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How to Make Homemade Chicken Tenders

October 7, 2020
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Chicken tenders are a staple in American cuisine. They’re affordable, easy to prepare, and everyone loves them! Plus, when you dunk them in your favorite dipping sauce, you get a mouthwatering flavor-explosion.

Here, Seven Sons shares our top three favorite recipes for home-cooked chicken tenders. Whether you bake them in the oven or fry them in a pan, there are plenty of ways to perfect your own recipe. When you cook them with our ethically pasture-raised poultry, you can be sure your next meal will be a crowd-pleaser.

How to Cook Chicken Tenders in the Oven

Perhaps the most common way to make chicken tenders is by cooking them in the oven. The most popular method is undeniably the most reliable—people have been perfecting this style for years!

How you cook your food is an integral aspect of everything from its taste to its nutritiousness. You don’t want to make chicken tenders in the microwave, for example, even if that’s how you heat them the next day.

Oven-baked foods tend to be healthier than fried foods, making this recipe a better alternative for the health-conscious. But just because it’s healthier doesn’t mean it can’t be tasty, too. Let’s take a look at one of the most popular recipes for oven-baked chicken tenders.

Best Oven-Baked Chicken Tender Recipe

This recipe is perfect for chicken finger lovers who enjoy an intense crunch with a garlic and paprika kick. If that flavor combo is not your thing, you can easily leave out those ingredients.

This recipe will make enough to serve two. All you need is a working oven, the ingredients listed below, and a voracious appetite.

Required Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 12-16 oz of chicken tenderloins
  • One large egg, beaten (or 1/3 cup of egg substitute)
  • Panko breadcrumbs - 1 cup
  • Salt - 1 teaspoon
  • Black pepper - 1 teaspoon
  • One minced garlic clove
  • Paprika - 1 teaspoon

Tools:

  • Oven mitts
  • Baking tray
  • Aluminum foil/cooking spray

Instructions

Follow these step-by-step instructions to make oven-baked chicken tenders. This recipe is top-rated and perfects a universally-loved entrée.

  1. First, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. For optimal cleanliness, line your cooking sheet with aluminum foil or spray it with cooking oil.
  3. Mix panko breadcrumbs, minced garlic, paprika, onion powder, salt, and pepper in a shallow bowl.
  4. Put the beaten egg or egg substitute into a separate shallow bowl.
  5. Coat one tender at a time in the beaten egg or substitute. Then coat it with the breadcrumb mixture and place on the cooking sheet.
  6. Once the oven has reached 450 degrees Fahrenheit for ten minutes, place the chicken tenders in the oven for 7 minutes.
  7. Flip the chicken tenders over and let them cook for an additional 7 minutes.
  8. Broil for 2 minutes for an optional additional crunch.
  9. Use oven mitts to remove the tray safely from the oven.
  10. Let stand for 5-7 minutes to cool off – then eat and enjoy!

And voilà! You have delicious, homemade chicken tenders at the ready.

The breadcrumb mix is flavorful enough that you can eat these chicken fingers plain. For a taste sensation, eat them with a condiment of your choice or try a hot and spicy dipping sauce for an extra kick.

How to Bake Chicken Tenders

Cooking chicken tenders in the oven and baking them are similar ideas. However, there is one primary difference: the amount of breading.

With our baked recipe, you use more breadcrumbs—which means more crunch and more flavor! Check out this classic recipe below for extra-crispy chicken fingers.

Best Baked Chicken Tender Recipe

This recipe lays it on a little thick by doubling the amount of breading. The prep is also slightly different from the chicken strips in the last recipe because you want to toast them beforehand.

This recipe is perfect for people who want that delicious crunch that comes from frying chicken tenders but the healthier method of cooking them in the oven.

Note that this meal is a little heavier due to the added layer of breading, so it’s better as an entrée as opposed to a snack or an appetizer.

This classic recipe also has less spice than the former recipe, so it’s okay for young kids or people who don’t want a lot of spice. The recipe will serve two adults.

With a working oven and the ingredients listed below, you’re ready to get started.

Required Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 12-16 oz of chicken tenderloins
  • One large egg (or 1/3 cup of egg substitute)
  • Breadcrumbs - 1 1/2 cups
  • Salt - 2 teaspoons
  • Black pepper - 2 teaspoons
  • Cooking oil

Tools:

  • Oven mitts
  • Non-stick baking tray

Instructions

Use these step-by-step instructions for baked chicken fingers that will make you say, “Seconds, please!”

  1. First, preheat your oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. 
  2. Mix your panko breadcrumbs, salt, and black pepper.
  3. Toast the breading mixture by spreading it out on a baking tray and putting it in the oven for about one minute. The toasted breadcrumbs add that extra crispiness.
  4. Coat your chicken tenders in the beaten egg or egg substitute.
  5. Then coat the strips in the breadcrumbs mix twice over.
  6. Place your breaded chicken strips on the cooking sheet and let bake for 8 minutes.
  7. Take out the chicken tenders, spray them with cooking oil on both sides, flip, and then return to the oven.
  8. Let them bake for another 8 minutes.
  9. Use oven mitts to remove the cooking sheet from the oven safely.
  10. Let them stand for about 6-9 minutes to cool off.

By the end of this process, you should have a plate full of delectable chicken tenders! We recommend pairing this meal with a spicy or mild dipping sauce. The crunchy heat of the chicken strips will complement the cool, smooth consistency of a condiment.

How to Fry Chicken Tenders

Perhaps the most popular way to make and eat chicken tenders is by frying them. Fried food provides a taste that we can’t get enough of, and fried chicken has capitalized on that appetite more than any other dish.

It can seem intimidating to fry chicken fingers, especially if you haven’t done it before. Hot oil can easily make a big mess, and it can be dangerous if you’re not careful.

Here’s a popular recipe to make delicious fried chicken tenders safely.

Best Fried Chicken Tender Recipe

Frying can be a challenge because it can go one of two ways: it can risk coming out undercooked despite a perfect fry, or it can come out deep-fried past the point of deliciousness. You don’t want the chicken fingers to come out dry.

Our recipe strikes a perfect balance between the two and will leave you hungry for more.

This meal can serve eight. If you are trying to serve fewer or more people, feel free to adjust as necessary.

Frying any food, including fried chicken, can be dangerous. When working with hot oil, please be cautious: use gloves and tongs and don’t leave the area unattended.

Required Ingredients

For this recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • About 1 ½ lbs. of chicken tenderloins
  • All-purpose flour - 1 cup
  • Two large beaten eggs (or 2/3 cup of egg substitute)
  • Breadcrumbs - 2 cups
    Salt - 1 teaspoon
    Black pepper - 1 teaspoon
    Garlic salt - 1 teaspoon
    Water - 2 tablespoons
    Frying oil - 2 quarts

Tools:

  • Gloves
  • Tongs 
  • 1 large pot for the oil
  • Cooking thermometer

Instructions

Follow the instructions here for savory fried chicken tenders:

  1. First, use three shallow bowls to separate the following: 1) flour in one bowl, 2) eggs and water in another, and 3) breadcrumbs, salt, black pepper, and garlic salt in the final one.
  2. Coat each tender in this order: flour, egg, and the bread crumb mix.
  3. Heat the oil until it reaches 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  4. Put on your gloves and get your tongs ready.
  5. Fry each tender for 7-8 minutes until it appears a golden-brown hue. You can add several tenders at a time but don’t overcrowd the pot. Otherwise, the strips could get stuck together. As the tenders come closer to being done, they will float near the top of the oil, and the bubbling will cease.
  6. Set the tenders aside on a paper towel to catch excess oil. Let stand and cool for 10-12 minutes.

It’s as easy as that! Now, you have a big tray of tasty chicken tenders.

One thing to note is that because fried chicken requires hot oil, the cool-down period is even more critical. Fried foods retain heat for longer, and you don’t want you, your little ones, or guests to bite into a scalding tender.

This recipe calls for some tasty dipping sauce action. Our favorites are BBQ or homemade honey Dijon mustard. You can easily make honey mustard by mixing honey and Dijon mustard to taste.

Conclusion

Chicken tenders may seem like a standard meal or an easy-out to feed the kids when you don’t feel like cooking. But, adults can (and do) enjoy them, too!

Our large families certainly love these delicious treats.

This dish is an ideal snack or entrée for any person, couple, or family. You can cook up a small amount for a quick and simple meal or make a large batch for your next cookout, Super Bowl Sunday, or party.

Whether you want something spicy or mild, a full-course meal or a quick snack, chicken tenders are sure to satisfy. Our baked and fried chicken recipes here let you master this timeless dish.

Consider trying out some of our recipes above to find your perfect match. You can’t knock it until you try it, and all of the chicken tender recipes listed here are great ways to get started.

Did you enjoy these chicken fingers? Comment below or check out more chicken recipes from Seven Sons!

Catherine Hitzfield

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