This chicken tender recipe is super easy to make and taste phenomenal! Oven-baked for a crispy exterior yet still tender and juicy on the inside. So you have no excuse; embrace your inner child!
I use pork rinds because they taste better and provide a crispy mouthfeel bread crumbs or panko cannot. I find bread crumbs absorb too much moisture, which results in a soggy texture vs. the crisp and crunchy texture of pork rinds, which is why so many people compare this recipe to fried chicken.
Proven Chicken Tenders
This recipe has over 150,000 shares to date. The secret to moist chicken is MAYONNAISE and the secret to the crispy exterior is a combination of parmesan and crushed pork rinds.
📖 Fried chicken alternative
That's right; crisp, chicken tenders! Not only is this recipe healthier than fried chicken, but some people also admit that it tastes better! But I'm getting ahead of myself.
I made this today, and it came out great! My "picky" hubby really liked it and said this is an excellent alternative to our homemade fried chicken. The nice thing about this recipe is that the flavoring can be adjusted as you like. I only used parsley, poultry seasoning, kosher salt, and pepper (use what you want or have on hand). This will be added to our regular menu rotation. Thanks for the great recipe! - Heide
🍽 What you need
There's nothing in the recipe that's too out of the way. It's a very easy recipe that you can make with ingredients around the house. I frequently substitute seasonings like onion powder, garlic powder, and even smoky paprika on occasion.
If you don't have chicken tenders available, then that's not a problem. Chicken breasts are almost as supple and soft and are certainly as good tasting. So you can make do and enjoy the recipe with some chicken breast meat sliced to fit the bill.
Note: If you're using chicken breasts for this recipe, I recommend cutting them into 3 even strips.
🔪 How to make
Chicken tenders with pork rinds are super easy to make! I'll run through the basic step-by-step and let you decide on seasonings. all, you'll have this recipe ready to eat in about 45 minutes.
I've made this for family, friends, and more kids than I can count. Every time I make this, it is a huge success. Even a few picky eaters loved it!
The first thing you want to do is preheat the oven, as you'll need it soon enough. The target temperature to set the oven at is 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 177 degrees Celsius. You can also set up a cooling rack on the countertop.
Grab your ingredients, bowls, and let's start prepping.
Cut the chicken tenders or chicken breasts into 1-inch strips.
Add pork rinds to the Food Processor, blitz until bread crumb consistency. (Note 1)
Combine the Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, and pork rinds in a shallow bowl and the mayo in a second bowl. (Note 2)
Add mayo to a small bowl. Dredge the chicken fingers through the mayo, coating thoroughly, and then toss in pork rind mixture.
Place each chicken strip in a casserole dish.
Transfer to the breaded mixture (pork rinds, parmesan cheese, and seasoning). Coat the chicken tender thoroughly and place each chicken strip in an oven-safe casserole dish.
Bake 22-25 minutes until golden brown and chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
When it's all done, take it out of the oven and serve, or leave the baked chicken tenders on the cooling rack for a bit first.
If you like crispy, bake for 20 minutes and then finish on broil for 5 minutes. And if you like EXTRA CRISPY, leave the oven rack in the middle, and cook on broil.
Air Fry Instructions
Want to cook a small batch and skip the oven? Air Fryers are a fantastic way to prepare chicken tenders for 2 people or in small batches.
Place the chicken tenders in a single layer on the baking sheet
Air fry for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, turning halfway through. They're ready when the chicken is cooked through and golden brown on the outside.
While this recipe is easy, some quick tips help you make the best oven-baked chicken tenders with a nice crunchy exterior while still tender, moist, and super juicy.
Mayo is the key, don't go too easy on the mayo in this case. It's what keeps the chicken moist and soft under the crispy and crunchy exterior. Mayo is often used when cooking chicken and turkey to help protect the meat from drying out.
Mayo substitutes, eggs work as well. If you don't have Mayo on hand, give this a try with egg.
Bread crumbs come in many forms. I use pork rinds, which are a common replacement for bread crumbs or panko.
Bread crumb substitutes are more diverse. While bread crumbs and pork rinds are the most common, those looking to experiment can try the following substitutes:
- Nuts - crushed nuts of your preference, mixed 50/50 with real parmesan, not powder
- Cauliflower Crisps - worth a try, various flavors, and healthy
- Chicken Rinds - a great option if you're unable to consume pork.
Spices are the life of this recipe and help make the recipe pop. It is easy to change this depending on your preference and mood. Try adding about half a teaspoon of onion powder or half a teaspoon of garlic powder, and see what you think. Remember, the recipe is a guide! You control the recipe; it doesn't control you.
Broiling chicken tenders during the last 3-5 minutes increases the crispness, crunch, and browning. This is also an excellent way to reheat your chicken tenders and retain that crispy texture.
Almond Flour does not work for me. I see so many chicken tender recipes using almond flour, and I can't help but wonder if they even eat the recipes they publish.
🥗 What to serve with
Now that we have our amazingly crispy chicken tenders done and ready for the kids and your s/o to wolf down, what do we serve it with? I have some vegetable-based suggestions that'll pair great with your chicken tenders or chicken breasts and taste great.
This way, you can have the best of both worlds throughout; good taste and healthy eating! Here are my top two picks for side dishes to go with our homemade chicken tenders.
Cilantro lime cauliflower rice is one of the most versatile dishes ever and one of my personal favorites. This cauliflower rice recipe is a phenomenal replacement for regular rice and an enjoyable dish in its own right.
Made by blitzing cauliflower in a food processor, which you already used to crush your pork rinds, it looks just like the real thing and tastes fantastic. In fact, this recipe, which includes onion, garlic, cumin, cilantro, and lime for added tang, tastes better than most rice recipes.
Give it a try. You won't be disappointed.
Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
As a bonus, I also highly recommend honey mustard dipping sauce.
To make it, all you need is mustard, mayonnaise, honey, and some lemon juice. And you likely have most of these ingredients on hand.
This honey mustard dipping sauce is amazing with the chicken and works well with these sides as well. Alternatively, the store-bought ranch will do in a pinch.
🧊 Storing and ♨️ Reheating
In the unlikely scenario you have leftover chicken tenders, what do you do? Well, fortunately, these are easy to refrigerate and freeze.
Store in the Fridge
Place individual chicken tenders in a Pyrex container with a lid. Store in the refrigerator for approximately 3–4 days.
Store in the Freezer
Yes, you can! And these chicken tenders can last for months at a time. When you need them again, defrost them the night before.
How to Reheat Chicken Tenders
To reheat, place them in the oven on broil for 5 minutes and enjoy. Alternatively, reheat in an air fryer for 5 minutes.
🙋 Frequently Asked Questions
What are chicken tenders?
Chicken tenders are the cuts of meat right beneath the chicken breasts. They get their name for one obvious reason; the meat is perfectly tender and perfect for this recipe.
I came up with this baked chicken tenders recipe that only takes 15 minutes to prep and about 20-25 minutes to bake.
As far as recipes go, this is pretty much foolproof and a fantastic recipe to make with kids.
Is there a difference between tenders and chicken strips?
Is there a difference between tenders and chicken strips? The terms "fingers," "tenders," and "strips" are frequently used interchangeably to describe breaded, fried chicken tenders. Even though sizes and cuts vary, tenders, fingers, and strips can all be produced from the breast tenderloin.
👪 Serving Size
This recipe makes 4 servings. However, I often make this for parties and large crowds, birthdays, and everything in between.
🍳 Related Chicken Recipes
Oh boy, if you're looking for easy, delicious and affordable chicken recipes, I've got you covered, twice over. My easy chicken breast recipes with few ingredients is perfect for ideas and inspiration.
For more chicken recipes check out my collection of best chicken tenderloin recipes.
🎥 Watch how to make it
Let me know if you want more delicious chicken recipes. I have hundreds of quick and easy recipes for any occasion; browse through our website recipe collection.
Chicken Tenders with Pork Rinds
- Baking Sheet
- Large bowl
- Mixing Fork or Utensil
- ½ cup pork rinds (Note 1) - blitz
- ½ cup parmesan cheese (Note 2)
- ½ cup mayonnaise (Note 3)
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or other seasoning)
- 3 chicken tenders (or breasts) - Approximately 3 tenders per chicken breast
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177 degrees Celsius).
- Cut the chicken tenders or chicken breasts into strips.
- Add pork rinds to Food Processor, blitz until bread crumb consistency.
- Combine the Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning and pork rinds in a shallow bowl and the mayo in a second bowl.
- Dredge the chicken fingers through the mayo, coating completely.
- Transfer to breaded mixture (pork rinds, parmesan cheese, and seasoning). Coat the chicken tender thoroughly and place each chicken strip in an oven safe casserole dish.
- Bake 22-25 minutes until golden brown and chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 F
- Pork Rinds are less absorbent than bread crumbs (panko) and provide the crisp, crunch, and flavor you'd expect from fried chicken.
- Parmesan cheese, real parmesan cheese is essential. This will not work with powdered parmesan cheese. Real parmesan will melt and help bind everything together and enhance all aspects of this recipe.
- Mayo helps protect the chicken from drying out in the oven. This ensures your chicken tenders are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. You can also substitute egg. Let me know if you want more delicious chicken recipes. We also have a pretty extensive recipe index for any occasion; just browse through our website recipe collection.
⭐ What do you think?
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