Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside: Fried chicken is Southern comfort food at its finest. I didn’t fully appreciate it until I visited North Carolina for the first time a few years ago. My boyfriend’s family lives near Wilmington, where even the regional fast-food version is amazing. I’d definitely seen the light, but living in Minnesota, the fried chicken options are a bit more limited. Enter this Cajun Oven-Fried Chicken.
I mean, how good does that look? While no one would confuse it with the real deal, it is WAY more weeknight- (not to mention waistline-) friendly than the deep-fried version. And the cleanup is so much easier, too. Ready to give it a try?
How To Make Fried Chicken in the Oven: Step-by-Step
Step 1: Decide if you want to use boneless chicken breasts, tenders or bone-in chicken. I usually have chicken breasts on hand but kid-friendly tenders or bone-in chicken also work with this recipe. Just be sure to adjust your cooking time accordingly (less time for tenders, more for bone-in).
Step 2: Place chicken and buttermilk in a large bowl and toss to coat. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes, but no longer than 8 hours. It sounds strange but the buttermilk bath is key for juicy, flavorful chicken.
Step 3: Heat oven to 450°F. Place an ovenproof rack on top of a rimmed cookie sheet and coat liberally with cooking spray. Set aside. Place egg whites in one shallow bowl (pie plates work great) and bread crumbs in another. Transfer chicken to large plate, letting buttermilk drip back into bowl. Discard buttermilk.
Step 4: Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Rub Cajun seasoning on both sides of chicken to give it a little extra kick. Now you’re ready for the fun part!
Step 5: Dip chicken into egg whites, letting excess drip back into dish. Coat chicken in bread crumbs, pressing to adhere. Lightly spray both sides of chicken pieces with cooking spray; place on rack.
Step 6: Bake 25 to 30 minutes, turning once halfway through cooking, until lightly browned and chicken juices are clear when center of thickest part is cut (165°F). If desired, broil 6 inches from heating element for 30 seconds to 1 minute for an extra crispy coating.
To really take this un-fried chicken over the top, serve with 2-ingredient dipping sauces (honey mustard is so much better when you mix it yourself). And there you have it, folks: finger-lickin’ chicken, minus the messy frying part.