Chicken Fingers with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce

I cook kid-friendly dinners five days per week, because my work provides me with a substantial free lunch. Today, I tested another kid-only recipe; chicken finger.  While this is the easiest nugget recipe yet, it lacks spices (I mean literally has no spices). The recipe calls for cooking in just 1 cup of oil. While it makes for easy cleanup, it is also not enough oil for them to cook evenly. I used dutch oven, which had higher sides than a regular skillet, and made for less of a mess on my stovetop (plus I used my splatter screen). 2-1/2 stars. Healthier than McDonalds, but no tastier.

Shallow fried chicken

Shallow fried chicken

I also made Chris Kimball’s sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce, but found that it was disproportionally sweet. The rice vinegar I don’t think made a big enough difference to justify it’s cost over plain white vinegar (or a combination of white and cider vinegar). Be sure to start the sauce before nuggets (or during brining). I didn’t start it in time and ended up putting the sauce in the freezer for a few minutes to obtain the proper serving temperature. I modified the recipe below to correct the problems and 2-1/2 stars for the sauce.


  1. Shallow frying means less even browning. but only 1 cup of oil is really nice. Lack of brining and spices made this only average. I guess if you
  2. Optional, 3 tablespoons sesame seeds, 1 lemon, cut into wedges
  3. Dipping sauces can be covered and refrigerated for up to 1 week.
  4. 12″ heavy-bottomed skillet but I’d recommend a Dutch oven
  5. Each 12-oz chicken breasts made about 12 nuggets.

Rating: 3-stars.
Cost: $5 for 2-pounds.
How much work? Low.
How big of a mess? Medium.
Started: 4:45 pm  Ready:  6:00 pm.

Chris Kimball’s original chicken finger recipe is here, and his recipe for the Dipping Sauce is here.  The descriptions of how I cooked it today are given below.

Chicken Fingers Recipe:

1-lb boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1/2 cup flour
1-1/2 cups panko
1 large egg
1-1/2 teaspoon plus 1 cup vegetable oil
Salt and ground black pepper

  1. Start making the sauce before you begin the chicken. Set an oven rack to the middle of your oven and preheat to 200-degrees.
  2. Trim away the white and yellow fat from your chicken, and use paper towels to pat the chicken dry. Cut it crosswise into 1/2″ wide slices.
  3. Set out three pie plates, adding flour to the first, and Panko to the second. In the third pie plate, add 1 egg, 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, 1 teaspoon table salt, and 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.
  4. In batches of a few pieces at a time, dredge the chicken in flour, and shake off any excess. Use tongs to coat the chicken in egg mixture, allowing any extra mixture to drip back into the pie plate. Finally, put in panko and press the crumbs so that they adhere to the chicken. Put the breaded chicken on wire rack while you repeat with the rest of the chicken fingers.
  5. Add 1 cup of vegetable oil to Dutch oven. Pre-heat over medium-high burner for about 7 minutes until it reaches 350 degrees. Fry the chicken in two batches for about 2 minutes per side, until the chicken is golden brown and crispy.
  6. When move, move to a clean baking sheet lined with paper towels, and keep warm in oven while you fry the second batch.
  7. Serve immediately with dipping sauce, or with lemon wedges.

Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce:

Pinch red pepper flakes (1/16 teaspoon)
2 teaspoons light brown sugar
1/2″ piece fresh ginger, cut in half (1/8 teaspoon ground ginger)
1/2 cup rice vinegar
1/2 cup apricot preserves or jam
Salt and ground black pepper

  1. Add all ingredients in a medium saucepan and put over medium burner. Bring up to a boil , then reduce to medium-low and allow to simmer for 10 minutes. It should have slightly thickened.
  2. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve into bowl. Press down on solids using a rubber spatula to yield as much sauce as possible. Season with a pinch of salt and pepper according to your taste.
  3. Allow sauce to cool, maybe putting it in the refrigerator depending on how quickly you need it.
  4. Makes about 12-oz, and any extra sauce can be kept refrigerated for about 1 week.

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