Fried chicken tenders … a favorite of kids and adults alike! I am pretty sure my son was able to sustain his first two years of life on chicken tenders alone!
I love this recipe because it’s a great alternative to store-bought breadcrumb coatings that are used in most recipes. Oats offer a great CRUNCH to the chicken while packing in fiber and other nutrients. The air fryer keeps these low-calorie, with a crispy exterior and juicy interior, a must for anyone wanting to have a healthier twist on a crispy chicken classic.
- Chicken breasts: I cut my chicken breasts in half to make them thinner and faster to cook. It also gives them more breading and therefore more crunch! If you don’t cut them, use a tenderizer to pound them to a consistent thickness
- Buttermilk: I soak my chicken breasts in buttermilk as it helps tenderize them; it also gives the breading something to stick to
- Whole grain oats: Oats are much more than for oatmeal! Coarsely ground whole oats are an easy way to create your own breading at home
- Einkorn flour: Any flour you have on-hand will work, but I use whole grain Einkorn as my go-to flour. You can use oats for the flour, just put a second batch of oats through your food processor and process them until you reach a very fine consistency, as this would make this dish gluten-free
- Smoked paprika: Adds a subtle smokiness to the chicken
- Garlic powder: Essential for this dish!
- Onion powder: Another essential spice to add
- Oregano or thyme: I used thyme for this version, but you can easily swap it for oregano, parsley, or even Italian seasoning
- Salt and pepper: Use as little or as much as you’d like
- Eggs: Used to get the oats to adhere to the chicken, it also adds nutrients and protein
- Olive oil spray: The air fryer allows you to use very minimal oil, keeping calories low compared to standard frying
What can oat-crusted chicken be paired with?
Chicken breasts are an incredibly versatile protein. Just like grilled or traditional fried chicken tenders, these air-fried chicken breasts are great to cook in a large batch and use for a variety of meals. Here are some ideas:
- Salads: Pair with greens, chopped veggies, and a dressing. Chicken can be stored cold in the fridge, cut into pieces, and eaten without warming. So easy!
- Chicken sandwich or wrap: A go-to recipe for our family, we love to put air fryer chicken breasts on a fresh bun. My kids will put cheese on theirs while my husband and I enjoy a it with a cabbage, red onion, jalapeño, red white vinegar, olive oil, and mustard slaw.
- Chicken pasta: I usually use chickpea pasta for it’s additional protein. Make a tomato sauce, pesto sauce, or lemon and butter sauce—as each pairs so well with this chicken.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce: Get inspired by Chick-fil-a and serve these cutlets with honey mustard, ketchup, ranch, or any other dipping sauce! They are kid friendly and flexible to so many combinations.
Frequently asked questions
Are these chicken cutlets gluten-free?
Yes! Oats are naturally gluten-free and because you can use any flour in this recipe, you can easily make this gluten-free by using oat flour, gluten-free all-purpose flour, or even almond flour.
Can I substitute quick oats for rolled oats?
Quick oats can be used as a substitute for rolled oats in an oat-crusted chicken cutlet recipe, but there are some differences. Quick oats are more finely cut and processed, which means they may yield a softer, less textured crust compared to rolled oats. If you’re looking for a crunchier texture, sticking with rolled oats might be a better option; however, using quick oats will still work.
What’s the best way to reheat them without losing the crispiness?
To retain the crispiness don’t use the the microwave as it tends to make them soggy. Instead, preheat your oven to 350°F and place the cutlets on a wire rack set over a baking sheet or use your air fryer to also warm them up. This allows the heat to circulate around the chicken, helping to keep the crust crispy. Bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until the cutlets are heated through.
Air fryer crispy oat-crusted chicken breasts
- 1 Blender or food processor
- 1 Large bowl
- 3 Shallow bowls
- 1 Air fryer
- 4 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 2 cups Buttermilk
- 2 cups Whole grain oats
- 1 cup Einkorn flour (or any other whole grain flour)
- 2 tsp Paprika
- 1 tsp Garlic powder
- 1 tsp Onion powder
- 1 tsp Dried thyme or oregano
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 4 whole Eggs
- Olive oil spray
Prep the chicken
- Trim any extra fat off the chicken. Cut in half, lengthwise, to create chicken cutlets. This makes them easier to cook in the air fryer.
- Place the chicken in a bowl and pour the buttermilk over, covering completely. Set chicken at room temperature at least 20 minutes or refrigerated up to 4 hours.
Prep your coatings
- Put your oats into a blender or food processor.
- Process the oats until they are coarse, processing them more or less based on your personal preference. Put oats in a shallow dish.
- In another shallow dish, combine your flour, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, salt, and pepper. Mix until all the spices are evenly distributed.
- In another shallow dish, crack all four eggs and mix gently until scrambled.
- Set up your dreading station in the following order: chicken, flour mixture, beaten eggs, and oats.
Preheat your air fryer
- Preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees F.
Coat the chicken
- Using a fork, pick up a chicken breast cutlet and let the excess buttermilk drip off.
- Then dredge it into the flour, then beaten eggs, ensuring it's fully coated.
- Finally, press the chicken into the oat mixture, making sure it adheres well and covers the entire surface.
- Lay in your air fryer basket making sure they don't touch. Spray olive oil on the top of each cutlet and flip over, spraying the other side.This will help in achieving a golden brown crust.
Cook the chicken
- Cook for about 20 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F and the oat crust is crispy and golden brown.
- Serve and enjoy! Let the chicken rest for a few minutes before serving. This ensures the juices redistribute, making for a juicier chicken breast. Serve with your favorite sides or dipping sauce.
Alternate cooking methods
No air fryer? No problem. Pan fry the chicken by heating 2-3 tablespoons of olive oil or butter. Carefully place the oat-crusted breasts into the skillet and cook 6-8 minutes on each side.