HOME > Chowhound > Greater Boston Area >


life without chicken fingers--worth living?

It just occurred to me, sort of one of those half-awake reveries, that I've never had them. Frankly I'm not even sure I could identify one in a line-up. Why are they ubiquitous? If I had one would I see the light? Where would this revelation take place? Etc.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Maybe if they were made of chicken thigh meat instead of chicken breast (bland, dry) or chicken parts including a lot of skin (unpleasant texture, scary fat content), had an interesting batter, were expertly fried, and were served with a good dipping sauce, you'd have something. Unfortunately, none of these conditions are met with the typical chicken finger, They're generally a heinous, over-processed pseudo-food -- a bad set of health/deliciousness trade-offs. Among cheap, fried, fatty finger foods, it''s not hard to find better choices.

    9 Replies
    1. re: MC Slim JB

      They're disgusting but I have to have them once or twice a year. Mr. Chan's in the Longwood food court provides the typical gross yet tasty finger, as does the Food Wall in JP. You have to have them at least once.

      1. re: Joanie

        Totally agree on Mr. Chan's CF's, usually ordered with boneless spareribs.

        1. re: Taralli

          When I worked at DFCI, I used to like going to Mr Chans when I was feeling a bit hungover. The cashew chicken combo w/ chicken fingers ... the salty, fatty goodness combo with some sugar from duck sauce. That'd put me in a food coma the rest of the day and stave off my headache :)

        2. re: Joanie

          i'm actually a big fan of the chicken wings at food wall. how do they compare to their chicken fingers?

          1. re: autopi

            Comparing chicken wings and chicken fingers is the proverbial apples and oranges. FW does have nice big wings, bigger than normal. Fingers are typical fingers, a little bit of chicken wrapped in a big amount of fried dough.

          1. re: Aromatherapy

            I always loved the name Food Wall, but that's another story. So then, why *are* they ubiquitous--I mean aside from the obvious? How did they come to be--was someone seeking fried chicken without bones or what? Why are they at Chinese restos too, as Joanie notes? Is my sudden obsession scaring anyone? Don't worry, it'll be over in minutes, once I start thinking too hard about, say, butter-filled mozzarella.
            Which reminds me, I saw a menu from a Nantucket place the other day that listed: burgers with foie gras dipping sauce. I haven't recovered from that yet.

            1. re: tatamagouche

              You need to get some sleep.

              I like chicken fingers, but I like my fried snacks in general. I like the chicken fingers at Theo's in Teele Square, but I believe that virtually every place gets them from Sysco, so as long as someone in the kitchen knows how to fry, they'll be the same thing. I dip mine in ranch dressing.

              1. re: yumyum

                When at a show at Johnny D's drinking beers, I tend to stick to their chicken fingers. They seem to be freshly prepared, not pre-breaded and frozen, but I could be wrong. They're huge and relatively grease free, but a little on the bland side by themselves. They honey mustard served with them may be Sysco.

        3. Generally, I only eat chicken fingers after a long night of barhopping, so I don't eat them quite as often as I used to (maybe only four nights a week now--kidding!). Most chicken fingers, as other posters have said, are greasy, unhealthy, and often pretty gross. But there are a few places that do them better than most. Among them:

          Chau Chow, Dorchester
          New Jumbo, Chinatown
          Sun's Kitchen, Arlington
          Kowloon, Saugus

          Believe it or not, Sun's might be my favorite of them all for chicken fingers. They are located in Downing Square in Arlington Heights.

          1 Reply
          1. re: hiddenboston

            I'll agree on Chau Chow.
            In general I think all but the worst Chinese fingers are better than most non-Chinese versions.
            As long as they're golden-fried with decent dough and chicken they're pretty good compared to the many mutations available in other restaurants.

            I've always seen the meat dipped into batter and dropped in oil at any open kitchen I've been at.
            Much fresher than the breaded possibly frozen and formed tender variety.

          2. Ok, this is going to sound crazy, but if you are ever going to try Chicken Fingers, opt not for the chinese pupu varieties mentioned above, but sit at the bar at Bennigans and order chicken fingers and a beer. These are the BEST chicken fingers I have ever had; in high school we used to devour them in scary quantities late at night on saturdays (Bennigans was open til 2 on the weekends!) and they come with the BEST EVER honey mustard dipping sauce.

            Bennigans is a lousy, lousy chain, but somehow, when they designed their chicken fingers, the stars were aligned. Granted, I've never had the fingers at Kowloon or New Jumbo, but you can't go wrong with these, I promise.

            1 Reply
            1. re: tamerlanenj

              I agree!!!! I've been dragged to Bennigans only a handful of times and I have thoroughly enjoyed the chicken fingers. However, everything else on the menu that I've had is absolutely dreadful.

            2. I actually get an occasional chicken finger craving and I like the ones at Scollay Square. They are not that frozen, fake chicken kind, but rather look and taste like real chicken. And they are called chicken tenders there, not fingers.

              1. couldnt boneless buffalo wings like at the 99 be considored chicken fingers? Those are pretty tasty especially if out drinking.

                1. There is a place in Manchester, New Hampsgire called the Puritan Backroom that has the best chicken tenders (read:fingers) that I have ever tasted. And I've tasted many. Thw website is www.puritanbackroom.com. My buddy from college lives up there and I went one night with he and his girlfriend. The tenders have a light batter coating on them and are served with fries and sweet and sour dipping sauce on the side, I could have eaten a couple plates of those babies! Not at all greasy and really moist.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: billyboy

                    The Puritan Backroom is Manch-Vegas! at its finest. If you choose wisely, there are all manner of decent eats there.

                  2. I have also had chicken tempura at some Japanese places which is esentially a chicken finger

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: hargau

                      Oh yeah! Back when Saint was good (i.e., in the first month or two) Michelina was doing something along those lines that I loved. I'd forgotten about that.

                    2. i've had them too often as staff meals and would rather go hungry than pay for them any place. you've probably added at least a day to your life by not eating them.

                      the extra icky ones are *pressed* chicken kinda molded and formed. yes, from sysco, and i'm sure just the left over bits from other processed chicken. lotsa hot sauce helps.

                      1. Well, yes, let's just be clear that there are two very distinct camps of "chicken fingers.."
                        One is the generally un-appetizing "pressed" sysco-like fingers served fried with some sorta dipping sauce; and the other is the chinese-tempura style chicken finger...this is much much different and in fact, I think much superior to the regular old mcdonald's-style finger.

                        I actually really enjoy tempura-style chicken fingers, like those from food wall or really any greasy chinese restaurant....I know that each bite i take increases my cholesterol by a few points, but they really are a favorite of mine. They also bring me back to childhood, when chinese food was so closely associated with these chicken fingers. I don't have them often, but when I do...mmmmm...

                        In regards to the standard, traditional chicken finger that others have mentioned here.....99's boneless buffalo fingers are delicious and should not be entered into the dreaded "chicken finger" category. They are strips of white meat chicken lightly fried with the tasty buffalo sauce...and not at all the dried out tasteless fingers mentioned above.

                        I do my best to avoid chains at all costs..but i recall being dragged to bugaboo creek once or twice and really enjoying the chicken fingers on the app menu there. They are sort of a cross btwn traditional fingers and the tempura ones....very lightly battered, with strips of white meat...juicy and really just flash-fried. Come with some sort of sweet dipping sauce and they're addictive. I think they're called "snowbird fingers" or something like that. Not at all something I ever would have ordered but a friend liked them and forced me to try them....and it was definitely worth it.

                        OK, so more than you ever wanted to know regarding my thoughts on chicken fingers, but there you have it!!!!

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: twentyoystahs

                          Everyhing you wanted to know about chicken fingers but were afraid to ask....great post!

                          1. re: twentyoystahs

                            Yes, that's exactly what I wanted to know! Thanks to all--I think I can turn my attentions to new mysteries now! Stay tuned...

                            1. re: tatamagouche

                              We expect a full report! Perhaps you can try every sort of chicken finger in an orgy of cholesterol?

                              1. re: sailormouth

                                Not alone, lest I needed CPR. For that I may have to organize a crawl (though somehow "finger crawl" sounds singularly obscene).

                            2. re: twentyoystahs

                              WARNING - 'chicken fingers' can sometimes mean 'chicken feet', as we learned when ordering off the Thai menu at Montien one time. Don't ask me why we ordered something called a 'chicken finger salad' in the first place, but it was basically cold chicken feet with a dressing of lime, shallot, chillies, and fish sauce. Except for the chicken finger part it was pretty good!

                              1. re: Sgt Snackers

                                That sounds really good; I haven't had this dish in ages....will have to go try it there.

                                1. re: Sgt Snackers

                                  That sounds good. Chicken feet are an acquired thing, but themselves don't have much flavor - I gnaw at them for the gelatinous bits.

                                2. re: twentyoystahs

                                  Great post: I would divide chicken fingers into three distinct categories:
                                  1. Fingers - processed, ground, pressed into funny shapes, breaded --- YUCK
                                  2. Chinese tenders - real chicken parts, fried in a soft, thick, slightly sweet batter (Lotus flour?) - not my cup of tea, but better than #1
                                  3. Large strips of chicken breast, lightly breaded, fried crunchy on the outside, moist and tender on the inside - variety of dipping suaces. Generally best if not pre-frozen. Certainly a naughty pleasure, but a pleasure none the less.

                                  My kids, to my eternal shame, will eat #1 but not the rest. These are truly terrible - spongy, fatty, bits of crap. I now refuse to allow them into the house and I am gradually getting them to accept modified versions of #3 (chicken fried in a goldfish cracker crust, anyone?)

                                  My vote for the best chicken fingers - Matterhorn Bar in Newry Maine (sunday river). Perfectly fried, a touch of pepper in the batter, worth every extra dose of lipitor I have to take.

                                3. Try the chicken pakora at Salt and Grain in Allston.

                                  1. I had lunch today at The Good Life and we split an app of the buffalo chicken tenders. They were pretty good and didn't seem like those pre-formed, frozen ones. I also split a pizza that was a special today which was quite good with sausage, onions, roasted peppers and a thin, crisp crust despite all the toppings. My only feedback would be that the crust could have used a little more flavor (maybe some salt or something).

                                    1. The 99 is pretty bad but I have to give them credit for fresh breading / frying theor chicken. If not for those boneless buffalo wings, I would have thought that the 99 was the percent that the place sucked !

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: TonyO

                                        Their fish& chips is actually pretty good too, good size, fresh and they use a tasty batter. Those are the only 2 things i like there.

                                        1. re: hargau

                                          True, the fish can be decent as well. Give the fish 1/2 % and the boneless wings the other 1/2%.

                                      2. For a Taiwanese take on "chicken fingers," try the Salted,crispy chicken on the Mulan menu..F5..great dish with crispy basil

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: 9lives

                                          OMG 9lives, you read my mind. The ones at Mulan are the epitome of the perfect chicken finger -- to me anyhow, since they're perfectly fried and sprinkled in fermented black beans. And really, what doesn't taste better with fermented black beans???

                                          Now if they would only slip some kind of smoky, salty pork into that dish, it would be nirvana.

                                        2. The chicken fingers at the Harp and Bard in Dorchester are some of the best around. Meaty, nice breading, and your choice of duck or honey mustard dipping sauces. The honey mustard is great. They often offer a Chicken Finger Plate with fries. A good value. This and the Steak Tips are about the only things left worth having at this fading wonder.

                                          1. Anyone know what's going on with Mr. Chan's at the Longwood Galleria? It has a big barrier way in front of their space.