Need a simple, healthier version of crispy Fried Chicken that is just a bold with flavor? This recipe is for you! Quick to make, crunch on the outside, moist on the inside with great flavors of coconut, pecans and corn flakes!
School is starting again this week and my mind is wandering toward creating some new ‘fast and flavorful’ dishes for my weeknight dinner arsenal. Recently we were taking a walk past a place serving fried chicken and one of my kids commented on missing fried chicken (buying it prepared) since becoming gluten free. We don’t really eat deep fried foods often (though enjoyed some exceptions this year with Black Eyed Pea Fritters with Hot Sauce, Churros and Mini Jalapeno Corn Dogs) and I wanted to create something with the crust of fried chicken but baked instead.
Realistically our school year meal routine has to be easy. Recipes requiring low preparation yielding high reward are what I seek. For this recipe I prepared buttermilk brine with sweet onion, garlic and something I’m mad about, Sweet Chile Sauce. Soaking chicken in buttermilk before frying is a traditional method of tenderizing the chicken. The chicken is then dredged in a mixture of crushed cornflakes (gluten free for me), unsweetened shredded coconut and pecans and baked!
The chicken is crispy and crunchy on the outside and fabulously moist on the inside. The mixture of the cornflakes, coconut and pecans make a perfect crust with unexpected flavors. It is the perfect substitute for fried chicken, healthier without the oil and completely delicious! Though it marinates for 24-48 hours, the actual preparation is simple and quick. I prepared the marinade in the afternoon of one day and baked the chicken the following evening. The entire preparation took about 20 minutes leaving lots of time for other things! This is a sure hit for Back-to-School or anytime an unexpected dish is desired and no one has to know how little effort it takes!
Cornflake-Coconut Crusted Baked Chicken is crunchy and crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. It is a perfect, healthier replacement for fried chicken, full of unexpected flavor. The chicken is marinated in a tenderizing buttermilk brine and should be left there for 24 hours, and can be left for 48 hours. I suggest placing the chicken in the marinade the day before planning to cook and serve it.
- 2 cups Buttermilk
- 1/2 cup Sweet Onion, chopped
- 3 small Garlic Cloves, chopped
- 3 tablespoons Sweet Chili Sauce
- 4-5 bone-in Chicken Thighs (1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds), rinsed
- 4-5 Chicken Drumsticks, (1 1/4-1 1/2 pounds), rinsed
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2 cups Cornflakes cereal, finely crushed to make 1 cup (gluten-free or regular)
- 1/2 cup Finely Shredded Coconut, unsweetened
- 1/2 cup Pecans, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
- 1 teaspoon Black Pepper, freshly ground
- 24-48 hours before cooking the chicken: Combine the buttermilk, sweet onion, garlic and sweet chile sauce in a gallon zipper plastic bag. Close and shake to combine. Place chicken in the bag, sqeeze out air and seal. Note: to be safe I usually place the bag in a second gallon size zipper plastic bag and seal it. Refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
- When ready to cook the chicken: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Spray a large baking dish or baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray.
- In a large bowl combine the cornflakes, coconut and pecans. Mix thoroughly.
- Place the lightly beaten egg in a bowl large enough to place a piece of chicken to coat it.
- Lift a piece of chicken from the buttermilk brine, allow liquid to drain back into the bag. Roll the chicken in the egg to coat. Next roll the piece of chicken in the cornflake-coconut-pecan mixture to fully coat. Place the chicken on the prepared pan.
- Repeat for remaining chicken thighs and drumsticks.
- Place in the oven for 30 minutes. Turn chicken over and bake 15 additional minutes for a total of 45 minutes.