These buffet-style Chinese Chicken Fingers taste just like the restaurant! Light and crispy on the outside and filled with juicy chicken on the inside.
Can't get enough of Chinese-American food? Try my Chinese Coconut Chicken next!
🥡 About This Recipe
I used to feel a bit guilty about enjoying buffet food because it wasn't considered "real Chinese food" or something my ancestors ate. But, honestly, it was just really tasty.
Today, I want to share an actual recipe given to me by the owners of a Chinese restaurant. All credit goes to my parents, who became friends with them and asked them for it on my behalf.
🍤 The Crispy Coating
The crispy coating comes from a batter made of cornstarch and all-purpose flour.
This combination is frequently used for Chinese deep-fried foods because it produces a lighter and crispier crust. The cornstarch prevents the flour from getting too chewy.
We also add a small amount of baking powder, which helps aerate the batter and gives the crust its signature "puffed" look.
I experimented with varying amounts of baking powder and found that two teaspoons gave the perfect puff. If you look at the picture above, you'll see the difference between one teaspoon and two teaspoons.
🍗 Breasts or thighs?
If you know me, you know I love using chicken thighs. In general, I find them juicier and more flavorful.
But for chicken fingers, I prefer chicken breasts because they're much easier to cut into long, even strips.
If appearance isn't a big concern, you can use chicken thighs. Just be prepared for them to resemble more of an assortment of chicken toes than fingers.
- Chicken breast: We'll use 3-4 chicken breasts today, cut into thin strips. You can also use chicken thighs.
- Flour: Use all-purpose flour. If you have self-rising flour, you can use that instead, but omit the baking powder.
- Cornstarch: Helps create a lighter and crispier crust
- Sugar: We use one tablespoon of sugar. The classic batter for chicken fingers is slightly sweet.
- Baking powder: Helps aerate the batter to give the fingers their signature "puffed" look.
- Salt: A small amount is needed to make the crust taste good.
- Cold water: Use the coldest water possible to minimize gluten formation in the batter. This will make the crust crispier.
STEP 1: Combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
STEP 2: Stir cold water into the dry mixture until well combined. The batter should be thick but pourable; it doesn't matter if there are lumps.
STEP 3: One at a time, dip each chicken piece in the batter, ensuring it's completely covered. Shake off excess.
STEP 4: Gently lower the chicken in the hot oil and cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to dry. Serve immediately with sweet and sour sauce on the side (recipe below)!
🍅 Sweet And Sour Sauce
STEP 1: Combine ketchup, brown sugar, vinegar, lemon juice, water, and cornstarch in a small pot and bring to a boil. The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.
🥡 Storage & Leftovers
Storing: Refrigerate leftover Chinese chicken fingers in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
Reheating: Reheat leftovers in the oven for 5-7 minutes at 375°F until warmed. If you have an air fryer, cook it for 3-4 minutes at 375°F until crispy.
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Chinese Chicken Fingers (Buffet Style)
Sweet and Sour Sauce
- ½ cup water
- 3 tablespoons ketchup
- 4 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons vinegar
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 ½ teaspoons cornstarch
- ½ teaspoon salt
Sweet And Sour Sauce
- Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. The sauce will keep in the fridge for up to two weeks.
- Preheat about 1 inch of oil to 350℉.
- Combine flour, cornstarch, sugar, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl.
- Stir cold water into the dry mixture until well combined. The batter should be thick but pourable; it doesn't matter if there are lumps.
- One at a time, dip a chicken piece in the batter, shake off excess, then lower into the hot oil. Cook for about 2-3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to dry. Serve immediately with sweet and sour sauce on the side.