked chicken fingers that I delight my entire family with. The secret lies in the marinade and its ingredients. Wait no more, let’s get down to business!
What meat to use for chicken Fingers?
My first meat option for the tenders is the chicken breast, however, you can use the chicken thighs as well. I usually go for the breasts because I like to think I do my best to feed my 2 little bandits with the healthiest food possible.
How do you cut the chicken breast into tenders?
As a first thing, you will need a well-sharpened knife to cut the chicken breast in beautifully even stripes. A longer knife, if compared to a shorter one, will make smoother cuts and will make it an easier process. Second, if put into the freezer for about 15 minutes, the chicken breast will stay firm and less slippery. That will surely ease the procedure of slicing the meat. Third, place the breast on a cutting board and cut in even slices, they should be about the size of a finger. Yep, that’s where the name comes from:))
How to marinade Chicken Fingers
The chicken breast meat can be very juicy and soft when correctly marinated. For the chicken fingers, I usually first cut/slice them the dimension I need them to be, then proceed to marinate. The thinner the meat slices are, the faster they will absorb the savor of the marinade and become softer.
For the marinade, you need some herbs for the aroma and a sour ingredient such as lemon juice, or soy sauce or yogurt. The sourness penetrates the meat and softens it, and in the case of the chicken breast it is a good decision. Therefore, for the marinade, I opted for:
- Greek yogurt
- Curry paste
- Olive oil
- Granulated garlic
If you don’t want your chicken fingers to be very spicy, you can use curry powder for a more moderate taste. I simply love the curry paste for its rich compilation of aromas and strong character. But, if your stomach can’t tolerate it, just trade it for simple curry powder. Also, you can replace granulated garlic with fresh garlic. In this case, you need to grate the garlic cloves or finely chop it before adding it to the marinade.
That is a simple marinade I find absolutely fabulous because of the contrast of taste it carries and because of the softness it brings to the chicken breast.
How long to marinate the chicken fingers?
The shortest time chicken needs to marinate is at least 30 minutes. However, this is not the time-lapse I would give my chicken fingers to marinate. The longer the meat is soaked in the flavored yogurt, the softer and aromatic is comes out. It is best to store the chicken fingers overnight in the fridge. It is ok to let the chicken meat marinate in the fridge for more than 12 hours. Yet, never leave the meat overnight at room temperature. You don’t want to cook altered meat.
How to coat the chicken fingers?
A good coating of the chicken fingers is very important so that it becomes crunchy and delicious later when you take the tray out of the oven and your kitchen is filled with an irresistible smell.
For that, you need to combine in a large plate all of the following ingredients:
- Bread crumbs
- Sesame seeds
Then beat 1 egg and set aside. Dip the strips into the beaten egg, then coat with bread crumb mixture and place on parchment paper. Repeat the action for each chicken tender until you complete the baking tray, or till there is no more left in the marinade.
Tip. Do not take off the yogurt marinade completely off the meat. Its presence adds value to the meat upon baking.
How to bake chicken tenders in the oven?
Preheat oven to 180 degrees at least 5 minutes before putting in the baking tray. When all tenders are coated, insert the baking tray in a preheated oven for about 20 minutes at 180 degrees. You know the tenders are cooked when they are evenly colored white and when the coat has beautifully browned.
Tip: if you love sesame seeds as I do, take out the tray with your stripes at half time to being ready and do this. Spread some beaten egg on top of the coat then dap as much sesame seeds as you like. Then, put the tray to baking again. I love the smell of baken sesame seeds and well as their crunchiness combining with the perfectly tender meat.
What is the best dipping sauce for chicken fingers?
One of the beloved refreshing sauces I often make is the Tzatziki sauce that perfectly complements lightly spicy chicken tenders. For the tzatziki sauce, chop and blend these ingredients:
- Greek yogurt 200 gr
- Dill 2 tbsp
- Fresh cucumber 1 piece
- garlic cloves 2 pieces
- Olive oil 1 tbsp
- Lemon juice 1 tsp
I consider it the perfect match for the hearty chicken stripes because this sauce is light. The cooling cucumber, the mouthwatering lemon juice, and the tangy yogurt is the absolute balance and complementation of the oven-baked meat.
Oven-Baked Chicken Fingers With Tangy Dipping Sauce
- baking tray
- 1 piece chicken breast
Chicken fingers marinade
- 1 cup plain yogurt
- 1 tbsp granulated garlic
- 1 tsp curry paste
- 1 tsp salt
Chicken fingers coat
- 1 cup bread crumbs
- 1 egg
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 cup sesame seeds
Tzatziki dipping sauce
- 200 g greek yogurt
- 2 tbsp fresh dill chopped
- 1 tsp olive olive
- 1 medium cucumber fresh, grated
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- 2 cloves garlic
- In a bowl, mix well all ingredients for the marinade
- Slice the chicken tenders and put them in the marinade bowl
- Let everything marinate for at least 30 minutes
- In the meantime beat the egg and season it with salt to taste
- In a separate bowl, combine all ingredients for the chicken fingers coat
- Prepare the baking tray. Cover it with parchment paper
- Dip the strips into the beaten egg, then coat with bread crumb mixture and place on baking paper
- Repeat the action for each chicken tender until done
- Preheat oven to 180 degrees at least 5 minutes prior to putting in the baking tray
- Insert the baking tray in the preheated oven for about 20 minutes at 180 degrees
How to make tzatziki dipping sauce
- Wash the dill and the cucumber and the garlic
- In a bowl, combine grated cucumber, chopped dill and grated garlic
- Salt everything to taste and remove excess juices
- Add the greek yogurt and the olive oil and mix to blend all ingredients