Spicy Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Fingers

Ease the heat of these Spicy Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Fingers by serving them with some Creamy Avocado Dipping Sauce.

Spicy Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Fingers from Faithfully Gluten Free


Ever feel like you’re preparing the same 4 or 5 meals for your family? Over, and over, and over. Although they fulfill the dietary requirements, they just don’t excite anyone anymore. When you start hearing responses like “Again?” when you answer your child’s inquiry about dinner, you know it’s time to burst out of the rut and liven things up a little bit. That’s the inspiration behind these Spicy Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Fingers. My kids love chicken fingers – what kid doesn’t – but my kids also love spicy foods. Not hot enough to make your brow bead up with sweat, but enough heat that you know you’ve got some great flavours going on.

When I received an email earlier this week from Closet Cooking showcasing 35 quinoa recipes, I was immediately intrigued by the Quinoa Crusted Chicken Parmesan that Kevin featured. I’ve  always cooked up quinoa and used it as a side dish, but I’d never even thought to use it as a “breading”. Using cooked quinoa as the “breading” for these Spicy Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Fingers worked brilliantly. It adheres to the chicken well, browns beautifully, and holds up to being dunked in the Creamy Avocado Dipping Sauce well too.

Spicy Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Fingers
Since this recipe uses cooked, cooled quinoa, it would also be a great use for leftover quinoa. You will need about 1 1/2 cups of cooked quinoa for this recipe.
Spicy Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Fingers
  • 600 grams (1.3 lbs) boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1" strips
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup quinoa
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (for a little heat, stick to the 1/4 teaspoon)
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup white rice flour
  • 1/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
Creamy Avocado Dipping Sauce
  • 2 small avocados, peeled and pitted
  • 1/4 cup loosely packed cilantro leaves (no stems)
  • 1 tablespoon lime juice
  • 1 clove garlic, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
Spicy Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Fingers
  1. In a small saucepan, bring the water and quinoa to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and let simmer for 20 minutes. Fluff with a fork, and transfer to a bowl to refrigerate until chilled. Once cooled, add the chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Set aside.
  2. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and line a baking sheet that has sides with parchment paper.
  3. In a resealable bag, combine the rice flour, cornstarch, and 1 teaspoon salt. Seal the bag and shake it until evenly mixed. Open the bag and roll down the sides so that you can easily access the flour mixture. Set aside.
  4. In a bowl, whisk together the eggs and lime juice.
  5. Line up the strips of chicken, flour/cornstarch mixture, egg mixture, and quinoa mixture, beside your prepared baking pan.
  6. Working one at a time, coat the chicken strips in the flour mixture, then dip into the egg mixture. Using other hand (keeping one hand for dry ingredients and the other for wet), coat the chicken with the egg mixture, and then coat with the quinoa mixture.
  7. Place on prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all of the chicken strips have been coated.
  8. Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is done. Serve hot with the Creamy Avocado Dipping Sauce.
Creamy Avocado Dipping Sauce
  1. While the Spicy Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Fingers are baking, place all of the ingredients for the dipping sauce into a food processor.
  2. Process until the mixture is smooth, scraping down the sides if necessary.
Leftover Spicy Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Fingers would be perfect on a salad or wrap as well. Plan ahead, and prepare enough for lunch the next day!


This post is linked to Whole Food Fridays and Thank your Body Thursday.

Looking for more information on Quinoa? Be sure to check out our FOOD FACTS article discussing Quinoa.


  1. says

    Sounds yummy. And a nice change. Going to give it a try. The quinoa needs to be well rinsed prior to cooking right? I don’t use it much but have always been told to give it a good rinse first to get rid of the bitter coating.

    • says

      Hi Teri, the quinoa I buy says “Pre-rinsed” right on the package, so I never bother rinsing. If it doesn’t say that though,then I’d suggest a very fine mesh strainer, and leave the water running until it doesn’t foam (apparently the coating that is bitter foams in water) – about 2 minutes.

  2. Chloe says

    Hi there! I’d love to try this recipe but my child is allergic to eggs. Can you suggest another ingredient? thanks a lot.

    • says

      The egg is used to help the quinoa adhere to the chicken, I’m really not sure what you could replace it with, since I don’t have an egg allergy, sorry. Maybe even just dipping in milk after the flour?

  3. Alma says

    Jeanine, I made these for my husband and myself a couple of nights ago. I used the light side of the cayenne pepper. It was just spicy enough for us. Excellent recipe. I can’t wait to share this recipe with my daughter in law, she is trying to get more quinoa in her family, the boys are 7, 5 and 2, so you know they love chicken tenders. The baby is allergic to eggs, could milk be used as a substitute?

    Thanks for all of the great recipes.

  4. Lorna says

    This looks and sounds great! I like the look of crunchy and crispy, but I need to substitute the corn as my son and I are allergic. What would you suggest as a good replacement for the corn? Thanks for the help and sharing your talent for recipes that are gf, but minus other ingredients as well. Again, thank you as you help me, I’m not a big risk taker with gf cooking and baking. Cheers!

  5. sirlansa says

    Not too familiiar with quinoa, except in premade noodles (spaghetti, rotini, etc.)
    Will the 1/2 cup of uncooked quinoa really expand to the 1-1/2 cups uncooked?

  6. Citygal says

    So excited to find this recipe but I’m out of white rice flour, I do have mochiko (sweet rice flour) coconut flour and quinoa flour which would be my best substitute?? Thanks!!


  1. […] 13. Spicy Quinoa-Crusted Chicken Fingers with Creamy Avocado Dipping Sauce  Think chicken fingers are just for the kid’s menu? Think again! Three standout ingredients—cumin, chili powder, and quinoa—in the crust give this childhood favorite a serious upgrade. And don’t even dare to dip these guys in ketchup; this avocado dipping sauce is what dreams are made of. […]

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