Back before we had kids, my husband and I would frequently leave work and head to a local happy hour on Fridays. It was a fun way to decompress, and we were always on a budget at that time. So we feasted on half price appetizers! HA! Looking back, those were some pretty great memories we had together, and I always smile whenever I think about those “dates.”
One of our favorite places to go was Wingers, which has amazing wings. One of their specialties was called “Sticky Fingers,” which were basically chicken strips coated in a perfectly spicy and sweet sauce. They were some of my absolute favorite appetizers, and I was sad I would have to miss out on them after we left Idaho. However, much to my delight, the internet is full of copycat recipes to help you create that amazing sticky sauce. Once I found it, I knew I had to get my fix.
The recipe for the sauce is actually pretty simple to make and contains just 3 ingredients: brown sugar, Frank’s hot sauce, and water. But as you can imagine, the carbs start to add up pretty quickly, especially when you take that sauce and coat a breaded chicken strip. So, to make this a little lighter, I decided to omit the breading on my chicken and really celebrate the sauce (as it is my favorite part anyway!).
Another issue I thought of when prepping this meal is my kiddos. If you don’t already know, Frank’s hot sauce is pretty spicy. Even though the recipe contains brown sugar to tame down the heat, it still has a kick that probably only adults could appreciate.
Since we were omitting breading and grilling these tenderloins, I thought it might be a good idea to marinate the tenderloins in the chick-fil-a nugget marinade. This would give the tenderloins for the adults a good base flavor and be pleasing to the kids without a sauce, too! Bonus if you serve it with the skinny chick-fil-a sauce. Just to remember to double the chicken tenderloin portion of this recipe for your kids, so you’re sure to have enough.
After the tenderloins are marinated and seasoned, they get grilled to perfection. Once they come off, they get coated in the sweet and spicy sauce. From there, the options are kind of your call. They would be great as an appetizer, dipped into some lighter ranch dressing and served with crudites like celery and bell pepper. Or you can serve them as the protein portion of your entree with some sweet potato fries and veggies on the side. We opted to serve them in a big salad. We filled it with chopped romaine, avocado, cheddar cheese (although blue cheese would be a welcomed addition!), chopped tomatoes, pickled onions, and some light ranch.
Macros for 79 g of chicken tenderloins in the sauce are 0.5F/13.5C/24.9P, 152 calories. Although they are a little higher in carbs than I like my protein to typically be, they are not a bad trade off when you compare them to wings at a restaurant.
Sticky Finger Chicken Tenderloins
For the Chicken Tenderloins
- 1 lb chicken tenderloins (~453 g)
- 1/2 c pickle juice
- 1/4 c low fat milk
- 2 tsp powdered sugar
- 1 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp paprika
For the Sauce
- 50 g brown sugar (1/4 cup)
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp Frank's Hot Sauce
- 1 tbsp water
For the chicken tenderloins.
- Marinate thawed chicken tenderloins for 30 minutes in a mixture of the pickle juice and milk.
- After 30 minutes has passed, take out the tenderloins and discard remaining marinade. Pat the chicken tenderloins dry with a paper towel.
- In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. Stir to combine them and then sprinkle them over the tenderloins.
- Heat the grill to high and cook over high heat until the tenderloins are cooked through.
For the sauce
- In a small sauce pan, stir together the brown sugar, water, and hot sauce over medium heat. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the brown sugar has dissolved and the mixture begins to boil and thicken. Remove from heat and allow to cool completely. Note: It is actually best to make this ahead to allow sufficient time to cool!
- Combine the cooked tenderloins and the sticky sauce. Serve with ranch dressing and celery as an appetizer, or in a loaded salad!