Picnic Treat: Hot or Cold Chicken

Each year on Memorial Day, people enjoy the freedoms provided by those who sacrificed everything to protect our country while serving in the military. It was traditionally a day when families would gather and spend at least part of the day at the cemetery cleaning graves and visiting about loved ones. Often a picnic on the grounds was part of the event and everyone would provide a dish to share. However, times have changed, and many people spend Memorial Day not gathered at a cemetery but together as families, maybe on the lake or visiting a local park or pool. We still honor those who gave their last measure of devotion by gathering together, and a common thread that pulls us together is, of course, food. Summertime is ideal for picnicking. I used to picnic at the Little Rock Zoo quite often with a good friend and her children. We would always pack a lunch for our kids because we agreed it was better nutrition than the junk food options usually found in the food carts and it was also very convenient for us to have food ready and waiting for them when they finished romping around the zoo play area.   A favorite that can be eaten hot or cold is crispy baked chicken. Instead of a whole chicken (which you could certainly use the spices on too), I apply this recipe to thinly cut chicken breasts or chicken tenders. This recipe is so flavorful! And bonus, my kids love to eat the chicken cold.

Photo by Kitchen Swagger

Crispy Picnic Chicken 


1 package raw chicken tenders or 2 boneless chicken breast cut into strips

1 cup panko bread crumbs

1 tsp garlic powder

1 tsp parsley flakes

1/2 cup Italian dressing

Dipping Sauce:

1 TBS mustard (any mustard can be used here, we like Dijon)

1/4 cup honey

Wash chicken in cold water and remove any tendon or membrane that is visible. Pat dry (paper towels work well). Let the chicken marinade in the Italian Dressing for at least 30 minutes or you can set in fridge overnight.   Prepare a baking pan with spray oil or, if you like, line with aluminum foil for easy clean up. Mix panko, garlic powder, and parsley flakes and spread on a large dinner plate. Dredge the marinated chicken tenders in the crumb mixture and lay out on baking pan.   Bake in a very hot oven at 425 for 20 minutes. Chicken will look brown and crisp when done. Mix both ingredients for the dipping sauce. You can feel good because you know that all the ingredients are wholesome and nutritious! So, pack your picnic basket and away you go. These easy finger foods are perfectly paired with fruit and any favorite raw vegetable. My kids always seem to love to dunk their food into some kind of dipping sauce and the honey mustard sauce is perfect for tenders as well as veggies. Bring lots of wipes of course!  

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