baked chicken tenders
These crispy golden baked chicken tenders are a fan favorite. The key is the foolproof oven baked breading. They are kid approved too!
I made these crispy oven-baked chicken tenders from the Healthy Seasonal Recipes archives today and I am so glad that I did! My kids absolutely love them and I was so happy for the chance to update the photos.
I’m sure a fly on the wall would be amused watching me go about my day. I must seem like such a crazy whirlwind of semi-functional over-committed chaos.
Take buying the chicken for this recipe, for example. This is how it went down. Friday, I stand up from my computer, about 15 minutes later than I should have. The dog still needs a walk, but I have to get to my BodyPump class (and swing by the bank and the grocery on the way). I get into my mud-coated vehicle and get dirt all over my thighs and back of my calfs while loading in my gym bag and getting into the car.
I race out of the driveway blasting “Only Girl In The World” so I can learn a new lunge track (I fondly call this learning my CARiography). With mere minutes to spare, I fly into the grocery store. Realizing that I hadn’t bought anything for dinner, I decided to get boneless skinless chicken breasts. I grab the first package of organic chicken I see and race to the check out. I make it to BodyPump on time, notice the dirt all over my pants only after I am standing in front of 15 sweaty people. Miraculously, I remembered the lunge track. (Holy bottom 8s Batman!)
When I get home and unpack the groceries I realize that instead of chicken breast I have bought chicken tenders. Which isn’t a big deal, but not really what I had intended to get. I still needed to walk the dog. This is what is known as spreading yourself thin. What was I saying about riverbanks?
Here on the blog today, I was actually planning on sharing a recipe for brown rice kale risotto. I’ve been obsessing about it since Christmas when I made one up on the spot to go with our holiday meal. It was so delicious and everyone loved it. So back at home I’ve been trying to recreate it for you. No luck with that. After another disappointing test on Sunday night, I decided to keep working on that one. Stay tuned later this week to find out if I figure out the way to make that one work.
Update: It worked! Here’s that risotto recipe!
So Monday, dreading having risotto for dinner for another night in a row, I go blazing out of the house for yet another whirlwind trip out the door with a couple stops on the way to BodyPump. (This time I was working on the timing in the core track — still can’t figure that one out…). And I was somehow in the midst of it reminded of these healthy chicken tenders.
Thank heaven for these chicken tenders. These healthy baked chicken tenders have been on the blog for more than five (count them, five!) years now and are a total favorite of mine and many readers. I have heard from friends that these chicken tenders are a regular part of their family’s menu rotation. And I was so relieved today when I thought of them. I knew I could bust them out today and make delicious lemonade out of lemons.
How to Make Healthy Baked Chicken Tenders
These healthy baked chicken tenders take about 15 minutes to prep and use ingredients I guarantee you already have in your pantry. Here’s how I whipped these healthy chicken tenders up at the last minute:
- Prep the coatings for the chicken tenders — These healthy chicken tenders are dipped first in a flour mixture, then eggs, and finally the panko breadcrumb seasoning. Before doing anything else, you need to set up stations to dip the chicken tenders into each coating. So first you’ll want to mix the all-purpose flour with some salt in a shallow dish. Then, beat the eggs in a second shallow dish and set that next to the flour. Lastly, stir together the breadcrumbs, paprika, garlic powder and salt in a third shallow dish. Drizzle oil over the breadcrumb mixture and then mix thoroughly with a fork until all of the oil and spice coats the breadcrumbs.
- Dredge the chicken tenders in the coatings — My top tip for this step is to use one hand for the dry ingredients and one for the wet ingredients while dredging the tenders. Dip a chicken tender into the flour mixture, turning to coat completely. Then dip it into the eggs, coating completely. Then press the chicken tender into the breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat completely. Continue with the remaining tenders one at a time and then discard any leftover dredging mixtures.
- Bake the chicken tenders — Transfer the breaded tenders to the oven and bake until the chicken is cooked through. There is no need to flip them because the panko will keep them from becoming soggy on the bottom.
How to Serve Baked Chicken Tenders
These oven baked chicken tenders are delicious dipped in ketchup, bbq sauce, or honey mustard. For a side dish, keep things simple and prep something while the chicken tenders are baking. Sauteed swiss chard fits the bill nicely, as do these balsamic green beans, steamed cauliflower with herbs, and garlic mashed broccoli. If you don’t mind juggling a few things in the oven at once, you could also pair these healthy chicken tenders with some skinny oven fries or Cajun fries.
Steps to Make Baked Chicken Tenders
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These baked chicken tenders are baked in the oven instead of fried. They’re breaded in panko mixed with seasoning and oil, then baked to make a super crispy coating. Plus, they’re kid approved!
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs, preferably whole-wheat
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
- 5 teaspoons avocado oil or organic canola oil
- 1 pound chicken tenders
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or brush lightly with oil.
- Mix all-purpose flour with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish.
- Beat eggs in a second shallow dish. Set next to the flour.
- Stir breadcrumbs, paprika, garlic powder and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a third shallow dish. Drizzle oil over the breadcrumb mixture and then mix thoroughly with a fork until all of the oil and spice coats the breadcrumbs. Set to the side of the egg mixture.
- Use one hand for dry ingredients and one for wet ingredients while dredging the tenders. Dip a chicken tender in the flour mixture, turning to coat completely. Dip into the eggs, coating completely. Press into the breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat completely. Set on the prepared baking sheet. Continue with the remaining tenders one at a time. Discard any left-over dredging mixtures.
- Transfer the baking sheet of breaded tenders into the oven and bake until the chicken is cooked through, 22 to 25 minutes.
These can be made with regular breadcrumbs, but they will not be as crispy.
Discard leftover breading, as it came in contact with raw chicken and raw egg.
Sweet Paprika is also known simply as paprika. In this recipe it serves to color the breadcrumb mixture to give it a golden hue as if it had been fried. It doesn’t contribute a lot of flavor to the final dish. However, hot paprika or smoked paprika would dramatically alter the flavor of the final dish.
- Serving Size: 2 to 3 chicken tenders each
- Calories: 240
- Sugar: 1.2 g
- Sodium: 584 mg
- Fat: 9.4 g
- Saturated Fat: 1.6 g
- Carbohydrates: 17 g
- Fiber: 1 g
- Protein: 21.2