I like crispy chicken, and I prefer it to be spicy.
I mean….fried chicken…crispy chicken, whatever you want to call it….it’s pretty damn delicious. Not healthy at all the OG way, but yummmmm.
I have tried SO many ways to bake crispy chicken or to “faux-fry” it, like with my Healthy Chicken Fingers recipe…and they always turn out good…but you can definitely taste that they are healthy. There is no mistaking the baked pieces for fried ones. They just miss that perfect crispy outside that we all know and love. No shame in that, but I’m a comfort food girl: I want it tastey, I want it to be easy and I want it to be healthy.
Demanding, I know…
When I came across a recipe for cornflake chicken I was intrigued. Interest piqued. So I tried it and loved it! With a few tweaks of my own, and this shot-of-fire-flames-to-the-mouth sauce…. I’m pretty sure I have perfected it.
The cornflakes crisp up so well, the marinade tenderizes the chicken perfectly and baking it on a wire rack, lifted off the baking sheet ensures that the bottom and sides of each piece doesn’t get soggy. The cornflake crust is thick, similar to real fried chicken…and this is definiely the best non-fried fried chicken I have ever had. It might not quite compare to the best fried chicken, but it’s a valiant attempt nonetheless.
This sauce is not for the faint of heart. It is spicy. So use with caution, or just use less cayenne!
I also create a “faux buttermilk” for the marinade, but if you don’t mind eating dairy, you can totally use the real stuff…it’ll just add a few more calories.
2 tablespoons paprika
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper (I use 2, but I love spicy…and with 2, this recipe is over the top spicy)
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup unsweetened almond milk
*(if using regular buttermilk, omit the lemon juice)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast halves (one breast, not two connected together! For large breasts, cut them in half)
4 cups plain cornflakes, crushed
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1 tablespoon vegan butter (I use earth balance) you can also use regular butter
Combine the paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and black pepper in a small bowl and mix. Transfer 2 tablespoons of this spicy mixture to a large bowl or a large sealable ziplock bag. Combine the almond milk with the lemon juice (to create a dairy-free buttermilk). Add this “faux buttermilk” to the ziplock or the bowl and mix. Place chicken breasts into the mixture and either cover the bowl or seal the bag and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour…and up to 8. I usually marinate it for about 3-5 hours.
Heat the oven to 375 degrees F, and line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Place a wire rack on top of the prepared pan and spray the rack with cooking oil.
Crush the cornflakes in a bowl. Once chicken is marinated, working one piece at a time, shake off excess marinade and coat each piece of chicken in the cornflakes. Press the cornflakes into the chicken well to get them to stick. The coating will be pretty hefty and thick! Place the coated breasts on the prepared rack.
Spray the tops of all the chicken with cooking spray and put them in the oven to bake for 40-45 minutes or until completely cooked through.
While the chicken is cooking, combine the remaining spice mixture with the vinegar and brown sugar in a small sauce pan and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat and add in the butter. Melt it and stir, then remove sauce from heat.
Let the chicken cool for 5 minutes once cooked, then place it on a platter and drizzle it with the spicy sauce (there will be leftover sauce!) I served this with my FitKat Kale Salad.