Does anyone know how to duplicate the chicken fingers found at Chinese restaurants in the Boston area? The batter on them is very puffy, and doesn't really conform to the shape of the chicken.

Google has been no help in finding a recipe (though it did find this picture):

enter image description here http://farm1.static.flickr.com/179/385182683_6af6fbf451.jpg?v=0

I couldn't find them at any of the restaurants I checked in California, so they may be a Northeast-only thing. Someone must have discovered the secret though! Anyone with a recipe?

  • 6
    Look for a "sweet and sour chicken" recipe. That's what that's called (coupled with the orange-y red sauce) everywhere I've ever had it. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sweet_and_sour_chicken
    – ceejayoz
    Commented Oct 18, 2010 at 22:34
  • 3
    Agreed on those being sweet and sour chicken pieces. Also, this is not just Northeast, I can attest to that style existing in Michigan and Texas. Some places do a tighter crunchier batter (my preferred) and others do this soft fluffy batter.
    – ManiacZX
    Commented Oct 18, 2010 at 23:19
  • I've seen it called Sweet and Sour Chicken at a few places around here, but more often it's just called Chicken Fingers and served plain, with optional (but highly recommended) duck sauce on the side. Commented Oct 20, 2010 at 23:50
  • 2
    Wouldn't this be an "american-cuisine" tag, and not "Chinese-cuisine"?
    – TFD
    Commented Nov 11, 2011 at 3:05
  • Don't know how to make them, but are indeed similar to the the batter used in sweet and sour, but are served plain rather than with S&S sauce, often as part of a Pu Pu Platter. NE Chinese restaurants incorporate some Hawian/Polynesian foods into their menues which is where this type of chicken fingers comes from.
    – user15193
    Commented Jan 12, 2013 at 0:20

12 Answers 12


I tried this out the other night. It's extremely close. As michelle suggested, self-rising flour seems to be the key. The recipe I used was:

  • 1/4 cup self-rising flour
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup water (or a little less)

Sift dry ingredients into a small bowl. In another bowl, slowly mix dry ingredients and water, being careful to avoid adding too much water.

It's meant to be really thick. As in, if you lay a small strip of chicken on top of the batter, the chicken should not sink.

Heat up oil for deep frying (360F to 375F). Slice chicken into thin strips, batter them, and deep fry until golden. Check one or two to make sure the chicken is cooked through.

Serve with duck sauce, if you can find it (ask a local Chinese restaurant if you can buy a pint). Nom nom.

  • I tried this recipe and everybody, incl. me said it was delicious!!
    – Riki137
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 22:37
  • I'm thinking about changing the flour:cornstarch ratio to make it more crispy though (by adding more cornstarch). not very sure about that.
    – Riki137
    Commented May 13, 2018 at 22:37

Use self rising flour. I moved from Mass. to Arizona, and no one ever knows what I'm talking about when I say chicken fingers at a Chinese restaurant.

I have found a pretty close recipe for 'em, now if I could just get the sweet 'n' sour sauce they give ya.

  • if u want the recipe let me know
    – user4570
    Commented Jan 28, 2011 at 20:41
  • 1
    I'd love the recipe :) Commented Jan 29, 2011 at 21:49

I have not been to a Chinese restaurant in the Boston area, but it sounds like your chicken strips may be dipped in Tempura. When I prepare chicken in this way, I use very thin, tenderized breast pieces. After dipping and frying, they are about double the size of the chicken inside.

  • 2
    Tempura typically has eggs in it and no cornstarch, while the smooth layer in the photograph seems to indicate it has cornstarch and flour.
    – papin
    Commented Oct 19, 2010 at 22:34
  • 1
    I've had some other Chinese things dipped in tempura batter and I don't think it's quite the same texture. Tempura comes out with a rougher texture on the outside, whereas the chicken fingers I've had have almost universally had a smooth outer coating. Commented Oct 20, 2010 at 0:39
  • The image indicates it's not dipped in tempura batter.
    – chrisjlee
    Commented Jul 11, 2011 at 13:00
  • This is totally not tempura. I grew up in MA, an I live in Japan now. They are 2 different things.
    – thenetimp
    Commented Sep 15, 2014 at 10:03

The duck sauce is from the east coast (I lived in Boston 35 years and knew a woman who ran a Chinese restaurant.)

Applesauce, apple cider vinegar, sugar and soy sauce. I don't have the exact measurements written down; you can experiment with the ingredients. It must sit in fridge over night.

I just made a batch having found the recipe for east coast chicken fingers. Now I just need to find out how to get the fried rice dark like east coast.

  • I have heard that the trick to the dark rice is "thick soy sauce". It's tough to find (I ended up buying a 3-pack on Amazon for way too much money). I've only experimented with it once or twice, but it did indeed make the rice much darker. I don't think it adds much of its own flavor, though. Commented Dec 9, 2012 at 16:55

For chicken fingers as found in either sweet & sour or pupu platters, make sure the chicken is room temperature and dry (pat with paper towels). Then toss the dry chicken in sifted flour and shake off all the extra. Then and only then, dip in batter and shake off excess batter; otherwise its gets too chewy. Use half self-rising flour and half corn starch in batter recipes. Fry at 350F for 4-5 min and place on a heated rack.

How do I know this you ask? I asked my favorite local Southie Chinese restaurant to show me how. I've made them and they were spot on, except for the times I hurried and used cold chicken, and didn't pat dry - then it was awful and gooey.

  • Half your answer isn't relevant? I'm deleting it, as it doesn't belong here... As for the merit of your chicken answer, I'll leave that to the voters. When you get a chance, if you could format it a little better, that'd be appreciated.
    – talon8
    Commented Jun 5, 2013 at 6:04
  • 1
    I've edited your answer substantially. You repeated all your instructions (worse, in all caps). And I know you said you were on your phone, but we really value well-written answers here, so when you post something like that, you're essentially asking us to clean it up for you. We'd appreciate it if you could take the time to write a bit more cleanly in the future.
    – Cascabel
    Commented Jun 5, 2013 at 6:46

You can use pancake batter with good results.


It took me forever to find the recipe, I finally did years ago.

Self rising flour, cornstarch, salt, water and a little sugar. Dip in batter and fry for a few seconds then re dip in the batter. It's not so much the batter but the technique - that is how they become so puffy.


From personal experience:

  • 1 cup flour
  • 1.5 tsp baking powder
  • 1.5 tsp salt
  • 1/3 tsp pepper
  • 2 small eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1.3 tbsp Virgin oil (Preferably)
  • 2 level tsp of sugar for taste and color

Blend well, then take a small strip of chicken and place it on top of batter. If it just sinks in a little bit and no more, then it's ready. If not, add more flour a little bit at a time to get this result. Oil should be about 300°F to start. If you want them double fried like the Chinese do, then get them very light brown and remove them for about 1/2 hour or longer, then up the oil to 360°F and finish them to a nice golden brown.


I know what he is talking about; being from Boston and Living in Phoenix myself for the last 10 years. West coast people just don't get what your trying to ask for, because its a different type of chinese food out here. They are similiar to the Sweet and sour pieces as someone suggested, but yet different and larger. This recipe is the closest i could find. Good luck

  • 1 1/2 c. flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 c. milk
  • 1 1/2 tbsp. salad oil


  1. Slice chicken in long thin strips.
  2. Dip in batter.
  3. Deep fry in vegetable oil.

Kenyon's clam fritter is the batter you need.I buy it online now because I can't find it anywhere else.Its just like the ones in Massachusetts.My mom makes chicken finger every Xmas with 1 pint of duck sauce bought from a Chinese food restaurant.Now I live out of state and need to make my own duck sauce:-(


According to Zaings, the secret is the special self-raising flour used, Green Dragon. As you can see from the video, it does puff up really well in comparison to regular SRF.



Aunt jemima pancake mix and oil at 360 degrees nailed it. I eat at Tiki Island in Everett MA and they taste great and the same.

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