Our latest addiction: Keto/Low Carb Pecan Chicken. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are dipped in melted butter, then coated with a mixture of pecan crumbs, thyme, Italian seasoning, and pepper: crunchy on the outside, and tender and juicy on the inside. They’re packed with flavor and texture, and quick and easy to prepare. Ten minutes prep, and 20 minutes baking time. Baked not fried, and with easy cleanup. Bonus – they’re only 1 net carb per chicken breast!
Pecans are definitely my favorite nut. My maternal grandmother lived in Gulfport, MS where my parents met towards the end of WWII. My father moved back to Michigan, taking along his new bride. My grandmother made my dad promise he would bring her daughter back for regular visits, so every year, we’d all pile into our station wagon and drive two days from our home in Michigan (without air-conditioning) and head down to the Gulf. There was a pecan tree in her backyard, so to keep us busy, Dad would let us share a hammer and sit outside, cracking open the pecans that fell on the ground. I’ll never forget that buttery, rich taste of fresh pecans. My grandmother would make pralines, pecan pie, and banana nut bread filled with pecans – such sweet memories.
Buying fresh pecans from the store is hit-or-miss as far as freshness. Here in Georgia, I wait until harvest time (October, November) and head to my local Publix or Kroger, buying up as many packages as I can. I freeze them so they stay fresh all year long, until fall rolls around again when I load up on more. Look for light-brown colored pecans. Not only delicious, pecans rank in the top 15 foods with the highest levels of antioxidants. They contain over 19 vitamins and minerals, they’re high in fat, low in carbs, high in fiber, and contain no cholesterol or sodium.
In a food processor, add pecans, thyme, Italian herb seasoning (or any other seasoned salt) and freshly ground black pepper. Pulse the mixture until the pecans turn into fine crumbs. Takes a couple of minutes. If you don’t have a food processor, use any nut grinder, and repeat the process until the pecans are fine crumbs. Place this mixture into a shallow bowl.
Pour the melted butter into a second shallow bowl. Set up an assembly line with chicken breasts first, then bowl with melted butter, then bowl with pecan crumb mixture, and finally a baking sheeet lined with aluminum foil and topped with a wire rack. We use the rack to elevate the chicken off the pan to make sure the crust doesn’t get soggy. We use Perdue boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They’re individually wrapped, and run about 5 ounces each. They’re also pretty uniform in thickness, making baking results more consistent. Whatever chicken you’re using, pound down any thick areas to make sure the thickness is uniform. Instead of binding the pecan mixture to the chicken with egg, then flour, we use melted butter. So much simpler and also keeps the chicken nice and moist. Start with chicken breasts that have been patted dry with paper towels, which helps the coating stick to the chicken. Dip both sides of chicken breast in melted butter, then press both sides into pecan mixture.
Place the baking sheet in the middle rack of a 400 degree F oven and bake for 8 to 10 minutes, or until pecan crumbs are golden brown. Flip the chicken breasts over, and continue baking for another 7 to 10 minutes, or until meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F. Individual baking times will depend on the weight and thickness of your chicken. Be careful not to over-bake. Under our oven temp and chicken thickness, 8 minutes bake until flip, then 7 minutes more, gave us a nice crust and a juicy interior. We also placed the chicken under the broiler for a few minutes, to really crisp the exterior.
After baking we garnish with herbs, like basil or parsley. If you don’t have any fresh herbs on hand, we love the lightly-dried varieties found in the fresh herb section of the grocery store. They’re already chopped and stay fresh in the fridge for a month. Serve with our Honey Mustard Sauce for dipping! Try our Keto Creamed Spinach for a great side dish.
Store covered leftovers in the fridge for 4 days. Chop them up and use them on top of a fresh green salad, or reheat in skillet, using a little butter or oil in the pan until heated throughout.
Keto Low Carb Pecan Chicken
- baking sheet
- Wire rack
- 1 cup pecans finely chopped
- 4 5 oz chicken breasts boneless, skinless
- 1 tsp dried thyme
- 1 tsp Italian herb seasoning or your favorite seasoned salt
- ½ tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tbsp butter melted
- 1 tbsp basil dried (optional)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire rack on top. Set aside.
- In a food processor, add pecans, thyme, Italian herb seasoning, and pepper. Pulse until pecans turn into fine crumbs. Place crumb mixture into shallow bowl or pan.
- Place melted butter into a second shallow bowl. Using paper towels, pat chicken until dry. Dip both sides of the chicken breast into butter, then with the other hand, dredge in pecan mixture, coating both sides well. Place on wire rack over prepared sheet pan.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes, then flip. Bake an additional 7-10 minutes, or until meat thermometer registers 165 degrees F. The baking time will depend on the thickness of the meat. Be careful not to over-bake. For extra crispness, place under the broiler for a minute or two, watching carefully so as not to burn.
- Place on serving plate, and garnish with fresh or lightly-dried basil or parsley.