Pecan-Crusted Chicken Strips for Your Oven or Air Fryer

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Homemade dairy-free chicken tenders are a healthy but fun meal we enjoy often. Once in a while, they have the tenders on sale at stores like Sprouts. But usually, I just buy natural boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale, and slice them about 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick into strips. I often use the double dip technique, but these dairy-free pecan-crusted chicken strips add another element of crunch, flavor, and nutrition. You can bake them in the oven or your air fryer. And while they cook, whip up the easy dairy-free “buttermilk” dip that’s included with this recipe!

Dairy-Free Pecan-Crusted Chicken Strips Recipe for Your Oven or Air Fryer. Includes gluten-free and egg-free options, and a dairy-free "buttermilk" dip recipe.This Baked Pecan-Crusted Chicken Strips recipe with photo was originally shared with us by AmericanPecan.com, but we have adapted a few of the ingredients and directions.

Special Diet Notes: Pecan-Crusted Chicken Strips

By ingredients, this recipe is dairy-free / non-dairy, optionally gluten-free, peanut-free, and soy-free.

  • For egg-free pecan-crusted chicken strips, you can substitute a generous 1/2 cup aquafaba (or as needed) for the eggs. No whisking required.
Baked Pecan-Crusted Chicken Strips with Dairy-Free Ranch Dip
 
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Cook time
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The nuttiness of pecans lends extra crunch and flavor to these healthier homemade chicken tenders.
Author:
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: American
Serves: 6 servings
Ingredients
Baked Pecan-Crusted Chicken Strips
  • 2 cups raw pecan halves or pieces
  • 1 cup panko or gluten-free bread crumbs
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon + ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, or gluten-free flour blend
  • Black pepper, as desired
  • 3 large eggs (see post above for egg-free option)
  • 1½ to 2 pounds chicken breast tenders or chicken strips
Dairy-Free Buttermylk Ranch Dip
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup unsweetened dairy-free milk beverage
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill
  • ½ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat you oven to 425°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. In a food processor or spice grinder (in batch), pulse the pecans until they are relatively fine, like breadcrumbs.
  3. In a shallow bowl, whisk together the pecans, panko, garlic powder, 1 teaspoon salt, and cayenne.
  4. In a second shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, remaining ½ teaspoon salt, and black pepper.
  5. In a third shallow bowl, whisk the eggs until smooth.
  6. Working with one chicken tender at a time, roll it in the flour and tap off excess, dip it in the eggs, and then roll it in the pecan mixture. You can double roll and press it in to ensure it's completely coated. Set the chicken on your prepared baking sheet.
  7. Place the sheet on the center rack in your oven and bake the chicken for 15 minutes, flip, and bake for 5 minutes more, or until golden brown and cooked through.
Dairy-Free Buttermylk Ranch Dip
  1. In a small bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, milk beverage, lemon juice, parsley, onion powder, garlic powder, dill, and salt until smooth.
  2. Cover and refrigerate the dip until ready to serve. It will keep for up to 1 week in the refrigerator.
Notes
Air Fryer Option: Place the coated tenders in a single layer in your air fryer. Cook them at 400°F for 5 to 6 minutes per side, or until cooked through and golden and crispy on the outside.

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About Author

Alisa is the founder of GoDairyFree.org, Food Editor for Allergic Living magazine, and author of the best-selling dairy-free book, Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living, and the new cookbook, Eat Dairy Free: Your Essential Cookbook for Everyday Meals, Snacks, and Sweets. Alisa is also a professional recipe creator and product ambassador for the natural food industry.

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