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The Best Un-fried Fried Chicken

In the South, fried chicken is not just a favorite, it's a staple. Who can resist the crispy-on-the-outside, juicy-on-the-inside, flavorful entree that pairs perfectly with other traditional Southern dishes like greens and mashed potatoes? Homemade, made-from-scratch fried chicken is truly delicious, but it is also quite the undertaking. I've made homemade fried chicken, but just once, due to this lengthy process. From separating a whole chicken into the individual pieces to brining it overnight to hand-breading it to deep frying it in a pot of hot oil, it is no small task, and it is sure to make a mess. Not to mention that fried chicken really isn't on my list of foods I want to be eating everyday, but there's no denying that it is finger-licking good.

So naturally, I have tried to come up with an alternative to traditional fried chicken that is less time consuming, less messy, and healthier. Many recipes I've tried simply don't get crispy enough, others produce dry chicken, and still others are lacking in the flavor department. I discovered, in the process of my recipe testing, that the key to solving all of these problems lies in the breading. Bread crumbs alone can yield a soggy baked "fried" chicken, while using an egg wash alone with any breading on chicken breast can leave the meat dry. However, combining a coating of mayo with a breading made from a mix of panko bread crumbs and kettle cooked potato chips with plenty of seasoning on chicken thighs, results in an oven-fried chicken that is not only flavorful, but also perfectly crispy-on-the-outside while remaining nice and juicy on the inside.

Check out my full recipe below and test it out for yourself. I think you'll find that second to traditional fried chicken, it is the best winner-winner chicken dinner that can come together in just 40 minutes. Enjoy! 

The Best Un-Fried Fried Chicken:


1.5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs

1/2 cup heart-healthy oil-based (made with canola or olive oil) mayo

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon hot sauce (more if you like spicier chicken)

1 cup kettle baked chips, crushed

1 cup Panko bread crumbs

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

3/4 teaspoon roasted garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon black pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with aluminum foil and place a cooling rack on top of the foil on the pan. Spray generously with cooking spray. Mix mayo and next 3 ingredients (through hot sauce) in a medium bowl until well combined. Add chicken thighs to mayo mixture, turning to coat each thigh throroughly with the mixture. Set aside. Wash hands. In a shallow bowl, toss together the chips, bread crumbs, and next 6 ingredients (through black pepper) to form the breading. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, toss in breading mixture, pressing chicken into breading mixture on each side so that breading mixture completely sticks to the mayo mixture. Place breaded chicken on prepared pan and wash hands before lightly spraying each piece of chicken with cooking spray. Bake for 30 minutes, flip chicken over, and bake for 10 more minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and breading is crispy and golden-brown. Yield: 6 servings.

Nutrition facts per serving: 250 calories, 9g fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, 110mg cholesterol, 600mg sodium, 17g carbs, 2g fiber, 2g sugars, 24g protein.