Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, this oven-baked chicken is finger-lickin’ good!

By: Jodie Shield, MED, RDN

You may have noticed that I have devoted my last few blogs to convincing you to eat family meals together. I wrote about the importance of Establishing a Dinner RoutineHow to Improve Your Child’s Eating Behavior at the Dinner Table, and I offered a Week Night Survival Menu: Last-Minute Lasagna. Many of you have told me that you are committed to eating together as a family; now here comes the . . . BUT. But sometimes your kids, especially teenagers, are not so enthusiastic. No worries. Let me share with you my secret weapon. It’s a recipe that I ran across years ago and I have tweaked it to perfection. I call it Better-Than-Fried Chicken. Whenever I want everyone home – even my college kids – all I have to do is get the word out that I’m making this meal, and every seat at the dinner table is filled!

To lighten things up, and save me precious time, I always have our meat department remove the skin from the chicken – there’s no extra charge. However, make sure they leave in the bone as it adds to the savory flavor. My family loves dark meat, so I use chicken thighs and drumsticks, but chicken breasts work well too. I also like to use whole-wheat Ritz Crackers because this brand (which I’m not sponsored by) adds the best crunch and a little extra fiber. While I wouldn’t consider this a low calorie recipe, it’s much lighter compared to fried chicken. For more delicious family meals like Southwestern Lasagna and BBQ Chicken Quinoa Bake, download my FREE app Time To Eat Healthy Homemade Meals in Minutes available from iTunes and Goggle Play.

Better-Than-Fried Chicken

8 servings

Prep Time = 15 minutes

Cook Time= 1 hour


  • 8 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed
  • 1 cup whole-wheat Ritz Crackers, crushed (about 1 sleeve or 35 crackers)
  • 1/2 cup butter, melted


  1. Preheat the oven to 350° F.
  2. Dip each chicken thigh first in melted butter then dredge through the crushed cracker crumbs. Coat each piece well; shake off any excess crumbs.
  3. Place the chicken in a large baking dished coated with nonstick cooking spray or small amount of melted butter. Be careful not to crowd the chicken.
  4. Bake for at least 60 minutes. If you like crispy chicken, cook about 20 minutes more.

Nutrition Information per (1 thigh) Serving: 371 calories, 30 grams protein, 10 grams carbohydrate, 23 grams fat, 10 grams saturated fat, 185 milligrams cholesterol,1 gram fiber, 230 milligrams sodium, 2 grams sugar


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About Author


Jodie Shield, M.Ed., R.D., L.D.N. Jodie Shield has been a consultant and spokesperson in the field of nutrition for over two decades. A former national media spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association (1989-1995), she has worked extensively with the Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center and taught nutrition and medical dietetics at the University of Illinois. Currently she is a complemental faculty member of the College of Health Sciences in the Department of Clinical Nutrition at Rush University in Chicago.

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