If there’s one thing I’ve always appreciated, it’s the simplicity and absolute joy that comes with biting into a well-made Chicken Tender. The beautiful amalgamation of crisp, golden breadcrumbs, seasoned to perfection, with succulent, tender chicken at its core.
Isn’t your mouth watering already? Mine surely is!
Chicken Tenders, a darling of American fast food culture, have won the hearts of millions, if not billions, globally. But here’s a little trivia for you. These strips of breaded heaven did not originate from a commercial kitchen or a fast food joint.
In fact, they owe their existence to a 1970s food shortage! When chicken wings were in short supply for the famous Buffalo Wing recipe, resourceful chefs got creative. The result? Our beloved Chicken Tenders. While they might not have as deep a historical lineage as some foods, their impact on the culinary scene is unmistakable.
Now, let’s talk about making these tasty morsels. If you think this dish might be a daunting task, let me set your mind at ease. Chicken Tenders fall squarely in the “easy” category when it comes to home cooking.
And trust me, that’s coming from someone who’s set off the fire alarm more times than I’d like to admit! All you need to get started is some good quality chicken tenderloins, plain flour, eggs, breadcrumbs, and your everyday spices.
But here’s where the magic truly lies. Those breadcrumbs, so innocently waiting in their bag, are about to transform into a crispy, golden crust.
Seasoned with garlic and onion powder, a touch of paprika for that smoky undertone, salt, and black pepper, they form the perfect cradle for our tender chicken.
That’s the crux of our dish. And no, we’re not forgetting about that sizzle in the frying pan, that comforting aroma wafting through the house as the chicken tenderloins meet the oil. Are you visualizing it? Because I am, and it’s delightful!
So, whether you’re a novice cook venturing into the kitchen for the first time, a busy parent in need of a quick yet delicious meal, or a seasoned chef searching for a nostalgic, comfort food recipe, these Chicken Tenders are a delight to prepare and a joy to consume.
With this recipe, I assure you, every bite will take you on a delectable journey. So let’s roll up our sleeves, turn up the heat, and jump into making these scrumptious Chicken Tenders. After all, the best memories are made in the kitchen, aren’t they?
Chicken tenders are a delightful comfort food loved by many. It’s a simple recipe with a crispy, flavourful coating enveloping succulent, juicy chicken strips. But, what makes this dish truly enchanting is the blend of ingredients that each play a vital role.
Let’s break it down to understand why each ingredient is crucial and how it contributes to the dish.
Chicken Breast Fillets: These are lean cuts of chicken that absorb flavours well and turn out exceptionally tender when cooked right. Their neutral taste makes them a versatile base, perfectly balanced with the other ingredients in this recipe. If you’re looking for an alternative, turkey breast is a fine substitute.
All-Purpose Flour: This is a workhorse in the world of fried food. The flour helps create a base layer for the remaining coating ingredients to stick on. It absorbs the moisture on the surface of the chicken, allowing the breadcrumbs to adhere well. Rice flour can be used as an alternative, providing a slightly different texture.
Eggs: The beaten eggs work as a glue, binding the flour and breadcrumb layers together, thus making a robust coating that doesn’t fall apart while frying. You can use a mix of cornstarch and water as an egg substitute if needed.
Breadcrumbs: They’re the final layer, providing a delightful crunch to our chicken tenders. The breadcrumbs also help to seal in the moisture of the chicken, keeping it juicy inside. Panko breadcrumbs are a great alternative for a different, flakier texture.
Spices: These spices add depth and complexity to the dish. Garlic powder provides a mellow, sweet garlicky flavour; onion powder contributes a subtle savoury sweetness; and paprika lends a mild spiciness with a hint of smokiness.
Alternatives could include cayenne pepper for more heat or dried herbs like oregano or thyme for an earthy flavour.
Salt and Black Pepper: The seasoning duo. Salt enhances the flavour of the chicken, while black pepper adds a little heat and complexity. No direct alternatives here, as these are almost universally used in savoury dishes.
Vegetable Oil: The medium for frying our chicken tenders. Vegetable oil has a high smoke point, making it ideal for frying. It is neutral in flavour; hence it doesn’t interfere with the taste of the chicken tenders. Canola oil or peanut oil can be used as alternatives.
Each of these ingredients has its own unique role, contributing to the taste, texture, and overall delight of the chicken tenders. They all come together to create a dish that is crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and packed with flavours. It’s a perfect symphony of ingredients, each playing its part in harmony.
In my culinary journey, I’ve discovered that breadcrumbs are a crucial element in the process of making delectable chicken tenders. They add a significant crunch factor that is simply irresistible. But with several types of breadcrumbs out there, which one should you choose?
Classic breadcrumbs are often made from day-old bread and are fairly coarse. They’re an excellent option, providing a rustic, hearty crunch. However, if you’re after a finer, more consistent texture, you may want to consider using Panko breadcrumbs.
Originating from Japan, Panko breadcrumbs have gained popularity due to their light, airy texture and ability to turn beautifully golden when fried or baked.
They adhere well to the chicken and make a crispier and lighter crust, which I personally adore in my chicken tenders. I’ve found that Panko delivers the kind of crunch that keeps you reaching for just one more tender.
Don’t worry if you don’t have either on hand. In a pinch, you can make your own breadcrumbs at home. All you need is some stale bread, a rolling pin or a food processor, and a little patience.
While the type of breadcrumb used can affect the texture and crunch of your chicken tenders, the choice largely depends on your personal preference. Experiment with different types and find your perfect crunch.
As much as I love the crispy texture of fried chicken tenders, I understand that frying may not always be the most health-conscious or convenient cooking method. This is why I often bake my chicken tenders.
When I bake chicken tenders, I preheat my oven to a high temperature – around 425 degrees Fahrenheit. The high heat helps to achieve a nice, crispy crust on the outside while keeping the inside juicy.
I place the chicken tenders on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for about 15-20 minutes.
I often turn the chicken tenders halfway through cooking to ensure even browning. Also, a light spritz of oil before baking can help achieve a golden-brown colour, mimicking the effect of frying.
Baking chicken tenders is a wonderful, healthier alternative to frying. It cuts down on oil usage, minimizes splattering, and is generally easier to clean up afterwards. Baking also allows me to prepare a larger batch of chicken tenders at once, which is a great time-saver when I’m cooking for a crowd.
While baked chicken tenders may not have the exact same texture as their fried counterparts, I assure you, they are still incredibly delicious and satisfying.
When it comes to catering to different dietary needs, I believe no one should miss out on delicious food. That’s why I’ve developed my version of gluten-free chicken tenders, ensuring everyone can enjoy this favourite.
To make gluten-free chicken tenders, I substitute all-purpose flour with a gluten-free alternative. There are many options available on the market now, such as rice flour, almond flour, or a pre-mixed gluten-free flour blend.
The breadcrumbs can be replaced with gluten-free breadcrumbs, which are readily available in many supermarkets and health food stores. Alternatively, crushed gluten-free cereal or gluten-free crackers can also serve as a decent coating.
I keep the rest of the process the same as my original chicken tender recipe. The result is a gluten-free dish that retains the delicious flavour and satisfying crunch of traditional chicken tenders.
With these substitutions, I ensure that my chicken tenders can be enjoyed by those with gluten sensitivities or celiac disease. After all, delicious food is a joy meant to be shared by everyone.
In my kitchen, I always ensure that nothing goes to waste. If I have leftover chicken tenders, I use simple and efficient storage methods to retain their freshness and taste.
Once the chicken tenders have cooled down, I pack them in an airtight container or a zip-top bag. I find it essential to refrigerate them as soon as possible to prevent any potential growth of bacteria.
They can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. When I’m ready to eat them, I reheat the chicken tenders in an oven or air fryer to regain their crispy texture. I avoid using a microwave as it tends to make them soggy.
For longer storage, I freeze the chicken tenders. I place them in a freezer-safe bag or container, squeeze out any excess air, and seal it tightly. They can last in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Leftover chicken tenders can also serve as an excellent base for other meals. I sometimes chop them up and toss them into salads or wraps for a quick, protein-packed lunch.
Chicken tenders are delicious on their own, but in my experience, a great dipping sauce can elevate them to new culinary heights. I’ve explored various sauce recipes, each one adding a unique flavour profile to my crispy, golden chicken tenders.
For something tangy and sweet, a honey mustard sauce works wonders. The combination of the sweetness from honey and the sharp tanginess of mustard complements the savoury chicken tenders beautifully.
For a spicier kick, I sometimes make a sriracha mayo sauce. The creamy mayo and fiery sriracha merge into a mouth-watering blend that packs a punch and pairs incredibly well with the chicken.
If I’m in the mood for something more robust, I make a barbecue sauce. The smoky, sweet, and slightly acidic taste of barbecue sauce adds a profound depth of flavour to the chicken tenders.
Of course, the classic ranch dressing is always a hit too. Its creaminess and herbaceous notes act as a cool counterpoint to the crispy, fried tenders.
Creating these sauces at home allows me to control the ingredients, catering to various dietary needs or preferences. Remember, the best sauce for your chicken tenders is the one that you enjoy the most!
In my kitchen, experimenting with ingredients is a part of the fun. Although chicken breast is the standard for chicken tenders, I’ve found that using chicken thighs can be a delicious alternative.
Chicken thighs tend to be juicier and more flavourful than chicken breasts due to their higher fat content. When I use chicken thighs for my tenders, I ensure to trim any excess fat and skin, then cut the meat into strips similar to the size of traditional tenders.
The process of breading and frying remains the same, but you might need to adjust the cooking time. Chicken thighs may take a bit longer to cook than chicken breasts. The result is a tender, flavourful chicken strip that’s crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
Using chicken thighs for your tenders can be a game-changer, especially if you’re looking for a more flavourful twist on this classic dish.
In my chicken tender recipe, onion and garlic powder play essential roles in flavouring the dish. However, I understand that taste preferences can vary, and sometimes you might want to experiment with these ingredients.
If you’re not a fan of onion, you can certainly omit the onion powder. The garlic powder alone will still give the chicken a lovely savoury depth. Alternatively, if you love garlic, you might consider doubling the garlic powder and skipping the onion powder.
Sometimes, I like to play around with other spices too. Smoked paprika can add a delicious smoky undertone, while a touch of cayenne can bring some heat to your chicken tenders. Even a sprinkle of dried herbs, like thyme or oregano, can introduce a new flavour profile.
Ultimately, your chicken tenders should cater to your taste buds. Feel free to tweak the spices to your liking, creating a dish that is uniquely yours.
When it comes to frying chicken tenders, the type of oil used can influence both the flavour and the nutritional profile of the dish. I’ve found that using olive oil as a substitute for vegetable oil can be a tasty and healthier choice.
Extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoke point than vegetable oil, so I keep my stove on medium heat when frying. This not only prevents the oil from smoking but also helps to avoid burning the coating before the chicken is cooked through.
I’ve noticed that olive oil can impart a slightly fruity flavour to the chicken tenders, adding a unique twist to the classic recipe. The oil is also rich in monounsaturated fats and contains antioxidants, which are beneficial for heart health.
However, due to the lower smoke point, olive oil may not create as crispy a crust as vegetable oil. If that’s a compromise you’re willing to make for the potential health benefits and unique flavour, then olive oil could be an excellent choice for frying your chicken tenders.
Chicken tenders are a crowd-pleaser in my household, but I believe a well-chosen side dish can transform them into a well-rounded meal. There are countless options for side dishes, each complementing the chicken tenders in their own unique way.
For something light and refreshing, a green salad is always a great choice. The fresh, crisp vegetables contrast nicely with the warm, crispy chicken tenders. I often add a tangy vinaigrette dressing to balance out the richness of the chicken.
If I’m serving chicken tenders as a main dish, I pair them with a starch-based side. Mashed potatoes, sweet potato fries, or a simple pasta salad are all delicious options. They add a satisfying heartiness to the meal and complement the protein-rich chicken.
When I’m in the mood for something a bit more indulgent, I make a creamy coleslaw or macaroni and cheese. These rich, comforting sides pair wonderfully with the crunchy chicken tenders, creating a meal that’s sure to satisfy any cravings.
Whatever side dish you choose, remember to aim for a balance of flavours and textures. That way, each component of the meal can shine, creating a culinary experience that’s truly delightful.
After savouring those delectable Chicken Tenders, allow me to take you on a brief journey through some more divine culinary creations, each delivering a unique twist on the frying method that we all love.
Firstly, let me introduce you to my very own version of Chicken Strips. They’re just like our original recipe, but a bit wider and with a zingy flavour that keeps your taste buds guessing. The magic lies in the unique blend of spices that I add to the breading – it’s a flavour punch you won’t forget!
And if you love chicken as much as I do, then you simply must try my Honey Sriracha Chicken Wings. Imagine this: tender wings, encased in a crunchy, golden coating, then doused in a sweet and spicy honey sriracha sauce. It’s a tantalizing blend of flavours that truly elevates the humble chicken wing.
Now, let’s take a moment to admire the Popcorn Chicken. Just like the chicken tenders, but in bite-sized form. Easy to make, easier to eat, and hardest to share, I must warn you! Each piece is a burst of savoury goodness that leaves you reaching for more.
And last, but certainly not least, behold the Fried Chicken. This recipe is a true testament to the magic of frying. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and seasoned to perfection, this fried chicken has the ability to make any meal feel like a special occasion.
I hope these recipes whet your appetite for more delightful culinary explorations! Do give them a try and remember, I always appreciate your feedback in the comments section. Let me know your thoughts, your tweaks, and most importantly, the joy these recipes brought to your dining table!
Hi, I’m Nabeela and I love to cook! I want to share with you my favourite, delicious family-friendly recipes. I want to inspire you to create fantastic food for your family every day.