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Baked Chicken Fingers with Apple Cider Sweet-and-Sour Sauce

baked chicken fingers with apple cider sweet and sour sauce in a bowl with a glass on the side

These Baked Chicken Fingers with Apple Cider Sweet-and-Sour Sauce are super crispy with a hint of spice and appreciated by kids and adults alike. Dip the crispy chicken fingers into the tangy-sweet apple cider sauce or use your favorite dipping sauce.

Ingredients

Scale

For the chicken fingers:

  • 1/2 lb raw chicken tenders
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

For the breading:

  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1/2 cup (40g) panko breadcrumbs, whole wheat, or regular
  • 1/4 cup (40g) cornmeal
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

For the apple cider sweet and sour sauce:

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) apple cider
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup (50g) packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon ketchup
  • 3 teaspoons whole wheat or all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

To serve:

  • 1/2 lime, cut into 3 wedges

Instructions

  1. Brine the chickenoptional. Place the chicken in a gallon plastic bag or glass container and add 1/4 teaspoon salt. Using your hands, rub the chicken tenders until the salt is evenly distributed across all of them. Zip the bag or cover the container and place the chicken in the refrigerator for 6-48 hours.
  2. Prepare the oven. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper and place a cooling rack (affiliate link) on top. 
  3. Make the breading. In a shallow bowl or storage container, beat the egg and egg white. In a separate shallow bowl or storage container, combine the panko breadcrumbs, cornmeal, salt, garlic powder (affiliate link), and red pepper flakes.
  4. Coat the chicken. If you didn’t brine the chicken, sprinkle the chicken with salt on both sides. Set up an assembly line with the chicken tenders, eggs, panko mixture, and prepared baking sheet. Dip each chicken tender into the eggs, shake off any excess, and then thoroughly coat it in the panko mix. Place each breaded chicken tender on the cooling rack (affiliate link) arranged in the baking sheet, leaving 1/2-inch space between pieces.
  5. Bake the chicken tenders. Bake for approximately 25 minutes, turning once at the 15-minute mark, until the chicken is lightly browned and crispy on the outside and fully cooked to 165°F (73°C) interior temperature.
  6. Prepare the apple cider sweet-and-sour sauce. Meanwhile, in a 3-quart saucepan, whisk together the apple cider, vinegar, brown sugar, ketchup, flour, and salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and whisk until the mixture thickens, about 5 minutes.
  7. Serve. Serve the chicken tenders hot with apple cider sweet-and-sour sauce and lime wedges.

Equipment

Notes

Recipe inspired by Erin French’s Sweet and Sour Apple Cider in The Lost Kitchen.

DO AHEAD. The Sweet-and-Sour Apple Cider Sauce will keep in the refrigerator for at least a week. 

STORAGE. The Chicken Fingers are best eaten immediately. They can be kept warm in a 200°F oven if serving for a party appetizer. 

Nutrition

Keywords: apple cider sweet and sour sauce, crispy baked chicken tenders