Recipe Review

The One Ina Garten Recipe I’ll Never Make Again

published Aug 19, 2020
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Credit: Photo: Jason Rampe; Food Stylist: Amelia Rampe; Design: The Kitchn

Ina Garten has been a top-tier competitor in our celebrity recipe showdowns. She reigned supreme in both mashed potatoes and chocolate cake, and I can’t stop thinking about her practically perfect potato salad. Her recipes are known for being reliable and delicious, and I had no doubt her chicken tenders would impress me as well.

I was particularly eager to try Ina’s five-star recipe because of its use of Parmesan breadcrumbs. I had high hopes for what looked to be cheesy, crispy, perfectly golden chicken sticks. Here’s what happened when I gave them a try.

Credit: Photo: Jason Rampe; Food Stylist: Amelia Rampe; Design: The Kitchn

How to Make Ina Garten’s Parmesan Chicken Sticks

You’ll start by diagonally slicing a few boneless skinless chicken breasts into large strips. In one bowl, whisk extra-large eggs with a splash of water, and in another bowl, combine flour, salt, and black pepper. In a final bowl, combine seasoned breadcrumbs and grated Parmesan cheese. 

First, you’ll dredge the chicken in the flour, then dip it in the egg mixture, and finally the breadcrumbs. When the chicken is coated, heat in a large skillet with one tablespoon olive oil and one tablespoon butter. Cook the chicken until golden-brown and cooked through, three minutes per side. Add more butter and oil as you cook the rest of the pieces. At this point, Ina instructs you to insert a skewer, but I omitted that detail to make these more consistent with the other tender recipes I was testing.

Credit: Photo: Jason Rampe | Food Stylist: Amelia Rampe

My Honest Review of Ina Garten’s Parmesan Chicken Sticks

These were the most disappointing chicken tenders of the entire showdown. For starters, I found the chicken slicing instructions much too vague. She tells you to “slice each (chicken breast) diagonally into 4 or 5 large strips,” but I would have appreciated more detail around the thickness of the slices. I’m not sure if it was because of how it was sliced, but this recipe had the least desirable chicken texture of all four recipes.

My next issue was with the cooking method. Two tablespoons of fat in a large skillet is barely enough to coat the bottom of the tenders, leaving a pale unattractive ring around the equator of each tender. I would have preferred to use at least enough fat to go halfway up the sides of the tenders, which would have cooked them more evenly and given them better flavor. These also didn’t reheat well, and my youngest daughter refused to eat the leftovers.

Ina does get a few points for seasoning her flour — she was actually the only contestant to do so. But even so, the tenders as a whole were still underseasoned.

Credit: Photo: Jason Rampe | Food Stylist: Amelia Rampe

If You’re Making Ina Garten’s Parmesan Chicken Sticks, a Few Tips

  1. Add more salt! Salt is what brings out all the good flavors of your food. Lightly seasoning the chicken, the egg mixture, and the breadcrumbs would have improved this recipe greatly.
  2. Add more fat to the pan. To cook the chicken evenly, I would add enough oil to go halfway up the sides of the tenders. If you don’t want to fry, you could bake them as well.
  3. Add extra seasoning to the breadcrumbs. There are so many ways to riff here: paprika, garlic or onion powder, cayenne, or dried herbs would all be great. Seasonings are your friend!

Rating: 4/10

Credit: Photo: Jason Rampe; Food Stylist: Amelia Rampe; Design: The Kitchn

Have you ever made Ina Garten’s Parmesan chicken strips? Tell us what you thought!