Forget Every Healthy Fried Chicken Recipe—This One’s The Best

You guys: Today’s National Fried Chicken Day. Let us be first to say that, yes, we realize the sheer absurdity of finding ways to celebrate every marketing ploy “national” day under the sun, but, well, it’s fried chicken. Deal with it.

Some bad news: We’re coming off a beer-and-burger filled long weekend, so scarfing deep-fried bird on a Monday might not be at the top of your to-do list. Now, some GREAT news: You can still get your fried chicken fix with the below recipe that actually uses most of the same ingredients as the classic southern varieties you love so much, but with a fraction of the bad stuff. Oh, and this version isn’t actually fried at all, it’s baked! Check out the recipe, and think seriously about whipping it up tonight—it’s super-easy.

If you want to make it another night and forgo the magic that is National Fried Chicken Day, that’s okay too—we get this might make a better weekend meal.

best healthy fried chicken recipe

Um, YUM. (Photo: Carlsbad Cravings)

The Best Baked “Fried” Chicken

10 chicken tenderloins
1 cup buttermilk
1 cup flour
1 cup panko breadcrumbs
1/4 cup cornmeal
3 tablespoons butter

Spice Mixture
1 tablespoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder

Mix Spices together in a small sealable bag. Add 1 tablespoon spices, 1 cup buttermilk and chicken to a large freezer bag and marinate. Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a large rimmed baking tray with parchment paper (foil will NOT work because the chicken sticks to it). Add butter to baking tray and melt in oven while it preheats. Remove baking tray once butter is melted.

Mix together flour, panko, cornmeal and remaining spices in a large bowl. Add half of this breading mixture to a large freezer bag.
Remove chicken tenders from buttermilk and allow excess marinade to drip off (I line my sink with paper towels then dab the chicken with paper towels as I add them to the breadcrumb mixture.)

Add half of the chicken to the breadcrumb bag and shake until well coated, pressing the breadcrumbs into the chicken with your fingers through the bag. Lay breaded chicken in butter on baking tray. Add remaining breadcrumb mixture to bag along with remaining chicken and repeat.

Bake at 400F degrees for 10-12 minutes until golden then carefully flip chicken and bake another 5 minutes then broil to desired crispiness.

Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. Enjoy!

Serves 4 to 6; prep time 15 minutes; cook time 25 minutes
Recipe: Carlsbad Cravings