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Crispy Cheddar & Jalapeño Coated Chicken Breasts

Scott Phillips

Servings: four.

The lively Mexican flavors in in this crispy coating make it a good match for a cold beer.


  • 4 small boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (6 to 7 oz. each), trimmed of excess fat
  • 1 cup plain yogurt, preferably whole-milk
  • 1 Tbs. chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbs. light brown sugar
  • 2 tsp. chili powder
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups Toasted Breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 lb. tortilla chips, crushed into coarse crumbs (about 1-1/3 cups)
  • 1/4 lb. sharp Cheddar, grated (about 1 lightly packed cup)
  • 1/2 to 2/3 cup sliced jarred jalapeños, chopped and patted dry
  • 1 lime, cut into wedges

Nutritional Information

  • Nutritional Sample Size based on four servings
  • Calories (kcal) : 300
  • Fat Calories (kcal): 100
  • Fat (g): 11
  • Saturated Fat (g): 4
  • Polyunsaturated Fat (g): 2
  • Monounsaturated Fat (g): 3.5
  • Cholesterol (mg): 105
  • Sodium (mg): 320
  • Carbohydrates (g): 10
  • Fiber (g): 1
  • Protein (g): 38


  • Heat the oven to 450°F. Put a flat rack on a large rimmed baking sheet lined with foil.
  • With a meat pounder or a heavy skillet, lightly pound the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap to even out the thickness of the breasts.
  • In a large bowl, mix the yogurt with half of the thyme, the brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add the chicken and toss to coat well. You can proceed directly to coating the chicken breasts with crumbs, or let them marinate in the fridge for up to 24 hours.
  • Put the breadcrumbs in a large shallow dish and toss with the tortilla chips, Cheddar, jalapeños, and the remaining thyme. Working with one piece at a time, transfer the chicken to the dish of crumbs, scoop some crumbs on top, and press well so the breadcrumbs adhere to both sides. Transfer to the rack on the baking sheet. 

    These crumbs are coarser than your average breadcrumbs, so it takes a little extra force to get them to adhere. My method is to pat a healthy amount of breadcrumbs on top of the chicken and then use the heel of my hand and a firm rotating motion to press the crumbs onto the chicken. Don’t shake off the excess when transferring the breasts to the baking sheet; you want to keep as many crumbs on the chicken as possible.

  • Bake the chicken until it’s firm to the touch and registers 165°F on an instantread thermometer, about 20 minutes. Serve immediately with the lime wedges for squeezing over the chicken.

Make Ahead Tips

Make the crumbs ahead. They’ll keep for up to three days in a container at room temperature. Or if you want to whip a few batches of crumbs, you can store them in a zip-top bag in your freezer for a couple of months.

Marinate ahead: You can pound the chicken and immerse it in a sticky flavor bath the day before you cook it. The results will be excellent because the flavors really sink into the meat.


Rate or Review

Reviews (8 reviews)

  • User avater
    llinares1 | 02/08/2016

    very delicious so 5 stars for taste. but i'm giving lower rating because i thought prep work was a bit tedious and took longer than i'd like for a weeknight. Still we really enjoyed it and may make it again.

  • Artzee2 | 10/08/2013

    We just loved this recipe. Makes bake chicken really special. Easy to make gluten free just use gluten free panko and corn tortillas.I marinaded for a couple of hours but would be nice to marinade it longer.

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