Marinated in buttermilk and dipped in a spicy nut crust, Pecan Crusted Healthy Fried Chicken is moist on the inside and deliciously crunchy on the outside.
Here’s a recipe that transforms chicken tenders that you just throw together so the kids will eat something, to a meal that adults will also love and I daresay this is company worthy too. Pecan Crusted Healthy Fried Chicken is ready with almost no effort.
Marinated in buttermilk, the chicken is guaranteed to be moist on the inside while smoky spices and crushed pecans add a punch of crunch on the outside. Frying in healthy oils for a short period of time is the healthy part of this fried chicken recipe. Good oil options here are light olive oil, (not extra virgin), avocado or expeller pressed canola oil (non-GMO).
Plan ahead to allow time for the chicken to marinade, plus after dredging the meat, refrigerating for an additional 30 minutes ensures the crust will adhere during frying and helps to infuse the spices into the chicken. Great served picnic style for adults and kids alike. The ingredient list seems daunting at first glance, but the spice mix can be put together anytime in advance and there’s nothing complicated or fussy about the final preparation.
Pecan Crusted Healthy Fried Chicken is excellent when reheated, so feel free to fry the day before serving! Cook’s note: If you prefer to ditch the frying step and prepare this dish in the oven, the flavor is still excellent, but the crust is a little softer and not as golden as pictured here. My family likes this meal served family-style, dumped on newspaper in the center of the table for easy, finger-licking noshing.
Pecan Crusted Healthy Fried Chicken
- 6 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into tenders or strips
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 2 cups raw pecans
- 1 ⅓ cups flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Oil for frying
- Place chicken 6 pieces in a bowl, cover with 1 ½ cups buttermilk and marinade for 30 minutes at room temperature.
- In a food processor, pulse 2 cups pecans, 1 ⅓ cups flour, 1 ½ teaspoons salt, ½ teaspoon garlic powder, ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon oregano, ½ teaspoon thyme, ¼ teaspoon onion powder, and ¼ teaspoon cayenne until the nuts are roughly chopped.
- Transfer the pecan mixture to a bowl and, one at a time, coat the chicken pieces thoroughly.
- Set the coated pieces on a baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for an additional 30 minutes.
- Fill a cast-iron or heavy non-stick skillethalfway with oil and heat over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking.
- Cook the chicken 2 to 3 minutes per side, or until dark golden.
- Drain the chicken on paper towels and serve hot.
Recipe adapted from Chef Lee Bailey in O Magazine’s Cookbook.
shawny h says
Delicious! This could be a meal I would buy at a fancy restaurant! I made this exactly as written and it was fantastic!
abby h says
Delish and easy! Even my 12 year old loved it! Used a rolling pin to crush the pecans! Next time I’ll use half the salt and double the pecan mixture. Thanks for a great recipe we loved it!
autumn k says
This was very tasty, not to mention quick, easy, and healthy! substituted gluten free flour and it worked beautifully. Definitely a keeper!
Kevin | KevinIsCooking says
Buttermilk does the trick, right? Been using it for years, THE best marinade for chicken. It gets the meat so tender. Fantastic recipe and photos here. 🙂
Kevin, you are so right. I also soak onion slices in buttermilk before dredging and frying for skinny onion rings. Adds just the right brightness to the onions. My grandpa used to drink a tall glass of cold buttermilk with steak dinner and when I was a little kid, that just didn’t work for me at all :D. I still don’t drink it straight but what a wonderful marinade and compliment to many recipes. Thanks for stopping by, my friend. Have a glorious weekend! p.s. I’m getting me some salmon filets tomorrow to make your smoked salmon!
mila furman says
Ohhh yummy!!! I could so see these being delicious even served cold! Yum!!!