Sometimes you just need a chicken finger. You know?

I do know.

In fact I know allll about that. Not because I need them, but because my husband possesses the palate of a toddler (seriously) and often screams “chicken fingersssss!” when we go to a fancy schmancy restaurant with beef tongue on the menu. That would be why I have no less than five (six? seven?) chicken finger recipes here for the taking. I’m giving it all up.

My earliest memory of kid food just so happened to be on a Friday. Well, every Friday. Fridays were the BEST. Just listen.

Each Friday my mom and aunt would take my cousin, me and Mother Lovett shopping. And when I say shopping, I mean like all day shopping. Literally. We would start out with lunch at Isaly’s which I’m pretty sure consisted of a ton of mac and cheese and grilled cheese and other kid stuff. Then we’d head to the mall around noon… and stay there all day. No really… all day. We got locked inside a few times. Once, Mother Lovett got locked inside and had to go out another entrance, crawl up a big grassy bank and make her way into another parking lot. This was at age 75 after like, a massive heart attack. Typical.

Oh wait, look – something relevant to this blog post. Here’s a blurry picture of my super simple set up for chicken fingers.

These are EASY. Do this.


Mother Lovett would prance around trying on Alfred Dunner sweaters, we’d spend hours in Limited Too and then we’d get some pralines and cream ice cream at Baskin Robbins. Among other important things.

While this was happening my grandpa would be watching the boys, and by watching I really mean he would sit in a big chair and smoke a pipe, chew tobacco, and watch my brothers and cousin beat the living daylights out of each other playing knee hockey while wearing tight red sweat pants with elastic on the bottoms.

Then they’d eat happy meals.

We actually shopped ’til we dropped. Then we’d go home and meet up with everyone and consume massive amounts of pizza. Mother Lovett would swear she wasn’t hungry and then proceed to pick pepperoni off everyone’s slices and steal the boys’ cheeseburgers when they weren’t looking.

And then, as my family loves to remind me, I went and ruined it for everyone by entering the first grade and having to go to school until – gasp – 3PM. This desperately cut out a good four or five hours of shopping time and made the day soooo stressful for everyone. Obviously.

Hence… why I love Fridays. And I think I had a way to tie this all together – you know, chicken fingers, a 38-year old toddler’s palate, Fridays that happened in my life 25 years ago – but I forget. I’ve babbled long enough that even I’m sick of me. (Weird.)


Maple Mustard Buttermilk Crusted Chicken Tenders

serves 2

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders

1 cup buttermilk

1/2 cup pure maple syrup

1/4 cup dijon mustard

4 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

2 cups panko bread crumbs

1/2 cup regular seasoned bread crumbs

1/4 cup whole wheat flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground mustard

In a bowl, whisk together buttermilk, maple syrup, mustard and garlic. Add chicken to a baking dish and pour buttermilk mixture over top to coat. Let soak for 4-6 hours, or overnight.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Spray the rack with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, combine panko, bread crumbs, flour, salt, pepper and ground mustard.

Remove each chicken tender from the buttermilk and dip in breadcrumbs, gently pressing to adhere. Place on the wire rack. Spray each with a mist of olive oil or nonstick spray. Bake for 10 minutes, remove from over, gently flip and mist with spray, then bake for 10-12 minutes more. Eat!


Maple Honey Mustard

1/3 cup dijon mustard

1 tablespoon maple syrup

2 teaspoons honey

Whisk ingredients together and serve.

P.S. This chicken tastes like, well… chicken. But REALLY good chicken. I swear.

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108 Responses to “Maple Mustard Buttermilk Crusted Chicken Tenders.”

  1. #
    Katie — February 17, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

    I want chicken fingers for lunch!!!!! (toddler me)

    Also, I think your mom should have let you skip school on Fridays to continue shopping at lunchtime. I mean really….can you remember what you learned on those Fridays at school? Cursive? Long division? Nothing as important as learning life lessons with Mother Lovett about persevering (shopping) after a heart attack at 75. That’s important stuff right there.


  2. #
    Kerry — February 17, 2012 @ 1:40 pm

    Those look delicious! I love your stories, btw! You really are a great story teller and Mother Lovett really sounds like she was such a fun grandmother to have!


  3. #
    Karriann — February 17, 2012 @ 2:00 pm

    Excuse me while I wipe my drool on my keyboard… ;)

    “Spice it Up”


  4. #
    Georgia @ The Comfort of Cooking — February 17, 2012 @ 2:49 pm

    I think my dinner plans for tonight just changed… YUM!


  5. #
    stephchows — February 17, 2012 @ 3:06 pm

    MMM and now I’m craving these for dinner! Delicious!


  6. #
    Margarita — February 17, 2012 @ 3:20 pm

    Everything about this chicken and dip is just so so so good.


  7. #
    Adrianna from A Cozy Kitchen — February 17, 2012 @ 3:30 pm

    OMG! I just fell in love. Buttermilk chicken tenders is so genius!


  8. #
    Theresa — February 17, 2012 @ 3:45 pm

    I think I might have to try these…soon…very soon…CHICKEN TENDERS!!! *SQUEEEE* :)


  9. #
    Hilliary @Happily Ever Healthy — February 17, 2012 @ 3:54 pm

    I love your mother lovett stories! These chicken fingers look delicious! I have not had chicken fingers in a long time! I think I need to change that and make this recipe!


  10. #
    Ginger — February 17, 2012 @ 4:06 pm

    Please don’t ever stop posting recipes of chicken fingers. I am in LOVE with homemade chicken fingers.


  11. #
    Cassie — February 17, 2012 @ 4:14 pm

    Love the lighting in these photos. And yes, I do know, sometimes you just need a (seven) chicken strips.


  12. #
    Brianne — February 17, 2012 @ 4:15 pm

    I have a wheat allergy, so I try to not eat chicken fingers too often. But now I totally want some. It might be time to get creative with some corn flakes, or try gluten-free bread crumbs for the first time.


    • Jen — February 18th, 2012 @ 7:46 pm

      Hey Brianne, I usually do my chicken fingers with crushed cornflakes simply mixed with a little paprika, salt and pepper. When I want to change it up, I go for one of Jessica’s recipes!


  13. #
    Renee — February 17, 2012 @ 4:49 pm

    Holy monkey these look delicious! I love sweet and spicy and crunchy. Yum!


  14. #
    Natalie @ Cooking for My Kids — February 17, 2012 @ 4:53 pm

    What a super-sweet post. I love reading about special child-hood memories. And, your story-telling was so good that I actually pictures you guys shopping and eating pizza. Love it!

    Oh, and the chicken fingers look amazing, too! Happy Friday!


  15. #
    CHRISTOPHER — February 17, 2012 @ 5:40 pm

    I need to find those red sweatpants…they probably still fit too


    • Lacy Ann — February 20th, 2012 @ 10:18 am

      those sweatpants hurt people eyes!

      This post warmed my heart and made me hungry for a fish filet “best ive ever had,” grande pizza, a steak hoagie and a happy meal.

      and some party mix.


      • Lacy Ann — February 20th, 2012 @ 10:19 am

        did you write CHRISTOPHER in all caps to make it look like im screaming it?

  16. #
    Joy — February 17, 2012 @ 7:13 pm

    this looks really so so good.


  17. #
    Erin — February 17, 2012 @ 7:25 pm

    Today actually feels like a chicken0finger kind of day. Now if only I could find someone else to cook.


  18. #
    Jamily — February 17, 2012 @ 8:38 pm

    Just made this for dinner, so yummy!


  19. #
    Quiche-ing Queen — February 17, 2012 @ 8:58 pm

    My 28 year old 2 year old would love these! Oh my! Friday’s always take me back to being a kid and my mama laying out a blanket on the floor, setting us up with snacks, and letting us watch T.G.I.F programs all night. Bliss. I want to make these for my family and have a Friday TV night. Can’t wait to try these. Yummy!


  20. #
    MikeVFMK — February 17, 2012 @ 9:58 pm

    chicken fingers. oh how i love chicken fingers. not that rubbery, flakey, knock off frozen stuff. stuff like this! i think i`ll make them this weekend with those biscuits. It`s as southern as i`ll ever get. And i`m okay with that.


  21. #
    april — February 17, 2012 @ 11:40 pm

    I shed a tear reading this! I wish I could go back to my childhood Fridays! Everyday (not just Friday) my “baby sitter” who were my adopted grandparents, would have. lunch ready as soon as the credits for the price is right were running. Friday was homemade flap jacks with chocolate gravy day. Flap jacks as big as the plate smothered in chocolate gravy & buttermilk biscuits to lap up any leftovers! It doesn’t get much better. I know it sounds like an odd thing, chocolate gravy & flap jacks but TRY IT! You won’t be sorry! I promise!


  22. #
    Kiran @ — February 18, 2012 @ 1:21 am

    I am making this for dinner tomorrow. But I won’t promise we would be able to wait until dinner.


  23. #
    Miranda @ Biting Life — February 18, 2012 @ 2:07 am

    These look awesome! I love the fact that they’re baked instead of fries. Chicken fingers are my favorite nostalgic “kid” food. Except maybe mac ‘n cheese… that’s a tough call.


  24. #
    Caroline — February 18, 2012 @ 8:32 am

    I love all your recipes (may I reblog the one about tilapia and kiwi salsa to my blog on Monday?), but especially I love how your personality shines through in what you write and that we always, always have a good laugh.
    Just one question tho’, from someone who doesn’t live in the States, what are chicken “tenders”? Are they just chicken breasts, or the little fillet of meat along the bone under the breast?


  25. #
    Lisa — February 18, 2012 @ 10:05 am

    I subscribe to quite a few blogs, and I usually take one look at the recipe title and if I don’t like the sound of it I usually delete it right from my inbox without reading. I just wanted to say that your blog is different. I read it not only for the beautiful picures and wonderful recipes but for the hilarious stories you tell. Case in point today’s recipe, I am a vegetarian and have no interest in eating chicken but I read your story about Mother Lovett’s Alfred Dunner sweaters and almost died of laughter! My father and I take my gmom out shopping for those sweaters twice a year. Keep up the good work, your blog is fantastic!!! :)


    • Jessica — February 18th, 2012 @ 10:17 am

      Thank you so much Lisa. You have no idea how much that means to me. Seriously. This blog is so much more to me than recipes and food and that is exactly what I hope others get. Thanks for making my day!


  26. #
    Alyssa — February 18, 2012 @ 10:14 am

    Are you 38?? I don’t think so, but if you are, you don’t look it!!


    • Jessica — February 18th, 2012 @ 10:16 am

      Hahah no – my husband is. ;)


  27. #
    Lea Ann — February 18, 2012 @ 8:13 pm

    I’m loving the flavors in this recipe. Bookmarked! Chicken tenders are so easy to make and so tender and scrumptious. Thanks for a new tender recipe.


  28. #
    Jacquelyn {The 20 Something Society} — February 18, 2012 @ 8:31 pm

    I want!


  29. #
    Lauren — February 20, 2012 @ 11:08 am

    I had a couple quick questions…I made these last night with fat free buttermilk (that’s all my store had) and I also had a TON of breadcrumb mixture left…I even made 13 tenders with it! I noticed that it was lacking salt after I cooked them. Would it be safe with equal portions of breadcrumb and Panko, should I salt my tenders before dipping in breadcrumbs, or did the buttermilk have something to do with it lacking salt? Thanks!!


    • Jessica — February 20th, 2012 @ 12:09 pm

      The leftover breadcrumbs may have been due to the fat free buttermilk – first, how long did you soak them? And second, when you removed them from the buttermilk, was there a thick coating on them? I’ve never used fat free buttermilk (I’ve actually never seen it, besides making it at home myself!), but with lowfat or whole, after 4-6 hours of soaking, there should be a pretty thick coat of buttermilk on the tenders when you remove them, so you can press a lot of crumbs onto the tenders. I’m wondering if the thinner fat free buttermilk wasn’t a thick enough coating? Not sure, but – did you add the salt to the breadcrumbs? If so, it might have just been that you had so many crumbs left that the salt wasn’t enough? The buttermilk has nothing to do with the salt, so feel free to add more! The ration of panko to breadcrumbs is up to you – we like more panko because it makes them much more crunchy!


  30. #
    Tracy — February 20, 2012 @ 9:46 pm

    These look fab! Can’t wait to try ’em!


  31. #
    Alison (Fueling for Fitness) — February 21, 2012 @ 5:50 pm

    I don’t even like chicken fingers but I’m dying to eat this!?!?! What is going on????



  32. #
    Tracy — February 22, 2012 @ 10:12 am

    Just wanted to let you know that I made these last night for my family. They were a hit. I put three pieces on my highly critical 10 year old son’s plate and he ate an additional 2 more pieces. THAT NEVER HAPPENS. Recipe is a keeper- Thanks!


  33. #
    Megly — February 23, 2012 @ 2:40 pm

    Hello! I’m hoping you can help. I put the tenders in buttermilk to soak this morning before work, then found out I’m busy tonight and won’t be able to have these for dinner. Should I just cook them when I get home tonight and bring them for lunch tomorrow? Will they get soggy in the fridge? I’m so bummed :( any ideas?? Thanks in advance- I love your blog and all your inventive recipes!!


    • Jessica — February 23rd, 2012 @ 2:50 pm

      Wait – do you want them for dinner or lunch? If I were you, I’d wait until tomorrow night and cook them when you can eat them fresh! Soaking longer is fine. If you want them for lunch, then I would cook tonight but they won’t be *quite* as good reheated the second time.


  34. #
    Ashley — March 9, 2012 @ 9:40 pm

    One of your best yet! These were ah-mazing. Linking back to them on Sunday. :)


  35. #
    sydney — March 17, 2012 @ 3:42 pm

    I’m making these tonight


  36. #
    Alessandra — March 19, 2012 @ 2:37 pm

    My tenders are currently soaking in the fridge right now! I’m so excited to put them in the oven tonight. Question, why do you cook them on a wire rack? If you’re flipping them anyway, could you bake them without the rack? I’m just curious. SO excited to munch on these tonight. You’re blog is the best! (but you know that)


  37. #
    Patricia Miller — March 20, 2012 @ 7:04 am

    I made these this weekend. They were SO good! I loved the dipping sauce. Thanks so much for sharing!



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