Attention Tailgators: This recipe is for your next Florida tailgate party! Gator Bait Chicken Bites. No, we didn't actually cook up alligator. That just seems...wrong. Yes, I know, many people love it, but I just couldn't. So...we went for the next best thing. Chicken. Haven't you heard? It tastes like alligator.
Oh, and what's in the Swamp Sauce? A little bit of everything, in true Florida style. (The recipe is at the end of the post.)
SEC Tailgate Special : The University of Florida
Football at the Swamp, baby! If you are a Florida fan, you love it. If you are anyone else in the SEC, you FEAR the swamp. (Or is that just the rest of the SEC East?)
This year, we created a tailgate recipe for every team in the South Eastern Conference.
Our goal: to capture the spirit of each school’s team and make a fun and delicious recipe using local flavor and flair. So we put our football differences aside, and researched every school.
If you have ever been to an SEC Tailgate, you know that food is the only thing that brings opposing fans together.
(Besides the fact that we all want to beat Florida.) (Whoops!! Sorry Gator Nation. Vol fan here...we've been giving you a hard time on the other tailgate recipe pages, but love ya, mean it! )
If you don’t follow college football or aren’t a fan of the SEC…that’s totally ok. The SEC Tailgate recipes are still awesome for your next party. Or a Tuesday. (We won’t judge.)
Gator Bait Chicken Bites with Swamp Sauce | Florida Tailgate
In another SEC Tailgate Special recipe or two, I refer to M.I.L.E. (Mascots I'd Like to Eat). Um...Gators aren't in that category for me. It would be like eating sweet Al.
I went with crazy Florida chickens. These aren't normal chicken nuggets, ok? Just put that thought out of your heads right now.
These are full of flavor, tender and moist, and country fried with a perfect amount of spice! We let the Gator Bait Chicken Bites soak in a mixture of buttermilk and hot sauce (yay) for hours before we cooked them. For tailgating parties, I would definitely throw them in the pool the night before, and fry them up the morning of the game.
The point of soaking them? You get so much flavor, and it helps tenderize the chicken and keep it moist. (You can also use this method when you fry chicken legs and thighs.) Why the hot sauce? Why the hell not?
Drain the chicken bites, then dredge in a milk and egg mixture, then a spicy flour mix. (You can totally control the heat level here...keep in mind who you are feeding. If there are kids or the mild at heart, tone it down. If you are feeding wild Gators, then by all means, put all the hot stuff in!)
Ever hear stories of people getting lost in the swamp? Well...apparently so did our photos of the actual cooking process. Just use your imagination. Picture these beautiful little Gator Bait chicken bites sizzling and browning to perfection in a cast iron skillet.
Or, you can toss them in the deep fryer.
These Gator Bites are like Florida Country Boy Chick Fil-A right here. (Except you can have these on Saturday AND Sunday!)
The cornmeal really makes a difference in the texture and flavor of the breading.
What your SEC Rivals are Cooking:
Big Orange Smokey's + Checkerboard Relish
Dawg Chow Snack Mix
Nashville Hot Chicken Wraps
Now, for the Swamp Sauce. How to go about it? Get the ingredient list at the bottom of this post, toss it all in a jar and shake.
You can drizzle it....
Or you can just pour it on! What's in the Swamp Sauce? Everything. This sauce is legit, so don't skip it at your next Florida Tailgate. See the recipe below! (FYI, the sauce is great on burgers, too. Money.) Spicy, tangy, barely sweet...salty, lip-smacking...it will keep you chomping down on these addictive Gator Bait Bites!
Of all 14 SEC Tailgate recipes we made, this Florida Tailgate recipe was one of my faves!
How I got through this post without a Tebow reference, I'll never know.
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Gator Bait Bites with Swamp Sauce | Florida Tailgate
For the Gator Bait
- 3 chicken breasts trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ¼ cup Frank's hot sauce
- 2 TB Siracha or more to taste
- ½ cup milk
- 1 egg
- 1 cup all purpose flour
- 3 TB cornmeal
- 1 TB powdered sugar
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon salt
- ½ cup vegetable oil divided (for cooking)
For the Swamp Sauce
- 4 TB chili sauce
- 3 TB mayo
- 3 TB Frank's hot sauce
- 2 TB BBQ sauce any
- 2 TB mustard
- 1 TB Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon minced garlic
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
For the Gator Bait
- Combine the chicken, butter milk, ¼ cup of the Frank's hot sauce, and the Siracha. Stir to coat the chicken well. Cover and refrigerate between 30 minutes to 4 hours. Drain the chicken.
- In a shallow bowl, beat the egg and stir in the milk. In a separate shallow bowl or dish, combine the flour, cornmeal, powdered sugar, salt, pepper, and paprika.
- Heat about a fourth of the oil in a large skillet over medium to medium high heat. In batches, dip the chicken into the milk and egg mixture, then into the flour mixture. Cook a few minutes on each side until the chicken "gator bait" pieces are browned and the chicken is cooked through.
- Continue cooking until all pieces are cooked. Serve with swamp sauce.
For the Swamp Sauce
- Combine all ingredients in a small bowl. Whisk to combine well. Can be refrigerated or served room temperature.
I can't believe how many times I have seen a recipe that SOUNDED great and when you follow it you go....meh....well this recipe is NOT one of them!!! My wife and I could not believe how unbelievable good this was!!! The coating on the chicken is the best 'nugget' coating we have ever made. Just an absolutely perfect crunch...and the sauce is to die for! I used a sweet chili sauce and sriracha mayo. It was the perfect spicy zing, with a bit of sweet and tangy mustard all hit your mouth. It was one of the more complex sauces we have made. All in all this was far better than what we expected! Thank you for this one!!!
You guys!!!! I'm gonna cry!! Thank you SO much for giving our blog (and this recipe) a shot. They are super yummy. Great on chicken strips, too. Heck, why not make a sandwich out of it, too. And the sauce, yes, I love that sauce. Thank you for taking the time to leave such a nice comment. I appreciate y'all so much. 🙂
What kind of Chili sauce do you use?
Hi, Denise! I use a a sweet tomato-type chili sauce. Anything like this: https://www.google.com/aclk?sa=l&ai=DChcSEwisvOCI-fnyAhUgBogJHX-JDdYYABAGGgJxbg&sig=AOD64_21aKvopU5cFHSQV7n5235E2KSmNw&ctype=5&q=&ved=2ahUKEwikudaI-fnyAhUISTABHeuJCsYQww96BAgBEFQ&adurl=