I’m not sure how old you have to be to stop enjoying chicken fingers, but I hope I never reach that age. It seems like a sad place to be, devoid of crisp bready outer layers and tender, chewy innards. Not to mention dipping sauces, which are reason enough on their own to eat chicken fingers. I’m not talking about the monstrousities of plastered-together chicken-esq byproduct shellacked with mystery breading that you get at a fast-food outlet, or in the freezer section of the grocery store. That kind of mad science manipulation that holds things in unnaturally perfect shapes belongs in Latoya Jackson’s face, not in the food I eat.
Thanks to what we’ll henceforth refer to as The Latoya Treatment, chicken fingers get a pretty bad rap. And rightly so, given the number of chicken finger options that have been Latoya’d (Treatmented?). But what’s stopping you from making your own? Like anything homemade, this not only allows you to customize them to your taste, but also to know what goes into them – but I think that’s worth mentioning here since chicken fingers are so inextricably associated with processed or fast food. But there is another way.
What cut of chicken do you usually eat? Breast? Thigh? Either should work. I prefer white meat, so I’ve been using chicken breasts for these. Either way, slice your cuts of chicken (or just use tenderloins), dredge them in egg, then a mixture of seasoned almond and tapioca flour and bake. It’s honestly that easy.
Then you bake them up in the oven until they are ready to be plunged into the dipping sauce. OH, THE DIPPING SAUCE. It’s tahini-based, which makes for a mild, creamy foundation. Tahini, in case it sounds familiar but you can’t quite place it, is the smooth, thick paste made from ground sesame seeds that you probably know as the base of hummus (aside from chickpeas, that is). On top of the smooth, savory base is the bright, sweet flavor of the orange juice and the combination of flavors is just mind blowing. You’ll probably want to slather this on everything, and I’m here to tell you that that’s totally ok.
Ingredients for the chicken fingers
Ingredients for the dipping sauce
- Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a small baking dish or sheet with a nonstick pad, parchment paper or lightly-greased tinfoil.
- If not using tenderloins, divide your chicken into 3-4" long slices.
- In a small bowl, whisk together the egg and almond milk.
- In another small bowl, whisk together the almond flour, tapioca flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and chili powder.
- Submerge a slice of chicken in the egg/almond milk mixture, then remove and gently shake to remove excess liquid. Then submerge it in the almond flour mixture. Make sure it is completely coated and gently pat the almond flour mixture onto the chicken to adhere. Try to use one hand to work with the wet mixture and the other to work with the dry mixture. Otherwise all of the breading will end up sticking to your hands instead of the chicken!
- Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking dish.
- Repeat with the rest of the chicken.
- Optionally, brush or spray the tops of the chicken fingers with oil to encourage browning during the cooking process.
- Bake for 25 minutes, then broil for 5 minutes until the tops of the chicken fingers are slightly golden.
- While the chicken fingers are baking, prepare the dipping sauce by stirring together all of the ingredients until smooth. If your tahini is especially thick, you can add a few drops of water to thin it out to your preferred consistency.
- Remove the chicken tenders from the oven and allow to cool slightly before serving with a side of the dipping sauce.
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat in the toaster or under the broiler to crisp them slightly before serving.