Worknight Dinner Recipe: Chipotle Chicken Fingers

by Maris Callahan on July 26, 2011

As much as I like eating healthily, I also like a good amount of junk food. For as long as I can remember, I was able to pass up on savory, salty junk food – chips, French fries, chicken fingers – in favor of sweets and desserts. I’m not what the physiological reason is that would command my taste preferences to change, but they certainly have over the years.

Now, while I am certainly tempted by soft chocolate chip cookies and pumpkin chocolate chip squares, I am just as likely to pass on dessert in favor of indulging in a salty or savory treat. No, make that a spicy, salty, savory treat.

I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a person for whom chicken fingers don’t evoke some sort of childhood memory. For me, chicken fingers were a frequent staple at the dinner table and one of the only items my brother and I liked to order off the kids menu at restaurants. Unlike some of my other childhood snack staples (does anyone else remember the microwave popcorn that was dyed a “surprise” neon color that you’d discover when you opened the bag? Ew), chicken fingers are also a big kid favorite.

This grown-up edition of a childhood favorite uses lime, cilantro and chipotle pepper powder as a flavorful marinade and the breading is based on crunchy panko breadcrumbs, laced with a little bit of heat. These are a perfect appetizer or finger food served at a party, but even better as a quick weeknight dinner. They freeze well, so if you’re cooking for one or two you can pop whatever you don’t need in a freezer safe bag and save them to reheat on an even busier night.

Chipotle Chicken Fingers

1 pound (16 ounces) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 1/2 tablespoons lime juice (from about 1 1/2 limes)
2 green onions, finely chopped
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 clove garlic, mashed
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
3 teaspoons ground chipotle powder, divided (or more if you like a lot of heat)


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.

Line a baking sheet with foil and coat with a thin layer of cooking spray. Place chicken on a cutting board and slice into thin strips (about 1/2 inch in diameter). Set aside.

Make the marinade: In a bowl, combine lime juice, chopped green onion, cilantro, garlic, salt and 1 teaspoon chipotle power. Add chicken and toss until it is evenly coated with the mixture.

In a separate shallow bowl, combine the panko breadcrumbs and 2 teaspoons chipotle powder . Toss the chicken strips in the panko mixture, one at a time, until each fully covered in breadcrumbs. Shake off any excess breading and arrange on the baking sheet.

Bake in the oven for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken fingers so they brown on the other side, and cook for another 5 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the crust is brown. Makes about 16 chicken fingers. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

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{ 59 comments… read them below or add one }

Sophia July 26, 2011 at 12:13 pm

I love junk food too, but I don’t consider them junk. Once a week or so, and they are as emotional nutrition. :D
Love these chicken fingers though. Chicken McNuggets used to be (still kinda is) my feel-good food!


Shari @ Chicago Cuisine Critique July 26, 2011 at 12:26 pm

These look incredible. I think my boyfriend would be thrilled if I made these for him. :)


melissa@IWasBornToCook July 26, 2011 at 12:32 pm

These look great – perfect for making ahead and freezing!


Erica July 26, 2011 at 12:53 pm

These look great! I always do at home chicken fingers (vs. getting them out somewhere)- so much healthier but just as a delicious. I love the chipotle add in.


Three-Cookies July 26, 2011 at 1:32 pm

Looks awesome, will give KFC a good run for the money! I haven’t eaten fried/crispy chicken in years, now I want some, right now…


Roz July 26, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Hi Maris, oooh…this recipe is a keeper. My husband LOVES his chicken fingers! If I made these and some oven fries on the side? I’m thinkin’ a piece of jewellery may just come my way in appreciation. :) Not really…but I know we’d BOTH love them. Thanks as always for your wonderful recipes!!!!


Kathy July 26, 2011 at 1:43 pm

Yes on the popcorn! It was called pop qwiz, and I loved it!


Caroline July 26, 2011 at 1:53 pm

Homemade chicken tenders are the best! What great flavors for a grown-up edition. :)


Laura @ SweetSavoryPlanet July 26, 2011 at 2:15 pm

I love baked “fried” chicken. The flavors seem to stand out more and anything that has chipotle . . .yum.


Karen (Back Road Journal) July 26, 2011 at 2:20 pm

Boy do I love your grown up version of chicken fingers. I think I will make extra for the freezer. When we have unexpected guests I can reheat them and serve with a little dipping sauce on the side. They will be happy, happy.


Junia @ Mis Pensamientos July 26, 2011 at 4:14 pm

these look fantastic!!! i used to get french onion toppers and use them as breading. haha NOT healthy, but delish!!


Kelly July 26, 2011 at 4:21 pm

We have absolute opposite preferences. I have always been more of a salty/savory kind of gal. Where as sweets (though chocolate is the exception) are not quite as beloved in my book.


katelin July 26, 2011 at 5:14 pm

just so much yum with these. cannot wait to try these on my own.


Liz July 26, 2011 at 5:53 pm

Oh, these are gorgeous, Maris! These must be so deliciously spicy…a more adult version on the ones I make for my kids! YUM!


Kalyn July 26, 2011 at 6:21 pm

They look fabulous. I’d take this over a sweet treat any day.


kankana July 26, 2011 at 8:35 pm

I can never get enough of junk food ! At first i thought you deep fried these and then I see bake.. :) looks so delicious.


The Harried Cook July 26, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Yummy! I love that these little treats are baked… I make something very similar and it is very popular in our home! I must try your recipe soon – I bet they would love the added spice! Thanks for sharing, Maris :)


Lisa at Dishes of Mrs. Fish July 26, 2011 at 9:04 pm

I’m in love with this idea, especially using chipotle powder!


BakerbyNature July 26, 2011 at 10:10 pm

Oh Maris, this is the type of adult “junk food” I could sit and eat every night; there is something about that salty/ spicy combination that has been reaching for more.


mandy July 26, 2011 at 10:28 pm

This sounds amazing. I love the idea of adult chicken fingers. The chipotle is what convinced me!


Maureen July 26, 2011 at 10:58 pm

What a quick, easy and tasty meal when you’re in a hurry. Everyone thinks they’re getting a treat which makes it even better.


Baking Serendipity July 26, 2011 at 11:59 pm

Chicken fingers were always my “safe” meal option at a restaurant when I was a kid. Now that I’m older, I like to spice up their reliability a little. This looks like the perfect recipe to do so :)


Ashley July 27, 2011 at 12:00 am

They look amazing!


sweetlife July 27, 2011 at 12:41 am

adult chicken fingers..nice..yummy


Tanvi@SinfullySpicy July 27, 2011 at 2:21 am

Oh wow..these look utterly delish..Love such crispy fried chicken! I think I can have that plateful rightaway!


Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella July 27, 2011 at 2:21 am

These look so much better than any frozen kind that you would get-you can see how crunchy they are! :D


Nami | Just One Cookbook July 27, 2011 at 4:01 am

I like your oven baked method. It’s much easier and cleaner, and you can leave it while you do other things! 15 minutes is enough to clean up the dishes or utensils you used etc, and this is why I really need to learn more oven baked dishes! Yummy chicken fingers – better than store bought!


Joyti July 27, 2011 at 4:07 am

That sounds so flavorful…and delicious. A much more delicious alternative to frozen or chain restaurant fingers too.


Blond Duck July 27, 2011 at 6:15 am

One of my favorite meals in the world is chicken fingers and M&C with green beans. I could eat them every day.


Autumn @ Good Eats Girl July 27, 2011 at 6:35 am

These sound amazing! I love the addition of a little spice!


Joanne July 27, 2011 at 6:43 am

I used to be a crazy picky eater and so chicken fingers were definitely a staple whenever my family went out to dinner. With this spiced up breading, I could definitely be convinced to go back to eating them on a daily basis!


Kitchen Belleicious July 27, 2011 at 7:24 am

Now you have me craving and I do mean craving these chicken fingers. Love you baked them and they are still crunchy and juicy. I love heat and spice so these are perfect for me


Lynne @ 365 Days of Baking July 27, 2011 at 7:40 am

Yum, yum, YUM!!!
Who doesn’t like chicken fingers? They always bring us back to childhood and I love that these have an adult twist to them. Great job, Maris!


Mary July 27, 2011 at 7:48 am

These are perfect for a busy day. I love the spices you’ve added to make the ordinary really special. I definitely will try these. My older grandsons will love them. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary


Kristen July 27, 2011 at 7:49 am

Maris –
These are the most sophisticated chicken fingers ever. So yum!


Vivienne July 27, 2011 at 8:29 am

i will be making this tmr night :) i cant wait!!
hehe as much as i try to eat healthy, im still a sucker for junk food thats why i avoid going to the supermarket hungry so that i dont end up buyign too much junk food ;)


Katie July 27, 2011 at 8:55 am

I will always love chicken fingers… :) Thanks for posting a more grown-up version!


bellini July 27, 2011 at 9:07 am

One of my favourite things is to puck up some chciken tenders and serve them with blackberry ketchip. I need to try and make my own this year!


Greg July 27, 2011 at 9:28 am

Oh those look great. One of my favorite weeknight meals is cornflake chicken. This looks similar, but takes it up a notch. Will have to make it when Katherine’s away, she can’t handle the heat!


marla July 27, 2011 at 10:42 am

These are really the only way I would want to eat chicken fingers – healthy & delish recipe :)


Daryl (mom) July 27, 2011 at 10:49 am

Can we get the recipe from bellini for blackberry ketchup? That sounds delicious and would go perfect with these fabulous checken tenders!


sheila @ Elements July 27, 2011 at 10:51 am

Yummmmm!!! My husband always adds heat to breaded catfish fingers or chicken fingers. It’s awesome like that! If you gave me a choice between your chicken fingers or dessert…yep…I’d take the chicken fingers! :) They look so good!

When I was a kid, we rarely ate out at restaurants. And there weren’t many restaurants around either. I don’t ever remember eating chicken fingers. We had just regular fried chicken…ya know…drumsticks, wings, etc.

But I’m probably at least twice your age, and I guess that’s the reason chicken fingers don’t bring back childhood memories for me.

I sure do enjoy them now though. LOL! :)


emily (a nutritionist eats) July 27, 2011 at 11:02 am

Love the grown-up twist! I’ve always liked chicken fingers. :)


Chrissy July 27, 2011 at 2:25 pm

You and I both, sista! You can serve me up some spicy chicken fingers, any day! I can totally relate to healthy and junk food balance. These look awesome!


naomi July 27, 2011 at 2:37 pm

Well it’s no secret I am a sweet junky, but I love a good salty junk food too. These are perfect for hitting the salty spot.


Claire @ Un Bello Aperitivo July 27, 2011 at 7:27 pm

I just read something today that suggested combining chili powder, lime, salt, and watermelon. Holy sweet and salty!


Deeba Rajpal (@vindee) July 27, 2011 at 8:09 pm

I love the flavour combinations here. Simple yet refreshingly delicious. Whats not to love about this yummy chicken!


Reeni July 27, 2011 at 8:36 pm

Crispy, crunchity and best of all spicy chicken tenders! My favorite! These rock!


Jeanette July 27, 2011 at 9:22 pm

Love the grown-up flavors in these chicken fingers and the baking method – I don’t think anyone ever outgrows chicken fingers!


Ameena July 27, 2011 at 9:23 pm

My 6-year-old and my husband would both love this! And when does that every happen?

Great recipe. Thank you for the fantastic idea!


yummychunklet July 27, 2011 at 10:26 pm

Sounds delicious!


Kate (What Kate is Cooking) July 27, 2011 at 10:32 pm

I am all about the sweet foods! I can usually pass on savory- it’s all about the sugar :) I remember eating frozen chicken fingers when I was a kid. Definitely brings back memories!


lisa @ smart food and fit July 28, 2011 at 4:34 am

Great grown up version and love the flavor combinations!


Lenore July 29, 2011 at 11:20 am

I have a friend who would absolutely LOVE these (and I’m sure I would too!). I especially love that they are so easy to freeze. Make-ahead and then freezing is my latest kitchen obsession :)


Alana D July 29, 2011 at 3:34 pm

This is my definition of fast comfort food.


Christina @ Sweet Pea's Kitchen July 30, 2011 at 11:29 am

I love to make baked chicken fingers. The addition of the chipotle powder sounds great. I love all things spicy so I know these would be wonderful! Yummy!


Olga @ MangoTomato July 30, 2011 at 6:52 pm

love panko crumbs!
I’d be so happy to have these for lunch or dinner with either Ranch or Blue Cheese dressing.


Courtney July 31, 2011 at 3:27 pm

Yum, I love chipotle! Thanks for sharing :-) Ew about that neon popcorn!! Why did they make that stuff!!


Candace August 4, 2011 at 7:22 am

These are the perfect cure for my fried chicken craving. I love that you’ve added chipotle to make them spicy. I can leave the Tabasco out of my ketchup with the addition of that yummy seasoning. Thank you for sharing your recipe! I, also, want to thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and for the sweet comments that you always leave. It’s always so nice to have you visit! Have a beautiful day!


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