This walnut crusted chicken checks all the boxes for a heart-healthy keto recipe. It’s tender and flavorful, and so easy to make. With plenty of good fats and less than 2g net carbs per serving, you can dig in guilt-free!
My obsession with walnuts leads me to believe that I was a squirrel in a past life. I love all sorts of nuts for their flavor and for the delicious crunch factor. And I have a propensity for hoarding them when I see them on sale.
Definitely squirrel-like behaviour, don’t you agree?
Really, I am ever so glad that they are low carb and keto-friendly. I tend to use walnuts mostly in sweet recipes, such as keto biscotti or keto coffee cake.
However, this walnut chicken recipe plays up their savory side to excellent advantage. The nuts add both crunch and flavor, turning baked chicken breasts into an easy gourmet meal.
Heart-healthy keto dinner recipe
I’ve had a lot of requests lately for recipes that are lower in saturated fat. While I don’t view saturated fat as an issue on a keto diet, I can also appreciate the desire to cut back on it.
The literature surrounding dietary fat, cholesterol, and heart health is confusing, to say the least! And it’s never a bad thing to vary the sources of fats and oils you consume, as long as you steer clear of inflammatory vegetable oils like canola and soybean.
Almost everyone agrees, however, that walnuts and walnut oil are healthy choices. They contain high levels of Omega-3 fatty acids, so incorporating them into your diet is a smart way to shake things up a bit.
This walnut crusted chicken is actually one of the first keto dinner recipes I ever published on ADIDAF. It dates way back to June 2011 and I figured I should give it an update. It’s just as delicious as it ever was!
Walnut chicken is simple to make, with only a handful of ingredients. You will need:
- Chicken breasts
- Walnut oil – or another oil of choice
- Salt and pepper
Brining chicken breast
Brining the chicken breasts is an optional step for this recipe, but I do recommend it. It makes the chicken juicier and more flavorful.
Chicken breasts tend to be on the dry side, and benefit tremendously from an hour in salt brine. The brine allows the meat to draw in more moisture before cooking, so it retains more juices during cooking. It also helps break down the protein fibers in advance, making the meat more tender.
Simply add about 2 tablespoons of kosher salt and 3 cups of water to a bowl and stir until the salt is mostly dissolved. Add the breasts to the bowl and refrigerate for one hour. Make sure to pat the chicken dry when you remove it from the brine.
How to make Walnut Crusted Chicken
- Brine the chicken: This step is optional but see my notes above!
- Split the breasts in half: I suggest this because most chicken breasts these days are very large and are far more than a serving. The three I used here added up to over 2 pounds. But if you can find smaller breasts of about 6 ounces each, feel free to leave them intact.
- Grind the walnuts: To make the walnut crust, you want finely ground nuts. They will stick to the chicken better that way.
- Combine the crust ingredients: Add the minced garlic, chopped rosemary, and a pinch of cayenne.
- Drizzle with oil: Grease a large baking dish and lay the chicken breast halves in a single layer for even cooking. Then drizzle on some walnut or avocado oil and brush to coat. Season with salt and pepper.
- Press with the walnut mixture: Sprinkle the top of the chicken generously with the walnut coating and press firmly to adhere.
- Bake until golden: I recommend an instant read thermometer to make sure the chicken is cooked through. It should reach 165ºF but don’t take it much beyond that as it can dry out.
Frequently Asked Questions
This step is optional but I do recommend it. Please see the section entitled Brining Chicken Breasts to understand what brining does.
Absolutely! Pecans, almonds, or hazelnuts would be delicious too, albeit not quite as high in Omega-3 fatty acids.
I suggest walnut oil for this recipe to bring out the flavor and to increase the heart-healthy fats. But really, any good cooking oil will work. Even melted butter is fine!
Store the leftovers in a covered container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Rewarm them gently in the oven, and you can even turn on the broiler for a minute or so to crisp up the coating a bit.
What to serve with walnut crusted chicken
Try one of these delicious keto side dishes.
- Cauliflower Risotto
- Twice Baked Spaghetti Squash
- Caramelized Brussels Sprouts
- Creamy Mashed Cauliflower
- Zucchini Casserole
- Keto Focaccia Bread
Walnut Crusted Chicken Recipe
- To brine the chicken, fill a large bowl with cold water and stir in the kosher salt until mostly dissolved. Place the chicken in bowl and chill in refrigerator about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF and lightly grease a 9×13 inch glass or ceramic baking dish.
- In a food processor, grind the walnuts until the resemble coarse crumbs. Transfer to a bowl and stir in the garlic, rosemary, and cayenne.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and pat dry with rags or paper towels. Carefully slice each breast horizontally through the center to make 6 cutlets.
- Arrange the chicken in a single layer in the prepared baking dish. Drizzle the chicken with the walnut oil and brush to coat, then season generously with salt and pepper.
- Sprinkle the walnut mixture over the chicken and use a spoon to press firmly into the chicken. Bake until golden and the chicken is cooked through, 20 to 25 minutes.