Zaxby's is the largest chicken-finger chain in the country, with over 800 units throughout the Southeastern U.S., but it wasn't the first. In the early 1980s, Guthrie's restaurant in Haleyville, Alabama was serving hamburgers, sandwiches, ice cream, and Golden Fried Chicken Fingers that became a smash hit with customers. Guthrie's eventually eliminated all the other menu items and began serving just chicken fingers, French fries, Texas toast, and coleslaw, along with a special dipping sauce. You’ll find the same offerings on Zaxby’s menu, and the chain’s Chicken Fingerz are always the star of the show.
One secret to making great chicken fingers at home is brining the chicken with a lightly seasoned salt solution to add flavor and juiciness throughout the tenderloins. Another secret revealed here is the inclusion of baking soda in the breading. This will make a light, crispy coating with a perfect golden brown color, just like Zaxby's chicken fingers.
Check out my Zaxby's Zax Sauce hack to copy Zaxby's famous dipping sauce.
This combination of mayonnaise, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce and spices for dipping chicken fingers was originally created at Guthrie's—the first chain to offer chicken-finger meals—by one of founder Hal Guthrie's kids, and the sauce became a big part of the restaurant's early success. Even though Guthrie's debuted the first version of this sauce, it’s the bigger chicken-finger chains like Zaxby's and Raising Cane's that copied Guthrie’s concept and made the secret recipe iconic.