Crispy chicken crispers are a popular appetizer or side dish found at many restaurants. They are essentially breaded and fried pieces of chicken, similar to chicken nuggets or chicken tenders. Crispy chicken crispers can be quite high in calories, especially when served with dipping sauces. In this article, we will discuss how many calories are generally in crispy chicken crispers, based on nutrition information from various restaurants. We will also look at factors that affect the calorie count, like breading, frying method, and serving size. Read on to learn more about the calorie content of this tasty but sometimes calorie-laden appetizer.
Calories in Crispy Chicken Crispers at Popular Restaurants
To start, let’s look at calorie counts for crispy chicken crispers at some popular chain restaurants in the United States:
|4 pieces (156g)
|5 pieces (142g)
|5 pieces (142g)
|4 pieces (120g)
As you can see, calorie counts for crispy chicken crispers at popular chain restaurants range from about 510 calories for 4 pieces at Applebee’s to 820 calories for 5 pieces at TGI Fridays. The breading and frying method used likely accounts for some of the differences. But in general, expect crispy chicken crispers to contain 500-800 calories per standard serving.
Factors Affecting Calorie Count
Several factors influence the calorie content in crispy chicken crispers:
The coating or breading on chicken crispers adds calories. Some restaurants may use a lighter breading with fewer calories, while others coat the chicken more thickly. Thicker breading means more calories.
Fried foods absorb oil or fat during cooking. The specific oil used and frying method affects calorie absorption. Chicken may absorb more calories if fried in heavier, more calorie-dense oil for a longer period of time.
Obviously, the more crispy chicken crispers you eat, the more calories you will consume. Pay attention to recommended serving sizes on menus or nutrition labels. Servings are often 3-5 pieces.
The dipping sauce paired with chicken crispers also impacts their calorie count. For example, Ranch dressing adds about 140 calories per 2 tbsp serving. Sweet & sour sauce has about 70 calories per 2 tbsp. These high-calorie sauces can really make the meal less diet-friendly.
How Crispy Chicken Crispers Are Made
To understand why crispy chicken crispers are high in calories, it helps to know how they are made:
Restaurants start with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. These are sliced into strips or bite-size pieces.
The chicken pieces are coated in seasoned flour, dipped in buttermilk or egg wash, then covered again in breadcrumbs.
The breaded chicken pieces are submerged and cooked in hot oil. The oil is typically a blend of canola, corn, soybean, or other oils.
Once fried, the crispy chicken crispers are served hot, often with dipping sauces. Cooling racks allow excess oil to drip off.
As you can see, it is the breading and deep frying that really adds calories.
Healthiest Ways to Enjoy Crispy Chicken Crispers
Here are some tips for lightening up this high-calorie appetizer:
– Choose restaurants that serve crispers with lighter breading. Request no breading if available.
– Skip the dipping sauce or ask for it on the side and use sparingly.
– Share an order with a friend to limit portions.
– Substitute a side salad or fresh vegetables instead of crispers if dining out.
– Air fry breaded chicken pieces at home for a lower calorie option.
– Opt for grilled chicken strips or baked chicken nuggets as an alternative.
Crispy Chicken Crisper Calories by Restaurant
To give you a better idea of calorie ranges, here are more calorie counts for crispy chicken crispers at popular restaurants:
– 4 piece serving: 510 calories
– 6 piece serving: 770 calories
– Served with honey mustard: +110 calories (2 oz)
Buffalo Wild Wings
– Snack portion (3 pieces): 350 calories
– Small (6 pieces): 700 calories
– Medium (9 pieces): 1,050 calories
– Large (12 pieces): 1,400 calories
– Snack size (3 pieces): 470 calories
– Regular (5 pieces): 790 calories
– Served with Ranch dressing: +290 calories (4 oz)
– 4 piece serving: 620 calories
– 5 piece serving: 775 calories
– Served with Avocado Ranch: +230 calories (3.5 oz)
– 5 piece serving: 820 calories
– 7 piece serving: 1,150 calories
– Served with barbeque sauce: + 180 calories (3.5 oz)
As you can see, calorie counts can vary significantly depending on the restaurant and serving size. In general, most standard servings range from 500-800 calories before adding dipping sauces.
Copycat Recipe to Make Healthier Crispy Chicken Crispers at Home
To lighten up this appetizer at home, try this copycat recipe:
– 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (cut into 1-inch pieces)
– 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
– 2 large eggs, beaten
– 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
– 1 teaspoon paprika
– 1/2 teaspoon salt
– 1/4 teaspoon pepper
– Cooking spray or oil mister
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Place flour, eggs, and breadcrumbs into separate shallow dishes. Mix paprika, salt and pepper into the breadcrumbs.
3. Dredge chicken pieces in flour, dip into egg, then coat with seasoned breadcrumbs.
4. Arrange breaded chicken on prepared baking sheet and lightly mist with cooking spray.
5. Bake 15-18 minutes, flipping halfway, until crispy and cooked through.
Per 3 pieces:
Making crispy chicken crispers at home allows you to control the ingredients and cook them in a healthier way by baking instead of frying. The whole wheat flour and panko breading lighten it up compared to restaurant versions.
Healthy Crispy Chicken Crisper Alternatives
If you want a lower calorie alternative to fried crispy chicken crispers, consider these options:
Baked Chicken Nuggets
Make bite-size baked chicken nuggets using boneless, skinless chicken breasts cut into pieces, dipped in egg, coated in whole wheat breadcrumbs or panko, and baked. Much lower in calories than fried nuggets.
Grilled Chicken Strips
Season boneless, skinless chicken breasts with your favorite spices or marinade and grill until cooked through and slightly charred. Slice into strips.
Marinate boneless, skinless chicken in a Thai peanut or satay sauce. Skewer and grill or broil until cooked through.
Crispy Chicken Fingers
Coat chicken strips with nonfat Greek yogurt and whole wheat breadcrumbs. Bake until crispy.
Fill halved boneless, skinless chicken breasts with low-fat cream cheese and roast red peppers. Bake until chicken is cooked.
These options provide the same crispy texture and flavor of chicken crispers in a healthier way with fewer calories.
Calculating Calories in Homemade Chicken Crispers
If you bread and fry or bake your own chicken crispers at home, use this formula to calculate calories per serving:
1. Weigh chicken pieces raw to determine number of ounces.
2. Multiply number of ounces by 85 calories per ounce for boneless, skinless chicken breast.
3. Calculate calories if coating chicken in flour and breadcrumbs. For light breading, add 50 calories per ounce of chicken. For heavier restaurant-style breading, add up to 100 calories per ounce of chicken.
4. If frying, add 20-40 calories per ounce of chicken for oil absorption depending on frying method. For baking, add minimal calories.
5. Divide total calories by number of servings to determine calories per serving.
This formula allows you to closely estimate calories in homemade crispy chicken crispers based on specific ingredients and portion sizes.
Comparing Calories to Other Fried Appetizers
Crispy chicken crispers are just one of many fried appetizers found at restaurants. Here’s how they compare calorie-wise to a few other popular options:
|Calories (average per serving)
|Crispy Chicken Crispers
|Fried Mozzarella Sticks
Crispy chicken crispers are slightly lower in calories than buffalo wings, and slightly higher than items like mozzarella sticks. In general, expect any breaded and fried appetizer to range from 350-700 calories per average serving.
Should You Avoid Crispy Chicken Crispers When Trying to Lose Weight?
Crispy chicken crispers served at restaurants are high in calories, fat, and sodium, so they aren’t the best choice if you’re trying to lose weight or eat healthier. But you don’t necessarily have to avoid them completely. Here are some tips:
– Indulge in moderation. Share an order as an appetizer or enjoy a small portion as a side dish to a lighter main course.
– Be mindful of toppings and dipping sauces. These quickly add extra calories. Enjoy crispers plain or with a lighter sauce like mustard.
– Balance with vegetables. Pair your crispers with a side salad loaded with nutrient-rich vegetables.
– Make healthier versions at home. Bread and bake chicken pieces using whole grain flour and breadcrumbs for less calories than deep frying.
– Substitute similar options. Try baked chicken nuggets, grilled chicken strips, or shrimp cocktail for lighter apps.
You don’t have to deprive yourself when trying to lose weight. The key is being mindful of portions, customizing orders to be less caloric, and balancing less healthy items with nutritious choices. An order of crispy chicken crispers now and then won’t sabotage your efforts as long as it’s incorporated into an overall healthy diet.
Crispy chicken crispers are a tasty but calorie-dense appetizer. Typical servings at most restaurants range from 500-800 calories, with some menu items going over 1,000 calories. The high calorie count is due to the oil-absorbing breading and deep frying preparation. While an indulgent treat on occasion, lighter cooking methods and portion control is recommended if these appetizers are a regular part of your diet. With a few simple modifications, you can still enjoy the flavor without all the excess calories.