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."
And you don't need much 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," Polak says.
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Try this simple recipe for baked chicken tenders.
How to Make Seasoned, Baked Chicken Tenderloins
Things You'll Need
Your favorite spices and herbs
Nonstick cooking spray
3 small bowls
Olive oil (optional)
Flour (optional, if you're breading the tenders)
(optional, if you're breading the tenders)
Breadcrumbs (optional, if you're breading the tenders)
Step 1: Preheat and Prep
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The high oven temperature will help the tenders brown faster, Polak says.
- 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
- 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.
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, Polak says.
Step 3: Prep Bowls for Breading the Chicken (Optional)
- 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.
Step 4: Dredge Chicken With Flour (Optional)
Use the tongs to grab a chicken tender and dip it in the first bowl filled with flour, covering all sides of the tender.
Step 5: Coat in Egg Wash and Breadcrumbs (Optional)
- 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.
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 6: Prep Pan and Add Water
- Coat a baking pan or sheet evenly with nonstick cooking spray.
- Spread out the seasoned or breaded chicken tenders on the baking pan, leaving space in between each tender. "This will help them cook more evenly," Polak says.
- If you opted not to bread your chicken tenders, add a couple of ounces of water to the baking pan.
Step 7: Bake Chicken Tenders
Bake the chicken tenders for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until each tender is fully cooked and a thermometer inserted into the thickest part reads 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
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.
When cooking chicken strips, keep in mind that they're most absorbent immediately after they finish cooking, Polak says. 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.
How Long to Bake Chicken Tenders
How long you bake chicken tenders will depend on the temperature and cooking method.
Although you can set your oven at a lower temperature and cook your chicken tenders for a little longer, you should never set your oven below 325 degrees F when cooking chicken, according to the USDA.
Sanderson Farms recommends the following methods and cooking times for chicken tenders:
Method and Temperature
Bake (375 F)
Poach (165-180 F)
Grill - Direct (450-600 F)
Grill - Indirect (375-450 F)