Gluten Free Chicken Tenders – Breading things, Gluten-Free

Gluten Free Chicken Tenders

Gluten Free Chicken Tenders, Photo by Kate Chan

Have you fallen in love with a recipe that calls for you to “bread” something? And you’re thinking that it can’t be done since you eat Gluten-Free? Au contraire, mes amis! Gluten free breading is easier than you think. It just takes a little bit of thinking outside the “bread box” (sorry, couldn’t resist).

Those delectable chicken tenders? Made by my husband. I can’t take credit. He’s really the amazing, intuitive chef in the house. And while I enjoy cooking/baking much more than he does, to be honest – he’s a natural. Evidence? The chicken tenders above.

I actually hesitated to share this photo with you. I wasn’t sure where I wanted to take this post. I just know the food was delectable! And sometimes breaded things cannot be avoided. They have to be savored.

So what do you use for your breading when you cook/bake? While we always add seasoning to our breading mix, I thought maybe a list of the basic ideas would help. (AND PLEASE! Add your own ideas in the comment section. The more the merrier.) Here are a list of the breading options that we use:

  • gluten free bread – fresh bread, whirled in a food processor
  • gluten free bread – toasted? sometimes (we prefer the non-toasted bread though)
  • gluten free cornbread – whirled in a food processor
  • corn chips
  • potato chips (Thanks for the reminder, Cassandra!)
  • cereal (corn flakes, rice flakes, nutty flax, nutty rice, puffed rice, etc)
  • Gilian’s Gluten Free Bread Crumbs
  • cornstarch
  • potato flour (NOT starch)
  • potato flour + rice flour (1:1 ratio)
  • potato flakes (find a gluten-free instant potato)
  • corn meal
  • cornstarch + corn meal (2 Tablespoons cornstarch to 1 cup corn meal)
  • coconut flour
  • coconut flour + coconut flakes (especially on shrimp!)
  • corn flour + rice flour (1:1)
  • corn flour alone

So there are a few tricks to breading foods that you should know regardless of what you chose for your final breading option.

FIRST: The food processor. Seriously. Whirling your breaading of choice into a food processor (with your seasonings) really helps. It makes for a finer breading which will coat your food better. If you don’t have a food processor, crush the breading of choice as finely as possible with a rolling pin. (Just put your breading option in a baggie and pound with the rolling pin. You can then use the baggie for tossing/shaking for the final breading stage.)

SECOND: Three steps. Breading items (whether you are going to bake them or fry them) requires three steps for the breading to stick. You need:

  • STEP ONE: Toss/coat the item in gluten free flour OR cornstarch OR sweet rice flour. Shake off any excess.
  • STEP TWO: Coat gingerly (as to not knock off them flour from step one) in an egg bath. (Whisk together eggs thoroughly.)
  • STEP THREE: Toss/coat the item in your seasoned breading of choice.

THIRD: Seasoning. At a minimum, you need to give your breading choice some seasoning with salt and pepper. Depending on what you are trying to make you should also consider adding other spices. Here are a few of the spice combinations that we like (all include salt/pepper):

  • paprika, thyme, summer savory
  • oregano, basil, thyme
  • crushed saffron, paprika, rosemary
  • rosemary, thyme
  • sweet bell pepper flakes, rosemary
  • fennel, cumin
  • dill, fennel, cumin
  • lemon pepper, thyme
  • crushed nori, sesame
  • lemon pepper, cumin
  • (What do you like?)


I remember shopping with my nephews through CostCo one day. And while they were completely transfixed by the huge tub of blueberries that we picked up in the uber-freeze cooler, they also made sure that I didn’t forget to pick up Dino-Chicken Nuggets for their house (my house is gluten-free). I’ve pondered the dino-shape and figured it probably did help reluctant eaters eat. After all, I know the entertainment of animal crackers (even GF animal cheesy crackers!) and the beauty of long fingernails thanks to Bugles (pre GF days as Bugles are NOT gluten-free.) Some food really *is* meant to be played with a bit, huh?

To make the animal shaped chicken nuggets, it was easier than I thought. However, I don’t know if I’ll do it ay time soon again. There are no little people around this house craving animal-shaped chicken. YET. If you have little ones at your house craving it – and you have the time – they are easy to make, bread and freeze for later. Just flatten the chicken breast. Cut into animal shapes with metal cookie cutters. Bread (follow the steps list above in Trick #2). Cook (bake or fry). Cool Lay flat on a pan (that fits in your freezer) and cover with foil. Freeze. Once frozen, you can then remove them from a sheet and slide them into a freezer-safe bag or airtight container. Reheat/warm in the oven as needed. A little effort now for a quick meal later.

The rest of us? May I suggest just plain chicken or chicken tenders without all the animal shapes?

Personally, I think they taste even better when I’m not pretending to eat dinosaur or elephants or ducks. (What can I say? I have a limited animal shape/cookie cutter collection. LOL)

Happy eating, all!

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