I'm not here to tell you that this is the magical recipe that makes oven-baked chicken taste just like chicken deep fried in delicious fat. Too many recipes try to claim this, only to fall far short of the goal. But it is damn good.
One of the biggest differences between this recipe and others is that it uses panko, Japanese breadcrumbs renowned for their crunch, rather than traditional breadcrumbs, which quickly become soggy after coming into contact with the wet mixture that makes them adhere. I don't know how or why panko is able to resist compromise, but the result is crispier chicken than I've ever had come out of the oven. A trick that helps with that is the recipe's suggestion to spray the coated chicken with olive/canola oil.
Possibly my favorite part of eating fried chicken is not the chicken meat iself, but the crispy, crackling skin that has adhered to the batter. Let's not think about the calories involved when discussing something so delicious. This recipe calls for the skin to be removed before coating the chicken. I debated whether I wanted to follow these instructions, but allowed myself to be forced into being more healthy. After all, it's already not being fried, so why not give it a try. And I didn't end up regretting it! It was kind of nice to be able to bite right into the chicken, the meat coated with the crunch from the panko. I didn't miss being able to separate the skin from the meat and eating it separately... much.
Couple of things of note: Despite the presence of both hot sauce and cayenne, I didn't think the result was spicy at all. I can eat fairly spicy food, so you may or may not want to add more. I used whole chicken pieces; Trix used boneless chicken tenders; both were enjoyed very much. To try and prevent the dry mixture from getting soggy as I was coating each chicken piece, I kept half of the panko mixture in another container and applied it liberally once the piece had gotten its initial coating of wet mixture + dry mixture. You do need to press on the panko to encourage it to stick.
I served it with Red, Hot, and Blue's potato salad. It's not fried chicken, but you just might enjoy yourself so much you won't notice.
Pat and Gina's Oven-Fried Chicken (recipe adapted from Food Network)
- olive or canola oil nonstick cooking spray
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 1 tbsp dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tbsp hot sauce
- 3 tsp salt and 3/4 tsp ground black pepper, divided
- 2 1/2 cups panko
- 2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 8 pieces of chicken (about 3 lbs), skin removed
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Line a sheet tray with foil and spray with cooking spray. If you want, you could line the tray with a wire rack instead, but make sure to spray it.
- In a pie plate or shallow bowl, whisk the eggs, mustard, honey, hot sauce, 1 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper until thoroughly combined.
- Add the panko, 2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, paprika, cayenne, and garlic powder to another shallow plate and whisk to combine.
- Dredge the chicken through the wet mixture, then the dry mixture, patting the breading on so it adheres.
- Arrange the chicken onto the oil-sprayed tray, leaving room between each piece of chicken. Spray the chicken liberally with cooking spray, as evenly as possible. This will help brown and crisp up the coating.
- Place the tray on the upper rack of the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the chicken is golden and crispy. The temperature should register 160-180°F on an instant-read thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken. If you don't have a thermometer, cut into a piece at the thickest part. The juices should run clear.