Cheetos-Coated Baked Chicken Is A Combo You Likely Didn't See Coming

Baked chicken is a weeknight dinner standby, but it can get a little old with the same old spices and flavors over and over again. To remedy this, the next time you need to flavor your baked chicken, skip the spice rack and reach for a bag of snacks instead — specifically, Cheetos.

Integrating them is pretty simple: First, crush them to a crumb-like texture, either in the bag, with a food processor, or with a mortar and pestle. Then, use them in place of traditional breadcrumbs or panko in your breading process after the chicken has been floured and dipped in liquid, usually egg or milk. Then just follow your usual baked chicken recipe.

While all Cheetos can make great snacks, you should stick to the crunchy style for this dish. Cheetos Puffs will crush too finely to achieve the desired effect. Fortunately, crunchy Cheetos are available in a wide — and seemingly ever-growing — variety of flavors, including Flamin' Hot, Flamin' Hot Limon, Cheddar Jalapeño, and even Mexican Street Corn. Those looking for a lower-fat alternative can grab a bag of baked Cheetos instead.

Big benefits from a little snack

In addition to Cheetos' flavor benefits, there are other reasons to give this spin on baked chicken a shot. It's a perfect way to use up those smaller pieces at the bottom of a Cheetos bag or make the most of an extra snack-sized bag sitting around your kitchen. Plus, coating your chicken in Cheetos serves as an affordable, gluten-free alternative to breadcrumbs when paired with gluten-free flour.

Anyone with taste buds can tell these cheesy snacks are full of flavor, but nutritionist Robin Miller explained why Cheetos are so addictive. It's partly due to the carefully constructed mouthfeel of Cheetos, which Miller says "melt in our mouths almost immediately," making it easy to keep chowing down. Add in the snack's complex combination of salt, cheese, and fat, and biology takes over to demand more of this crave-worthy puffed corn. All of these factors combine to produce a unique and flavorful breading that shakes up ordinary baked chicken.