Crispy Cider-Battered Chicken Fingers


Believe it or not, the best beer batter isn't made with beer! It's actually done with sparkling apple cider, which produces a light, beautifully crispy, and very flavorful coating. Not to mention it's super easy.

Prep Time:
15 mins
Cook Time:
10 mins
Additional Time:
10 mins
Total Time:
35 mins
8 servings

Almost all the crispy chicken fingers recipes you see feature a breaded coating, which is a little hard to understand when you think of your typical chicken fingers audience: Kids and people who eat with kids. Maybe it's because these recipes are trying to mimic what's found in the freezer section at the grocery store, but whatever it is, the last thing a busy parent needs to do is set up a three-part breading station when they can whip this two-ingredient coating in seconds. If the kids are skeptical, just explain that this is much closer to what's found on their beloved nuggets.

But I'm sort of burying the lead here, as what this video really shows is that the world's best beer batter might not contain any beer. I knew that you could make these batters with any cold, bubbly liquid, but it didn't dawn on me to use sparkling apple cider until I saw Chef Nathan Outlaw explain how well it works in the show My Greatest Dishes. He wasn't lying.

This features the same light and crispy coating as beer batter, but with a tastier and more interesting flavor. By the way, I did chicken fingers because I've already posted a proper fish and chips, but this batter will work on pretty much anything destined for the deep fryer. So, no matter what you're craving, I really do hope you give this a try soon. Enjoy!

For more Chef John, be sure to subscribe to Food Wishes on YouTube! Click the "Join" button there to get Chef John's bonus video footage and behind-the-scenes pictures, live chats, and other Food Wishes member exclusives.


  • 4 (8 ounce) skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper

  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

  • 1 cup self-rising flour

  • 1 ¼ cups sparkling apple cider

  • 1 quart canola oil for frying

Mustard Dipping Sauce (Optional):

  • cup Dijon mustard

  • 2 tablespoons seasoned rice vinegar

  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce

  • 1 pinch white sugar, or to taste


  1. Cut each chicken breast into 6 finger-sized strips, and transfer into a mixing bowl.

  2. Season with kosher salt, black pepper, and cayenne and toss until evenly coated. Sprinkle the all-purpose flour over top and shake the bowl to coat the strips. Toss until all the surfaces are completely coated, and then transfer onto a rack or plate. Place in the refrigerator, uncovered, for at least 10 minutes, or until ready to fry.

  3. Meanwhile, whisk self-rising flour and sparkling apple cider together in a mixing bowl to form a thin batter. Batter should be somewhere between a thin pancake batter and a crepe batter, but still thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. Place in the refrigerator to rest for 5 to 10 minutes before using.

  4. Mix Dijon mustard, vinegar, hot sauce, and sugar together for dipping sauce in a bowl.

  5. Heat oil in a deep-fryer or large saucepan to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).

  6. Dip each chicken finger into the batter to coat. Deep-fry in batches in the hot oil until golden brown, crispy, and no longer pink in the centers, 3 to 4 1/2 minutes. Drain on paper towels and serve immediately with dipping sauce.


Chef's Notes:

If you want to use other herbs and spices rather than salt, pepper, and cayenne, go ahead.

I used a hard apple cider, but a non-alcoholic cider can be used instead.

Editor's Note:

We have determined the nutritional value of oil for frying based on a retention value of 10% after cooking. Amount will vary depending on cooking time and temperature, ingredient density, and specific type of oil used.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

387 Calories
21g Fat
27g Carbs
21g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Calories 387
% Daily Value *
Total Fat 21g 27%
Saturated Fat 4g 21%
Cholesterol 65mg 22%
Sodium 917mg 40%
Total Carbohydrate 27g 10%
Dietary Fiber 1g 3%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 21g
Vitamin C 1mg 3%
Calcium 69mg 5%
Iron 2mg 10%
Potassium 220mg 5%

* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

** Nutrient information is not available for all ingredients. Amount is based on available nutrient data.

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a medically restrictive diet, please consult your doctor or registered dietitian before preparing this recipe for personal consumption.

You’ll Also Love