Made with a crispy breading, these baked Chicken Tenders are a flavorful family favorite recipe that is ready in less than 30 minutes!
Make your entire family happy with these Chicken Tenders, especially when paired with Homemade Baked Fries. Made with simple ingredients, these baked chicken strips are not only delicious but much lower in fat and calories than fried chicken tenders.
The Best Chicken Tenders Recipe
My mom made homemade chicken strips quite frequently for my family when I was a child. She simply breaded chicken tenders and baked them until they were crispy. It was an easy recipe and a family favorite--one of the few meals that pleased all four of her picky kids.
Fast forward 30 some years, and I am making baked chicken tenders for my own two picky kids--and they, like their mom, love this simple meal.
These crispy chicken strips are perfect! Thanks to a few pro-tips, they bake up to crispy perfection, while the chicken remains juicy and tender. And best of all, this kid-friendly meal is healthy, satisfying, and on the table in less than 30 minutes.
Secrets to Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
- Use Panko Bread Crumbs. Panko gives chicken strips a crunchy coating that is reminiscent of a deep-fried restaurant chicken tender. They keep the coating light and crispy. While you can use traditional bread crumbs, the results will not be the same.
- Use a 3-step breading process. This means to dip the chicken into flour, then egg mixture, then breadcrumbs. This allows the breadcrumbs to adhere to the chicken evenly.
- Bake chicken strips on a baking rack. By placing the breaded chicken tenders onto a baking rack instead of directly onto a sheet pan, the air is able to circulate evenly around the chicken, allowing the breading to get crispy on all sides without flipping.
- Chicken Tenders: You can purchase tenders for this recipe, or use boneless, skinless chicken breasts that have been cut into 1-inch strips. If using tenders, be sure to clean off all fat and tendons from the chicken strips.
- Breadcrumbs: As stated earlier, panko breadcrumbs are best at creating the crispiest of textures. Be sure to use unseasoned panko breadcrumbs to control the seasoning yourself.
- Flour: A bit of flour will help the breading to stick evenly to the chicken. Use all-purpose, whole wheat, or even a gluten-free all-purpose flour blend.
- Eggs: The eggs will help to bind the breadcrumbs to the chicken tenders.
- Seasoning: It is crucial to season every layer of the breading on these chicken strips. I use my homemade seasoned salt as it is more flavorful than simply salt, but store-bought seasoned salt will work as well.
- The first thing you want to do is to prepare your chicken tenders. It is important to trim off the tendon and any fat for the perfect texture. Remember, if you don't have chicken tenders, you can cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1-inch strips to use in place of the tenders.
- Next, prepare a breading station by using 3 shallow dishes for the 3-step breading process. In one dish, mix the flour with seasoned salt. In the second shallow dish, mix together the eggs with additional seasoned salt. In the dish, mix together the panko bread crumbs with a bit more seasoned salt.
- Once the chicken is trimmed, it is time to bread the chicken strips. Place each chicken tender into the flour mixture and flip to evenly coat the chicken strip in flour. Just be sure to shake off the excess flour or the taste will not be pleasant and the breading may become gummy.
- Place the floured chicken strip into the egg wash and coat both sides. Shake off excess egg wash.
- Finally place the chicken strip into the bread crumb mixture and coat evenly, using your hands to help breadcrumbs to adhere to the chicken strip.
- Once breaded, place the chicken tenders onto a greased baking rack over a rimmed baking sheet. It is important to grease the baking rack so the breading does not stick to the rack.
- Spray the chicken tender with a bit of cooking spray, which will help them develop a golden exterior and get nice and crispy.
- Bake at high heat until browned and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. There is NO NEED to flip your chicken strips halfway through baking. Because we are cooking the chicken on a rack, the air is able to evenly circulate around the chicken, crisping it up evenly.
These crispy chicken strips can be served plain, or as most kids prefer, with a dipping sauce. Serve ketchup, Homemade Ranch, BBQ Sauce, honey mustard, or Sweet Chili Sauce on the side of the chicken tenders.
Storage & Reheating
Leftover Chicken Tenders will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator in an airtight container To reheat, place them on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees, F for 5-6 minutes. This will keep the breading crispy. If you try to reheat the chicken tenders in the microwave, the breading will become soggy.
Freezing Chicken Tenders
Instead of stocking your freezer with pre-made chicken nuggets or chicken strips, freeze a batch of these homemade chicken tenders for a fast, wholesome meal.
- Place baked, cooled chicken strips on an oven sheet lined with wax or parchment paper and place them into the freezer until frozen solid. This will take an hour or two and helps to keep them from sticking together.
- Once frozen solid, transfer to a freezer-safe bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
- To Prepare Chicken Tenders from frozen, place frozen chicken tenders onto a baking rack over a rimmed cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees for 18-22 minutes or until warmed through.
- Air-Fryer Instructions: Bread the chicken tenders as directed and spray with cooking spray. Preheat an air-fryer to 400 degrees and cook for 5 minutes on each side.
- Make Healthier: Use whole wheat flour and whole wheat panko bread crumbs in place of all-purpose flour and regular panko breadcrumbs for a serving of whole grains.
- Gluten-Free Chicken Tenders: Use an all-purpose gluten-free flour blend and gluten-free panko breadcrumbs.
- Egg-Free Option: If you happen to have an egg allergy, dip your chicken strips into flour first, then something moist, like buttermilk or mustard, and finally panko.
If you do better mastering recipes with step-by-step video instructions, check out my YouTube video for making breaded chicken tenders. I will walk you through the steps, along with sharing my tips for success.
More Kid-Friendly Meals
I would love it if you tried this recipe for chicken tenders for you to leave a comment and review below.
Homemade Chicken Tenders
- 1 pound chicken tenders
- 1 cup flour
- 3 eggs
- ¼ cup water
- 2 ½ teaspoons seasoned salt divided
- 2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs
- cooking spray optional
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place an oven-safe baking rack on a rimmed baking sheet. Lightly spray with non-stick spray.
- Place flour and 1 teaspoon seasoned salt in one shallow dish and mix well.
- Whisk eggs and water together with an additional 1 teaspoon of salt in a second shallow dish.
- Place panko bread crumbs in a third shallow dish and mix with the remaining ½ teaspoon of seasoned salt.
- Trim off all fat and tendons from chicken tenders. Or if using boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch strips.
- Dip chicken into flour, tossing to coat. Shake off excess. Dip into the egg wash, and then finally into panko breadcrumbs, using your hands to help panko coat chicken strips.
- Place breaded chicken tenders onto the prepared baking sheet. Lightly spray with cooking spray to achieve a golden exterior.
- Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
This post was originally published in August 2017 but has since been updated in January 2021 with a video and new tips. The recipe remains the same.