Baked Pecan Crusted Chicken Fingers

Tender, juicy chicken fingers coated in crunchy toasted pecans. The flavor is amazing and they are faux-fried in the oven!

Crunchy Pecan Crusted Chicken Fingers-- baked, not fried! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Chicken fingers, chicken tenders, chicken strips, whatever you call them is fine by me as long as you at least ONCE try them coated in crushed pecans.

Since the day I shot these photos two weeks ago, I’ve made pecan crusted chicken fingers for dinner 3 times. Part of it is me being lazy since they’re so simple and an even bigger part of it is because they are so damn good! Served with a little honey mustard, this dish is by far our favorite way to enjoy chicken finger tender strips.

Bonus: they’re baked, not fried. Yay.

Crunchy Pecan Crusted Chicken Fingers-- baked, not fried! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Since these pecan chicken fingers aren’t fried, it’s important to smother them in lots of flavor before going into the oven. This way, you won’t feel like you’re missing out by eating a healthier version. Start with some really, really good pecans. My favorite brand, and has been for years, is Diamond of California. My mom got me hooked on this brand. Rather than being sold in the snack aisle, these quality nuts are sold in the baking aisle. When it comes to cooking and baking, they’re the simply the best.

If Northshore nuts were US Weekly, they’d always be on the cover. (<– name that quote!)

Quality pecans… √

Coarsely chop the pecans– these will be your crust. Obviously. Not only will pecans be used for the crust, they will act as the “binder” for the crust. When it comes to oven-frying, you’ll usually have to coat your food in a little flour, then egg, and then whatever crust you’re using like Panko or crushed pretzels. The flour helps the egg stick, the egg helps the crust stick. Easy, right? Instead of using just plain flour (boring! no taste!) today, you’ll use ground pecans mixed with flour and some seasoning. You don’t want to grind/process the pecans too much or you’ll end up with greasy nut butter.

So, just a few pulses until they look like this:

Crunchy Pecan Crusted Chicken Fingers-- baked, not fried! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Dredge the chicken in this seasoned flour/pecan mixture, then the beaten eggs, then the coarsely chopped pecans. My best tip for coating is to use three separate bowls and both hands. 1 dry hand, 1 wet hand. In other words – use 1 hand to dip into the flour. Use the second hand to dip into the beaten egg. Use the first hand to coat in the crushed pecans. This will save you from losing your mind/washing your hands between each chicken finger. FYI: things may still get a little messy!

Now it’s time to bake. Baking is my preferred cooking method for pecan crusted chicken tenders. There is just no need for excess oil to take away from the fabulous toasted pecan flavor. Plus, healthy-ish.

Crunchy Pecan Crusted Chicken Fingers-- baked, not fried! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

So much pecan goodness!

Crunchy Pecan Crusted Chicken Fingers-- baked, not fried! Recipe on sallysbakingaddiction.com

Chop these up and toss them onto a salad, eat straight up, enjoy with BBQ sauce or honey mustard, eat leftovers for lunch, etc. I have big plans to make these again for the big game next weekend. Maybe cut the chicken into little bite size pieces and serve with little toothpicks? Touchdown.

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

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Baked Pecan Crusted Chicken Fingers

  • Author: Sally
  • Prep Time: 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 50 minutes
  • Yield: serves 3-4
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Cooking
  • Cuisine: American

Description

Tender, juicy chicken fingers coated in crunchy toasted pecans. The flavor is amazing and they are faux-fried in the oven!


Ingredients

  • 1 and 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts or tenders
  • 2 cups pecan halves
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour (spoon & leveled)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika*
  • 2 large eggs
  • chopped parsley for garnish, optional

Instructions

  1. Set out 3 medium size bowls. Set aside. Preheat oven to 400°F (204°C). Line a large baking sheet with a silicone baking mat/parchment paper or coat heavily with nonstick spray. Set aside.
  2. 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. Set aside.
  3. Pulse 1/2 cup of pecan halves in a food processor or a blender until fine crumbs are formed. Be careful not to pulse into a nut butter, just a few pulses until they are ground up. See photo above in this post for a visual. In one of the medium bowls from step 1, mix the pecan crumbs with flour, salt, pepper, and paprika. Set aside.
  4. Pulse the remaining pecan halves into coarse crumbs– larger pieces than the ground pecans from step 3. Pour them into another medium bowl. Finally, whisk the 2 eggs until beaten in the 3rd medium bowl.
  5. Coat each chicken strip in the flour/ground pecan mixture, shaking off any excess. Then, dip in egg and let any excess drip off. Then, generously roll in the coarsely chopped pecans, shaking off any excess. Place the chicken strips on the prepared baking sheet.
  6. 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. Careful, you don’t want to burn the nuts.
  7. Serve chicken fingers with a garnish of parsley, some honey mustard, and/or your favorite condiment. Store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 2 days. 

Notes

  1. Make Ahead & Freezing Instructions: Chicken fingers freeze well, up to 2 months. Bake frozen for about 18 minutes (flipping once) at 350°F (177°C).
  2. Spices: I love to use smoked paprika for added flavor – use your favorite seasonings if you do not have any on hand.

Keywords: baked chicken fingers, baked pecan chicken fingers

77 Comments

  1. I love nut-crusted anything! I love taking ground almonds and parmesan and coating tilapia with it.
    And this chicken is so amazing! No wonder you’ve made it over and over again. Pecans are so rich, too, so they must be about ten times better than regular breading.

  2. Sally, I’m in love with pecans! They are my favorite nut ever (Waffle house pecan pancakes/waffles are the best, sanitation at that place…bleh.) Anyhow, I also love the idea of using a pretzel topping. My 4 year old is going to think I’m a chef here! Especially with the dipping sauce!!!

  3. Yum, yum, yum- I eat pecans all the time, and with just about anything. I can’t wait to try them on my chicken!

  4. Not sure I ever would have had the brilliant thought of using crushed pecans for a coat on chicken fingers; now that you’ve enlightened me, I have to try it! 🙂

  5. Yum! I have a similar recipe like this, one that I adapted from “Eat this, not that”. I totally love the idea of baking something as opposed to frying it. Plus, it’s hard to gear up for the “battle of the oil splatter” if you do end up frying them. I’m excited to try them! I think I’ll test them on the Super Bowl gang with some homemade honey mustard!

    1. Is that a cookbook? I’m intrigued! I hope you all enjoy! I’ve been searching for a good homemade honey mustard recipe.

      1. Hey! Yes, it is a neat little cookbook offering alternative recipes for popular fast foods. They have a recipe for panko crusted chicken tenders that were baked instead of fried. Delicious! What other super bowl goodies are you making for the big game Sunday? Thanks for your reply, it is so nice to hear from you!

      2. Heather, I plan to post a new Super Bowl recipe this Wednesday, so check back! I’ll also talk about some of the other recipes I’ll be making for the party we are going to. I know I’ll definitely be making these: https://sallysbakingaddiction.com/2014/09/25/bacon-wrapped-cheesy-stuffed-jalapenos/

  6. Yum! Those look fantastic, I love chicken tenders. Especially when they’re healthy! Never tried a pecan coating before, but that is an amazing idea – can’t wait to try it!

  7. These look absolutely divine! I love your suggestion for putting them on salad – the perfect way to make salad more interesting, especially in a January full of boring, New Years Resolution salads. Thank you!

    1. My favorite way to eat them! I chop them up and through on top. Sometimes the coating falls off when you cut the chicken fingers into small pieces, but throw that on top too. It’s all so tasty. Thanks Michelle!

  8. Since it’s coming up on basketball season, some people could say this is a slam dunk 😉 *nudge nudge* get it?!?

    Honey mustard is my favorite condiment. I don’t eat chicken anymore, but I remember always rating a restaurant’s chicken tenders by their honey mustard sauce. Arbys + TGIFridays are two surprisingly delish contenders!

  9. Sally, are there pretzels in this dish? Or is there a typo in the part about using two hands for dipping the chicken. This looks really delish though!!

  10. I have a feeling my Mr is going to love these! Dipped in some sriracha or on a bun with some coleslaw I can just tell that he is going to flip for them!
    Thanks for another weeknight winner 🙂

  11. I made these for dinner tonight. They were delicious! Mine didn’t turn out quite as pretty as yours because I ended up getting both hands all yucky trying to coat, dip, etc (even though you gave a great explanation of how to avoid doing that

  12. The hubby would love these with a side of baked sweet potato fries and some mac & cheese it sound like the perfect big kid meal!

  13. Yowwy-wowwy, Sally! This looks great and so easy! I think I’ll share this recipe with my hubby (who still likes to think he’s in control of the kitchen after so many years of cooking for me). But since I started really getting into cooking/baking, he’s had to step back a bit. I occasionally share some great recipe finds with him and let him run with them. So I’ll let him have a crack at this one first. But I do have to get myself some smoked paprika….I’ve never had any on my spice shelves and this seems like the perfect excuse to get some!

  14. I love baking instead of frying – I do it with meatballs as well as chicken nuggets and potato wedges. The idea of deep-frying fills me with horror these days – been there, done that, had the greasy kitchen wall to clean afterwards!

  15. Yes, yes, and yes! I love chicken fingers with any kind of coating, but I love the healthier take with the pecans 🙂

  16. Gotta love anything walnut + smoked paprika! Chicken fingers are a kid favorite classic and I’m all over the amped up flavors. Plus, baked! Happy weekend Sally!

  17. We make the fried version all the time. (Try these with fresh orange zest and nutmeg in the coating instead of parsley, that’s how we’ve always done it and it is divine.) We serve these atop a salad of romaine, celery, radishes, and green onions and make our own maple-barbecue dressing. If you like honey mustard, you’ll like this dressing.

    ¼ cup maple syrup (the good kind, of course)
    ¼ cup olive oil
    ¼ cup barbecue sauce
    The juice of one orange
    Salt and pepper to taste

  18. Sally, these look soooooo good! OMG my mouth is watering!

    Nothing better than crispy baked chicken. These sound fantastic. I have to make them. Yum-o!

    xo

    1. There just won’t be that subtle smoky flavor– the pecans are plenty flavorful, though, so your chicken finger will taste just fine.

  19. I’d like to start by saying that I love the addition of savory recipes to Sally’s Baking Addiction. This site is my typical go-to when I need a dessert and I think this recipe just became my go-to weeknight dinner for nights when I have no other ideas. I had been using another recipe for pecan crusted chicken which involved sauteing on the stove top – really a hassle, no big chunks of pecans, time consuming, and difficult to keep it from burning while cooking it through. This recipe is not the neatest or the fastest, but after tasting the results, I don’t think that matters one bit. When I first pulled them out of the oven I thought they might be dry and I was already thinking of how I might have to cook them next time at a lower temp. However, my husband had one bite and declared his love for this recipe and essentially forbade me from using my old one. Thanks for making your posts enjoyable and your recipes delicious!

    1. Thank you so much Rachael– for both reporting back about this recipe and for saying you enjoy my savory recipes. Happy you both enjoyed these chicken fingers!

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