No other breadcrumbs will do.
As a kid, Cheez-It crackers were a snack that I coveted. My mom rarely bought them, but there were plenty of opportunities for me to enjoy them at a friend’s house or from the school vending machine. The burst of salty, cheesy flavor makes them the ideal snack—I'm still obsessed!—and they are my crunchy coating of choice when I make chicken tenders.
When crushed up into breadcrumbs, these golden little squares can take otherwise plain chicken tenders to a whole new level—no other breadcrumbs (not even panko!) hold a candle to their crunch and punchy flavor. I promise Cheez-It coated tenders will reignite the chicken tender lover within you.
How I Make Chicken Tenders with Cheez-Its
Start with about a pound of boneless skinless chicken tenders. If you can’t find chicken tenders at the store, you can cut boneless skinless chicken breasts into 1/2-inch-wide strips.
In a bowl, add the chicken, 1/2 cup buttermilk, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/4 teaspoon paprika, and a dash of hot sauce, if you feel like a kick of heat. Toss to evenly coat the chicken with the marinade and let it sit for at least 15 minutes.
Season the Cheez-It Crumbs
If you want to boost the Cheez-It crumbs with even more flavor, you can hold back some of the seasoning (except the salt since the crackers are salty enough) for the marinade and add it to the breadcrumbs.
While the chicken marinates, you'll need to crush the crackers. For a pound of chicken, you'll need about 2 cups of Cheez-It crackers. You can either place the crackers in a large zip-top bag and crush them using a rolling pin, or you can place them in a food processor and blitz them until they are finely ground. Bigger pieces won't adhere to the chicken, and they tend to burn before the chicken is done cooking through, so crush them as finely as panko breadcrumbs.
Battered and deep-fried chicken tenders are delicious, of course, but deep frying is not necessarily convenient nor easy for day-to-day home cooking. When I make Cheez-It coated chicken tenders, I bake them, and they're even better (and easier) than deep-fried.
Pull a piece of chicken out of the marinade, letting as much of the buttermilk drip off as possible. Then toss the chicken in the Cheez-It crumbs, gently pushing down to help them adhere. Place it on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet that's been lightly coated with cooking spray. Bread all of the chicken pieces like this and spray the tops with cooking spray.
Use Other Flavors of Cheez-It Crackers
Cheez-It carries about a dozen flavored crackers. Though I prefer the original flavor, you can play around with other flavors or use the one you love most. I can imagine Pepper Jack, Extra Toasty, and Hot & Spicy are very, very tasty.
Read the original article on Simply Recipes.