Almond Crusted Chicken (Baked Almond Chicken)
Almond crusted chicken with couscous and grapefruit and arugula salad is equal parts winter comfort food and light, fresh and healthy.
If you’re anything like me, you might have a hard time wanting to eat anything other than comfort food during the winter.
I mean, when I trek outside in five degree windchill to do errands, then come home, I don’t generally want a big salad for dinner.
But I believe that there can be a balance between something really comforting and something super fresh and healthy.
This almond crusted chicken with couscous, grapefruit and arugula is one of my favorite winter meals. And just like my chicken sloppy joes and Instant Pot sweet and sour chicken, it’s a healthy meal masquerading as comfort food.
See below for all the details. And if you’d rather use pistachios instead of almonds, please see my pistachio crusted chicken post.
What you’ll need for the almond crusted chicken:
- chicken – I used boneless, skinless chicken thighs for this almond crusted chicken (and chicken stroganoff) because they’re my favorite. You can use breasts – there’s more on that below.
- almonds – or a different nut, there’s more on that below, too!
- panko breadcrumbs – these are negotiable for baked almond chicken for me, because nothing is as crispy and delicious as panko! It’s also my go-to for my crab- stuffed salmon recipe and goat cheese fritters.
- nonstick cooking spray – you’ll be using this to coat the baking pan for almond panko crusted chicken, and also to lightly coat the chicken so it gets golden and crispy.
- eggs – this will be part of your breading station, and will allow the panko and nuts to stick to the chicken. Feel free to use egg whites only if you prefer. You’ll need 3 egg whites instead of 2 whole eggs if you go that route.
- salt and pepper – always! Or, to take it to the next level, sprinkle the chicken with some dry rub recipe before breading it.
Choose your nutty crust for this baked almond chicken:
I happened to have roasted, salted almonds on hand, so I ground those up in my food processor and used them for this almond crusted chicken.
If you have almond meal/flour on hand already from gluten free rum balls, you can use that instead of grinding up your own nuts. However, the reason I like to start with whole nuts for almond panko crusted chicken is that the end result will be a chunkier, crunchier texture.
Commercial almond meal is ground pretty finely and won’t give you quite the same crunch, but it will still taste nutty and delicious. So it’s up to you which route to take!
If you don’t prefer almonds, you can make this same recipe with cashews, walnuts or pecans! Simply sub the same amount of nuts and proceed with the recipe the same way.
Home chef tips for serving this almond panko crusted chicken:
Or, use one of my best “home chef” tips and plate this baked almond chicken dish the same way I imagine a restaurant would.
Restaurants generally start with a base of starch or grain. In this case, I made Israeli couscous flecked with herbs (use any extra mint to make my lamb lollipop recipe or garnish my bourbon mule recipe). Spread this over the bottom of the plate.
Next, go ahead and rest the protein (the almond crusted chicken) right on top.
Then, my all-time favorite way to make a dish feel everyday fancy is to plate it with a small, fresh salad perched up on top of the protein.
Here, I’ve combined sweet, juicy grapefruit segments (save some for a grapefruit vodka cocktail like a grapefruit mule) with some fresh arugula (also great on ham and turkey sliders) and a simple drizzle of olive oil to go on top of the chicken with almond crust.
That fresh salad pairs so nicely with the rich flavors of the almond panko crusted chicken and couscous. Go ahead – give this a try like the home chef that you are!
Can I make almond crusted chicken breasts instead of thighs?
So, I’ve used chicken thighs for this, because chicken thighs are delicious (I also prefer thighs for my orange glazed chicken).
Do you prefer chicken breasts and want to use them to make almond crusted chicken breast instead? Just like with my chicken burrito bowl – by all means, I say, go for it!
You’ll want to either buy thinly sliced chicken breast cutlets or pound regular breasts out to a thinner consistency, otherwise they’ll take so long to bake that your crust might get too dark.
You’re looking for about 1/2- to 3/4 inch thickness for this baked almond chicken.
What is couscous? Can I use something else?
A lot of people think that couscous is a whole grain or seed, but it’s actually a form of pasta (sorry, it’s not QUITE as healthy as you might think). Acini de pepe pasta is another very similar option that will pair nicely with chicken with almond crust.
Food Network has a really great article with a lot more information about what couscous is and how it’s made.
For this particular almond crusted chicken recipe, I’ve chosen the Israeli (AKA pearl) variety of couscous because I like this size and texture (I also love it for shrimp couscous and alongside pan-fried pork chops). Traditional couscous (where each piece is a much smaller size) is also great here, and is the secret ingredient in my vegetable lasagna recipe!
If you’d prefer an ACTUAL grain as the base of this baked almond chicken dish, I recommend quinoa (which I also use to make maple quinoa granola) or wild rice. And sometimes I’ll just serve this chicken with a simple side of butternut squash noodles.
Psst – if you love the combination of chicken and citrus as much as I do, check out my orange ginger chicken recipe.
For the Almond Crusted Chicken:
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 1/2 cup roasted salted almonds
- 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 4 large boneless, skinless chicken thighs
For the Couscous:
- 1 cup Israeli (pearl) couscous
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh mint
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
For the Salad:
- 3 cups baby arugula
- 2 grapefruit, peeled and segmented
- 1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil
- Make the Almond Crusted Chicken: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray rimmed baking pan with cooking spray. In food processor fitted with knife blade attachment, pulse almonds until finely ground.
- Place ground almonds in shallow dish. Add breadcrumbs, salt and pepper; stir until well combined. In second shallow dish, whisk eggs until smooth. Working with one piece at a time, dip chicken in egg, shaking off excess egg, then dip in almond mixture. Place on prepared baking pan; lightly spray chicken with cooking spray. Transfer chicken to oven and bake 18 to 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, turning once.
- Meanwhile, make the Couscous: Prepare couscous according to package directions. Stir in mint and parsley.
- Make the Salad: In large bowl, toss arugula, grapefruit and oil until well combined.
- Divide couscous between 4 plates. Place chicken over couscous and top with salad.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 547Total Fat: 28gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 230mgSodium: 583mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 6gSugar: 11gProtein: 39g
This website provides estimated nutrition information as a courtesy only. You should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe using your preferred nutrition calculator.