Baked Honey BBQ Chicken Fingers

Extra crispy chicken fingers marinated in honey and BBQ sauce. Baked, not fried! They’re so simple; your whole family will love them.

baked chicken fingers on a silpat baking mat

Another savory recipe for you today. And it’s one of my favorites!

I don’t get too creative with dinner that often. All of my creativity goes into things like peanut butter brownies and pina colada cupcakes. A giant sweet potato and quinoa patties are usually a meal for me. Or even a “bucket sized salad” (as Kevin calls it) with beans, avocado, and a little mango guac on the side. Alright, now I’m hungry.

But my favorite protein-packed dinner? Something I could eat forever and never tire of it? My birthday meal of choice every single year? Good ‘ole BBQ chicken. I am a huge sucker for it, as you may already know

hand dipping baked chicken finger into bbq sauce in a white bowl

I made these chicken fingers a lot last summer because they’re on the healthy side and quite easy. Plus, who doesn’t like eating with their hands?! I spotted a steal of a sale on chicken the other day and stocked my freezer. Looks like baked honey BBQ chicken fingers will be on the dinner (and lunch) menu a lot this month. No complaints here! These crispy chicken tenders are so dang good.

I spotted this recipe on Rachael Ray and have switched things up over the past year the more often I make it… like adding the honey BBQ marinade step. Best decision ever.

Let’s talk about that marinade for a second. 3/4 cup of Sweet Baby Ray’s (the one and only BBQ sauce I’ll eat… and I am in no way affiliated with Sweet Baby Ray’s. But if Sweet Baby Ray’s is reading my blog, I may just faint in excitement. I love you sweet baby ray.) and some honey. I usually let the chicken marinate for 1-2 hours. If you’re in a rush, 30 minutes is fine. Just know that the longer it marinates, the more flavorful the chicken.

chicken strips in a bowl of BBQ sauce

The chicken fingers are baked, not fried, and breaded in Panko. Not familiar with Panko? Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb traditionally used as a coating for fried or baked foods. It’s available in all major grocery stores near the stuffing. This recipe is developed using Panko and there are no substitutions yielding the same exact result.

Here’s why Panko is better than regular breadcrumbs in this recipe: Panko is made from crustless bread and is coarsely ground into airy, large flakes. Panko tends to stay crispier longer than regular breadcrumbs because they don’t absorb as much grease and liquid.

Before the Panko, you’ll coat the chicken in some whole wheat flour, salt, pepper, and seasonings – then in a quick dunk into beaten eggs. The flour allows the egg to stick, the egg allows the Panko to stick, the Panko gives the chicken fingers their crispy texture.

2 images of chicken fingers in coating in a glass bowl and coated chicken fingers on a silpat baking mat before baking

Bake the chicken fingers in a hot oven at 400F. The timing will depend how big and/or thick your chicken fingers are. Just bake until golden brown and the centers are cooked through. Mine always take around 20 minutes. Flip the chicken fingers after 10 minutes.

baked chicken fingers on a silpat baking mat

Serve with extra honey BBQ sauce for dipping. Who says baked versions of fried food just aren’t the same? Clearly they’ve never had these chicken fingers before. We’re obsessed.

They’re so crispy!

Follow me on Instagram and tag #sallysbakingaddiction so I can see all the SBA recipes you make. 

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baked chicken fingers on a silpat baking mat

Baked Honey BBQ Chicken Fingers

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Yield: serves 3-4
  • Category: Appetizers
  • Method: Baking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Extra crispy chicken fingers marinated in honey and BBQ sauce. Baked, not fried!


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts or tenders
  • 3/4 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
  • 1/4 cup honey*
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika*
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 and 1/2 cup Panko (or more, as needed)
  • nonstick spray like PAM, olive oil spray, or coconut oil spray (found mine at Trader Joes!)

Instructions

  1. Combine barbecue sauce and honey in a large bowl. If using chicken breasts, pound down and cut into strips. If using boneless, skinless chicken tenders (chicken tenders are the lean strips of meat found attached to the underside of chicken breasts – they can also be purchased separately.) – cut in half lengthwise. Add the chicken strips to the bowl and stir to coat. Cover tightly and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes and up to 4-6 hours. The longer, the more flavorful your chicken.
  2. Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or coat heavily with nonstick spray.
  3. Combine flour, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika in a shallow dish. Beat eggs in another shallow dish. Pour Panko breadcrumbs into a third shallow dish. Coat each chicken strip in flour, shaking off any excess. Then, dip in egg and let any excess drip off. Then generously roll in the breadcrumbs, shaking off any excess. Add more Panko to the dish if you are running low. Place the chicken strips on the prepared baking sheet. Spray each with nonstick spray to “seal” the breading, which will prevent the breading from staying raw and allows it to bake onto the chicken fingers.
  4. Bake for 10 minutes. Turn each piece over and continue baking until the outside is crisp and the centers are cooked through, about 10 minutes more. Baking times may vary, just make sure yours are cooked through. If you like them more brown, bake longer.
  5. Serve chicken fingers with more BBQ sauce. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Notes

  1. Freezing Instructions: Chicken fingers freeze well, up to 2 months. Bake frozen for about 18 minutes, flipping once, at 350°F (177°C).
  2. Honey: You can simply use a honey flavored BBQ sauce. I find that there isn’t enough honey flavor for me, so even when I do use a honey BBQ sauce, I still add honey to the marinade. Test until you find what you like.
  3. Paprika: I love to use smoked paprika for added flavor – use your favorite seasonings if you do not have any on hand.
  4. Panko: Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb traditionally used as a coating for fried or baked foods. It’s available in major grocery stores near the stuffing. Panko is heavily preferred opposed to regular bread crumbs because they tend to stay crispier longer. You can buy seasoned or unseasoned and then add more/less seasonings to your breading if preferred. I use unseasoned.
  5. Adapted from Rachael Ray.

Keywords: baked honey bbq chicken fingers, baked chicken fingers

50 Comments

  1. I made this for dinner tonight and everyone freaked! they loved it just the way it was!

  2. Tried these for dinner tonight…they are really good. My family looked at me when I put them on the table because they were not the usual ones I make. After they tried them they really liked them. They are nice and crunchy and have real good flavor with the honey bbq and the smokey paprika. I love that they are not greasy(baked not fried) and have a great crunch. I’ve tried some of your other recipes and they were very good as well. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Would it be okay to let it marinade for like 11 hours? I work long hours.

    1. Yep, that would be just fine Abby. I’ve done it overnight before.

  4. Made these for lunch today and they were wonderful!

  5. Made them today and they were delicious! Love the BBQ flavor, I did omit the honey because I already buy BBQ sauce called Sweet BBQ sauce haha!

    Since I’m cooking just for myself and would love to plan ahead…is it better to freeze raw breaded chicken to thaw and freshly bake or would you rather freeze cooked chicken tenders and then bake them again when ready to eat?

    1. Hey Allie! I recommend baking and then freezing (then baking again). Don’t freeze the breaded chicken.

  6. Loved these, Sally!! So crispy and flavorful. Throwing some of the leftovers in my bucket-sized salad for lunch tomorrow 😉 thanks again for another winner recipe!

  7. Thanks again for a fabulous recipe, Sally! Made these for supper & they were seriously amazing. 🙂

  8. I made these tonight using Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Chipolte sauce. AMAZING!!! My kids ADORED THEM! This will be a keeper in my weekly dinner rotation!

  9. Made a HUGE batch of these last night for my family and they LOVED them!
    The taste reminded us of teriyaki chicken medallions which we ate years ago as kids!
    So full of flavour and will definitely be making again!

  10. I am currently making these as I type! Quick question though (for next time I make them, as I’m sure this recipe is a winner): after the chicken fingers are breaded, could they be kept in the fridge for a short time, and subsequently baked? I live in a small apartment, with a tiny kitchen and even smaller oven, and prepping ahead, even if only by a half hour or so, really seems to help cut down on the craziness of using the oven for multiple dishes. Funnily enough, I have your pineapple upside down cake in the oven now, and have some down time, so I was pondering going ahead and breading the chicken. Any thoughts on if this would be ok? My concern was the marinade softening the panko crumbs down too much. Thanks, as always, for your recipes and feedback!

    1. Hi Alice! I would say they would be OK in the fridge after breading for about 1 hour – not much longer than that because you don’t want the honey bbq to soak up all the Panko. You can always bake these and freeze the baked chicken fingers for 2-3 months. My freezer is full of them!

  11. is it absolutely necessary to ‘seal’ the breading onto the chicken with the olive oil spray?

    also, how many chicken breasts are equal to 1.5 pounds?

    1. I feel it sticks better with the bit of olive oil. And the quantity of chicken breasts depends on their size.

  12. I made these tonight for the first time & they were a big hit. My daughter tried to trick me though. She said,”Ew, I don’t like these.” And then broke into a big smile adding, “I love these!”

  13. These were tremendous! I made them last night. My husband who typically doesn’t say much about my cooking (I don’t blame him) gave them a big thumbs up! Thanks for the great recipe which will definitely be a new regular.

  14. These tenders were amazing. Great flavor and crunch! We have a problem in our house now. One of my kids likes these tenders best and the other likes the pretzel crusted tenders best. I guess I will just have to make both now.

  15. Hello Sally! Which BBQ Sauce do you use?

    1. I like sweet baby rays.

  16. Thanks for a great recipe, I made them last night and they were awesome! 🙂

  17. Hi Sally!
    These sound delicious and I’ve been wanting to try them. I was wondering….do you think the recipe could be adapted so that instead of using BBQ sauce and honey as the marinade,I could use a honey mustard salad dressing, such as Ken’s? My boyfriend loves creamy honey mustard dressings on his chicken fingers, so I got the idea, but I’m not sure if the salad dressing would work (too thick/creamy/not sticky enough/etc.) as the marinade. Any thoughts….or should I just give it a try?
    Thanks!
    Nina
    PS: your wedding pics were beautiful! Congrats!

    1. Absolutely, Nina! That would be a fantastic marinade here – it’s the right consistency, too. Now I need to try it next. Thanks for the congrats!

  18. Hi Sally, I just made these tonight for dinner and they were tasty. Good flavour. 2 questions because I have never made homemade chicken fingers before. Do you use the regular flavour Sweet baby ray’s bbq sauce? I used regular and the flavour was too strong for my kids. However they are picky. Lol. Also, I followed this recipe exactly and the Panko did stay on the chicken but I found in the first bite, the chicken would pull out of the breading and leave an empty finger shell. Still tasty but I must have done something wrong. Love your website, also made your peanut butter cookie recipe today and they were super delish!!

    1. Hi Michelle – yep, I use plain (original) sweet baby ray’s bbq sauce. I would simply find a sauce’s flavor your kids enjoy. How about a lighter dunk into the eggs? A real light dunk and then a heavy dunk in the panko. That should help.

  19. What a wonderful recipe! Light, yummy, and tasted even better than fried from a restaurant. My roommates loved this recipe. I love that you get to have chicken fingers but without the guilt that usually comes with eating them. Will be making again for dinner, thanks Sally!

  20. If I don’t have access to non-stick spray, would you use nothing, or an alternative?

    1. A light drizzle of olive oil works.

  21. Oh WOW, these were so good! I love how you don’t even really need sauce to dip in because it’s sort of built-in to the strips (but dipping is always fun, so why not?) I plan trying other sauces with this method (hot sauce, teriyaki, etc.) Thanks for a great chicken finger recipe! The coating was the perfect thickness and I had no problems with it staying on.

  22. Made these tonight and OMG!!! This is the best BBQ Chicken I’ve ever had, absolutely stellar! Thank you Sally for sharing ☺

  23. The chicken strips were much crispier than I have made in the past with similar recipes; I will definitely make them again, Thanks!

  24. I finally made these and they turned out great! I found an easy BBQ sauce recipe that rivaled Sweet Baby Ray’s so it was a win all around! 

  25. Cookiemonster says:

    Could I marinate these more than 4-6 hours as in the night before?

  26. Hi Sally, was just wondering if instead of boneless chicken I could use chicken with the bone? Will it affect the taste at all? Thank you!

    1. Yes, absolutely. Will be just as tasty.

  27. I made these the other night and they were such a hit with my boyfriend!  I’m not going to have to make a bunch of these and stick them in the freezer for easy meals!  Thanks so much Sally!

  28. Well this was a hit on night 13 of my 30 day of no repeat suppers. My 16 yr old ate probably 8 of them. He is not a big kid either, but he scarfed them down. My suggestion is to give Stubbs bbq sauce a try, it is so good.

    Also your bbq turkey meatballs were awesome last week. I shared with a friend who didn’t want spicy so she gave them to her friend who said they were the best she has had and wants the recipe. Lol. 
    In a couple weeks will be making your chicken pot pie. 

  29. These were great! I loved them. Great Flavor. My picky 4 year old wasn’t a fan of the coating, but she liked the chicken flavor without the coating. Thanks!

  30. I made these this week and they are DELICIOUS! My husband and I couldn’t stop eating them.

    I didn’t seal the breading with spray but I didn’t have any issues with it sticking.

    I thought I had doomed my chicken fingers by cutting up the chicken into super-thin pieces, but they cooked perfectly. I ended up using tons more of the coating (probably partially because of how small I cut the chicken). I think I used 3 times the amount of coating that was called for in the recipe, so make sure to have some extra on hand!

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