“Gluten free diet!  I’m from the South, how can I go gluten free?  I’ll never get fried chicken again!!!”  Her hair tossing around her ears like a curtain of braids, the woman in line behind me at the grocery store wailed to her friend in desperation.

“Excuse me, I couldn’t help overhearing.  If you’re interested, I know a really cheap way you can have gluten free fried chicken.”

“Girl, if that’s true, I’m gonna hug you!”  Well I got that hug, and it wasn’t awkward at all :)

We go through a fair amount of tortilla chips in our house.  We love them with taco soup, and corn bell pepper soup, turn them into nachos, or eat them with salsa or pico de gallo.  The one guarantee with every bag of tortilla chips we buy, is that we’re left with about a cup worth of tiny chip crumbs when we reach the bottom of the bag.


Sometimes we sprinkle them on taco salad, but last month I realized that I had 4 bags of leftover crumbs that were stale.  I decided to find a way to re-purpose them and needed to figure out how to combat the stale brittleness of too old chips.

That’s when inspiration struck.  If I grind them up and then refry them, they won’t taste stale any more!  I decided the best way was to use them to coat chicken and make a kind of Southwestern fried chicken.

When I do fried chicken, I prefer chicken tenders over large pieces of chicken.  I find that the longer the chicken has to be in the oil, the more oil it absorbs.  Not only is this unhealthy, it also just makes me feel sick to eat something that has been deep fried for more than a minute.

When I do chicken tenders, I can use a small amount of oil and just fry them a couple minutes on each side.  Because it’s such a thin, small piece of chicken it cooks quickly.  It also means I can stretch two chicken breasts between 4 people, SAVING MONEY!  You know I love that.


I used my food processor to chop up my chip leftovers nice and small.  If you don’t have one, you can still easily make this.  Just put your chips in a big ziploc bag and use something heavy to smash them to smithereens.  Or you could stomp on them!

To get each chicken breast thin enough, you’ll need to pound them as well.  This recipe is good for getting out aggression!  Put the chicken one at a time into a ziploc bag and use a meat hammer, rolling pin or heavy can to pound evenly until the whole chicken breast is about 1/4 inch thick.

Now the really fun part of these fried chicken tenders is the dipping sauces. This is where everyone gets to choose and make their dinner their own.  I really like a mix of ketchup and mustard while my husband prefers ranch.  One of our exchange students goes with honey mustard, the other sticks with the Southwestern theme by dousing his in salsa.

What’s your dip of choice?



Gluten Free Fried Chicken Tenders

Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings


  • 2
    boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 3/4 cups
  • 1 TBS
    chili powder
  • 1 tsp
    kosher salt
  • 1/8 tsp
  • 2
  • 2 cups
    finely crushed tortilla chips
  • 1/4 cup
    canola oil, divided

Cooking Directions

  1. Heat oven to 200 degrees. Pound the chicken breasts to 1/4 inch thickness and slice them into finger sized pieces.
  2. Mix together cornstarch, chili powder salt and pepper in a bowl.
  3. Break eggs into a second bowl and whisk well.
  4. Place crushed tortilla chips into a third bowl.
  5. Heat half the oil in a large skillet on medium high.
  6. Dredge the chicken breast pieces through the cornstarch, then the egg, then the tortilla chips. Place on a plate until all the chicken is well coated.
  7. Put chicken pieces in the oil in a single layer and cook 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown and internal temperature is 165 degrees. Add oil to pan as needed and let it heat up before adding more chicken.
  8. When pieces are cooked, place on a wire rack in a baking sheet and place in the oven to keep warm while remaining pieces are frying.



Approximate cost/serving: I got my chicken breasts at Sam’s Club for 23 breasts for $13 which means just 57 cents each.  It was about 20 cents worth of chips from each bag, so that was another 80 cents.  The total cost was about $2.30 for FOUR servings!!!  That’s just 56 cents a serving!!!

Gluten Free: My tortilla chips were just corn and salt, make sure yours are too.

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Nutritional and cost information is for estimating purposes only, and subject to variations due to region, seasonality, and product availability.