A surprisingly easy weeknight chicken recipe your family will love!
When it comes to meat, chicken is my all-time favorite. I really like bacon, but chicken is what I can eat pretty much any time. I think that’s because it’s so versatile. During our recent home meal kit delivery service trial, I found quite a few chicken dishes I fell in love with. One of them was a pecan-crusted chicken recipe. But, the recipe and ingredients were harder to come by not using the meal kit, so I played around with it and figured out my own version that’s just as tasty!
Besides the chicken, you just need a few ingredients to pull of this super easy and delicious weeknight chicken dinner. This is the kind of dinner that makes me feel like I’m eating out.
When I make this recipe, I use two chicken breasts to serve just my daughter and me. My husband and son don’t like chicken, so they have something else. However, I’ve written this recipe to make four chicken breasts or servings to feed a family of four. You can adjust it up or down as needed for your own family.
Prepping for the chicken
Get your oven preheating at 450-degrees with the rack in the center. Then, since it’s pecan-crusted chicken, you may need to prep pecans. If you’ve bought pecan pieces, you don’t have to do anything. I got pecan halves most recently (I store them in the freezer to keep them fresh), so I had to break them up. You can use a knife, your fingers or even a food processor to break them into smaller pieces. You need 2/3-cup of roughly chopped pecans for four chicken breasts.
Once your pecans are ready, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in your microwave and then stir in the pecans, 1/2 cup Panko (I used seasoned Panko, but either works), salt and pepper. If you want a strong flavor, you can also stir in 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning. While the mixture should be moistened, it should remain with a crumbly texture, like so:
Putting the chicken together
Once your pecan mixture is ready, it’s time to move on to the chicken. If your chicken is frozen, make sure it’s thawed. For even cooking times, I usually pound my chicken inside a paper towel or plastic wrap with my hand or rolling pin, because I have yet to get a meat mallet! Either way, I try to get the breasts to a similar thickness.
Pat your chicken dry with paper towels and place it on a baking sheet liberally coated with non-stick cooking spray or covered with parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil. I went the non-stick aluminum foil route for easy clean-up of this pecan-crusted chicken recipe.
Season your chicken breasts with either 1 teaspoon total of Montreal steak seasoning or just use salt and pepper. When I made it the first time on my own, I used the Montreal steak seasoning because I had it for another recipe and figured I’d give it a try. It is a strong flavor, though, so spreading 1 teaspoon among four chicken breasts is more than enough.
Next is one of my favorite flavors to go with chicken: honey mustard! I use premade honey mustard salad dressing, because we eat it around my house anyway.
If you don’t have honey mustard, you can make your own with 4 tablespoons mayonnaise, 4 teaspoons honey and 4 teaspoons Dijon or yellow mustard. Either way, you want to top each chicken breast with honey mustard. I used about 1 teaspoon of honey mustard per chicken breast, swirled it on top and then used a spoon to spread it.
Finally, you add the pecan crust to the chicken. Use a spoon to pile the pecan mixture on the top of each chicken breast and cover it well. Press down a bit to make sure it sticks. You only need to put the pecans on the top.
That’s it. Stick your pecan-crusted chicken into the preheated 450-degree oven for 15 to 20 minutes until the crust is brown and the inside middle of the chicken is at least 165-degrees.
Make it a dinner
While the pecan-crusted chicken bakes, I usually prep our sides to go along with it. One of our favorite pairings is oven-roasted broccoli and mashed potatoes. I have learned that scratch mashed potatoes aren’t nearly as difficult to make as I once thought, but to make weeknights easier, I usually make boxed or pouch mashed potatoes. It makes for a delicious plate of food!
- 4 chicken breasts about 5 ounces each
- 2/3 cup chopped pecans
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1/2 cup Panko I used Panko seasoned
- 1 teaspoon Montreal steak seasoning or salt and pepper
- 4 teaspoons honey mustard salad dressing or mix 4 tablespoons mayonnaise, 4 teaspoons honey and 4 teaspoons Dijon or yellow mustard together
- Preheat your oven to 450-degrees (F) with the rack placed in the center.
- If you are using pecan pieces, skip to the next step. Otherwise, use a knife, your fingers or a food processor to break your pecans into pieces. They don't have to be small, but they do need to be at least roughly chopped.
- Melt the 2 tablespoons of butter in the microwave.
- Stir the pecans, Panko and some salt and pepper into the butter. If you want an extra kick, sprinkle in some of the Montreal steak seasoning as well. It should form a moist, yet crumbly mixture. Set it aside.
- Use your hand or a meat mallet to pound your chicken to the approximately same thickness. (A rolling pin also works. I suggest putting the chicken in paper towels or plastic wrap to do this.)
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels then place each chicken breast on a baking sheet liberally sprayed with non-stick cooking spray or lined with either parchment paper or non-stick aluminum foil. (I go the non-stick aluminum foil route for easy clean-up.)
- Season the top of the chicken with the Montreal steak seasoning by spreading the 1 teaspoon among the four chicken breasts. Or season the chicken with salt and pepper.
- Put about 1 teaspoon of honey mustard on top of each chicken breast; use a spoon to spread it over the top of the chicken.
- Mound the pecan mixture on top of each chicken breast and press down gently so the mixture sticks. You only need to coat the top side.
- Place the chicken in the preheated oven and bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the crust is browned and the inside center of the chicken is at least 165-degrees (F).
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