Saturday, July 16, 2011

Chicken Crispers - Chili's Version

Growing up we had a chicken joint called Pioneer Chicken.  Anyone remember that? 

I heard it was originated in Los Angeles, (Echo Park) .  Anyway, they were different than KFC in that the chicken had more of a batter coating to it.  Mom used to take me there and I would get their chicken strips.  (thanks Mom!) I loved those strips.  Tender, juicy pieces of breast strips dipped in a batter and fried to a golden brown, moist, pieces of heaven!!!

Unfortunately, Pioneer turned in to Popeye's...and I lost my heavenly chicken strips...Boy I can taste them now!!!

So in search of a chicken strip worthy of Pioneer Chicken.

I've tried chicken strips everywhere...and most don't hold up.   Recently, I tried Chili's Chicken Crispers.  They were battered, tender, moist...they were almost like Pioneer's!!! Woohoo!!!  and...Chili's serves theirs with a yummy honey mustard sauce!

Well guess what?  I found a copycat recipe from Top Secret Recipes for Chili's Chicken Crispers and the sauce too!  Whoop Whoop!  (Shssh!) 

Now I  can make my own...and I did!  They were AWESOME!!

Let me share this "top secret" recipe with you so you can make them too!!!

First, make the honey mustard sauce by mixing mayo, honey, Dijon, paprika, and salt in a small bowl.

Mix well and set aside.  This stuff is GOLD.

Next make your batter for the chicken.  Mix a beaten egg, milk, chicken broth, salt, pepper, and flour together. 

Next, heat up your shortening in a large sturdy pot.  You will need to deep fry these so that means, a lot of oil.  I don't think I used the whole 6-10 cups, but I used about 4 or 5.  I used Crisco Shortening for this...cheaper, and frys better in my opinion.

TIP:  Use a thermometer to bring the oil temperature to 350 degrees.  Don't go higher than this or the outside will brown too fast and the chicken will not cook inside...not good!

Dip you chicken strips - I used tenders, you can used cut up breasts as well - in flour, and then in the batter.

Fry baby, fry.

Don't crowd the chicken in there.  Do only a few pieces at a time.  The more you put in the faster the oil temperature reduces...not good..soggy chicken!  Fry the chicken for about 6-7 minutes, to make sure the chicken is really, really, cooked.

Remove to some paper towels to drain, and repeat with remaining pieces.

Serve them up with your honey mustard "gold" sauce.  Look at these little babies!!!  Oh I can't wait to bite in to one....Heaven!!

Enjoy your own chicken strips, and let me know how you liked them!!

Chicken Crispers
Source: copied verbatim from TopSecretRecipes web site


Honey Mustard Dressing
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/4 cup honey
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
pinch paprika
pinch salt


1 egg, beaten
1/4 cup whole milk
3/4 cup chicken broth (Swanson)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 cup self-rising flour

6 to 10 cups shortening or vegetable oil (amount required by fryer)

10 chicken tenderloins
1/2 cup flour


1. Make honey mustard sauce by combining ingredients in a small bowl. Cover and chill until needed.

2. Heat shortening or oil in fryer to 350 degrees F.

3. Combine beaten egg, milk, chicken broth, salt and pepper in a medium bowl. Whisk for about 30 seconds to
dissolve salt. Whisk in 1 cup self-rising flour. Let batter sit for 5 minutes.

4. When you are ready to fry the chicken, coat each piece with dry flour (1/2 cup in a medium bowl), then dunk the chicken into the batter. Let a little batter drip off the chicken and lower it into the hot oil and fry for 7 to 9 minutes or until it's golden brown.

Depending on the size of your fryer, you should be able to fry 3 or 4 tenderloins at a time.

Drain fried chicken strips on a rack or paper towels for a minute or so, and serve with the honey mustard dressing on the side for dipping.

Serves 4 as an appetizer or 2 as an entree.


  1. i loved it thanks for the recipe

  2. Thanks so oooooooo much, turned out perfect. I never thought to flour the chicken first, before dipping. OMG Thanks so happy

  3. Is the dry flour all purpose or self rising?

    1. The dry flour would be all purpose flour. The only self rising would be in the batter, but to be honest, you could probably use the self rising for the dry flour dredging as well!

  4. Tried this recipe and oh my gosh it was sooo good. Seriously like chilis. Oh and there is a pioneer in city of bell. Only two left in Cali.

    1. I'm so glad you liked it! It really is a tasty dish that's just like Chili's. Thanks for the Pioneer tip in the city of Bell. I'll have to look it up cause nostalgia is calling!



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