This Panko Oven Fried Chicken is juicy, tender, and irresistibly crispy. It’s the perfect meal for sharing, so invite some friends over to dive in!
Last summer, Hot Chicken Takeover took up residence in an assuming takeout window in our neighborhood. Open only on Saturdays and Sundays, they served a simple menu of fried chicken with varying degrees of heat, homemade mac and cheese, coleslaw, and banana pudding. It wasn’t long before word of this spicy, crispy, juicy chicken spread throughout the city, and soon the place was drawing lines at least a block long.
The Mr. and I were fortunate enough to live only a short bike ride away from the place, and it became almost a weekly tradition for us to trek up to the window for our own taste of Southern hospitality. It was honestly one of my favorite places to spend a Sunday afternoon. The Mr. and I would sip on the endless refills of sweet tea while we waited in line and people watched. The place brought an interesting mix of hipsters, old Southerners, the after-church crowd, and the every day neighborhood folks like us. After you placed your order, you would squeeze into a seat at one of the communal tables lined with checkered tablecloths and rolls of brown paper napkins.
Around the table, conversations floated freely between friends and strangers. Bonds were formed over a shared love of the hottest chicken available (deemed “holy”), or a mutual appreciation for the exceptional creaminess of the mac and cheese. Politicians have been trying to figure out how to bring people of varying backgrounds and beliefs together for centuries. Turns out, all it takes is some darn good fried chicken.
When summer was over, the whole operation ended for the season, but my cravings for fried chicken did not. I knew my waistline probably couldn’t sustain that weekly indulgence, so I wanted to find another way to satisfy my need for some good fried chicken, without all the, well, frying.
Turns out, you can make some pretty fantastic, crispy chicken right in your oven, and it’s not hard. I used panko bread crumbs seasoned with paprika, garlic powder, and a little cayenne to coat these, plus a hot sauce and mayo mixture to hold it all in place. After a brief stint in the oven, the chicken comes out tender and juicy, with just a teensy bit of heat.
There are a few things I recommend to get the very best chicken. First, choose a cut that’s bone-in. The bone keeps the chicken nice and moist, and as an added bonus it’s also significantly cheaper than boneless. It can be tough to find bone-in skinless cuts, but it’s not hard to remove the skin yourself. I actually prefer bone-in chicken breasts for this recipe, but any cut will work just fine.
Secondly? I recommend a dipping sauce of Ranch dressing with a squirt of Sriracha swirled in. Trust me on this. It’s wonderful.
And finally? Invite some friends over to share the experience. Fried chicken tastes so much better when you’re gathered elbow to elbow around the table, licking fingers and swapping stories. Oh, and a giant pitcher of sweet tea sure wouldn’t hurt either. Put it all together, and we might just be on the path to world peace. Or at the very least, a pretty great community.
Crispy Oven "Fried" Chicken Breast
- 4 bone-in chicken breasts, skin removed
- 3 cups panko bread crumbs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 cup mayo
- 1 Tablespoon hot sauce
- Optional Dipping Sauce: Ranch Dressing and a teaspoon or two of Sriracha
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a roaster or metal cooling rack on top.
- In a large gallon ziplock bag, combine the pano, salt, paprika, cayenne, and garlic powder. Seal and shake well to combine.
- In a medium sized bowl, whisk together mayo and hot sauce. One at a time, dip the chicken breasts into the mayo mixture then place them in the ziplock bag and shake until evenly coated. Place the chicken breasts on the roasting rack and spray with cooking spray. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until chicken registers 165 degrees or juices run clear. Serve with a dipping sauce made from Ranch dressing and Sriracha.