Country Living Series

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Homemade chicken strips

Here's a recipe for homemade chicken strips shared with us many years ago by our friend Enola Gay. It's since become a mainstay in our family. These aren't like the deep-fried ones you see in grocery store delis, but they're delicious (and frankly healthier).

Preheat the oven to about 400F. I start with a three-pound bag of boneless skinless chicken breasts. I can get these at Winco for $6, or $2/lb.

These come frozen, so I defrost them by soaking the bag in hot water for an hour or so.

The recipe uses crushed saltine crackers. Since stale crackers are fine, it's a nifty way to use up old crackers that might otherwise go to waste. Because we always know we'll make this recipe, we hang on to every spare scrap of stale cracker that accumulates over time.

This is in addition to whatever fresh cracker's we'll need.  I usually start with four packets.

I crush the crackers inside a plastic bag to keep things easier.

I start with two or three packages of crackers (crushed) but generally have to crush more later on.

The coating consists of a bunch of mayonnaise. How much will depend on how much chicken you start with. I generally start with about a pint.

Then add a generous dollop of mustard, to taste. You can use spicy mustard if you want -- this just gives the chicken a bit of zing.

Mix it together.

Cut the chicken into whatever sized pieces you wish. The kids prefer smaller pieces (more surface area) because they like the coating. Discard the fat.

As I cut, I plop the chicken into the mayo/mustard mix.

When everything is cut up, give the chicken a good stir to thoroughly coat it.

Get a couple of cookie sheets ready, and set up "stations" -- coated chicken, cracker crumbs, cookie sheets. Then one by one take a piece of chicken out of the coating...

...thoroughly coat it with cracker crumbs...

...and arrange it on the cookie sheet. This is clearly the messiest part of the recipe. Don't plan to answer the phone at this stage.

I usually run out of cracker crumbs about 2/3 of the way through, so I have the kids crush some more and pour them into the bowl.

Use up all the crumbs. Extra crumbs can be sprinkled over the chicken before baking. Don't try to save any unused cracker crumbs because there may be bits of raw chicken or mayo mixed in.

Three pounds of chicken fills two cookie sheets to capacity. Try not to layer the chicken -- it cooks best (meaning, crunchiest) if it's all flat.

Baking time is variable depending on how hot your oven is. I start checking the chicken after about 25 minutes. Personally we like it at the medium-browned stage. Some people prefer it lighter, some darker. Your choice, as long as the chicken itself is thoroughly cooked through.

Older Daughter prefers her chicken plain. Don likes to eat it with some ranch dressing. Younger Daughter and I like to use a bit of hot peppers to add extra zing.

Hot peppers make the chicken really really zingy but really really good.

Also serve with the vegetable of your choice, my preference being steamed broccoli. A delicious dinner! And thanks to Enola Gay for sharing this awesome recipe.


  1. You should try plain Greek Yogurt instead of Mayo if you want it to be really healthy. I prefer it to Mayo or sour cream and it is high in protein and very low in calories.

  2. Do you ever, alternately, add spices or herbs to the crackers ?

    1. No, but there's no reason why you can't. Try it and let us know how it turns out.

      - Patrice

  3. Looks delicious..... Ill definitely try making these.... how are they the next day if we dont eat them all?

    1. Delicious. You can either toast them in the toaster oven to warm them up, or zap them in the microwave. I prefer the toaster oven as it makes them a bit crunchy again. They're also good cold. We'll eat the leftover chicken strips for two or three days.

      - Patrice

  4. Thanks Patrice for sharing!! I just figured out whats i'm fixing for dinner this Saturday night. The daughter will be home from Spring break she'll love a home cooked meal for a change.

  5. Oooo yum!!! And I have a ton of Zaycon chicken breasts in the freezer. Thanks for sharing!

  6. We coat our chicken in melted butter, then a mixture of bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, chopped parsley. Then cook in the oven. So juicy and tasty. Usually served with glazed carrots.
    This recipe looks good also. I was wondering about adding honey to the mixture. I love dipping chicken "tenders, nuggets, etc" in honey mustard sauce.

  7. Wow, it's 5:35 am here and my mouth is watering for this chicken! I'll have to show this to my wife and daughter for the grand kids!

  8. What brand is your spicy mustard? The jar looks like the jay that Nalley's Horseradish Mustard came in, but unfortunately, they do not make it anymore.
    Used it for years and have yet to find a suitable substitute.



    1. I didn't have any spicy mustard on hand -- the jar you see is some plain mustard that I re-canned from larger containers (see this post: )

      - Patrice

  9. I knew I should not have read this post right before lunchtime .. now I am REALLY hungry ... what coincidence, I now crave chicken!

  10. I am definitely make this recipe! I also buy the 6 pound bags of frozen chicken breasts from Winco as they make a lot of meals for not much money. Feeding my picky stepchildren was a challenge for years and those chicken breasts were a godsend.

  11. Looks really good, thank you for sharing. Good to know what to do with those crackers!

  12. Hi Patrice,

    I am usually a fan of Enola's recipes, but this one is definitely NOT "healthier" than fried chicken due to the large amount of mayonnaise used. If you have ever made your own mayo you know that a cup of mayo contains approximately 3/4 cup of oil. (It is basically nothing more than an oil and vinegar dressing emulsified with egg.) The commenter who suggested yogurt was on the right track, I would probably try that substitution as well.

    Here is my mother's recipe for homemade mayonnaise - we always did this when I was growing up and never became ill - but be warned that if you are concerned with salmonella to use pasteurized eggs. You need a blender for this recipe.

    Crack a raw egg into the blender. Add 1/2 t. dry mustard, 2 T white vinegar, 1/2 t salt and about 1/4 c. oil (I recommend a light tasting oil, you could use olive oil but it does have a quite distinctive taste.) Remove the knob from the top of the blender and put the top on (blender is covered but has an opening at the top now). Turn on the blender to "mix" (or medium) and immediately begin to pour in an additional 3/4 cup of oil in a tiny stream. (Total amount of oil used in this recipe is 1 cup.) Pouring the oil in very slowly allows the raw egg to emulsify the oil into the other ingredients. When the last of the oil is in the mayo in the blender will be very thick. Depending on your blender, you may have to turn it off and stir with a spoon to get the last few drops in. That's it - just a great-tasting mayo with no sugar.

    If you want to substitute lemon juice for half or all of the vinegar, you may. It depends on the taste you want. Whichever you use, be sure to refrigerate it due to the egg.


  13. Looks yummy. Just a word of caution, which I'm sure you're already aware of, that you should that chicken in the refrigerator, not with hot water. Food borne illness can be escalated if the chicken is in the danger zone of 41 to 135 degrees. I definitely don't want anyone in your family to get sick. Take care and God bless. Love your blog.

  14. I just made your chicken strips. Fantastic!!! My wife and son loved them. Keep up the good work. You are greatly appreciated.