Kid-Sized Chicken Fingers

Shake and bake these for a delicious at-home treat!

By Kathy Oberman

 Hot, tasty chicken fingers are easier to make at home than you think. With just a few ingredients, kids can enjoy one of their favorites.

All you need are boneless, skinless chicken breasts, flour, unseasoned bread crumbs, eggs, and salt and pepper. Now you're in business!

The Key
Triple dipping is the key to great chicken fingers. Dip first in flour to coat, next in egg, and finally in bread crumbs.

Three layers and you're ready to cook!

Healthy Choice
The healthiest approach is to bake the chicken fingers in a preheated 350°F. oven for about 15 minutes, or until the juices run clear when they are pricked with a fork.

Pan-frying, or sautéing, the fingers in hot olive oil is the second choice for healthfulness, but this technique is not recommended for young children, since the hot oil sizzles and pops and can easily burn small fingers and hands.

Deep-frying the chicken fingers gives them the extra crispy crunch that kids love so much, but frying anything in hot oil is tricky and potentially dangerous.

If your kids want to deep-fry chicken fingers, make sure an adult does the actual cooking. The amount of hot oil needed can cause serious burns.

Use a deep-fat fryer if you have one, rather than a conventional deep pot set on the stove. The fryer is a little safer. Regardless, make sure the oil is hot enough before frying the chicken. Use flavorless vegetable oil for frying (not olive oil), which has a high smoking point.

You will know that the oil is hot enough if it bubbles when a small piece of the chicken or a ball of dough is dropped in. The food should rise quickly to the top once it's put in the oil. Deep-fat fryers are equipped with a thermometer or other temperature gauge, which helps determine the oil's temperature.

Even though kids should never actually deep fry food, they can assist. Make sure they stand well back from the stove or fryer. The adult doing the frying should wear long, well-padded oven mitts and be equipped with long-handled tongs.

How To Make Chicken Fingers
To make the chicken fingers, cut chicken breast meat into strips, each about an inch wide.

Line up three shallow bowls. In the first, stir together flour seasoned with salt and pepper. In the second, lightly beat an egg with a few tablespoons of water. In the third, spread the bread crumbs.

Begin by dipping the meat in the flour, turning to cover both sides. Lift the chicken from the flour and dip it in the egg. Let most of the egg drip off the meat and then dip it in the bread crumbs, turning to coat both sides.

If you are baking the chicken fingers, arrange them on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake in the preheated 350°F. oven for about 15 minutes, or until heated through, without turning.

To sauté, heat a film of olive oil in a sauté pan and cook the fingers, a few at a time so as not to crowd the pan, until lightly browned and cooked through.

A safe way to determine when the meat is done is to use an instant read thermometer. When the meat is done, it will register 170°F.

To deep-fry, carefully submerge the chicken fingers in hot oil and let them cook until they bob to the surface. Lift from the hot oil with tongs and set aside to drain on paper towels.

Kids like to eat chicken fingers with mild barbecue sauce, mustard, salsa, or even ketchup. They're fun, delicious, and a great snack or light meal.