Chicken tenders are a wonderful family dish. They please fussy eaters with their simplicity but they can be dressed up to suit fancier tastes too.
One of the only downsides to chicken tenders is the way they are typically cooked. In most places, especially fast-food restaurants, chicken tenders are deep-fried.
This is delicious, but not the healthiest option for you and your family.
Well, lucky for you we’ve got a recipe that will let you enjoy healthier chicken tenders!
There are two things that make these crispy chicken tenders different from your run of the mill, greasy, fried tenders.
Firstly, they are oven-baked. This reduces the need for fatty, unhealthy oils used in deep-frying.
Secondly, they are coated in panko bread crumbs rather than normal breadcrumbs. Panko is a traditional Japanese substitute that can be found in Asian markets.
You may also be able to get it in the world foods aisle of the supermarket.
Panko breadcrumbs are made from white bread that is baked by an electrical current. This produces bread without crusts.
The bread is ground into a fine crumb ready to be packaged.
Panko breadcrumbs don’t absorb as much oil and grease as traditional breadcrumb mixes. This makes the finished product a lot airier and lighter.
Panko crumbs also tend to stay crispy and crunchy for longer than normal breadcrumbs.
This is mostly due to the fact that they don’t get soaked in oil or grease. This is great for oven cooking as the lower temperatures can often cause sogginess.
Preparing your Tenders
If you’ve never made chicken tenders before you might be a bit concerned about the amount of work you’ll need to do.
Well, don’t worry. The process is actually really simple.
First and foremost you need to strip your chicken breasts. I mean cut them into strips, not provocatively remove their clothing!
We prefer to use fresh chicken breasts and cut them into strips. You can use pre-cut chicken or frozen chicken strips if that’s what you’ve got.
Remember, if you are using frozen chicken strips, make sure you thoroughly defrost them before use.
With your chicken properly stripped, you now need to dunk your chicken in mayonnaise. This is the glue that holds the whole dish together! It literally helps the breadcrumbs stick to the chicken.
If you’re not a fan of plain mayo, why not try sriracha mayo or chipotle mayo for a bit of a spicy kick.
Once covered in mayo, dip into the seasoned panko mix. The seasoning includes your typical salt and pepper but also garlic powder and onion pepper.
If you want to spice things up, try adding a bit of paprika or chili powder to the breadcrumb mix.
Or, if you prefer a herby chicken, add some rosemary or Italian seasoning. You can play around with the breadcrumb mix to make it suit your taste.
Once coated in mayo and then breadcrumbs, place your tenders on a baking tray covered in parchment paper. Leave a bit of space between each tender to allow them to cook without sticking.
Now you can pop them in the oven and wait patiently for some deliciously crispy baked chicken tenders!
These chicken tenders can be eaten as a tasty snack on their own or incorporated into a meal with potatoes and veg.
Of course, the classic serving suggestion is with a helping of yummy fries and some ketchup!
However, if you want to get a bit more creative with it, try dipping your chicken tenders in honey mustard dressing or spicy mayo.
Making your own spicy mayo is as simple as adding sriracha, tabasco, or chipotle sauce to your mayo.
These tenders also taste wonderful with a rich and smokey BBQ sauce. My little ones are particularly fond of dipping their chicken tenders in BBQ sauce.
If you want to keep these tenders healthy, try adding them to a salad or rice bowl. They are a delicious protein kick even for dieters.
The oven-baked method keeps the fat content low. If you really want to reduce the calories, use low-fat mayo to coat the chicken strips.
Storage and Reheating
These tenders are best eaten straight out of the oven. However, if you do find yourself with leftovers, it’s not a problem.
You can keep the tenders in the refrigerator for up to four days once they are cooked.
We don’t recommend storing uncooked tenders. Handling raw chicken and then replacing them in the fridge runs the risk of contamination. Also, the uncooked panko can become soft if left for a long time.
To freeze, you’ll need to arrange the cooked chicken on a baking sheet and freeze for an hour or two.
Once the tenders are frozen, you can place them in an airtight container and keep them in the freezer for a month.
It’s best to store them in serving sizes so that you don’t have to defrost a whole bunch that you might not need.
Always remember that you should only reheat once. If you don’t finish them the second time, I’m afraid they’re going to have to go in the trash.
When it comes to reheating, you can place them back in the oven. If you’re cooking from chilled, go for about 10-15 minutes. You’ll know they’re done when the center is hot.
We don’t recommend cooking these from frozen.
You could also reheat them on the stove by frying them in some butter or oil for about 7 minutes. This does make them somewhat unhealthier.
Oven Baked Chicken Tenders with Mayo
- Baking sheet
- Parchment paper
- 2 Boneless Chicken Breasts Alternatively use frozen chicken strips
- 1½ cups Panko Bread crumbs
- ½ cup Mayonnaise can use flavored mayo if you prefer
- 1 tbsp. Onion powder
- ½ tbsp. Garlic powder
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set your oven to 375°F to preheat.
- If you’re using fresh chicken breasts, cut them into strips. They should be about an inch wide.
- Season the chicken strips with salt and pepper to taste.
- In one bowl, prepare your breadcrumb mix. You’ll need to add the panko crumbs, the onion, and the garlic powder. Give it a good mix and set aside.
- In a separate bowl, pour your mayo ready for coating. If you want to add a bit of spice to your tenders, add a few drops of sriracha, tabasco, or chipotle sauce. Make sure to mix well.
- Dunk your chicken strips into the mayonnaise making sure to coat them completely.
- Transfer the strip to the breadcrumb bowl and coat in the breadcrumb mixture.
- Place your strips onto the baking sheet. Make sure to leave a gap between each tender.
- Cook your tenders for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, turn your tenders and cook for another 15 minutes.
- Your tenders should look golden brown after 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and serve.
- Try your tenders with ketchup, mayo, BBQ sauce, or honey mustard dip!