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This Honey Chipotle Almond-Crusted Chicken Strips are a heart-healthy version of fried chicken that are baked at home in your oven.
Ready in 25 minutes
There are no less than three really delicious fried chicken places within a 10 minute drive of my house. I’m not talking KFC here (trust me, there is absolutely no one who lives in Kentuckiana that actually thinks KFC is good fried chicken). I’m talking restaurants that pan-fry their chicken in giant, old, well-seasoned cast-iron skillets and serve it up family style with giant bowls of mashed potatoes, Southern-style green beans, and chicken ‘n’ dumplins. And probably with some biscuits on the side. And you wash it all down with a big glass of tea that’s so sweet it’ll rot your teeth.
It’s the kind of restaurant that you only go to once a year because you feel so uncomfortably full after you’re done eating that it takes a whole 365 days to recover and want to sign up to do it all over again. It’s masochism, really.
This is not that fried chicken.
I think I’ve only made traditional pan-fried chicken at home once, and while it was delicious, it was also time-consuming, messy, and, honestly, kinda annoying to sit there and babysit pieces of chicken while they bathed in oil. I much prefer doing a bake-fried method when I’m craving fried chicken. Not only is it 100% easier, but it’s also a much healthier option for everyday eating. My family’s standard baked-fried chicken recipe uses whole grain cereal to get its crunchy texture—and it’s awesome. It’s a tried and true method that has been gracing our dinner table since I was a kid.
But I have a second, equally awesome method for making crispy, flavorful “fried” chicken in the oven, and that’s the heart-healthy almond.
The great thing about crusting your chicken in almonds is that you aren’t just adding something for texture (which, is awesome, because almonds are crunchy by nature and keep that crunch in the oven) or flavor (the almonds toast in the oven, which adds a beautiful slow-roasted flavor to the chicken), but because it adds a ton of nutrition to the chicken, too! You’re getting healthy fats, lean protein, good-for-you fiber, and a ton of vitamins and minerals added to the “batter” of your chicken. Almond-crusted chicken is like chicken plus!
Using flavored almonds also makes seasoning the almond-crusted chicken a snap. I chose to use one of Blue Diamond Almond’s new honey flavors—Honey Roasted Chipotle. It gave the chicken a slightly sweet smoky pepper flavor that was out-of-this-world! And no need to pull out all the spices and herbs in your pantry—the flavor is built right in. That’s a heck of a lot easier than KFC’s 11 herbs and spices. Serve the strips up with a honey mustard sauce for dipping and a nice cold beer, and you’ve got a no-fuss, super delicious weeknight dinner.
If the honey-chipotle flavor is a little bit too adventurous to serve to your kids, you can easily make these kid-friendly by subbing in all-natural raw almonds for the flavored ones, plus adding in salt and black pepper to taste. The plain almonds still add tons of flavor and crunch to the strips, without any “weird” flavors that kiddos might reject.