Try this deliciously crispy, air fried almond flour and low carb friendly fried chicken fingers recipe. What makes these extra delicious? When they’re mixed with my incredible Cajun BBQ spice rub for the perfect kick to these guiltless gluten free, whole30 compliant, and keto chicken tenders.
Chicken recipes are my most versatile go-to protein especially when you eat a lower carb diet with a focus on cleaner ingredients. They are such a great blank palate for combining so many flavors too.
While flavor combos are important, as a culinary expert I believe in creating delicious textures with the foods I make as much as creating a delicious flavor profile. That means, crispy and crunchy goodness so you can feel like you’re eating your favorite foods, but in a way that fits your lifestyle and diet.
While you can achieve crispy chicken skin all on its own (check out these tips I have with these recipes for crispy chicken wings, crispy chicken quarters, and even making a whole crispy chicken), I wanted to recreate a classic chicken finger or chicken tender recipe that had a delicious flavor and breading that fits my low carb and gluten free lifestyle.
Below I will guide you through this easy to make recipe, show you how to make my Spicy Cajun BBQ Dry Rub Recipe and give you tips and techniques for making the best almond flour crusted chicken. Grab the full details below and let’s dive in!
- Cutting Board and Knife
- 3 Mixing Bowls
- Baking Sheet
- Cooling Rack
- Air Fryer (or Cast Iron Pan)
- Instant Read Thermometer
Below I will outline the ingredients I used, possible substitutions, and the cooking tips needed for the perfect, almond flour bread Cajun chicken tender!
- Chicken Breast Meat – You have a few options for making your homemade chicken tenders from the breast meat. You can buy, precut tenders (usually like 6-8 in a pack of chicken), use a regular chicken breast or chicken cutlets. The trick is to use thinner pieces of chicken to achieve a crispy crust!
- Almond Flour – I use regular, fine almond flour. You could alternatively use almond meal or even coconut flour if you need another substitute. Coconut flour tends to cook quicker however so be mindful of cooking temperatures if using this flour.
- Spicy Cajun BBQ Dry Rub Recipe – I already mentioned the versatility of flavor profiles with chicken and this homemade dry rub is hands down amazing with these chicken tenders. Not into the spicy kick, try this All Purpose BBQ dry rub instead.
- Eggs – This acts as a binder for the almond flour mixture to the chicken.
- Arrowroot Powder – I use a tablespoon of arrowroot powder to pre-coat the chicken before dredging in the egg and almond flour mixture. This can be low carb when used across a large recipe (less than 1 net carb per chicken tender) and helps act as a binding agent for the almond flour.
- Avocado Oil or Cooking Spray (optional) – Depending on if you air fry, pan fry, or bake this recipe you may opt to use a cooking spray or avocado oil for pan frying. Avocado oil is best with almond flour breading because it won’t burn it while cooking.
How do you use almond flour to coat chicken?
Have you ever tried in the past to use almond flour as a breading on your chicken, only to have it all rip off in the pan or on your baking sheet? Maybe it burned easily and then your chicken was still undercooked? Don’t worry, I have all the tips you need for successfully using almond flour to bread chicken perfectly every time.
So what is this trick you ask? The first is always pre-coating the chicken in a binder. For this recipe, I really like using arrowroot powder. Arrowroot powder is kind of like cornstarch but works in a whole30 or low carb diet.
The binder acts as a glue for the egg wash. Regular chicken by itself dipped in beaten eggs allows for it to slip right off, then allows for the almond flour to slip right off along with it. We do not want that! Arrowroot powder acts to create surface tension so everything sticks together and is crucial to the recipe.
What is arrowroot powder? Is it keto friendly?
Arrowroot powder is 8 carbs per tablespoon. That seems like a lot at first glance (especially for my stricter keto eaters). Good news however, this is spread out amongst a dozen chicken tenders. So while a serving is about 4 tenders, you’re only eat a few extra net carbs worth here and still getting the perfect crispy tender.
How to dredge chicken in almond flour:
- Start by prepping your chicken. If you’re using cutlets or breast meat, make sure your chicken is butterflied (thinner meat works best) and then cut into 1 inch strips.
- Prep your chicken by adding some of the Spicy Cajun Seasoning mix into your sliced raw chicken tenders. Then mix in your arrowroot powder so everything is dusted and coated.
- Have two separate bowls and a baking sheet set out. Have one bowl filled with your beaten eggs and one for your almond flour. I also love to season the almond flour (as well as the raw chicken) to really get the seasoning and Cajun flavor to pop!
- Take the pre-coated chicken strip and dunk into the egg wash then coat into the almond flour. Press down a bit so everything sticks. Place onto your baking sheet and repeat the process as needed.
How to air fry almond flour chicken tenders:
My go-to method is for the air fryer but I will also share how you can pan fry (or even bake) these tenders.
Why do I prefer air frying? Air frying is a great way to use no oil (or very little oil) which is great in reducing saturated fats. If I do shallow pan fry to cook the chicken, I prefer to use avocado oil to get those healthier fats in too.
You have a few different methods for cooking your chicken tenders, pick a method that works best for you. Just make sure to use a thermometer to accurately read that your chicken has cooked to 165 F. before serving.
Here are the cooking methods I would use in order of what tastes best (in my opinion)-
Tips for Air Frying:
- Always pre-heat your air fryer first
- Place your tenders in a single layer in the air fryer basket (you may have to do two batches or so depending on how many you make)
- Spray with a little cooking spray to encourage even browning
- Flip halfway through to ensure even crispy goodness all the way around
- Cooking time may vary slightly on the thickness but mine took 8-10 minutes
Tips For Pan Frying:
- Use a heavy bottom skillet (like ceramic or cast iron for a good sear)
- Medium/ high heat
- Don’t overcrowd the pan (cook a few at a time so the oil temperature doesn’t dip to low and makes it easier to flip and cook)
- They cook faster in the frying pan about 3 minutes per side
- Shallow pan frying will yield more calories than your standard air fryer recipes however (because of the added oil)
Tips For Baking:
- Cook at 425 F. then finish them off under the broiler (watching carefully) at the end.
- Line a baking sheet with foil, place the chicken on a cooling rack over the baking sheet for even cooking
- Flip halfway through when you bake
Every good chicken tender needs a perfect sauce. My go-to is my Keto Carolina Mustard BBQ sauce. It’s the perfect sub for a honey mustard that’s zero carbs and zero sugar.
Other favorites include:
- Standard Buffalo Sauce
- Dressing (like Ranch or Blue Cheese)
- Sugar Free Ketchup / Regular Ketchup
- Low Carb Smoky BBQ Sauce
I also like to always sprinkle a little extra Cajun spice over the cooked strips, or even a little bit of garlic powder to get a little extra flavor in each bite. Serve these up with my Jicama fries or your favorite air fried potato fry recipe and dig in!
- Start by cutting your butterflied chicken pieces into 1.5-2 inch wide strips, lengthwise to make your chicken tenders. You can also buy pre-cut chicken tenders at your local grocery store too to skip this step.
- In a bowl, combine the arrowroot powder and 1 tbsp. of the Spicy Cajun Dry Rub. Once mixed, toss evenly throughout the raw chicken pieces so they are completely coated.
- Set up two mixing bowls or shallow dishes. Crack your 2 eggs into one dish and add the water. Whisk until mixed and set aside.
- In the other dish, combine your almond flour and the remaining 1 tbsp. of Cajun Dry Rub and mix until combined.
- Take your pre-coated chicken strips and dip them one at a time in the egg wash, then into the seasoned almond flour. Press down slightly so it coats nicely.
- Transfer the coated chicken strip to a baking sheet and repeat with the remaining chicken. Discard the egg wash and any leftover almond flour.
- Air Frying: Preheat your air fryer to manufacturers settings. Then place them on a single layer, spray the top with cooking spray, and cook at 375 F. for about 8-10 minutes. Flip them half way through for even browning. Check the final temperature with a thermometer, it should reach 165 F.
- Shallow Pan Fry: Use a heavy bottom skillet and cover the bottom generously in avocado oil. This oil works best because it won't burn your almond flour as easily and has a higher smoke point too. Heat to medium high heat and place chicken into the frying pan in batches. Cook about 2-3 minutes per side total. Check with a thermometer that they reach 165 F.
- Baking: Preheat your oven to 425 F. Place foil over the bottom of a baking sheet and a cooling rack over the top. Spray the rack so the flour doesn't stick. Place each strip onto the cooling rack and then bake about 6 minutes, flip and bake another 6-8 minutes. If you like them a little more crispy/ golden brown, carefully broil them for a few minutes before removing from the oven. They need to be cooked to 165 F. internally.
- Serve your almond flour Cajun chicken strips with the keto Carolina mustard sauce or other sauce ideas linked above in the post.
Can't use almond flour, swap out with pork rinds, coconut flour, or cassava flour depending on your dietary needs for other low carb gluten free options.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 397Total Fat: 21gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 195mgSodium: 125mgCarbohydrates: 6gNet Carbohydrates: 2gFiber: 4gSugar: 1gProtein: 46g