Buttermilk bathed chicken strips are coated with organic crisp brown rice and baked to golden perfection.
If you think that the term “healthy chicken fingers” sounds like an oxymoron, then you need to try Crispy Brown Rice Chicken Fingers. Admittedly, a lot of mass produced chicken fingers are made with mysterious, pulverized chicken parts and other undesirable ingredients, and then deep fried, making them anything but healthy, but not these little babies! Crispy Brown Rice Chicken Fingers are made with boneless, skinless chicken breasts and a handful of other simple ingredients. The chicken pieces are tenderized in a well-seasoned buttermilk mixture and then coated with organic crisp rice cereal before being baked to golden perfection. Kids and adults alike will adore these gluten-free, and yes healthy, chicken fingers!
I recently discovered that ground up crisp brown rice cereal is an excellent substitute for gluten-free bread crumbs. Most varieties of crisp brown rice cereal contain only a few ingredients – usually just brown rice and a small amount of sugar and salt (look for a brand with a natural sweetener such as brown rice syrup). By contrast, most of the gluten-free bread crumbs you find at the grocery store are made with multiple ingredients. Granted, not all of them are bad, but it does make for a more processed product. The thing I like most about using brown rice cereal in place of gluten-free bread crumbs is that you can alter the texture by adjusting the processing time. If you want crispy crumbs, like we do for Crispy Brown Rice Chicken Fingers, then slowly process the cereal just until it looks like coarse crumbs, being careful to keep some of the cereal grains intact. If you want finer bread crumbs, like you’d use in meatballs, then process for longer, until you have powdery crumbs with a very fine consistency. I usually use a food processor for this job but if you don’t have one you can crush them by hand inside of a sealed zip-lock bag.
The recipe for Crispy Brown Rice Chicken Fingers calls for cutting boneless, skinless, chicken breasts into strips. You can, however, eliminate this step, and simply the prep, by using chicken tenders instead. Chicken fingers by their nature are casual fare. To make this dish more formal, leave the chicken breasts whole instead of cutting them into strips and you’ll end up with Crispy Brown Rice Chicken Breasts – equally delicious but just a little fancier.
Crispy Brown Rice Chicken Fingers are so delicious they taste good dipped in just about anything. My favorite sauce to serve them with is Blue Cheese Rosemary Greek Yogurt Dressing. They’d also taste fantastic with Basil Cashew Pesto, Roasted Garlic Ketchup, or Basil Avocado Yogurt Sauce.
- 1½ cups buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Olive oil cooking spray
- 5 cups (6.5 ounces) crisp brown rice cereal
- ¼ cup butter, melted
- Whisk together the buttermilk, Dijon, salt, and pepper.
- Cut each chicken breast lengthwise into 3 or 4 strips and place in the buttermilk mixture. Marinate in the fridge for a minimum of a few hours or overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray two baking sheets with olive oil cooking spray (or line with silicone baking mats).
- Process the crisp brown rice cereal in a food processor until it looks like coarse bread crumbs. (See notes.) Do NOT process to a fine powder. There should be some bigger pieces of cereal still intact. Stir in the melted butter and combine thoroughly.
- Coat each piece of chicken with the rice cereal mixture, pressing it into the meat. Place on the baking sheets. Bake for 20 minutes.
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