Learn how to bread chicken for a perfectly crispy bite! Try these easy ways to bread chicken with easy tips and tricks.
Tips & Tricks for Breading Chicken
Juicy, tender chicken is a favorite for so many people, but you know how you make it even better? You add a flavorful, crispy crust! The right breading can elevate your chicken from “that’s good” to “that’s AMAZING!” This method is very flexible and can work with many different dietary needs and restrictions. Here are some quick tips to get us started:
- Prepare ingredients ahead of time – This is usually a 3-step process, and it works great as an “assembly line” project. Because of this, it’s important to have your ingredients ready for all 3 steps.
- Have one dry hand and one wet hand – If you’re not careful, this can be a very messy project. It’s best to dedicate one hand to your dry ingredients and one hand to your wet ingredients.
How to Bread Chicken
This simple 3-step process is perfect for adding flavor, texture, and interest to your meals! Here’s a quick tutorial for making the perfect chicken breading.
Start with dry chicken
The key to getting the breading to stick to the chicken is starting with a dry surface. Water on the surface of the chicken will lead to a soggy breading or a crust that falls right off. You can achieve this by air drying your chicken or tossing it in flour. You can even combine methods if having a super crunchy bite is important to you! If you’re in a hurry, you can just pat the chicken as dry as you can.
If you’re breading stuffed chicken, I highly recommend stuffing it, wrapping it in plastic wrap, and letting it sit in the fridge for a few hours before breading. This helps the chicken keep its shape and makes it less likely to unroll and cause a big mess. The breading will not stick if the chicken is not tight and secure.
How to dry chicken before breading
Take chicken out of the package and pat dry. Place a baking rack onto a baking sheet, then lay each piece of chicken on the rack (not touching). Cover with a layer of paper towels and allow to air dry in the fridge 1-24 hours. You can still follow this up with flour, too.
Toss in flour
Take chicken out of the package and pat dry. Pour all purpose flour (or gluten-free/low-carb alternative flours) into a shallow bowl or plastic bag. Place a few pieces of chicken into the flour, then toss or shake to coat. Shake off excess flour.
Dredge in your “glue” layer
Now that your chicken is dry, you need to coat it in a liquid that will help the breading stick to the meat — Your “glue,” if you will. Whisked egg is a very popular and effective choice as it is a great binder. You can whisk up the whole egg, or use whites only for a lighter texture or yolks only for a heavier texture.
Egg-Free Chicken Breading Options
- Heavy cream or buttermilk – Heavy (unwhipped) whipping cream is just thick enough to grab hold of the chicken and breading. Evaporated milk or coconut cream could also have a similar texture.
- Mustard – You can easily brush this onto chicken, and it sticks well. I don’t find the mustard flavor strong, but it does add a nice, savory, slightly-tangy taste. It’s a great dairy-free, egg-free, gluten-free, and low-carb option.
- Yogurt or sour cream – This adds a great, rich texture. It doesn’t hold quite as well as the other methods, so I prefer to use this method to add a breaded topping to baked chicken rather than making something like fried chicken tenders.
Roll in breading
Finally, the main attraction: the crispy, crunchy breading! The ingredients you choose to bread your chicken will determine how crunchy or light or flavorful it’s going to be. For a light crisp crust, you may like a coating of seasoned flour and parmesan. If you want a crunch you can hear from the next room, maybe a thick coating of crushed nuts would work better for you. You can easily mix-and-match these, too.
Chicken Breading Ideas
Our FAVORITE Breaded Chicken Recipes
Here are some of the best recipes for breaded chicken! No matter your preferred level of crunch, we’ve got something that you’ll like here. There are low-carb and gluten-free options, too!
Breaded Chicken Tenders
Classic chicken tenders should have a nice crunch and a breading that won’t fall off in your hands. The level of crunch is determined by your choice of breading! You can have a light, gluten-free breading with almond flour and parmesan like these Keto Chicken Tenders — It even holds up well with sauce! You can even go extra cheesy if you like, or turn them into chicken nuggets instead.
Breaded Stuffed Chicken
Tender chicken pounded thin, then rolled up with meat and cheese… It only gets better with a nice, light breading! We love a classic Chicken Cordon Bleu for date night; it uses almond flour and parmesan for a light, gluten-free, low-carb coating. This Chicken Rollatini is a kid-friendly favorite that uses breadcrumbs or crushed pork rinds for a crispier crust instead!
Breaded Recipes with Sauce
The only way to improve crispy breaded chicken? Add a sauce to the mix! In recipes like this, the breading isn’t only there for texture–It’s also something that can soak up sauce to add more flavor.
A light seasoned flour coating on this Chicken Piccata or Lemon Garlic Chicken doesn’t stay crisp, but it adds tons of flavor with the white wine. The cornstarch breading on this Orange Chicken soaks up the delicious sauce perfectly. Heavier breading like this Chicken Parmesan can hold up great when baked in marinara sauce!
How to make chicken SUPER crispy
- Choose the right breading – Flour will create the lightest, least-crunchy breading while nuts will create the heaviest and crunchiest. Parmesan, breadcrumbs, and cereals all fall somewhere between the two.
- Spray with oil – When baking or air fryer, adding a spritz of oil can add a crispier crunch. Simply place on your rack and spray with oil, then spray again after flipping.
- Double dip – Many breading choices can be double dipped for a crispier, heavier crust. When breading with seasoned flour, cheese, or breadcrumbs, you can repeat the “glue” and “breading” steps a second time for a crunchier crust.
More Breading Ideas
USE FLAVORED NUTS: This popcorn shrimp recipe uses smoke-flavored almonds for incredible taste! It would work well on chicken, too.
GO HEAVY ON TOP: This halibut recipe uses a pecan and parmesan mixture for a crunchy topping. We would love this on some butterflied chicken breasts!
SIMPLIFY SEASONINGS: Convenient ranch seasoning packets and breadcrumbs make these pork chops easy and quick. Try it on chicken thighs!
TRY BACON: Okay, this isn’t a breading at all… But everyone loves bacon-wrapped chicken. If you want to add flavor but don’t want to bread it, try it!
How to Bread Chicken
- Flour or flour substitute
- Eggs or heavy cream or other substitute
- Breading Mixture of parmesan, flour, seasonings, nuts, cereal, or breadcrumbs
- Chicken any cut
- Prepare your ingredients ahead of time. If using flour to dry the chicken, pour it in a shallow dish or bag. Have another bowl for your "glue" mixture (whisked eggs, heavy cream, mustard, or your preferred choice). Finally, have a shallow dish of your breading (breadcrumbs, nuts, parmesan, cereal, etc.).
- Pat chicken dry. Eliminate all moisture on the surface of the chicken by air drying it on a baking rack in the fridge (1-24 hours), by tossing it in flour, or both.
- Dip chicken into your whisked eggs, cream, or whatever binder you chose. Gently shake off excess.
- Press chicken into your breading mixture of choice. Flip and cover both sides if you prefer.