cajun oven fried chicken
This cajun oven fried chicken is a delicious way to enjoy fried chicken without all the fat and calories. Cajun spices and panko bread crumbs create a perfectly crispy crust and the buttermilk brine keeps the meat really juicy and delicious.
Remember the movie, the Sandlot? I love the scene where the boys are playing baseball under the 4th of July fireworks and the neighborhood is bustling with a fun block party. I imagine they served really good fried chicken at that party!
Quintessentially American and super delicious, fried chicken is a real crowd pleaser for any picnic, family dinner, or gathering. I like to “fry” my breaded chicken in a very hot oven to provide a healthier alternative to the traditional deep frying method.
This recipe takes very little active cooking time. However, if you plan to make this meal in advance you can get the best flavor by letting the chicken marinade in buttermilk overnight. The buttermilk brine keeps the chicken very juicy and flavorful. If you decide to make this dish last minute, you should leave the chicken to marinade for at least 1 hour.
Aside from being healthier than traditional fried chicken, you don’t have to stand over a vat of hot oil to fry each piece of chicken at a time. You can lay out all of your pieces on a baking rack and cook for a crowd without supervision! Try this easier and healthier version of fried chicken and let me know what you think!
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 ½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 4 lbs chicken thighs (boneless, skinless)
- 7 ounces panko style breadcrumbs
- 1 Tbsp paprika (smoked paprika may also be used)
- ½ tsp cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- Olive oil or canola oil spray
- Rimmed baking sheet
- Baking rack that fits into rimmed baking sheet (such as this)
- The night before: Mix the buttermilk, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 tsp garlic powder in a large bowl. Place the chicken in the buttermilk, using tongs to make sure all pieces of the chicken are fully covered. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight or at least 1 hour.
- When you’re ready to cook the chicken, heat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place a baking rack inside the baking sheet and set aside.
- In a shallow bowl combine the panko bread crumbs, ½ tsp salt, paprika, cayenne, thyme, oregano, and black pepper. Make sure the spices are distributed evenly throughout the breadcrumbs.
- Use tongs to remove one piece of chicken at a time from the buttermilk, allow the excess buttermilk to drip back into the bowl, and place the wet chicken into the panko mixture.
- Cover all sides of the chicken with panko bread crumbs, spray both sides of the breaded chicken with olive oil spray and place the chicken on the baking rack. Continue coating the chicken and placing on the baking rack in a single layer.
- Move the rack and the baking sheet underneath it into the oven. Bake for 40-50 minutes until the internal temperature registers 165 degrees. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking. If you don’t have a kitchen thermometer, the chicken is done if you cut into a piece and the juices run clear. Serve warm or at room temperature.