Walnut Rosemary Crusted Chicken (Low Carb and Gluten Free)


I am starting to believe I must have been a squirrel in a past life. Let’s consider the facts, shall we? I love nuts, all sorts of nuts. I eat them several times a day. I hoard them, snatching them up whenever I see them on sale, squirreling them away in my freezer and pantry for future use. These are all distinctly squirrel-like behaviours. I don’t want it to be true, as I don’t much care for squirrels. They are skittish little rodents who have a nasty habit of throwing themselves under car wheels and becoming squished bits of grey fur and red guts on the road that I have to avoid on my runs. Blech! I’d much prefer to find out that I was something elegant and regal in a previous exisitence. A tigress, perhaps, or a gazelle. But a squirrel? Really?

I ate nuts fairly frequently before I was diabetic, but now my nut-aholism is all sorts of out of control. In moments of desperate hunger, they provide much needed energy and nutrition without adding a lot of carbs. They take the place of wheat flour in almost all of my baked goods, and I seem to be adding them to more and more dishes, both savoury and sweet. I consume them in all of their manifestations: whole, chopped, ground, butter, milk, toasted, raw. I think it would be safe to say that nuts make up a large part of my diet and are irreplaceable to me. I really don’t know what I would do without them.

I can’t really take credit for the idea behind this recipe. I saw it on someone else’s blog a few months back and I instantly recognized it as something I would like. However, I can no longer remember whose blog it was or where I saved the link to the recipe, so when I finally got around to making it, I had to go it alone and make up my own version. If it was your blog, please claim it! I was well-trained in ungdergrad and grad school to cite my sources and plagiarism is abhorrent to me, so speak up and I will rewrite this post to include you and give you credit.

In my version, I did a couple of things which I believe greatly impact the outcome of the dish. The first is brining the chicken breasts. If you’ve never brined your chicken, you need to start immediately – especially for boneless, skinless chicken breasts, which can be so dry and flavourless after cooking. Brining helps to lock in the juices so that even oven-baked chicken is tender and moist. I also used toasted walnut oil to drizzle over the chicken before baking. You could use a different oil or butter, but you won’t get quite as much of a walnut flavour. And think of all of those heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids!

The Results I didn’t really have any fear that I wouldn’t like this dish. The question is, could I fool my kids into eating it? They are convinced that they don’t like nuts besides peanuts, so when they asked what was for dinner, I just said chicken. Leaving out the word “walnut” seems to have done the trick because they loved it! My rapidly-growing 6 year old ate two helpings, and the picky-eater toddler downed her share in flash. For my part, I really loved the flavour of the walnuts, rosemary and garlic with the chicken, and it was an easy meal to throw together, which is always a plus. Any leftovers are wonderful cold and sliced onto a salad.

The only part that really takes some forethought and planning is the brining, which requires about an hour. But trust me, it’s worth it. And brining has the added advantage of helping to defrost your chicken breasts, if you are like me and you tend to forget about that part until later in the day. Often I am plopping semi-thawed breasts into the salty water, popping the whole bowl back in the fridge and crossing my fingers that it’s all defrosted by dinner time. And it usually is!

Walnut Rosemary Crusted Chicken

5-6 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tbsp kosher salt
1/2 cup walnuts, ground fine
2 tbsp fresh rosemary, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
2 tbsp walnut oil
salt and pepper

To brine the chicken, fill a large bowl with cold water and stir in kosher salt until mostly dissolved. Place chicken in bowl and chill in refrigerator about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 350F and lightly grease a glass or ceramic baking pan (13×9 inches).

In a small bowl, whisk together walnuts, rosemary and garlic. Remove chicken from brine and pat dry with paper towel. Place chicken in single layer in prepared pan and cover each breast in walnut mixture, pressing to adhere. Drizzle with walnut oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper to taste.

Bake until light golden brown and chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes.

Serves 5. Each serving has 2 g of carbs and 1 g of fiber. Total NET CARBS = 1 g.

257 Calories; 14g Fat (49.3% calories from fat); 30g Protein; 2g Carbohydrate; 1g Dietary Fiber; 68mg Cholesterol; 77mg Sodium.

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  1. Pretend Chef says

    My question is, after finding your kids eat said food do you end up telling them what they just ate? I will wait until my toddler is done eating it and then exclaim, "You just ate (insert food) and you liked it!" This sounds like a perfect main dish for this house. We are nuts about nuts. Yummy!

  2. The Slow Roasted Italian says

    So, if you must be a squirrel. Be the best squirrel and smartest squirrel you can be. Well, then again… You moved on to this life, so either you were not a smart squirrel and ended up under a tire. Or you were extraordinarily smart and knew in this life you could cook up the most amazing dishes with your stockpile of nuts. Sounds like a win win!

    The chicken looks amazing, I eat a lot of chicken and have not ever brined. I definitely have to give this one a shot! It looks amazing.

  3. Becky says

    Love this chicken dish, and we love nuts, of any kind. the nuts and rosemary give the chicken an earthy flavor. I can't wait to try it.

  4. Katrina {In Katrina's Kitchen} says

    Mmm! This looks amazing! i bet the flavor was delicious. I make a rosemary pecan crusted chicken – but I think I may be on the search for some walnuts now…

  5. Dee says

    Ha! I love that you just said "Chicken". I have to do that on occasion. Even though my kids will eat anything it seems that if you tell them the name of the recipe I sometimes get a groan. I have yet to put nuts in my savory's. This is inspiring!

  6. Paula @ Cookware Cooking says

    Us squirrels must stick together (I say as I nibble on my handful of walnuts!). This is a must make and it's a bonus it's gluten-free!

  7. Susie Bee on Maui says

    I do something similar with pecans but walnuts sound good so will give that a try. Thanks for the brining tip!

  8. Carrie says

    Oh wow, this truly looks fantastic! Very elegant, and I love that the crust is made from walnuts. Yum.

  9. Jennifer says

    Carolyn, I enjoyed your story. Very entertaining! I'm also nuts about nuts! Nice easy chicken dish and great that the kids all enjoyed it. Good idea to leave out the bit about the walnuts. 😉

  10. Erin says

    This looks great! I love the walnuts and rosemary together. Saving for use later!! Thanks, have a great weekend!

  11. Cassie @ Bake Your Day says

    Sounds lovely, I love rosemary with chicken and I imagine walnuts add a whole other dimension!

  12. The Mom Chef says

    Even though I do enjoy nuts, I really can't stay that I'm nuts about them like you are. Maybe I was the tigress in a previous life because I'm all about the beef (and the rarer, the better).

    I do love the idea of crusting a chicken breast in walnuts and chicken is always fantastic with rosemary. Wish it had been my idea. :)

  13. All That's Left Are The Crumbs says

    I think squirrels are kind of cute. Then again, we don't have them here so maybe this is why I think that they are so cute. I am also a fan of nuts, and walnuts are one of the healthiest you can eat. I will definitely try brining too, before making this dish.

  14. The Harried Cook says

    This sounds like something that would make my husband very happy. I have to just mention that a particular recipe has walnuts and he is so excited :) I am bookmarking this :)

  15. Maureen says

    I'm not partial to squirrels either.

    I looked at this recipe and it looks delicious. I'm wondering how it would be with pork fillet. I might have to try it both ways. For educational purposes, mind you.

  16. Jill@MadAboutMacarons says

    Carolyn, this looks so tender and love the walnutty crust. Good for the cholesterol, too. Will have to make this.
    I always thought you were a squirrel – you are so sweet :-)

  17. April says

    I agree that it's worth the extra time/effort to brine meat– the result is so much better. This is so elegant and sounds delicious!

  18. Sandra says

    I think that my kids would love this dish..and you did such an amazing job! Looks absolutely amazing!!!

  19. SKIP TO MALOU says

    In that sense, I am a squirrel too. I love nuts too all sorts and I can't stop eating them ones I start.
    I love the texture of your dish, something that would really perk up a family dinner. Thank you for stopping by… til our next exchange!

  20. Janet@ from cupcakes to caviar says

    I'm not normally a fan of nuts in savory foods but this recipe may just made me change my mind :-)

  21. Angela@RecipesFromMyMom says

    After your cashew chicken, the tagine with almonds and this walnut chicken, I can only hope you'll be doing something soon with chicken and pistachios.

  22. Cookin' Canuck says

    Nuts are one of my go-to snacks, too. A handful of almonds always manages to hold me over until dinner. This chicken sounds so flavorful!

  23. Miss @ Miss in the Kitchen says

    This sounds amazing. I have a pine nut crusted chicken that is good, I will have to try yours with the rosemary!

  24. Kat @ Cupcake Kat says

    I love nuts so much! This dish looks really tasty. I can imagine myself making it for a picnic

  25. Katherine Martinelli says

    I love everything about this recipe! Walnuts and rosemary are two of my favorite things. I'll definitely be making this soon. Thanks!!

  26. Magic of Spice says

    I totally agree with brining the chicken first, especially boneless breasts…so much more tender.
    Fantastic and elegant dish :)

  27. Bella @wineandgoodfood says

    This chicken looks incredible and reminds me of something my grandmother used to make around the holidays. Earthy and comforting…looking forward to trying it. Thanks!

  28. kitchenarian says

    What a great idea to brine the chicken breasts. This recipe looks great. Congratulations on Top 9 – well deserved.

  29. Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table says

    Congrats on the buzz!

    This looks delicious. I'm a nut-addict as well, so I will certainly be trying this. I've never brined chicken before – I'm a fan of pounding it. I'm interested to try it here though!

  30. kita says

    This is totally bookmarked and I am itching to make it! Sounds fabulous and Im sure it will be a winner at our table.

  31. says

    This looks amazing. I have 2 chicken breasts thawing out right now and a bag of pecans that is slowly being used in various recipes. Your recipe is giving me ideas for those pecans and the chicken. Thanks for sharing!


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