Who remembers Chicken Little? The fried chicken joint in Highland Park (St. Paul), back in the day? Well, this recipe ain’t know Chicken Little, that’s for sure! But don’t you love a good piece of fried chicken now and then, sure you do, but it’s not something you want or needs to eat on a regular basis. My Oven-Fried Picnic Chicken recipe is so easy, so tasty and pretty much guilt-free. You won’t need to pull out the fryer every time you want some delicious chicken. This recipe tics all the boxes for that fried chicken craving you may get, because it’s:
- extra crispy
- flavorful, tender meat (thank you buttermilk)
- quick and easy, you’ll be beach-bound in a flash!
Keep the helpful tips to keep in mind (see the notes in the recipe), and you will have successful results every time. Be sure to use a good hot sauce with the buttermilk marinade (one of my favorites is from Double Take Salsa Co., a local operation, and it’s delicious!) I like to serve my chicken with a yummy green salad, like the Potato Salad I made recently, or this delicious Lemony Brown Rice Salad. Both will go really well with your picnic! Be sure you use any leftovers in some Tortilla Soup too! Bonus!
Oven-Fried Picnic Chicken
It's like the old Shake'nBake commercial (remember that one? 'And I halped!'), only better! Remove the skin if you need to, the panko makes a nice crusty coating, with or without skin?
- 1 1/2 -2 cups buttermilk
- 2-3 cloves fresh garlic minced
- 1+ teaspoon hot sauce such as Double Take Salsa Co.
- 3 lbs chicken legs, thighs and/or breasts (remove the skin if you want) if using breasts, cut them in half so they’ll cook evenly
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs a Japanese-style, crunchier than regular breadcrumbs
- 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 tablespoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- fresh ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoons olive oil (about) for drizzling
Whisk buttermilk, garlic, and hot sauce in a shallow glass dish or bowl until well blended. Add chicken and turn to coat. Cover and let marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour or up to 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper. Set a wire rack on the baking sheet and coat it with cooking spray.
Mix panko, sesame seeds, paprika, thyme, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a paper bag or large sealable plastic bag.
Shaking off excess buttermilk marinade, place one or two pieces of chicken at a time in the bag and shake to coat. Shake off excess flour and place chicken on the prepared rack. (Toss out any remaining flour mixture and marinade.) Drizzle the chicken pieces with the olive oil.
Bake the chicken until golden brown and no longer pink in the center, 40 to 45 minutes. An instant-read thermometer should register 165 degrees. The chicken will come up to 170 degrees (carry-over cooking) once removed from the oven. That's right where you want it.
Buttermilk is a natural tenderizer. It also lets you bread the chicken without the extra messy steps of the flour and egg dredge situation. If you don't have buttermilk, add some lemon juice to milk, viola, buttermilk!
Adding the baking powder to the breadcrumbs will help the chicken brown. Sounds strange, but it works!
Use any chicken parts you like. My family prefers breast meat, and in hindsight would probably cut them in half, but they still turned out great!
One key is to liberally season the chicken and the breading, that turns out the best chicken!
Bone-in chicken will give you the best flavor. It will also take a bit longer to cook, I recommend an instant read thermometer, you won't regret your purchase.