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Do I need a binder for breaded chicken?

Breaded chicken is a popular dish that adds a crispy, savory coating to boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The coating is usually made from breadcrumbs, flour, spices, and egg. While breaded chicken is delicious, the coating can fall off easily if the chicken isn’t properly prepared. Using a binder is one way to help the breading adhere to the chicken better.

What is a binder?

A binder is an ingredient that helps bind the breading to the chicken. It acts as a kind of edible “glue” that adheres the dry breadcrumbs to the moist chicken meat. Common binders used in breaded chicken recipes include:

  • Eggs
  • Milk
  • Mayonnaise
  • Mustard
  • Greek yogurt

These ingredients are sticky and help the breadcrumbs stick to the chicken better. The proteins and emulsifying agents they contain aid binding. When used correctly, binders can create a crunchy, flavorful crust on breaded chicken.

Do you need a binder for breaded chicken?

Using a binder for breaded chicken is highly recommended. Chicken breasts are naturally moist and slippery. Without a binder, the dry breading mixture will have trouble adhering properly. As the chicken cooks, the breading can slide right off into the bottom of the pan if it isn’t bound to the meat.

So for best results, breaded chicken recipes will call for some type of binder to help “glue” the breading on. This prevents the coating from falling off during cooking or eating. A good binder ensures you end up with perfectly breaded chicken, not messily unbreaded chicken!

Best binders for breaded chicken

The most commonly used binders for breaded chicken include:


Eggs are arguably the best binder for breaded chicken. They are affordable, versatile, and provide excellent binding power. The proteins in eggs help the breading tightly adhere to the chicken.

Beaten whole eggs or egg whites can both be used. Egg whites provide a lighter binding without the extra fat and cholesterol of whole eggs. For best results, the eggs should be lightly beaten to blend the proteins before breading.


Milk contains casein proteins that act as an effective binder for breaded chicken. Whole milk works best, but low-fat milk can also be used. The milk proteins help stick the breading to the meat.

Milk adds great flavor and browning to breaded chicken. But termilk has even more binding power due to its extra lactic acid content. See the termilk section below.


Mayonnaise makes breaded chicken extra flavorful and also helps the coating stick. The oil and egg yolks in mayo create a firm, crunchy crust.

Using full-fat mayonnaise is best for binding and browning. Light mayonnaise will still add flavor and help the breading adhere moderately well.


Mustard is a great choice for flavor and function. Its vinegary tang enhances the chicken’s flavor. The mustard also contributes enough binding power to hold on breading decently.

Yellow mustard works best, but Dijon or other types can also be used. Brushing the chicken with mustard helps the breadcrumbs latch on efficiently.

Greek yogurt

The high protein content in Greek yogurt makes it an exceptional binder for breaded chicken. It can replace eggs or mayo for a healthier binding effect.

Plain nonfat Greek yogurt sticks to the chicken well and lets the breading tightly adhere. Flavored yogurts also work but can alter the flavor profile more.

Tips for using binders

To get ideal binding results when breading chicken:

– Use binders at room temperature for best coating. Cold liquids won’t adhere as efficiently.

– Allow chicken to sit 5-10 minutes after coating in binder before breading. This allows binder to get tacky and stick better.

– Gently press breading onto chicken to help it adhere after coating in binder.

– Use an assembly line process of 1) binder, 2) breading, 3) back to binder, and 4) back to breading. The second binder/breading layers help secure the coating.

– Chill breaded chicken in the fridge for 10-30 minutes before frying or baking. This helps “set” the binder and breading mixture.

Making your own binder

You can also make easy homemade binders if you don’t have typical binder ingredients on hand:

Flour and water paste

Mix equal parts all-purpose flour and water to form a smooth, thick paste. Brush onto chicken before breading for binding power.

Cornstarch and water slurry

Dissolve 1-2 tablespoons cornstarch into 2 tablespoons water. Use this in place of eggs or mayo to help breaded chicken stay crispy.

Oil and flour mixture

Blend 2 tablespoons flour into 1/4 cup vegetable oil until smooth. Brush onto chicken and proceed with breading as usual.

Best breading for breaded chicken

While the binder helps stick on breading, the breading mixture itself also matters. Use these tips for crunchy, flavorful breaded chicken:

Use plain breadcrumbs

Fresh breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs both work well and provide a crispy texture. Avoid flavored breadcrumbs, which can burn or get soggy.

Season the breadcrumbs

For extra flavor, toss plain breadcrumbs with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika, oregano, and other dried herbs and spices.

Use a breadcrumb/flour mixture

Combine panko or breadcrumbs with all-purpose flour at a 1:1 ratio. The flour further helps the coating brown and stick to the chicken.

Crush crackers or chips

For unique flavors, pulse crackers, potato chips, pretzels, or cornflakes in a food processor to make crunchy breadcrumb alternatives.

Double bread for extra crunch

After initial breading, dip chicken back in binder then back into breadcrumbs for an extra thick, crisp crust.

Oven-baking breaded chicken

Breaded chicken is traditionally fried in oil for maximum crunch. But for a healthier option, you can bake breaded chicken in the oven with excellent results:

Use parchment paper

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. The nonstick surface helps prevent sticking as chicken cooks.

Brush with oil

Lightly brush chicken with olive oil or cooking spray before baking. This helps the breading get crispy and browned.

Elevate on a wire rack

Placing chicken on a wire rack over the baking sheet allows air circulation for even browning and crunchiness.

Bake at high heat

Cook breaded chicken at 425°F or higher to achieve crunchy breading. The high heat helps the coating crisp up in the oven.

Finish under the broiler

For the last 1-3 minutes of baking, switch the oven to broil. Watch closely as this creates quick, delicious browning.

Common problems and solutions

Have issues getting the perfect crunch when making breaded chicken? Try these troubleshooting tips:

Breading falls off

– Increase binder amount or use thicker binder like Greek yogurt

– Allow chicken to sit 5+ minutes after adding binder before breading

– Press breading onto chicken firmly to help it adhere

– Chill breaded chicken in fridge before cooking to set crust

Breading lacks crunch

– Use fresh, plain breadcrumbs and avoid flavored varieties

– Combine breadcrumbs with flour for extra crispiness and binding

– Make sure oil is hot enough before frying breaded chicken

– Bake at high temp (425°F+) to get crunchy oven-baked results

Chicken is dry after cooking

– Don’t overcook breaded chicken. Internal temp should reach 165°F only.

– Fry chicken for shorter time but at higher oil temperature

– When baking, tent foil over chicken if breading gets too dark

Breading burns

– Use medium-high heat only when pan frying breaded chicken

– Avoid flavored breadcrumbs that can burn quickly

– When oven-baking, lightly brush chicken with oil to prevent burning

– If breading browns too fast, tent foil over chicken to allow inside to finish cooking

Storing and reheating breaded chicken

Breaded chicken is best eaten freshly cooked but leftovers can be stored and reheated using these methods:


– Allow breaded chicken to cool completely before refrigerating in a sealed container.

– For maximum crispiness, store breaded chicken and any sauce or toppings separately.

– Refrigerate for 3-4 days or freeze breaded chicken for 1-2 months.


– Bake, grill or pan fry leftover breaded chicken until heated through, 5-10 minutes.

– Microwave for 1-2 minutes on half power, flipping halfway for even heating.

– Preheat oven to 400°F. Place breaded chicken on a lightly oiled baking sheet and reheat for 10-15 minutes.

Crisping tips

– Quickly pan fry leftover breaded chicken in a little oil to make the crust crispy again.

-Brush both sides with oil and finish under the broiler for 1-3 minutes per side.

– Mist leftover breaded chicken with water before reheating to add back moisture and make the coating crunchy again.

Ingredients to avoid

Some ingredients should be avoided when breading chicken to ensure the best flavor and texture:

– Flavored breadcrumbs – can overpower chicken flavor and burn quickly

– Whole wheat or multigrain breadcrumbs – can create a dense, chewy coating

– Crackers with sugar, fruits, nuts, etc. – added items may burn or fall off

– Yellow mustard – can add an acrid flavor when exposed to high heat

– Nonfat or low-fat dairy binders – lack the fat and proteins needed for good binding

– Cold binders straight from the refrigerator – won’t adhere and spread properly

Different types of breaded chicken

While chicken breasts are most common, you can bread and fry just about any chicken cut. Try these fun variations:

Chicken tenders

Slice chicken breasts lengthwise into long strips before breading. Fry or bake until golden and crispy.

Chicken nuggets

Chop chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces. Follow standard breading procedure. Deep fry for family-favorite chicken nuggets.

Fried chicken drumsticks

Bread chicken drumsticks using flour, egg, and seasoned breadcrumbs. Fry in batches until cooked through with crispy coating.

Fried chicken wings

Marinate wings in buttermilk then coat in seasoned flour and pan fry until browned and cooked through. Toss in your favorite sauce.

Fried chicken cutlets

Pound chicken breasts thin, bread with egg and breadcrumbs, then pan fry. This classic dish features tender chicken encased in a crispy crust.

Breading substitutes

Don’t want to use breadcrumbs? Try these delicious breaded chicken alternatives:

Puffed rice cereal

Crush puffed rice cereal into fine crumbs for a crispy, gluten-free coating. Works great on oven-baked chicken.

Crushed cornflakes

Blend cornflakes in a food processor into crunchy crumbs. Use in place of traditional breadcrumbs for breaded chicken with a nostalgic flavor.

Crushed chicharrones

For a Latin American flair, grind up chicharrones (fried pork rinds) to coat chicken with before pan frying for an ultra-crispy crust.

Panko and flour blend

Combine super crispy panko breadcrumbs with all-purpose flour at a 1:1 ratio for extra texture and binding power on breaded chicken.

Cracker meal

Make crispy cracker crumbs by processing saltine crackers, Ritz crackers, Club crackers, or other crisp crackers into fine meal. Great for oven-baked options.

Potato chips

For fun flavors, pulse potato chips in the food processor to create crushed chip coating. Try barbeque, salt and vinegar, or dill pickle varieties.

Pretzel crumbs

Grind pretzels into fine crumbs for a salty crunch and dynamic flavor on your breaded chicken. The pretzel coating toasts up especially nicely.


Using a binder when breading chicken is strongly recommended for maximum adherence and the perfect crunch. Eggs, milk, yogurt, mustard, and mayo all help the breading stick to the chicken. Allow time for the binder to get tacky before applying the breadcrumb coating. Press the breading onto the chicken firmly after dipping in binder for optimal binding. Frying, baking, or broiling will cook the breaded chicken until golden brown and cooked through while keeping the crust crisp. Store leftovers separately to maintain crispiness. Reheat breaded chicken in the oven or pan to revive the crunchiness. Avoid cold binders, flavored breadcrumbs, and excess moisture for best results. With the proper binder and preparation, you’ll end up with amazing breaded chicken every time.