These crispy, golden, baked chicken tenders are tender on the inside and crunchy on the outside, and they so much healthier than fried chicken fingers! The key is the foolproof oven-baked panko breading. They are kid-approved and a big hit with all ages! They are an all-time favorite 40-minute dinner.

white plate with a pile of baked breaded chicken tenders on it

I originally shared this recipe in February of 2011. I have updated the text today.

Why These Baked Chicken Tenders Are The Best

Thank heaven for these chicken tenders! Over the years, I have heard from readers that these chicken tenders are a regular part of their family’s menu rotation. And on a busy night, I personally am also always relieved when I have the ingredients on hand to make them. They are quick and healthy and my kids absolutely love them. I have to admit they are a fan of mine too.

If you think that baked chicken fingers aren’t going to be as good as fried, think again! These seriously are juicy and tender on the inside and the golden panko coating is crunchy as can be.

They are perfect for dunking in your favorite sauce: Ranch, Ketchup or BBQ sauce. Pair them with a family-friendly side like lemon broccoli. Or make a Caesar salad made with my favorite Caesar dressing and homemade croutons and just like that, you have a clean-plate-club kind of dinner!

I should mention that before we get to the details of this recipe, check out our Crispy Oven Baked Fish Sticks which are based on the same foolproof technique for these breaded chicken tenders! Even fish-phobes love them!

close up of a chicken tender in tongs

Key Ingredients

For The Breading

For the breading we set up a three part breading station. For this you will need

  • 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (This goes in both the flour and the breadcrumbs to season the chicken)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs (If you can find the whole wheat breadcrumbs are more nutritious)
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika (This adds golden color to the breading)
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 5 teaspoons avocado oil or organic canola oil

Chicken Tenders

You will need 1 pound of raw chicken tenders per batch of chicken fingers. These can sometimes be labeled chicken tenderloin which is the same thing. They come from the inner part of the chicken breast (right against the rib bones) and they are very tender. Hence the name!

You can also use boneless skinless chicken breast and cut them into chicken nuggets. Note that this is just enough breading for one pound of tenderloins though, so if you cut the chicken too small you may run out of breading because it may have more surface area.

How to Make Healthy Baked Chicken Tenders

preheat the oven and make flour mixture

Step 1: Prep Oven and Pan

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or brush lightly with oil.

Step 2: Mix Flour Mixture

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 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish.

make egg mixture and panko breading

Step 3: Mix Eggs

Then, beat the eggs in a second shallow dish and set that next to the flour. The egg acts as a glue to hold the breadcrumbs to the flour layer.

Step 4: Make Panko Breading Mixture

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. Keep mixing until the breadcrumbs are evenly colored and moistened by the oil and paprkia. This really makes a big difference so take a moment to do so.

Set to the side of the egg mixture. This will be your third step in the breading process and what makes these chicken fingers super crunchy!

dipping the chicken tenders into the three breading stations

Step 5: Bread The Chicken Tenders

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. (Left Photo)
  • Then dip it into the eggs, coating completely. (Center Photo)
  • Then press the chicken tender into the breadcrumb mixture, turning to coat completely. (Right Photo)
  • Continue with the remaining tenders one at a time and then discard any leftover dredging mixtures.
the breaded chicken fingers before they are baked

Step 6: 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. 

chicken tenderson on a sheet pan once they have been baked

FAQs and Expert Tips

Do you need to bake chicken tenders on a rack?

I find that these panko-crusted tenderloins don’t need to be elevated on a rack and they still get very crispy on the bottom. The key is mixing the breadcrumbs with the oil so that they crisp up and using a hot oven will keep them from getting soggy on the bottom.

Can these be frozen and reheated?

These can be frozen. Cool completely and then freeze until firm on a baking sheet until frozen. Then store in a sealed freezer bag up to 2 months. To thaw, lay on a plate lined with a paper towel and thaw in the fridge overnight. Heat in an air-fryer or oven set at 400 degrees until heated through, about 15 mins for oven. Air fryer times vary. For best results when reheating, flip them over half way through heating.

What Goes With Baked Chicken Tenders?

These oven baked chicken tenders are delicious dipped in ketchup, bbq sauce, or honey mustard. Try our Peach Barbecue Sauce for something different! 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.

white plate with a pile of baked breaded chicken tenders on it

More Healthy Family-Friendly Meals To Try

a chicken tender in tongs with a dark background

More Healthy Chicken Recipes:

Thanks so much for reading. If you are new here, you may want to sign up for my free weekly email newsletter where I share weeknight meal plans delivered right to your inbox. Or follow me on Instagram. If you make this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It is very appreciated. Happy Cooking! ~Katie

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crispy tenders on a white plate with parsley

Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders


  • Author: Katie Webster
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

These crispy and healthy 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!


Ingredients

Scale
  • 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

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a large baking sheet with cooking spray or brush lightly with oil.
  2. Mix all-purpose flour with 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish.
  3. Beat eggs in a second shallow dish. Set next to the flour.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. Transfer the baking sheet of breaded tenders into the oven and bake until the chicken is cooked through, 22 to 25 minutes.

Notes

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.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 22 minutes
  • Category: Main Course
  • Method: Baked
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • 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

Keywords: healthy chicken tenders, healthy baked chicken tenders, how to make chicken tenders,baked chicken tenders,breaded chicken tenders,healthy chicken fingers