Pretzel Chicken Recipe (30 Minutes)

Many years ago, I went to a taping for a new live cooking show starring Guy Fieri of “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives” fame. He prepared pretzel-crusted fried chicken tenders with a spicy honey mustard sauce for an audience of jubilant middle-aged women. Just before a commercial break, he walked up to the front row and stuck a hot chicken tender in my mouth. Truly a day to remember.

While the show didn’t last long, I haven’t forgotten those chicken tenders. Turns out, pretzels are an awesome way to add tantalizing crunch to chicken. Bonus: using them as breading is a great way to use up a languishing open bag of pretzels. 

This method works with regular and gluten-free pretzels and can be pan-fried or air-fried. Kids and adults alike cannot resist, especially when you serve pretzel chicken with a creamy honey mustard for dipping.

Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

Tips for Making Pretzel Chicken

  • Make your own cutlets. If you are using chicken breasts, you can easily turn them into cutlets, which cook much quicker. Slice 8 to 9-oz. boneless, skinless chicken breasts in half horizontally, making two thin cutlets, and pounding out to even thickness with a meat mallet, if needed. 
  • Set up your breading station. Place the chicken at your far left, the egg mixture next to that, then your pretzel mixture, and then a clean plate. This allows you to use your left hand to pick up the raw chicken and dip it in the egg mixture and your right hand to dredge in the pretzel mixture and place it on the final plate. 
  • Don’t forget to rest. Allowing the chicken to rest at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before frying allows the moisture from the chicken to partially seep into the breading, helping it to adhere and keeping it from sliding off.
  • The right amount of oil. When pan-frying, you want to oil to come halfway up the chicken. That way, when you flip it, you don’t end up with a less-than-crisp un-fried line around the edge.
  • Or air fry! This recipe can be air-fried instead of pan-fried—instructions are included in the recipe.

Make Pretzel Chicken Ahead

Pretzel chicken is best served fresh for top-notch crunch. If you end up with leftovers, consider reheating them in the air fryer until warmed and re-crisped. You can also bread the chicken and, instead of frying, freeze them for later.

To freeze, lay the breaded cutlets in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze them until firm, about an hour. Transfer to a freezer-safe bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. When ready to serve, cook from frozen until a thermometer inserted into the thickest part registers 165°F, about 10 minutes total.

Simply Recipes / Mark Beahm

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