Healthy Recipe: Crispy Chicken Sandwiches with Buttermilk Avocado Aioli

Ah, the crispy chicken sandwich. Who can resist? Yet all that deep-fried deliciousness can easily pack 40 grams of fat (or more!) per sandwich, not to mention nearly three-quarters of the Daily Value for saturated fat.

For a lighter spin, try this take on the latest sandwich craze. It ditches the deep fryer, coats the cutlets in crunchy panko breadcrumbs, and oven-bakes them on parchment paper. (If you haven’t tried parchment paper, it’s also magic for roasted veggies, meatballs, and cookies!) Finally, each sandwich is piled with fresh veggies and served on a whole-grain bun for plenty of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and a healthy dose of hunger-busting fiber. Plus, if you’re looking for a dairy alternative when it comes to the buttermilk aioli, you can replace it with a plant-based sour cream instead.

The result? A sandwich that’s delicious, satisfying, and way better for you than takeout.


For the chicken sandwiches:

1 cup (8 oz/250 ml) reduced-fat buttermilk

Juice of ½ lemon

½ to 1 teaspoon hot sauce

1 teaspoon garlic powder

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 4-oz (125 g) boneless, skinless chicken breast cutlets, pounded ½-inch thick

1 cup (84 g) panko

½ teaspoon garlic powder

½ teaspoon onion powder

½ teaspoon chili powder

¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (if you like it spicy!)

Avocado or canola oil cooking spray

4 whole-grain hamburger buns, toasted

Lettuce leaves

Tomato slices

For the sauteed onions:

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, thinly sliced

Salt and freshly ground black pepper

For the buttermilk avocado aioli:

1 avocado

2 tablespoons reduced-fat buttermilk or plant-based sour cream 

Zest of 1 lemon

Salt and freshly ground black pepper


Make the chicken:

In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, lemon juice, hot sauce, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Add chicken cutlets and mix well to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.

Preheat oven to 400°F (200° C.) Remove chicken from refrigerator. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. On a large plate, combine panko, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, cayenne (if you’re using it), salt, and pepper. 

Dredge chicken in panko mixture and place on prepared baking sheet. Spray tops of chicken lightly with cooking spray. Bake for 20 minutes. 

Remove baking sheet from oven, carefully flip chicken breasts, and lightly spray tops with cooking spray. Return baking sheet to oven for 10 minutes more, or until chicken is golden and crispy or has reached an internal temperature of 165°F (74° C.) Remove chicken from oven. Serve on toasted burger buns with avocado aioli, sauteed onions, lettuce, and tomato.

While chicken is cooking make the sauteed onions and avocado aioli.

Make the sauteed onions:

In a large sauté pan, heat the olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the onions and sauté until soft, about 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Remove from heat and set aside to serve over chicken.

Make the avocado aioli:

Puree avocado, buttermilk, lemon zest, salt, and pepper in a food processor or blender until smooth, about 1 minute. Spread on toasted burger buns.

Makes 4 servings.


Calories 488

Protein 31 g

Total fat 16 g

Saturated fat 3 g

Cholesterol 85 mg

Carbs 49 g

Fiber 8 g

Total sugars 11g

Added sugars <1 g

Sodium 399 mg

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