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Saucy, oven-baked Black Pepper Rub Chicken Fingers with Greek Yogurt Ranch. These chicken tenders are GOOD! Coated in a mix of spicy seasoned crumbs, oven-baked, then tossed in a spicy-hot black pepper sauce. Follow these up with a delicious cooling ranch for dipping. These sauced up chicken fingers are loved by all…kids and adults. And yes, they’re even healthier (they’re baked, not fried), and so much tastier. Serve with oven baked french fries and veggies for an easy dinner that’s different, saucy, spicy, and beyond good!

overhead photo of Black Pepper Rub Chicken Fingers with Greek Yogurt Ranch

We’ve officially come upon the time of year when football takes over and game nights are the thing to look forward to (especially during COVID). Yes, it’s football season, which as of today, is set to start on Thursday night. My brothers, my dad, and every other football-loving human I know are all excited. Even I’m excited, though I really don’t actually watch any football. There’s just something about the start of the season that’s exciting and even comforting to me.

To me, it means that fall is getting closer, as are cozier nights in general. And with the game on in the background, it just feels “homey”.

I’m really not sure why, but like clockwork, September hits, and I’m inspired to create recipes that are great for, not only easy family meals, but for fun game-day nights too. Which leads me right on into these chicken fingers.

Without a doubt, these chicken fingers are up there as one of my all-time favorite recipes. Seeing as we now have over twenty-five hundred recipes on HBH, that should really tell you something. These fingers are…so very good!

And loved by all.

Black Pepper Rub Chicken Fingers on baking sheet after baking

The history…

Like a lot of my favorite recipes, these chicken fingers have a little backstory.

Growing up in Cleveland, my parents would often have dinner on Friday or Saturday night at one of their favorite restaurants, Around the Corner in Lakewood, Ohio. Sometimes they’d go with friends, sometimes they’d bring us kids. Other times it was just the two of them (a rare occasion). Either way, more times than not, my mom was ordering their boneless buffalo chicken strips with their famous black pepper rub.

When we moved to Colorado I was lucky enough to get the recipe from a family friend who had waitressed at the bar. Apparently the recipe is very “secret”, but thankfully she gave it to me anyway. No measurements, just the ingredients, which was all I really needed.

I then attempted to recreate those chicken fingers. Are they identical to the original recipe? Nope, not even close. But my family is all in agreement that my version is more delicious than any you might order up in a bar…well there might be some debating between mine and ATC’s.

Anyway, they’re delicious, and it’s all about the seasoning, the sauce…and then that extra dip…beyond good.

side angled close up photo of Black Pepper Rub Chicken Fingers with Greek Yogurt Ranch

The details…

So what’s the secret to this secret recipe?

Fajita seasoning and a generous amount of black pepper. But really it’s the fajita seasoning. For the seasoning, I mixed up my own blend of spices, which is the easiest to do, but of course, you could also use store-bought. Do what works for you!

To start, mix up some buttermilk with a splash of hot sauce and trimmed chicken tenders. The buttermilk is the “glue” that helps adhere the crumbs onto the chicken tenders.

Next, finely crush corn flakes and Cheez-It crackers (I like to use this healthier version) into crumbs to bread the chicken. The finely crushed corn flakes and cheese crackers are key to getting baked chicken fingers that taste like they’ve been fried.

Tip? Pulse the corn flakes and crackers in the food processor to really break them down into a fine crumb. If you don’t have a food processor, just add everything to the cornflake or cracker bag. Then step on the bag with your feet to finely crush them. Trust me, this works. It’s what my dad used to do when he’d make potato chip chicken when I was a kid. This trick is an oldie but a goodie.

Now, those cheese crackers? Do you really NEED them? No, you could simply use corn flakes. But the crackers add a special crunch and flavor that make them extra special and beyond delicious.

Next, bake the chicken in the oven until it crisps all over. My secret is to gently dab/brush the chicken with olive oil before it bakes. This helps the coating to really crisp up nicely in the oven. You can’t skip this step, it’s crucial.

overhead photo of Black Pepper Rub Chicken Fingers with Greek Yogurt Ranch

On to the sauce…

While baking, make the black pepper sauce. It’s simple…melted butter with hot sauce (I love Franks for this). Then add more fajita seasoning, and a good pinch of black pepper too. This sauce, while it is simple, is also everything – buttery, spicy, smoky, peppery – so much flavor.

In addition to the pepper sauce, I wanted to pair the chicken fingers with something cooling.

Enter the creamy, cooling greek yogurt-based ranch. I love classic ranch just as much anyone else, but honestly, this greek yogurt-based ranch is SO GOOD! It’s a little lighter and little tangier, but oh so creamy. The perfect dip for spicy chicken.

When everything is all done, serve um up with a drizzle of hot pepper sauce and a dip in the ranch. The chicken is saucy, spicy, a smidge buttery, and a little smoky. But the cooling yogurt ranch tames the heat and adds that special touch.

Altogether, it’s just some really really good food.

I love serving these chicken fingers with my herby baked sweet potato fries plus a simple green salad. It’s bar food at home and so much better. Added bonus? It’s so much healthier too! Love that these are oven baked, you’d never guess!

side angled close up photo of Black Pepper Rub Chicken Fingers with Greek Yogurt Ranch

Looking for other fun fall game day dinners? Here are a few ideas: 

Spicy Honey Mustard Pretzel Chicken Fingers

Oven Fried Cajun Popcorn Chicken with Creamy Honey Mustard

Baked Sweet Potato Parmesan Tater Tots

Lastly, if you make these black pepper rub chicken fingers with greek yogurt ranch be sure to leave a comment and/or give this recipe a rating! Above all, I love to hear from you guys and always do my best to respond to each and every comment. And of course, if you do make this recipe, don’t forget to tag me on Instagram! Looking through the photos of recipes you all have made is my favorite!

Black Pepper Rub Chicken Fingers with Greek Yogurt Ranch.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories Per Serving: 306 kcal

Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.

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Ingredients

Greek Yogurt Ranch

Instructions

  • 1. In a bowl, combine the chicken, buttermilk, and 2 tablespoons hot sauce. Toss well to coat.
    2. Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
    3. Add the corn flakes crumbs, cheese cracker crumbs (if using), 1 tablespoon fajita seasoning, and a large pinch of pepper to a medium-size bowl. Stir to combine.
    4. Remove each piece of chicken from the buttermilk, and dredge through the crumbs, pressing gently to adhere. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all the chicken has been used. Make sure not to crowd your pan, if necessary use two baking sheets. Lightly brush/drizzle the chicken with olive oil. Transfer to the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.
    5. Meanwhile, make the black pepper sauce. Stir together the melted butter, 1/2 cup hot sauce, 2 teaspoons fajita seasoning, and a pinch black pepper (to your taste).
    6. To make the ranch, combine all ingredients in a bowl or glass jar. Taste, adding salt and pepper as needed.
    7. Drizzle the chicken with the black pepper sauce. Serve alongside the ranch for dipping. ENJOY.

Notes

Fajita Seasoning: Combine 2 teaspoons chili powder, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, 1/4-1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon salt.
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Comments

  1. 1 star
    If I could give zero stars I would. Bland, tasteless and slimy as fuck. Thanks for wasting my money, time and effort you dumb white bitch. This is the first time I’ve ever posted a comment and it’s because I’m that fucking pissed off. DO NOT MAKE THIS.

    1. Hi Kim! I apologize that this recipe did not turn out well for you, but there is no need to be so hostile. If there is anything I can help with, I would love to. Just let me know. xTieghan

    1. Hi Brett! I am really sorry about that.. Could you please explain what went wrong? I would love to help! xTieghan

  2. 5 stars
    Has anyone actually cooked this recipe??? The best thing about a comment section on a recipe site is the notes you get from the public..Or is there a way I can organize the comments that im not seeing?

    1. Hi Spencer! I am sorry you are having a hard time finding the comments from people who have tried this recipe. I will leave some below for you! I hope you enjoy this one! xTieghan

      erica
      october 22, 2014 at 10:17 pm
      Just made these tonight for dinner–a big hit! I love the yogurt dip. My husband put his in a sandwich and gave rave reviews. Thanks Tieghan!

      karishma
      december 11, 2014 at 9:56 pm
      I made these with my boyfriend recently and we both LOVED them. Ah, the flavor was soo good. We ended up putting it in a salad for a spicy chicken salad with the ranch dressing deal. Delicious!

      gabrielle
      may 21, 2015 at 9:31 am
      I rarely comment on recipes that I try, but this was SO amazing that I had to comment. I could have easily eaten the whole pan by myself! And that ranch dressing recipe is superb. Thank you for sharing! This has become a family favorite!!!

      shelley
      march 16, 2020 at 6:01 am
      5 starsWe didn’t have all the ingredients (no dried chives, dill, buttermilk, fajita seasoning, chees-its or corn flakes) and it was still amazing! We made some substitutions (used more panko and added some parmesan) or skipped ingredients. The crunch and the yogurt ranch made it wonderful.

  3. 5 stars
    Made these for lunch today and the whole family loved them! They came together so quickly and were so delicious, with a perfect peppery bite to them. I will definitely make these sgain! Thanks for another keeper!

  4. These look delicious, but so do your pretzel chicken strips…going to make one of them this weekend, but can’t decide which! Any suggestions?! Haha, or is that like asking someone to choose their favorite child?
    Thanks for all the inspiration!

    1. Oh that is a hard one! Honestly, I do not think you could go wrong with either.. Since you’re on this one, I think thats a sign haha! xTieghan

  5. 5 stars
    These were excellent, and going in my regular rotation because now I have a box of cornflakes to use up! Made almost exactly as written, but pounded out my chicken breasts to get a more consistent thickness and added mayo to the ranch because I’m a glutton. So so tasty, and I made extra chicken for leftovers, which were no nice to have cut up into my salads for lunch. Thank you!

  6. Hi! This is literally one of the best things I’ve ever made ever. I want to eat them every day lol. BUT when I put the olive oil on them in the oven, they got kind of soggy? Any advice to remedy that? Or maybe I’m doing something wrong!

    1. Hey Courtney,
      Thanks so much for giving the recipe a try! I would maybe try to go a little lighter on the olive oil or use an olive oil spray! I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  7. 5 stars
    Seriously so good! I keep coming back for more. Easy to make and just so freekin’ good! Like craving it, all the time good.

    1. Hey Nahed,
      You can use whole milk in place of the buttermilk. I hope you love the recipe, please let me know if you have any other questions! xTieghan

  8. Hi Tieghan,
    I absolutely love this recipe! I have made it twice and it’s been perfect for Sunday football watching. I still haven’t been able to get them as crunchy as I’d like. Any suggestions?

    1. Hey Rebecca,
      Thanks so much for trying the recipe! I would recommend drizzling with olive oil and turning halfway through to help crisp them up. I hope this helps! xTieghan