Healthy Dinner Idea: Ultimate Unfried Chicken

Baked Chicken
Sam Kaplan

We’ve all had boring-but-good-for-you baked “fried” chicken, but chef Art Smith’s Ultimate Unfried Chicken is different. The native Southerner originally created the dish for Oprah Winfrey, and now serves it at LYFE Kitchen, a health-conscious restaurant in Palo Alto, CA.

His authentic Southern spin on it—soaking the chicken breasts in buttermilk and Tabasco overnight—is also what makes this dish so juicy, without a single dip in a fatty fryer. Serve it like he does at restaurant, with roasted Brussels sprouts and butternut squash on the side. The sides cook together, followed by the chicken—so after a quick 30 minutes in the oven you’ll have a full, mouthwatering meal.


  • 6 chicken breasts, trimmed to 4 ounces each
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tbsp. Tabasco
  • 1 ½  cups whole-wheat breadcrumbs
  • 2 tbsp. parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1 ½ tsp. onion powder
  • 1 ½ tsp. garlic powder
  • 2 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 tsp crushed chili flakes
  • 2 tsp. smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt pan spray oil
  • 3 lb. butternut squash, peeled, cut, 1” cubes
  • 1 ½ tablespoons olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt
  • 3 lb. brussel sprouts, stem ends removed, halved
  • 1 ½ tbsp. olive oil
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. chives or parsley, chopped (or parsley)
  • ¼ cup dried cranberries
  • ¼ cup Dijon vinaigrette


  1. Mix together buttermilk, Tabasco, and chicken breasts. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
  2. In a bowl, combine breadcrumbs, parmesan, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, crushed chili flakes, smoked paprika, and salt; whisk to blend well.
  3. One at a time, remove chicken breasts from marinade and lay flat in spiced breadcrumb mix. Scoop spices over chicken to completely submerge it in breadcrumb mix. Press down on chicken breast firmly with palm of hand, to ensure optimal adhesion. Lift chicken out of spices and gently shake off excess breading. Lay flat on baking sheet.
  4. Coat each side of breaded chicken with even layer of pan spray oil. Set aside in refrigerator.
  5. Toss diced squash with oil and salt. Spread onto baking sheet in single layer.
  6. Toss Brussels sprouts in oil and salt. Spread onto baking sheet in single layer.
  7. Place the pan of Brussels sprouts and pan of squash in pre-heated oven at 400˚ for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly brown at edges and cooked through. Cover with aluminum foil to keep warm; set aside.
  8. Place pan of chicken breasts in oven for 10 to 12 minutes, or until cooked through.
  9. Uncover roasted Brussels sprouts and squash and toss together in a large mixing bowl with the fresh chopped herbs, dried cranberries and Dijon vinaigrette. Serve immediately with baked unfried chicken.

Serves: 6

Fit Factor: This recipe was designed with the fit guy in mind, all the way down to the whole-wheat bread crumbs, and the spice adds flavor without fat. And that’s not all: baked chicken breast obviously serves up a solid dose of lean protein, while nutrient-packed sides—like Vitamin A-rich butternut squash—round out your ultimate healthy meal.

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