Walnut Chicken Strips with Rosemary Cider Sauce

I was a really picky eater growing up, like sort of embarrassingly picky looking back…but I was always up for chicken strips or nuggets. In fact, even if they weren’t on the menu, I’d do my best to find a way to order them. At Chinese restaurants, for example, I would order sweet and sour chicken without the sauce and dip the fried chicken pieces in ketchup – yep, I was that kid. In high school, I always inhaled a plate of chicken tenders with my girlfriends at our favorite hangout, T.G.I. Friday’s. And even though I enjoy just about every kind of cuisine now, I still love chicken strips, and recently decided it was finally about time to make a grown-up version at home!

I coated my chicken strips with ground walnuts and bread crumbs. While they were baking in the oven, I whipped up a fall-inspired dipping sauce with apple cider. I stuck a spring of rosemary in the juice and simmered it on the stove under it reduced a bit. Then I added in some mascarpone cheese and a roux of butter and flour to thicken it up. The sweet sauce complimented the walnut flavor really well! I served the meal with some roasted butternut squash, but I think sweet potato fries would be even better!

Walnut Chicken Strips with Rosemary Cider Sauce
Printable Recipe


Walnut Chicken Strips:
1 1/2 cups walnuts, pulsed in the food processor until finely ground
3/4 cup bread crumbs
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 boneless, skinless, chicken breasts, cut into strips (I had 4-5 per chicken breast)
3 eggs, beaten

Rosemary Cider Sauce:
1 cup apple cider
1 small sprig of rosemary
1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt

To make the chicken strips, heat oven to 350˚F. Mix ground walnuts, bread crumbs, and salt in a shallow pan. Put the flour in a shallow dish and lightly dredge both sides of the chicken in it. Place the beaten eggs in another shallow dish and dredge both sides of the flour coated chicken in the egg mixture; place chicken in the walnut mixture and coat well on all sides. Place coated chicken strips in a greased 13×9-inch baking dish and bake at 350˚F for 20 to 25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center.

Meanwhile, make the sauce by placing the apple cider and rosemary sprig in a small pan over medium high heat. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat to medium and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until reduced to 1/2 cup. Strain mixture into a small bowl and whisk in mascarpone cheese until smooth. Heat butter over medium high heat in a small pan until melted. Whisk in flour until smooth and cook one minute or until mixture starts to brown. Add in apple cider mascarpone cheese mixture and salt and whisk until smooth. Heat for 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture thickens, whisking constantly. Serve sauce with chicken strips. Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition: 591 calories, 33.2g fat, 2.7g fiber, 47.3g protein per serving
Cost: $1.58 per serving

40 Responses to Walnut Chicken Strips with Rosemary Cider Sauce

  1. Kerstin! This sounds INCREDIBLE! The chicken strips are so nicely-coated…if only I can sink my teeth into them! I love that you used walnuts here…the earthy flavor will marry really well with that rosemary cider sauce!

  2. As always, your culinary ingenuity blows me away! My husband loves chicken fingers, and the rosemary cider sauce sounds like something I could drink 😉 I think I’ll go with your suggestion and make these with sweet potato fries. What a great fall meal!

  3. I have done a version where I dredge the chicken in mustard, coat it in crushed peanuts and bake. It is a great way to add a little extra flavor to chicken tenders!

  4. I’ve never thought about combining marscarpone and apple cider. How unique. It’s so funny to think of you being a picky eater when you are now so adventurous with your flavors. I think the key is that you broadened your palate. :-)

  5. I had my fair share of chicken nuggets growing up as well. I was another picky eater and they were pretty much my go-to order. Along with fettuccine alfredo. The horror.

    This dipping sauce has me drooling! I love how this whole dish screams fall.

  6. I always ordered chicken fingers at every single restaurant my parents took me to as a kid! They used to get so frustrated when would go to a nice seafood place or steak house and I would order chicken fingers! These definitely look like a delicious grown-up version of a child-hood favorite.

  7. This sounds wonderful! I eat chicken probably 5 out of 7 meals, and this one sounds fabulous and not too difficult. I am adding the ingredients to my next shopping list!

  8. Kerstin, love the dipping sauce! And my daughter was just like you were. I think from the age of 4 to 16, chicken fingers were the only things she would order – we would tease her when she would look at a menu, because invariably, she would always order chicken fingers!

    Love the addition of walnuts to the coating too – I am putting it on my list of things to make! 😀

  9. What a lovely & autumn meal!! I love the walnut chicken strips & to add this lovely cider & rosemary sauce,..That combo must go so well together!


  10. How fun. I was a big chicken fingers kid growing up too. Ever since I got my hands on almond meal, I’ve been wanting to use it to coat some chicken for Josh. I will have to follow your recipe but replace the walnuts with almonds. And the sauce is perfect for the fall.

  11. Haha! I love that you ordered sweet and sour chicken without the sauce :) So cute! I’ve made a vow that when I have kids I will never feed them the pre-packaged chicken nuggets and that I will always make my own (easy to say now!). These look fabulous for kids and grown-ups alike :)

  12. Wow, Kerstin, you have truly elevated chicken strips to elegant gourmet – these are GORGEOUS!! I love the idea of rosemary and cider simmering together – what could be more heavenly for fall? *blissful sigh* :-)

  13. Your creativity always amazes me! A rosemary cider sauce?! Awesome! I had a friend in college who was still that picky kid – he ordered sweet and sour chicken w/o the sauce or veggies and dipped them in ketchup too! We always thought it was funny that he claimed to like Chinese food when it was really just a different form of chicken nuggets :)

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