Just hearing the words “maple-pecan crusted” I’m already interested. I’m thinking about something a little sweet, a little nutty, definitely crunchy – a foray into a satisfying bite. Even though I’m not usually a big fan of boneless, skinless chicken breasts, the promise of this coating – made even crunchier with panko bread crumbs – convinced me to give Maple-Pecan Crusted Chicken a try.
I have a love/hate relationship with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. On the one hand, they’re so easy – they cook fast and it’s lean protein. I can easily chop them up for my kids without having to navigate around bones. But they can turn out dry so easily (in restaurants they almost always seem to be inedibly dry) and they’re often just so blah, flavor-wise. I much prefer a juicier bone-in, skin-on chicken breast or, better yet, thighs.
That said, I’m still open to trying recipes involving boneless, skinless chicken breasts if there’s a flavorful marinade, goodies like prosciutto and cheese stuffed inside, or (as in the case of today’s recipe) there’s a great crust. This chicken turned out to be terrific – crunchy and gently sweet on the outside, moist on the inside. As you can probably tell from the photos, these pieces were on the huge side, so my trusty meat thermometer once again came in handy to ensure I cooked the chicken to the right temperature (but not a degree more!). The only small addition I made to the recipe, which I found on the back of a box of Progresso panko bread crumbs, was to season the chicken before applying the coating.
That’s it – start to finish in under 30 minutes, perfect for a weeknight dinner. While the chicken was baking, I pulled together some Vanilla Glazed Baby Carrots and Lemon Jasmine Rice with Peas and Mint (I’ll be sharing that recipe soon!) to serve on the side.
Maple-Pecan Crusted Chicken
Adapted very slightly from the back of the Progresso® Plain Panko Crispy Bread Crumbs box
Prep time: 10 minutes | Cook time: 20 minutes | Total time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 servings
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 1/4 lb)
- Coarse salt and black pepper
- 1/4 cup pure maple syup
- 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup plain panko bread crumbs
- 1/2 cup finely chopped pecans
- Heat oven to 400°F. Line baking sheet with foil; spray with cooking spray. Between pieces of plastic wrap or waxed paper, place each chicken breast smooth side down; gently pound with flat side of meat mallet or rolling pin until about 1/2-inch thick. Season the chicken with coarse salt and black pepper.
- In shallow dish, mix together maple syrup and mayonnaise. In another shallow dish, mix together panko and pecans. Dip chicken into syrup mixture, then into panko. Place on baking sheet. Spray top of chicken with cooking spray.
- Bake 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until juice of chicken is clear when center of thickest part is cut (165°F) and coating is golden brown.