How to Make Baked Chicken Tenderloins in the Oven

Baking boneless chicken tenders doesn't have to be a challenge — or a problem for your waistline. Whether you prefer them as plain as possible or if you need a little crunch, let your oven do most of the magic. All you need to do is add a little dab of flavor before baking the chicken strips.

Baking boneless, skinless chicken tenders in the oven is an easy go-to for lunch or dinner.
Image Credit: mikafotostok/iStock/GettyImages

Chicken tenders are lean, tender and cook quickly, says Yankel Polak, head chef at ButcherBox. "It's my go-to choice for healthy meal prep when I don't have much time and want something like a quick weeknight stir fry."

An overnight marinade helps bump up the flavor when cooking chicken tenderloins, says Polak. To make one, Polak recommends combining an acid (such as citrus juice or vinegar) with fat (such as olive oil) along with dried spices and fresh aromatics. But making a marinade in advance isn't required for a flavorful dinner: "A splash of olive oil, your favorite spices and a hot oven are all you need to make delicious, no-fuss chicken tenders," says Polak.

Try these simple recipes for baked chicken tenderloins.

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How to Make Seasoned, Baked Chicken Tenderloins

Things You'll Need

  • Chicken tenders

  • Paper towels

  • Lemons

  • Sea salt, black pepper, spices, herbs

  • Baking pan

  • Nonstick cooking spray

  • Olive oil (optional)

  • Water

Step 1: Preheat and Prep

Lay out your chicken tenders.
  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The high oven temperature will help the tenders brown faster, says Polak.
  • Lay the skinless chicken tenders out on paper towels to absorb some of the extra moisture, leaving a few inches between each piece.

Step 2: Add Lemon and Spices

You can add all sorts of flavor to your chicken tenders depending on the spices you choose.
  • Cut a lemon into wedges and squeeze fresh lemon juice onto each tender. Watch for seeds and remove any that fall out.
  • Sprinkle sea salt and freshly ground black pepper on each skinless chicken tender. Add any spices or herbs you'd like — turmeric, chili powder, sage or thyme are all great choices. You can also try jerk seasoning, garam masala or tarragon.
  • Turn each tender over and repeat the seasoning process on the other side.

Tip

Another way to season the tenders is to combine the spices and herbs of your choice with olive oil in a bowl and toss the tenders in the mixture before placing them on the baking dish, says Polak.

Step 3: Prep Your Pan and Add Water

Spray your baking pan with cooking spray.
  • Coat a baking pan or sheet evenly with nonstick cooking spray.
  • Spread out the seasoned chicken tenders on the baking pan, leaving space in between each tender. "This will help them cook more evenly," says Polak.
  • Then, add a couple of ounces of water to the baking pan.

Step 4: Bake Chicken Tenders in Oven

  • Bake the chicken tenders for approximately 15 to 20 minutes, or until each tender is fully cooked and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

Tip

When cooking chicken strips, keep in mind that they're most absorbent immediately after they finish cooking, says Polak. So if you are adding a sauce — or just spritzing lemon over your baked chicken breast tenders — do so as soon as you pull them out of the oven, he says.

Read more: These 5 Healthy Chicken Breast Recipes Are Anything But Boring

Want more healthy recipes? Download the MyPlate app and get simple, tasty meals and snacks tailored to your nutrition goals.

How to Make Breaded Chicken Tenders

Things You'll Need

  • Chicken tenders

  • Flour

  • 2 eggs

  • Breadcrumbs

  • Salt, pepper and dried spices

  • Baking pan or sheet

  • Nonstick cooking spray

  • 3 small bowls

  • Paper towels

  • Tongs

Step 1: Preheat and Prep

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Spray nonstick cooking spray liberally all over a baking pan or baking sheet.

Step 2: Prep Your Bowls for Breading the Chicken

Placing your flour, eggs, breadcrumbs and seasonings in three separate bowls will help you easily bread each tender.
  • Place three small bowls on your counter. Add a small amount of all-purpose flour to the first bowl.
  • Break two eggs into the second bowl and whisk them briefly with a fork.
  • Add breadcrumbs seasoned with salt, pepper and your chosen spices and herbs into the third bowl. Polak likes to use garlic powder, paprika and some Italian seasoning.

Tip

For added crunch, use panko breadcrumbs, corn flakes or even crushed cheese crackers in your third bowl. You can also add more flavor to your seasoned breadcrumbs by mixing in grated Parmesan cheese. For a nutty flavor, sub in hazelnut or almond flour in place of all-purpose white flour, Polak suggests.

Step 3: Remove Excess Moisture

By removing excess moisture, your breading will stick better to the tenders.
  • Pat each chicken tender down with paper towels to remove excess moisture.

Step 4: Dredge Your Chicken With Flour

A flour coating is the first step to breading your chicken.
  • Pick up a skinless chicken tender with tongs and dip it in the first bowl filled with flour, covering all sides of the tender.

Step 5: Place Your Tenders in Egg Wash and Breadcrumbs

For the best breaded chicken tenders, a flour coating is followed by egg wash and then seasoned breadcrumbs.
  • Remove the tender from the flour with the tongs, shaking off any extra flour.
  • Quickly dip the tender in the egg wash and then place it into the seasoned breadcrumbs. Make sure all sides are evenly coated with breadcrumbs.

Step 6: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Repeat your breading process for the remainder of your tenders.
  • Pull the coated chicken tender out of the breadcrumb bowl and place it on the baking sheet. Repeat the breading process for all remaining chicken tenders.

Tip

If you like an extra layer of breading, repeat the breading process a second time for each tender.

Step 7: Bake Chicken Tenders in Oven

  • Put the baking sheet in the oven after all chicken tenders are coated. Bake until fully cooked, about 15 to 20 minutes.
  • Check the internal temperature of the baked chicken tenders and take them out of the oven when they reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • "Let them rest in their own juices after cooking for a few minutes," recommends Polak — that way, you'll get the most delicious, juicy tenders.

Warning

Always check chicken with a thermometer before serving. Poultry needs to reach a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit to help prevent foodborne illness, according to the USDA.

Baking boneless chicken tenders doesn’t have to be a challenge — or a problem for your waistline.
Image Credit: Graphic: LIVESTRONG.com Creative

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