It's a Keeper: Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Cheddar Mustard Sauce

I'm working my way through Rachael Ray's list of the top ten recipes from her talk show. Since I've made number one (Buffalo Chicken Chili, which rightfully holds the number one spot) and number three (Lemony Poppy Chicken with Couscous) before, I thought I'd start with number two:Pretzel-Crusted Chicken Breasts with Cheddar Mustard Sauce.

This meal is a comfort food extravaganza. Really. I was in the mood for a comforting meal and if Jessica Simpson could make this recipe then so could I. Watch Jessica and Rachael make it here (and learn from Jessica's mistake - it's a sauce, not a paste).

I made some effort to make the dish a little bit healthier, but that was really like shouting into the wind. I used 12-grain pretzels and two-percent organic milk. That's about it. But it was lean chicken breast, too, I guess. Well, you don't eat this meal because you're on a diet, let's just say that.

I also made the Veggie Salad with Sweet Honey Dressing and loved it. Simple and easy, Rachael intended it as a bottom of the jar recipe for your honey bear. Just throw in whatever crunchy veggies you like and call it a day! I substituted carrots for the celery and omitted the cucumbers. I remember when I used to buy dressing in a bottle. What was I thinking?

Here's the recipe with my comments in brackets:

4 quart-size plastic food storage bags [You could probably use one and just reuse it each time.]
4 small, boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 5-ounce bag of salted pretzels, any shape
1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, chopped [The fresh is really worth it. And it's easy to chop since they already start so small.]
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 eggs
Vegetable oil, for frying
2 tablespoons butter [If you are only making two chicken breasts, I recommend using half the butter and all the rest of the ingredients. Half the sauce was more than enough for two.]
2 tablespoons flour
2 cups milk
3/4 pound, about 2 1/2 cups, sharp yellow cheddar cheese, shredded
2 heaping tablespoons spicy brown mustard
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley leaves, a generous handful, chopped
1/4 small yellow onion, finely chopped [too lazy for garnish the night I made it]
1 large sour dill pickle, finely chopped [same as onion]
1 lemon, cut into wedges [same as onion and pickle]

Preheat a large non-stick skillet with a 1/4-inch of vegetable oil over medium-high heat. [Medium was hot enough on my stove. Let's just say the first one looked more like burnt pretzel than browned pretzel.]

Sprinkle a little water into four medium food storage baggies. Place 1 chicken breast in each bag and seal it up, pushing out excess air. Use the bottom of a heavy pot or pan and pound each breast until flat, just shy of busting out of the bag. Repeat with the other 3 chicken breasts.

Place the pretzels in a food processor or blender and grind until fine. [It was hard to get mine really fine, but a few little chunks didn't seem to matter.] Transfer the ground pretzels to a shallow dish, add the thyme and some salt and pepper. Crack and beat 2 eggs in a second shallow dish with a splash of water. One at a time, coat each chicken breast in the egg and then the ground pretzels.

Add the pretzel-coated chicken breast to the hot oil. Cook in a single layer, in 2 batches if necessary, about 3 or 4 minutes on each side, until the juices run clear and breading is evenly browned. [Mine were more like 2 minutes on each side.]

[I recommend starting this step before you start frying the chicken, since it takes forever for me to get the milk to butter.] While the chicken is frying, in a medium saucepot over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour to it. Cook flour and butter for 1 minute and then whisk in the milk. When the milk comes to a bubble, stir in the cheese and mustard with a wooden spoon. Season with a little salt and pepper, and remove cheese sauce from the heat.

Transfer the fried pretzel-crusted chicken breast to a serving plate, drizzle with the mustard cheddar sauce, then sprinkle with a little parsley, finely chopped onion and sour dill pickle. Serve lemon wedges alongside.

Yields 4 servings

A few more pictures:


  1. Beautiful picture! We made this chicken a month or so back and loved it. Didn't care for the sauce (too thin), but the chicken is a keeper for sure.

  2. My sauce turned out anything but thin. It was pretty thick, as you can see from the picture. I loved it!

  3. a friend and i made this dish 6 months ago and my sauce was pretty thick too, i loved it! mmm

  4. Looks delish! I'm hesitant about the mustard-cheese combo, but I will give it a go one night this week! Thanks for sharing!

  5. O'Charley's used to serve a *delicious* pretzel chicken. I miss it and am delighted at finding this recipe. Since the sauce doesn't appeal to me and just adds extra calories I think I'll just make the chicken. I plan to serve it with grilled asparagus and something else - some kind of corn or potatoes. Any suggestions? I am so looking forward to trying this!


  6. This chicken and sauce are DELICIOUS! I have braces so I'm not allowed to eat the big pretzels that I love. This covered my pretzel craving beautifully. It truly tastes like pretzels. So good!! We made plenty of sauce and covered our steamed asparagus with it too. Yum!

  7. I had this recipe this past weekend and the chef served it with a sweet chili sauce and orange marmalade was delish!!!


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