Making chicken cakes is a simple and tasty way to repurpose left over chicken.
Rotisserie chickens are a great way to get a decently cooked products and enjoy it with your crew. However, with our crew, the dark meat disappears quicker than a summer drizzles on hot concrete. Not just the rotisserie chicken either, any baked, smoked or beer-can chicken usually finds us with left over white meat.
There are a ton of ways to use leftover white chicken meat.
This recipe is among our favorite ways to use it, and is certain to become one of your family favorites as well. This one takes the basic idea of a crab cake or such, and tweaks it to a slightly higher level of savory tastiness.
Binding it together
On the technical side, these chicken cakes use two different methods to create a patty that stays together and retains enough moisture that it doesn’t get dry. Eggs are of course a go to binding agent of choice is many recipes. Adding in the flour will assist giving them something to make a light cohesive batter
Mayonnaise is of course the traditional binder for most ‘cake recipes. Emulsified egg and oil, it can blend in very well, and very easily. Heat causes it to tighten up, bind as well, without getting any kind of toughness added to the texture (assuming you don’t cook it to death). Cheese will also help bind things together which is why you want to use at least some soft cheese. Hard cheeses like parmesan or cotija bring great flavors but not much of a melt characteristic. Medium soft cheese will add nice textures and flavors. We used a commercial Italian blend with mozzarella, fontina, asiago, provolone, parm and Romano to get both those components.
Panko vs. bread crumbs
Less traditionally, the bread crumbs are added as an outer layer versus an integrated ingredient as in many ‘cake recipes. Panko is ideal for this aspect of it because it browns so well and delivers just the right crunch to the crust in fairly short order. In short, you don’t have to massacre it to get a browned exterior.
Any bread crumbs will work. We season the dish pretty well, so a commercially season crumb might throw too many extra flavors into the mix. With any crumb coating you want to find the balance of oil hot enough to brown your food and not just get sponged right up versus scorching hot oil that cooks the outside too quickly. The target is about 325°F. Close to the medium heat from many stoves.
Shaping chicken patties
There are a couple of choices for this process, mostly centered on when you refrigerate the mix. We went with the more direct approach. We did a quick initial shaping, flattening, then chilled down the patties. Right before adding the crumb coating, we cleaned up the rough edges, breaded them and cooked them.
That last part shouldn’t change. You can refrigerate before any shaping, then work the mix cold to get the shape of the patties that you want. If you are prepping, this is the step at which you refrigerate if you are not cooking right away. It is better to bread them immediately before you cook them. The recipe is geared to giving you a tasty and moist patty when all is said and done. That same moisture will soften the crumbs and make it harder to get them properly browned off. The process will serve you better in the sequence we outlined here for you.
We just ate them up, they are certainly good enough for that. These can substitute as a ‘cutlet’ in a huge number of dishes. From Chicken Parmesan with red sauce and more cheese, to brown gravy and mashed taters, this is an extremely versatile dish. If you are more patient than we apparently are, you can make them small enough to legit call them a nugget for your young eaters, and they will go well with the same sauces. In between size and you get a great starter dish, served over some slaw to begin your meal.
We even had some find their way into burger buns to be served as a sandwich the next day. The smaller sizing would also lend itself to a slider sandwich as well. Because you are shaping them, a long ovel could work with a hoagie…the choices are endless. Do be aware that they have a somewhat delicate texture, so you can’t make the patties massively bigger than your largest spatula or they can break while being handled in the cook process.
Tips and tricks for making the best chicken cakes
Well cooked chicken should shred pretty easily. To avoid long stringy pieces, we cut across the grain to create shorter strands that will mix well into the patty size end result. Our mustard choice is the classic brown deli style mustard, well balanced with good flavors that won’t overpower the end result.
Similarly, we used a Louisiana style hot sauce. At one teaspoon the vinegar will not get too strong in the flavor profile. Mexican style hot sauces are also good, they usually pack a bit more heat without the vinegar component. Either is there essentially to open up flavors, similar to how salt will work. Changing the dynamics of how you taste the food helping you enjoy more flavor.
Using an ice cream style scooper that will push the food out is an easy way to get pretty even sized portions of the mixture prior to flattening.
This dish is cooked very close to the edge of olive oils and their smoke point. We used a light vegetable oil, slightly milder than Canola which also works well. Both of them are sturdy and very safe to use below 400 degrees.
Chicken Cakes Recipe
- 2 Large Chicken breasts shredded approx. 4 cups meat
- 2 Eggs
- ⅓ Cup Mayonnaise
- ⅓ Cup Flour
- 1 Tablespoon Dried basil
- 1 Tablespoon Dried dill weed
- 1 Teaspoon Granulated garlic
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- ½ Teaspoon Paprika
- 1 Teaspoon Brown mustard
- 1 Teaspoon Hot sauce
- 1½ Cups Cups grated cheese
- 4 Tablespoons Vegetable oil
- 2 Cups Panko bread crumbs
- Remove breast meat from bone and remove any skin
- Cut meat across the grain into approximately 1-inch slices
- Shred the meat well
- Grate cheese if needed
- In a bowl add eggs, mayonnaise, flour, dried basil, dill weed, granulated garlic, salt, paprika, mustard and hot sauce
- Whisk all together until smooth
- Add chicken and cheese
- Stir until well blended
- On parchment paper, place 6 even portions, or your choice of portions
- Flatten to approximately 1/2”
- Refrigerate for 1-2 hours
- Preheat skillet over medium heat
- Remove patties from fridge, clean up and round out edges
- Dip into panko, flip and repeat, pressing the patty lightly into the crumbs
- Place on a rack until cooking
- Pour 2 Tablespoons oil into skillet
- Place patties in skillet
- When browned, turn to brown the opposite side
- Remove from pan to rack
- Add 2 Tablespoons oil and cook remaining patties
- Serve and enjoy