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! Honey BBQ flavored - your whole family will love these! @sallybakeblog

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

Baked Honey BBQ Chicken Fingers by sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Baked Honey BBQ Chicken Fingers by sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

Baked Honey BBQ Chicken Fingers by sallysbakingaddiction.com

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.

These extra crispy chicken fingers marinated in honey and BBQ sauce. Baked, not fried! Easy recipe at sallysbakingaddiction.com

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 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

128 Comments

  1. My husband is still raving over your BBQ chicken pizza and now this? He’s going to love it! I’m sure I’ll be winning the best wife award for the month!! Thanks 🙂

    1. I loved seeing your photo of the BBQ chicken pizza, Zainab! So glad you made it and loved it. Let me know if you try these!

  2. I was just looking up a chicken finger recipe and then went to your blog. You read my mind! So excited , the kids will love them

  3. These would be great to stock your freezer with! I do this all the time with chicken nuggets!

  4. Oh my God! I feel the same way about Sweet Baby Ray’s!

    Because it’s what my parents always bought, I was using Kraft BBQ for my whole life. But then, about 3 years ago, Giant gave a coupon for a free bottle of Sweet Baby Ray’s and I was like, “Whatever. I guess I can try it if it’s free.” But ever since that first taste, I’ve been hooked and have never looked back. Mmm!

    My husband’s goofball friend loves it too, and about 2 years ago challenged us to a contest to prove which of us loved it more. We had to take pictures of ourselves not being able to live without Sweet Baby Ray’s. I won’t keep you in suspense: we won. Some of our winning photos: squeezing some onto a toothbrush as though we used it as toothpaste, lining it up among our shampoo bottles in the shower, using it in place of diaper cream on our baby. (Never fear–all the pictures were staged; no actual baby’s bottoms were harmed in our silliness.) So yeah, that’s how we chose to spend our free time…

    I think now I’ll use some free time to try this recipe. I sense another ‘win’ coming my way! Thanks for the tips!

    1. Hahahahhahahahaha Natalie, I’m cracking up picturing a bottle of sweet baby rays in the shower or even using as toothpaste. I am JUST as obsessed. Those photos were probably hysterical. You guys are hilarious! This sauce is life changing 🙂

  5. I always bake my own chicken nuggets, but I never thought to marinade them first. Good tip.

    Plus, your description of flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs, took me right back to coating veal escalopes with my mum when I was about 8 or 9. I used to love getting my fingers coated too, and sucking them when she wasn’t looking. Food safety? Well, I’m still here…

    1. Hahahaha that’s too funny. I’ve eaten my fair share of cookie dough over the years. I’m still here too!

  6. Looks so yummy BUT…. Sweet Baby Ray’s is loaded with High Fructose Corn Syrup which I have been trying to eliminate from my family’s diet. I will try this recipe tonight with a diff brand and hope it turns out as good as y’all say it is!! Thanks!!

  7. Pinning these to my want to try list!! I also love Sweet Baby Ray’s sauce! Remember to stock up while it’s on sale for Memorial Day!

  8. 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?

  9. 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!

  10. 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!

  11. Bucket salads are my favorite!! I even make them in my big mixing bowls I usually save for cake batter and cookie dough. My guy finds it fairly funny too, but after all that salad, I definitely deserve dessert! 😉 Your baked BBQ chicken fingers sound right up my alley though too! I love BBQ sauce but rarely get a chance to eat it because my guy… Just doesn’t. Unless it’s on pulled pork. (He’s so strange.) But you know how much I love baked-not-fried versions, so I’ve already pinned this to make for me!

  12. RE: The comment about High Fructose Corn Syrup. Check out a BBQ sauce called “Naturally Delicious” (I took our bottle out of the fridge to check who makes it, and it’s put out by Cains Foods). It has NO HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, no artificial colors or preservatives, and is gluten free. And it is WONDERFUL! If you can’t find Sweet Baby Ray’s or another preferred BBQ sauce, or you just want to avoid that high fructose corn syrup, look for “Naturally Delicious.” It’s our ultimate favorite. We love it especially with seared turkey burgers (made thin and cooked quickly to bring out the caramelizing flavor and color, then topped with cheese and Vidalia onions on warm buns). But now I’m going to try doing these chicken fingers using it. Love crispy Panko and love the thought of using the honey and BBQ sauce as a marinade… so this recipe is going to be well-used at our house. Thanks, Sally!

  13. 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!

  14. Hi Sally. I LOVE your blog! I do not own a silicone baking mat (yet) is there anything I can put on top of my cookie sheets to use in place of the baking mat besides cooking spray? Like foil or parchment paper?

    Thanks

  15. Made these tonight and have to say they were absolutely yummy, anf even though I had to search high and low for the panko breadcrumbs they were most defiantly worth it

  16. 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!

  17. 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.

  18. 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!”

  19. I have been baking my 4 lb batch from the freezer for three weeks now and they are still as delicious as when I made originally them. I have been using whole wheat flour in small doses to add whole grains and fiber to my diet and I was glad to see you used them here. I put whole wheat bread crumbs in my meatballs and you cannot tell the difference! Thanks for all the wonderful recipes.

  20. 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.

  21. 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.

  22. 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!

  23. 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.

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