Sunflower Seed-Crusted Chicken

Chicken breasts can get a little boring if you don't watch out. It's a good source of lean protein, but can get old if you don't change it up a bit every now and then.  You can always change the cooking method — baking, roasting, sauteing and grilling are all great ways to cook chicken. Or you can try adding different marinades or sauces, or stuffing it. One way you might not have considered to prevent "chicken breast burnout" is coating it in something new.

Sunflower Crusted Chicken Fingers are a perfect example of how to make chicken more exciting. These little sunflower seeds pack a serious nutrition punch — they're full of healthy fats and lots of vitamins and minerals, including: vitamins E, B1 and B6; manganese; copper; tryptophan; magnesium; and selenium. I know, right? Did you see all those vitamins and minerals you can get naturally from your food?! Plus, sunflower seeds have the added bonus of containing phytosterols which can help lower cholesterol levels and boost immune response. And, last but not least, sunflower seeds are tolerated by practically everyone as they're not a common food allergen.

I love sunflower seeds as a snack because they have a good amount of protein and fiber, and if you buy them unshelled, they take a while to eat a one-ounce serving. However, for this recipe, you want to purchase shelled, unsalted and raw sunflower seeds. If you can only find the salted variety, omit the added salt in the recipe. 

I added a honey mustard dipping sauce — because what's the fun in a chicken finger without having a dip for it? Ketchup would work, but the tangy-sweet honey mustard goes perfectly with the sunflower seed coating.

These chicken fingers are great for kids, and you can feel confident knowing that they are getting a meal full of protein, healthy fat, and an array of vitamins and minerals. Adults like them, too!

Sunflower Seed-Crusted Chicken

Recipe by Meme Inge, MS, RD, LDN

Serves 4

1/2 cup 1percent milk
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
1 tsp. mustard
1 pound chicken tenders or breasts cut into strips
2 tsp. canola oil
3/4 cup sunflower seeds, chopped
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
3/4 tsp. salt-free all purpose seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
2 Tbsp. yellow mustard
2 Tbsp. Dijon mustard
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. plain Greek yogurt


  1. In a shallow bowl or zip-top bag, stir together milk, hot sauce and mustard. Add chicken and let sit for at least 20 minutes or up to overnight in the refrigerator.
  2. Preheat oven to 350°F. In a large, oven-safe skillet, heat canola oil over medium-high.
  3. Stir together chopped sunflower seeds, bread crumbs, seasoning and salt in a medium bowl. Take chicken out of milk; shake off excess milk. Dip in sunflower seed mixture, coating both sides. Put in hot skillet. Repeat with remaining chicken tenders. 
  4. Cook chicken for 5 minutes, flip. Transfer to the oven and cook until done, about 7 to 10 minutes depending on thickness and size.
  5. Carefully remove from oven.
  6. Whisk honey mustard dipping sauce ingredients in a bowl. Taste and add more mustard or honey if desired. 
  7. Serve chicken with honey mustard dipping sauce or another dipping sauce if desired.
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Meme Inge
Meme Inge, MS, RD, LDN, is a registered dietitian in New Orleans by day, and a food writer in her free time. Read her recipes, advice and restaurant reviews on her blog, Living Well Kitchen, and follow Meme on Twitter and Pinterest.