Panko & Chili Crusted Oven Fried Chicken Fingers


hot chicken fingers

We’ve been challenged!

That’s right! The good folks from Breakstone’s threw down the gauntlet, and we picked it right up (mice love found things, after all). Here’s the scoop on The Breakstone’s Triple Churned Challenge.

Vote today and be entered to win $300

Breakstone’s challenged me and three other gals to create an appetizer, entree, and dessert using their Triple Churned Sour Cream.

This contest is sponsored by Breakstone’s and the winner will be chosen by reader vote. Readers can vote for their favorite recipes here once a day. The grand prize is $3,000 (how cool is that?)!

And every time you vote, you’ll be entered to win a $300. The more you vote, the greater your chances to win. (Thanks, Breakstone’s!)

breakstones triple churned sour cream

I’ll be posting one recipe a week between now and April 14th. This is the first of my three recipes.

Oven fried! Wait, what?

As much as I love (love, love) fried food, this is one of my all-time favorite ways to cook chicken.

These chicken fingers are crunchy, just like they’ve been fried. But because they’re baked in the oven, they’re healthier for you.

The crust is a combination of eggs, sour cream, and panko breadcrumbs. The eggs and sour cream meld together to form a coating that’s crisp on the outside—and keeps the chicken moist and juicy on the inside.

breaded chicken finger on fork

Seasoning these little guys twice (once on the meat itself, then again in the breadcrumbs), helps you build layers of glorious, chili-infused flavor. Adjust the amount of chili powder up or down, depending on how spicy you like it.

chili powder

Serving suggestions

You can serve these chicken fingers straight up as an appetizer—or cut them into bite-sized nibbles if you’re feeding a larger group.

You could even serve them satay-style. Just run a wooden skewer through them before they go in the oven. (I mean, who doesn’t love chicken on a stick?)

The best part? The leftovers make a killer chicken parm sub.

Just nestle one or two pieces in a toasted roll, top with a little tomato sauce, a slice or two of provolone, and pop it under the broiler until the cheese is brown and bubbly.

Chicken tenders vs. whole chicken breast

I almost always use chicken tenders for this recipe because they’re usually pretty cheap at our local market.

raw chicken tender

You can also make these with chicken breast that you slice into a few strips. Just adjust the time a little depending on how big you cut the pieces.

Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing

This cool, creamy dressing is a great counterpoint to the spicy, crunchy chicken fingers. I made it with Maytag blue cheese, but use your favorite kind.

buttermilk blue cheese

I don’t add any extra salt to the dip. The blue cheese has plenty already.

crumbled blue cheese

If blue cheese isn’t your thing, these would also be great with ranch dressing.

About panko breadcrumbs

I used panko breadcrumbs (Japanese breadcrumbs made from crustless white bread) instead of regular breadcrumbs because they tend to stay crisper. And because they’re larger than regular breadcrumbs, they give you a nice, substantial crust.

panko bread crumbs

A lot of larger, chain grocery stores carry panko these days. They’re usually in the international food section or hidden in with the regular breadcrumbs.

panko crusted chicken

Alrighty. To the ovens!

Panko & Chili Crusted Oven Fried Chicken Fingers with Buttermilk Blue Cheese Dressing

2 lbs. chicken tenders
1 Tbls. chili powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
1/4 cup flour
1 cup Breakstone’s Triple Churned sour cream
2 extra-large eggs

8 oz. panko bread crumbs
1 tsp. chili powder
1 Tbls. dried parsley flakes

1/2 cup buttermilk blue cheese (SUCH AS MAYTAG)
1/4 cup Breakstone’s Triple Churned sour cream
1 tsp. lemon juice
freshly cracked black pepper

Serves 6-8 as an appetizer

Make the dressing

Do this first. You want to let it sit for a little while to let the flavors meld. Grab your blue cheese. Crumble it up with a fork.

crumbled blue cheese with fork

Measure out the crumbles and put them in a bowl.

crumbled blue cheese in bowl

Add the sour cream.

crumbled blue cheese with sour cream

And a little freshly cracked pepper, to taste.

add pepper to the cheese

Squeeze in the lemon juice.

squeezing half a lemon

Mash it all together with a fork.

making blue cheese dressing

I like to leave mine a little chunky, but smash up the cheese as much as you like.

blue cheese dressing in a bowl

Scoop the dressing out into a serving bowl. Garnish with a little extra black pepper, if you like. Cover and pop it in the fridge until your chicken is done.

chunky blue cheese dressing garnished with pepper

Preheat your oven

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Line a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper (or both for really easy clean up). Set it aside.

sheet pan lined with foil and parchment

Season the breadcrumbs

Put the panko breadcrumbs in a large rimmed dish, like a pie plate. Toss in 1 teaspoon of chili powder and 1 tablespoon of dried parsley flakes.

chili powder and panko

Mix together until well combined. Set aside while you deal with the chicken.

seasoned panko breadcrumbs

Season the chicken

Grab your chicken tenders. Give them a rinse under cold water. Pat them dry. Toss them in a gallon-sized zip-top bag.

chicken tenders in a zip top bag

Toss in the chili powder and the salt.

sprinkle the chicken with chili powder

add salt to the chicken

Seal the bag well. Smoosh the chicken around to coat it evenly with the spices.

seasoned chicken breast in bag

Seasoning the chicken like this—under the crust—helps ensure that it’ll have plenty of flavor.

seasoned chicken breast

Add the flour to the bag.

add the flour to the chicken

Seal the bag well. Smoosh the chicken around again to coat in flour.

coat the chicken in flour

Make the batter

Crack your eggs in a medium-sized bowl.

two eggs in a pink bowl

Beat them well with a whisk.

whisk the eggs

beaten eggs with whisk

Add the sour cream.

sour cream and beaten egg

Beat well to incorporate.

beat the sour cream and eggs together

The mixture will be thick. (Like, very thick.)

sour cream egg mixture

Bread the chicken

Grab your seasoned chicken, dish of breadcrumbs, bowl of batter, and lined sheet pan.

dredging station

Take a piece of chicken and shake it to knock off excess flour.

piece of seasoned chicken breast

Dip it into the batter to coat it on all sides.

dip the chicken

Resign yourself: You’re going to get a little sticky.

chicken coated in egg and sour cream

Drop the battered chicken into the seasoned breadcrumbs.

chicken in panko breadcrumbs

Turn it over a few times to coat the chicken.

coat the chicken

When it looks like it’s wearing a fluffy little sweater, set it aside on your prepared pan.

coated chicken breast

breaded chicken on pan

Repeat with the rest of the chicken.

breaded chicken fingers

close up breaded chicken fingers

Bake the chicken

When all your chicken is breaded, pop the pan into your preheated 425-degree oven.

chicken in the oven

Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the breading is lightly browned.

chicken hot out of the oven

Your final cooking time will vary depending on how thick your chicken tenders are.

browned breadcrumbs on chicken

Transfer the chicken to a serving platter. Sprinkle with chopped green onion. Serve with blue cheese dressing on the side.

platter of chicken fingers

If you liked this recipe, please vote for me!

You can vote daily, and be entered to win $300.

Thanks so much!

Previous articleHomemade Sandwich Bread
Next articleSpicy White Pizza with Bacon, Shrimp & Asparagus
Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie serves as an Associate Creative Director at PARTNERS+simons, a boutique ad agency in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. Great recipe! Esp. if you’ve got kiddos. I’d have to tone down the chili for them a bit. And it’s easy and a healthy alternative to fried.

  2. THANKS for this AWESOME recipe!!! I love how you glide through the recipe with great photography and directions. It’s so easy to follow and it looks delish too.

    • Thanks, Cassie!

      Hey, one word of caution on the wings. I haven’t tried this on chicken with the skin on. Wings are fattier than chicken breast, so my gut is telling me your crust might not come out as crispy. Let me know if you give it a try. I’d do it on a small batch. And maybe experiment by yanking the skin off of one or two wings. Let me know?


  3. I am in awe, these chicken fingers look mighty tasty! I love that they are oven fried, so much more healthier compared to the traditional fried chicken.

  4. OK, I found out about the contest through your competitors–both of which I’m already subscribed to–but after reading the different menus and considering, I had to vote for yours! I sorta feel like a traitor but I really thought your menu was best and I’m excited to have found another wonderful food blog. Which I am now subscribed to. 🙂 Good luck!

  5. Wow, I am drooling here looking through the photos for this recipe. It sounds SO yummy! I make something similar but I definitely will be trying this one…I’ve not tried the Panko bread crumbs so I am anxious to do that. And the dip…YUM! I love blue cheese!
    I went to the Breakstone’s site to print a coupon and found info on the contest. I read through all the stuff and definitely gave you my vote today! And now I am thrilled to have found your site. Gotta go check out more of your recipes.

  6. Going to make this tonight – have everything – and was looking for a juicy “oven” recipe for boneless chicken breasts – going to go vote now!

  7. Eating a piece now – OMG – this is so delicious – and the sour cream/egg mixture makes a great crust with the panko. I voted and I’m going to vote every day!

  8. I stumbled across your site a few weeks ago and have tried a few of your recipes. They have all been fabulous! I’m making this dish tonight and can’t wait. I’ve spread the news about what a great site this is. You really have a great thing going here!

  9. Hi, Jessie. This recipe looks fabulous. Do you have a “print recipe” function? I don’t see a way to get just the recipe without the photos, etc? Maybe I just overlooked it? Thanks! Terry

  10. OMG!! This was excellent. Though we second your love of fried chicken, this was amazingly good. BTW, we found that tripling the amount of chili powder used to coat the chicken worked very well – more assertive flavor without too much heat.

    Also, it would be very cool if you could have the recipe as a “floating” menu on the right hand pane of the window, allowing the user to scroll through the steps/pictures, without having to constantly page up to find the ingredients list.

    We’re making the crispy duck tonight!

    Thanks! Love your website – keep it up!

  11. […] are always enjoyed and their hand held aspect appreciated when one’s eyes are on the game. Panko-chili crusted chicken fingers worked well too (I made an easy honey mustard sauce with a little sriracha sauce in it for dipping […]

  12. These were super delicious. Perfect amount of heat and very flavorful. Had to make them when my wife was out of town because she won’t eat spicy food.

  13. I did these tonight and did some modifications to the size, only buying 1 lb of the tenders and splitting them length and width wise… turned out rather nice and tasty…tried with ranch dressing, adds a little zing…only had to cook them for 20 some mins…will do these again… thank you Hungry Mouse..

  14. I just made this recipe for dinner (using boneless, skinless thighs instead of chicken fingers and nonfat Greek yogurt instead of sour cream). It was awesome! Thank you for posting!