Gluten-Free Thai Sticky Chicken Fingers are crunchy, sticky, and irresistible!
Capital Duh-eyeing over today’s recipe for gluten-free Thai Sticky Chicken Fingers, which are going to be a smash hit at your Super Bowl watching party this weekend (or for dinner tonight, if that’s your bag!)
After learning which teams are going to the Super Bowl this year (and totally guilty of asking Ben for the sole purpose of creating a themed dish for you!) I decided to throw a theme out the window and instead concentrate on creating a dish that you’re going to crave until you physically make then sink your teeth in because that’s exactly how I’d describe Thai Sticky Chicken Fingers – craveable!
Chicken strips cut from regular ol’ chicken breasts are coated in a crunchy, gluten-free breading that’s spiked with chopped sliced almonds for a spectacular taste and crunch that, get this, actually stays on the chicken fingers! How many times have you made homemade chicken fingers or chicken breasts only to have the breading fall right off the dang things after pulling them out of the oven? I’ll show you my secret to making sure it stays firmly in place.
After baking, the chicken strips are tossed in a sticky, salty-sweet, Thai-inspired sauce then placed back in the oven for a few minutes to create a fabulous tacky coating. And good tacky. Not like, blatantly cutting someone in line at the fish market, which I’ve been fuming over for the past four days. COME ON!! Anyway, these chicken fingers are going to knock your socks off. A little sweet, a little heat, and perfectly crunchy and sticky. Grab a wet wipe.
You know what they taste like? My favorite sesame chicken that I used to get at HyVee’s Chinese food counter, except these babies are baked, not fried, and gluten-free. Ben and I ate the first batch straight off the baking sheet, trying to pick the recipe apart for improvements. There were hardly any. The combination of sweet chili sauce, soy sauce, and lime juice is inherently amazing – no nitpicking needed!
I recently heard that pizza is the #1 food people eat during the Super Bowl but seriously, ditch the grease and make a batch of these bad boys instead. You won’t regret it!
Start by pulverizing 1/2 cup sliced almonds in a food processor or chopper until they’re mostly crumby, like the picture below, then add to a shallow dish like an 8×8 baking dish.
This recipe is sponsored by Fisher Nuts, whom I’ve been developing recipes for over the past couple of years. I love using their products because they’re high quality and preservative free, and their sliced almonds are especially amazing in the breading for these Thai Sticky Chicken Fingers. I originally made them with just gluten-free bread crumbs but added almonds into the breading mix after Ben suggested it.
He said, and I quote, “You should put almonds in there. They used to do it at Jimmy’s (the restaurant he worked at in high school,) and they won awards like all the time, or whatever.” Love it. Anyway, they were a great addition for not only amping up the Thai-inspired taste, but also giving the chicken fingers a deep, satisfying crunch.
Next, process 4 cups gluten-free Rice Chex to create 2 cups crumbs OR measure out 2 cups panko bread crumbs. Alternatively, you could add the Rice Chex to a big Ziplock bag then roll over it with a rolling pin. Works just as well!
Add the Chex or panko bread crumbs to the almond crumbs then season lightly with salt and pepper and set aside.
Next get the chicken ready. As I mentioned, I made my own chicken fingers by slicing 1-3/4lbs chicken breasts into 1″ strips. This is a much more economical way to get chicken fingers vs buying chicken tenderloins which usually cost a couple bucks more.
Toss the chicken strips in a bag with 1/2 cup gluten-free or all-purpose flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill gluten-free White Rice Flour,) plus 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper then shake until well coated.
Working in batches, shake any excess flour from the chicken strips then dunk them in a shallow dish with 2 eggs whisked with 2 Tablespoons milk (any kind – I used unsweetened almond milk) then roll in the crumbs, pressing to make sure they stick to the chicken strips. Place the chicken strips on 2 baking sheets that have been lined with foil and sprayed VERY well with nonstick spray.
Now, this is the important part! Place the baking sheets into the refrigerator for 20-30 minutes to give the breading a chance to adhere to the chicken strips. This is what will prevent it from falling off the chicken fingers once they’re baked. Miracle secret revealed!
After the resting period, spray the tops of the chicken strips with nonstick spray or olive oil then bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Flip the strips then spray again, and then place back into the oven, flipping and rotating the baking sheets to ensure even cooking. Bake for 7-9 more minutes or until the chicken fingers are golden brown and cooked through.
Meanwhile, get the sticky Thai sauce cookin’! To a saucepan add 1/2 cup each sweet chili sauce and water, 1/4 cup each brown sugar and gluten-free Tamari or soy sauce, 2 Tablespoons each rice vinegar and lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes, and 1 microplaned or minced garlic clove (and a partridge in a pear tree.) Honestly it sounds like a lot of ingredients but I had 99% of them already on hand. Bring the sauce to a boil then reduce the heat to medium and simmer until slightly thickened and reduced, 5-6 minutes.
Ok I have to show you the sweet chili sauce I used. I found this in the health food section at the grocery store and it is sooooo good! Frank’s also has a version but this is the most homemade-tasting sweet chili sauce I’ve ever had. Definitely not tooth-achingly sweet like some other bottles I’ve tried!
Pour the sauce into a large bowl then dunk the chicken fingers in using tongs until well coated and place back onto the baking sheet. Bake for 4-5 more minutes, watching carefully to avoid burning, then pull ’em out.
Transfer the chicken fingers to a platter then sprinkle with more sliced almonds and 1/4 cup chopped cilantro, and then feast!
Thai Sticky Chicken Fingers
Gluten-Free Thai Sticky Chicken Fingers are crunchy, sticky, and irresistible - perfect for game day!
- 1-3/4lbs chicken breasts cut into 1” thick strips
- 1/2 cup gluten-free or all-purpose flour (see notes for brand used)
- salt and pepper
- 2 eggs
- 2 Tablespoons milk (any kind, I used unsweetened almond milk)
- 4 cups gluten-free Rice Chex pulverized into 2 cups crumbs OR 2 cups panko bread crumbs (dish will not be GF if using panko)
- 3/4 cup sliced almonds, divided
- 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
- For the sauce:
- 1/2 cup sweet chili sauce
- 1/2 cup water
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1/4 cup gluten-free Tamari or soy sauce
- 2 Tablespoons rice vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 glove garlic, microplaned or minced
- 1/4 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (or more or less)
- Line 2 baking sheets with foil then spray very well with nonstick spray and set aside.
- Whisk eggs and milk in a shallow dish. Add 1/2 cup almond slices to a food processor then process until mostly fine crumbs and then pour into another shallow dish. Add Rice Chex to food processor then process until fine crumbs and then add to almond crumbs. (Alternatively you could add Rice Chex to a large Ziplock bag then pulverize by rolling over the bag with a rolling pin.) Season almond + bread crumb mixture lightly with salt and pepper.
- Add flour, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to a large Ziplock bag then toss with chicken fingers until well coated. In batches, shake excess flour from chicken fingers then dunk into egg mixture, and then roll in almond + bread crumb mixture, pressing to make sure crumbs stick. Place onto prepared baking sheets then refrigerate for 20-30 minutes to let breading fully adhere - don’t skip this step or breading will fall off. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Spray tops of chicken fingers with extra virgin olive oil or nonstick spray then bake for 10 minutes. Flip then spray tops of chicken fingers again with nonstick spray. Place back into the oven, flipping and rotating baking sheets, and then bake for 7-9 more minutes or until chicken fingers are golden brown and cooked through.
- Meanwhile combine ingredients for sauce in a small saucepan then bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Lower heat to medium then cook until sauce is reduced and slightly thickened, 5-6 minutes. Pour into a wide bowl then dunk baked chicken fingers into sauce using tongs and place back onto baking sheets. Bake for 4-5 more minutes, watching closely to avoid burning, then serve sprinkled with remaining 1/4 cup sliced almonds and chopped cilantro.
This recipe is courtesy of Iowa Girl Eats, http://iowagirleats.com.
Crunchy, sweet, salty, STICKY – you’re going to love these chicken fingers on game day or any day! Serve with rice and steamed broccoli to make it a meal or place on a platter to nibble on throughout the game. Enjoy!!