The Simple Crispy Chicken Recipe My Whole Family Loves

published Dec 21, 2022
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plate of breaded chicken
Credit: Stephanie Ganz

I can’t tell you the number of times that I, a professionally-trained chef and primary cook of our household, have Googled, “what to do with boneless, skinless chicken breasts,” but I can tell you it’s a lot. Dozens, at least. And while I’ve found some excellent ideas over the years, I keep coming back to a recipe I grew up with—Crispy Sesame Chicken—and it never lets me down.

This childhood favorite has a lot going for it. First, it’s baked instead of fried, making it a healthier choice. But whereas some coated, baked chicken recipes suffer from textural issues (evils such as soggy chicken, dry chicken, or breading that won’t stick), this recipe consistently yields bite-sized pieces of chicken that are crispy on the outside and moist and flavorful within. 

In this recipe, the yogurt marinade keeps the chicken from drying out, and the combination of Cornflake crumbs, ground ginger, paprika, and toasted sesame seeds delivers a slightly sweet, mildly spiced, crispy chicken that my entire family truly loves. 

Credit: Stephanie Ganz

How to Make Crispy Sesame Chicken

To prepare Crispy Sesame Chicken, I begin by cutting boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Next, I combine plain yogurt and honey in a mixing bowl. Then I add the chicken pieces to the bowl, and let them marinate for at least an hour or up to 24 hours. (Usually, I put the chicken in the yogurt marinade in the morning, and then I finish the recipe when I’m making the rest of dinner.)

Meanwhile, I blitz Cornflakes in a food processor until I have fine crumbs, which I combine with ground ginger, paprika, toasted sesame seeds, salt and pepper. I make this so often that I keep a batch of Sesame Chicken Crumbs labeled in the pantry to make this simple recipe even easier.

When I’m ready to complete the dish, I pull the marinated chicken from the yogurt mixture, wiping off the excess so the chicken doesn’t get soggy in the oven. I coat the chicken in the Cornflake breading, making sure to really press the breading into each piece for maximum crispy goodness. Then I pop them on a sheet tray and bake for about 30 minutes in a 350-degree oven while I prepare the rest of the meal.

Growing up, we always had these with mashed potatoes and asparagus; nowadays, I usually serve them with a big salad and instant polenta. 

A Few Tips for Making Crispy Sesame Chicken

  • Change the name: If you have selective eaters at the table, try calling these “chicken nuggets” or, as my daughter loves to say, “nuggies,” instead of “Crispy Sesame Chicken.” In my experience, they’ll eat a lot more nuggies with ketchup than they would if they thought it was something new and different.
  • Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces: You can cut the chicken in any shape you want, but I find that the more this looks like chicken nuggets, the more of them my two kids will eat, so I always opt for small, bite-sized pieces.
  • Remove any excess yogurt before coating: As you move the chicken from the yogurt marinade to the Cornflake breading, use your hands to remove the excess yogurt. You don’t have to get it all off, just wipe off the excess so the chicken can crisp up in the oven.
  • Squish the crumbs into the chicken: When tossing the chicken in the Cornflake breading, use your hands to squish the crumbs into the chicken pieces so that they firmly adhere. Make sure to give them a good toss to make sure every surface is covered with breading.
  • Pack leftovers for lunch: Unlike other nuggets, tendies, and baked chicken recipes, the yogurt in this recipe goes a long way in keeping the chicken from drying out, so if you have some leftover, pack them up with a dipping sauce (or ketchup, of course) for an easy packed lunch the next day.

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