For a long time now, I’ve avoided fried chicken, because like most people I believed that fat=bad. The only exception to this rule was my Meemaw’s fried chicken legs, which she makes occasionally for holidays, and they are absolutely delicious. It’s this running joke in my family that when Meemaw’s frying them, we wait until she’s distracted and steal hot legs from the plate. When she looks over and sees four of us eating them, we try to blame each other for stealing one first.
Let’s just say, if my Meemaw had gotten into the fried chicken business, no one would know who Colonel Sanders is.
Not going to lie, these fried chicken strips aren’t as good as Meemaw’s from-scratch chicken legs – but they’re pretty damn close. More importantly for me right now, these are keto-friendly, which means I can eat them and still stay in ketosis and lose weight. And I think they’re sure as hell better than KFC.
Please note that I was originally inspired to make these chicken strips by this post on r/ketorecipes, where a guy was seeking help on breading fish to fry. I gave him my opinion on how to do it, then I was like “damn, that sounds good, too bad I don’t have any fish — wait, I have chicken! That’ll work too!”
And now I’ve eaten these twice since then, and it’s only been a few days. They’re easy and tasty.
- 6-4oz of boneless, skinless chicken breast tenderloins or strips. I like these Perdue Fit&Easy ones because they’re usually around $2.50 for a package, which feeds both me and my husband, and because they’re perfectly-sized. But you could use whatever – use a bone-in chicken leg if you want to make this more like Meemaw’s traditional recipe! And ohh man, I bet they’d make awesome wings.
- 2T almond flour
- 2T flax meal (I used golden flax but I don’t think it matters)
- 2T parmesan cheese (the powdery kind)
- 1 egg, whisked in a bowl with some water to make an egg wash
- seasonings to taste – I use Lawry’s Seasoning Salt (good fried chicken MUST be salty) and Mrs. Dash
- skillet of super hot oil, or a deep fryer
Please note that I’m fairly certain you can use all almond flour or all flax meal if you’d prefer, but almond flour is fairly expensive here so I like “cutting” it with cheaper ingredients: thus the flax and parmesan. Besides, the flax adds in a hefty dose of omega-3s, and the parmesan adds a nice faint cheese flavor and a terrific texture.
Prepare your deep fryer, if you have one. If you’re like me and you don’t, pour oil into skillet (I use canola oil for this, because we have a lot of it and it’s cheap with a high burning point) and set it on high to heat up. You want the oil to be screaming hot when you slap your chicken in it, so the chicken will be good and crispy. If you put it in oil that’s not fully heated, it will just make the breading soggy. If you use a deep fryer I’m sure there’s some fancy thermometer setting or something you can test the temperature with. If you’re using a skillet and oil, from a distance flick a droplet of water into the oil. If it immediately pops and starts sizzling, the oil is perfect.
Measure out your spices and flours and mix them well. Dunk chicken strips in the egg wash so they’re fully coated, and then one-by-one dredge them through the breading mixture, rolling them around until the breading covers them.
Add chicken to the screaming hot oil. I usually just do one strip at a time, placing them in the oil as soon as I finish breading them, until the skillet’s full. Let them cook about 3-4 minutes, then flip them over with tongs or a fork or something. You want to make sure the oil fully covers each half of the chicken. I usually make sure the oil is deep enough to cover the whole strip, but I flip it anyway just so both sides get good and crispy.
When chicken seems done – it will start turning a deeper golden brown color – pull the strips out and lay them on folded paper towels to drain. If you’re skeptical at the chicken’s doneness, go ahead and cut into the middle of one of the drying strips to see if it’s finished. In my case it always is, but ymmv. I think it’s important for everyone to figure out about how long they should cook these on their stoves, or in their deep fryers, because all these settings vary slightly. That’s why I’m just estimating on the times. Honestly, I tell more by the color of the strip than by watching the clock.
This is what they look like when they’re done – a deep golden brown color. They crisp up perfectly and pack a whollop of nutritional goodness. Serve them with a couple of tablespoons of some good thick Ranch dressing, and maybe a side salad or something, and you have a perfect keto meal.
Next time I make these I think I’m actually going to chop them up and serve them on spinach with some cheese and nuts and dressing to make a big fancy salad. The texture of them reminds me a lot of O’Charley’s Pecan-Crusted Chicken Tenders, so I think they’d be great on a salad.
Keep in mind when you view these nutritional statistics that I couldn’t figure out how to account for the oil. These strips didn’t absorb TOO much – I actually used the same oil to make two batches of these as well as a batch of salmon patties before I had to change it out. Still, these are higher in calories and fat than the nutritional data makes out. I view this as a good thing, as it puts them closer to perfect keto macros than they would be without the frying!
Let me know if you like them, or if you can think of ways I can improve upon the recipe. And for the love of His Noodliness the FSM, if you know how to calculate the added values from the oil I fried them in, please let me know!