Oven baked until crisp, Dill Ranch Chicken Fingers are first soaked in buttermilk and then breaded in a mixture consisting of crushed corn flakes, chives, parsley, dill, garlic, onion, and a little bit of optional cayenne pepper. Serve these will a buttermilk dill ranch dressing for the ultimate grown up chicken finger!
I like to think of these Dill Ranch Chicken Fingers as a grown up chicken finger. Let’s face it, most chicken finger recipes are manufactured to appeal to kids. But, what about us? What about those of us who are over adolescence? Don’t we deserve to enjoy the goodness that is a proper chicken finger as well? That’s what these particular chicken fingers are all about. But, don’t worry; they’re so good, kids will enjoy them too!
These are baked, which help to keep them healthier. But baking them does not mean you have to forego the crispiness. These are perfectly crispy and still tender and moist on the inside. I prepared these will strong flavours like dill, garlic, and onion. And, I paired them with my Buttermilk Dill Ranch Dressing. That’s completely optional, but if you love that combination of dill and ranch, then make the dressing. It’s worth it!
Speaking of optional, I also added a little bit of cayenne pepper to these chicken fingers. I know not everyone likes spicy food, so you can leave it out. It might be best to do that if you’re sharing these with kids. But, who knows!? Maybe you love spicy food, so if that’s you, add more cayenne to suit your personal tastes.
BUTTERMILK AND CHICKEN
Did you know that buttermilk is the liquid that is left behind after churning butter made from cream. The stuff we buy in the store is not pure buttermilk though. What we buy is cultured buttermilk which has had a bacteria added to it and allowed to ferment. You’ll note that buttermilk has a slight sour taste and smell – much like sour cream! But, don’t worry; it’s not spoiled and you can consume it safely without getting sick.
Did you know that you can make your own buttermilk at home? Yes! If you don’t have any on hand, you can make your own. Just stir one tablespoon of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar into a cup of whole milk. It will not be as thick as store-bought, cultured buttermilk, but it will do the trick!
My favourite marinades for chicken always uses buttermilk. Buttermilk helps to make for a more tender chicken dish. The acidity of the buttermilk will break down protein structures in the chicken, and helps it to retain moisture a whole lot better. In the case of these Dill Ranch Chicken Fingers, the buttermilk will keep the chicken moist and tender while giving the corn flake breading something to stick too!
HERE IS WHAT YOU WILL NEED FOR THIS RECIPE:
- Chicken – You can use packaged chicken tenders or use chicken breasts and just cut them into 1/2 inch strips.
- Buttermilk – This will tenderize the chicken and keep it moist while baking.
- Corn Flakes – I bought the corn flake crumbs, but you can use whole corn flakes. Just add them to your food processor and pulse them until fine like bread crumbs.
- Flour – Just a little bit, but it helps to create a better crumb breading.
- Dried Herbs – You will need dried chives, parsley, and dill.
- Onion and Garlic Powder – These are most definitely for flavour.
- Cayenne Pepper – Added for spiciness and heat, but it is completely optional!
- Salt and Pepper
- Non-stick Cooking Spray
HOW TO MAKE DILL RANCH CHICKEN FINGERS:
The first thing you want to do is to add the chicken pieces to a bowl and pour in the buttermilk. Use tongs to move the chicken around and get each piece coated with the buttermilk. Cover the bowl and set aside for 20 minutes. Next, prepare the breading mixture by adding the corn flakes, flour, parsley, chives, dill, garlic and onion powder, cayenne pepper, and the salt and pepper to a bowl. Use a whisk to combine everything together.
Next, preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with a little bit of the non-stick cooking spray. Set aside. Once the chicken has been sitting in the buttermilk for 20 minutes, it’s time to bread them. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, lift it out of the buttermilk, allowing the excess buttermilk to fall back into the bowl. Dredge the chicken into the crumb mixture, pressing gently to encourage more crumbs to adhere. Place chicken onto prepared baking sheet, leaving at least an inch of space between each piece.
When all of the chicken pieces have been breaded and placed onto the baking sheet, lightly spray the tops of each piece with non-stick cooking spray. Once the oven if full heated, place the baking sheet on the middle rack and bake for 20 minutes. Remove from oven, plate, garnish and serve immediately.
COMMON BELIEF: “BAKED CHICKEN IS DRY!” WRONG!
If you’ve ever had chicken breasts baked in the oven and they were too dry, there could be various reasons why, but I’m pretty certain I can narrow it down to just one. Are you ready to hear the truth? Here it is! The person in charge of baking that chicken let it stay in the oven too long. There, I said it!
I have baked enough chicken in my lifetime. And, I have learned a few very important things. These things will keep your chicken tender and juicy every single time. Move over dry chicken breast! There’s no room for you at Lord Byron’s house! I’m going to tell you just how I get the most tender and moist chicken every single time.
NO MORE DRY CHICKEN!
The first thing you need to remember is as follows. If you are baking chicken pieces – dark or white meat – keep the pieces separated. Do not allow the chicken to touch or overlap. Doing so prevents the pieces from cooking properly, which most likely means a longer time in the oven.
Also, depending on how much overlap there is, you might be creating steam. Steam is heat and steam will overcook the chicken! No matter what type of chicken you’re cooking, keep the pieces separated! Want proof? Just look at these photos of my Baked Parmesan Chicken Fingers!
Secondly, always, always, always preheat your oven! I have seen so many home cooks place chicken breasts in a cold oven and then turn it on. That whole time your oven is preheating, your chicken is cooking. Chances are, it’s going to dry out.
Lastly, unless you’re baking chicken breasts the size of a turkey breast, there is never any need to bake them longer than 30 minutes. Never! If you’re worried about the chicken not being brown, there’s a solution to that. Place your chicken under a broiler for a minute or two. That’s it! For chicken fingers, you need even less time. I baked these for exactly 20 minutes in a pre-heated oven.
CHICKENS HAVE FINGERS?
John.e always makes the same dad joke every time McKenna wants chicken fingers. “Chickens don’t have fingers!” She rolls her eyes. I either select chicken strips from her favourite fast food joint on the Uber Eats app, or make them from scratch. This is also where I remove myself from the conversation. A long time ago, I read somewhere that it doesn’t matter whether you call them chicken tenders or chicken fingers. As long as they’re hot, taste good, and have great crunch. I agree!
Fact is, a chicken finger is a strip of chicken that is usually cut from a chicken breast. A chicken tender is the little chicken filet that can be found on the under side of a whole chicken breast. Many home cooks use the chicken filet for chicken fingers. They will also use a whole breast and cut it into strips.
So, if I’m getting this right, a chicken finger can be a chicken tender, but a chicken tender cannot be a chicken finger. Is that right? Maybe I should have cut them into chunks and called them chicken nuggets! My head hurts now. Here’s my recipe for the absolute best Dill Ranch Chicken Fingers!
Dill Ranch Chicken Fingers
- 2 pounds chicken tenders
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 2 cups corn flake crumbs
- 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon dried chives
- 1 tablespoon dried dill
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, optional
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- non-stick cooking spray
- Add the chicken pieces to a bowl and pour in the buttermilk. Use tongs to move the chicken around and get each piece coated with the buttermilk. Cover the bowl and set aside for 20 minutes.
- Next, prepare the breading mixture by adding the corn flakes, flour, parsley, chives, dill, garlic and onion powder, cayenne pepper, and the salt and pepper to a bowl. Use a whisk to combine everything together.
- Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a baking sheet with a little bit of the non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
- Once the chicken has been sitting in the buttermilk for 20 minutes, it’s time to bread them. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, lift it out of the buttermilk, allowing the excess buttermilk to fall back into the bowl. Dredge the chicken into the crumb mixture, pressing gently to encourage more crumbs to adhere.
- Place chicken onto prepared baking sheet, leaving at least an inch of space between each piece.
- When all of the chicken pieces have been breaded and placed onto the baking sheet, lightly spray the tops of each piece with non-stick cooking spray.
- Once the oven if full heated, place the baking sheet on the middle rack and bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from oven, plate, garnish and serve immediately.