With this list of chicken tenderloin recipes, you’ll never have to worry about what to make for dinner again.
You might know them as chicken fingers, goujons, strips, tenders, or chicken fillets, but they’re essentially that small strip of meat found under the breast.
Tenderloins are so popular because they’re super tender, and they’re the perfect size for everything from stir-fries to homemade chicken nuggets.
It’s worth grabbing a pack and keeping them on hand for a quick and easy dinner that everyone will love.
What are Chicken Tenderloins?
Chicken tenderloins are thin strips of white meat found to the side and under chicken breasts.
Each bird has two tenderloins, and this cut is not only high in protein but also more tender than chicken breasts.
This is due to the fact they’re harvested when the chickens are young and underdeveloped.
These juicy pieces of meat can be found on whole birds or bought in larger packs of multiple tenderloins.
Thanks to their small size, these cook pretty fast and make dinner prep a breeze.
Chicken Breast VS Chicken Tenderloin
Chicken breasts are large pieces of white, somewhat bland meat attached to the breast bone.
This cut is often tough due to the muscles developing in the bird.
In contrast, chicken tenderloins are muscles that aren’t often used by the bird, making them soft, juicy, and more flavorful.
Although not as tasty as dark meat, tenderloins are known to have natural flavor, unlike chicken breasts, which can be pretty dull if they’re not appropriately seasoned.
However, chicken breast is loaded with potassium, zinc, magnesium, calcium, vitamin B6, and vitamin D. Tenderloins have far fewer nutrients.
Not only that, but chicken breasts are lower in calories, fat, and sodium while having a much higher protein content.
Below you’ll see how a 4 oz portion of chicken tenders compares to a 4 oz portion of chicken breasts:
|4 oz portion||Chicken Tenderloin||Chicken Breast|
|Fat||20.1 grams||3 grams|
As you can see, chicken breasts win out in every category. But, unfortunately, they’re just not as easy to cook with or as tasty.
How many times have you pulled out a bird that looks juicy and delectable only to find the breast is tough and chewy?
Yeah, it’s heartbreaking.
So, if you ask me, it’s worth a few extra calories to make a dinner that’s moist and full of yummy flavor.
What to Serve with Chicken Tenders
Much like any cut of chicken, tenders are neutral enough to go with anything.
They’ll taste just as good with cheese and BBQ sauce as they would with curry spices or something creamy and cheesy.
In fact, I already made a list of 16 tasty side dishes for chicken tenders. Here are the highlights:
- French fries and chicken fingers are as perfect as dinner can be.
- Nutty pesto sauce will help to liven these little goujons up.
- Who doesn’t love crunchy sweet potato fries?
- Baked beans provide a lovely smoky taste and plenty of fiber.
Of course, you could also serve simple fried chicken tenderloins with sweet chili noodles, egg-fried rice, or fluffy baked potatoes.
Are you hungry yet? Me too! I think it’s time we get to the meat of it (pun intended).
So, here are 25 of my all-time favorite chicken tenderloin recipes. Let me know which is your favorite!
I had to start with a classic, and this version is insanely easy.
Bisquick speeds things up like you wouldn’t believe and leaves these tenders crisp, buttery, and impossible to resist.
Start by adding Bisquick mix to a Ziploc bag with Parmesan cheese, salt, and paprika.
Give it a few shakes to distribute everything and then add the chicken and toss to coat.
After about 15 minutes in the oven, these will be crazy-crisp and flavorful.
As good as those Bisquick tenders are, they have more of a battered texture once baked.
So, if you like an audible crunch, you’ll have to try this fantastic panko and cornflake recipe.
Panko bread crumbs tend to be a little bigger, which allows for more surface to turn golden.
Pair that with crushed cornflakes, and you won’t want to share a single bite.
If you don’t like the idea of the added sweetness of cornflakes, try using rushed chips instead.
BBQ is my go-to, but I’ve also used sour cream & onion, and even Hot Cheetos!
For this recipe, you’ll make a delicious sweet and garlicky sauce that thickens to perfection into a glaze that coats every ounce of these chicken tenderloins.
First, you’ll coat the chicken in a mix of cornstarch, salt, pepper, and oregano. This will help to crisp up the meat and guarantee a silky smooth and glossy glaze.
Once the chicken is cooked, add butter and the sauce (honey, garlic, soy sauce, hot sauce, and vinegar) and let the heat do its thing.
The secret to making these chicken tenders super tasty and wonderfully crunchy is to dredge the meat in hot sauce before adding the breadcrumbs.
Just melt some butter and whisk in hot sauce and garlic before combining it with a beaten egg.
Thoroughly dredge the meat and then coat in panko breadcrumbs.
Another handy trick is to toast the breadcrumbs. The dryer they are, the longer they’ll stay crunchy.
I have to admit that I was a little surprised Cracker Barrel tenders don’t have a thick layer of something deep-fried on the outside.
They pride themselves on home comforts, after all. But I swear, you won’t miss the breadcrumbs at all in this dish.
The blend of honey, lime juice, and Italian dressing is terrific and such an easy little shortcut to include seasoning and added flavor.
Just remember to let the chicken sit for at least an hour in the marinade before cooking.
This recipe had me at ‘bacon,’ but that jalapeńo sauce tipped it over the edge. So how could I not make it immediately?
What really drew me in was that this is a very creamy sauce.
It’s full of bacon, onion, and real peppers, along with a healthy glug of cream and a nob of butter.
To get layers of soft and sharp spice, you’ll add half of the peppers to the sauce at the beginning and the rest right at the end.
Since they’re so much bigger, chicken breasts are usually cheaper than tenders.
So, if you’re feeding a crowd, it might be worth buying breasts and just cutting them to size.
If you’re worried the tenders will come out dry if you use chicken breast, try making a super simple brine with 1 quart of warm water and 1/4 cup salt.
Let the chicken sit for around 15 minutes (up to six hours), and they should come out lovely and tender.
There are cheesy chips, and then there are Doritos.
I don’t think you can compare generic brands to Doritos and all that unreal flavor they pack onto those chips.
Plus, they stay incredibly crisp when baked. Trust me, they’re what I use for nachos, so I know!
When crushing the chips, try to get the pieces pretty small; otherwise, they won’t stick.
I like to hold a few back, break them just a little, and sprinkle them over the top to serve.
Air Fryers work by rushing hot air around your food, like a convection oven.
The intense heat and small basket are how the food turns so crispy without a ton of oil.
Not only that, but these can be ready in around 10 minutes, with a quick flip halfway through.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve overcooked plenty of chicken before because I was waiting for the outer edges to crisp up.
Thankfully, that won’t be an issue anymore.
I just checked, and I have three unopened jars of Trader Joe’s everything bagel seasoning and two open.
For me, it’s kind of like ketchup. I grab it when I see it, just in case I run out! But, needless to say, I never do.
This stuff is just too good, and it works well on everything from chicken tenders to noodles. And if you can’t find any pre-made, it’s a cinch to make at home.
If you’re looking for crunchy chicken strips without all the carbs, these gluten-free almond strips are ideal.
You’ll need to toss the almonds in a blend of garlic powder, paprika, black pepper, ground mustard, and cayenne pepper, and then blitz them until they resemble breadcrumbs.
Feel free to use other nuts if you want. I’ve done this with sweet chili spiced pistachios, and even some candied pecans I had leftover.
In the same way Doritos will add flavor to your chicken tenders, cornflakes will provide amazing crunch and a touch of sweetness.
I like to use honey nut cornflakes and serve them with sweet chili sauce and fried rice.
Cornflakes are also gluten-free, and the standard box is nut-free.
So if you need a chicken dish for someone with gluten intolerance and nut allergies, this is the recipe for you.
I’ve used this recipe for salads, tacos, and even as a topping to my favorite nachos.
Start by mixing crushed corn chips with panko bread crumbs, regular bread crumbs, shredded Mexican cheese, taco seasoning, and cayenne pepper.
Next, dip the chicken in melted butter and then press it into the dry mix. Be gentle and try to get the whole thing covered before baking.
When cooking veggies in the oven, it’s essential to check how long each needs before dumping them all onto a tray with chicken.
Root veggies often take as long as an hour, which would be far too long if you want to cook them with chicken tenderloins.
Instead, go for ingredients like onion, zucchini, and tomatoes, which will be tender, juicy, and flavorful after about 25 minutes.
In my opinion, there’s nothing like the char you get from cooking meat on a grill. Between the smoky taste and high heat, it’s second to none.
Of course, we don’t all have year-round access to a grill, which is why every avid foodie should own a decent cast iron griddle pan.
Trust me; it’s worth the investment.
Where most chicken tinder recipes call for beaten eggs and melted butter, this version takes things up a notch.
You’ll dip the chicken in a blend of sour cream, garlic salt, onion salt, and paprika.
Since this is so much thicker than eggs or butter, the potato crust has more to stick to.
Again, feel free to experiment with flavors here. For example, salt and vinegar would make an excellent tangy dish.
Sriracha is one of those ingredients you should always have in the fridge.
It’s great on its own, mixed with mayo, or blended with yogurt for something fresh and light.
In this case, you’ll combine it with rice vinegar, minced garlic, and grated ginger.
Pop the chicken tenders into the container and be sure to thoroughly coat them before sealing them away to sit for an hour.
That should be plenty of time for these little strips to soak up all that incredible flavor.
Paleo, low-carb, and gluten-free? You’ll have to try this one out!
You’ll use unsweetened coconut flakes for the coating here, not desiccated coconut. Go ahead and crush it a little if the bits are too big.
Since the coconut flour won’t add a ton of flavor, you could easily use all-purpose if that’s all you have.
Chicken tenderloins are the perfect size for wraps. They’re already bite-sized, and since they cook so much faster, you can have lunch ready in minutes.
Any of the chicken strips above would work in a wrap, to be honest. But this sticky version is a must-make.
Make a quick glaze using hot sauce, brown sugar, and water, and then don’t be shy with it. Douse the chicken and enjoy.
As the name suggests, one of the key ingredients in this dish is grated Parmesan cheese.
Tempting though it may be, please try to find a chunk and grate it yourself.
I promise it makes all the difference.
I love that this doesn’t have a heavy sauce but instead uses a simple oil and garlic mix to coat everything.
Pesto has a pretty pronounced flavor, and in this dish, it doesn’t take a lot to make it stand out.
You’ll start by blending pesto and mayonnaise and then coating the chicken. Feel free to leave it in the fridge for an hour or so to get those juices flowing.
For the coating, I went ahead and added pine nuts and grated Parmesan to the breadcrumbs. That’s totally optional, but I liked the added nuttiness it gave.
Also, make a little extra of the pesto and mayonnaise mix to serve as a dip.
Lettuce wraps are ideal for people looking for something light but satisfying. They’re also gluten-free and super simple to whip up.
First, chop the chicken tenders into smaller pieces and cook with garlic, onions, salt & pepper, carrots, cabbage, and green onions.
Once the chicken is cooked (around 8 minutes), stir in a mixture of sweet chili, ginger, peanut butter, soy sauce, and crushed red peppers.
I’m a massive fan of Cobb salad and all the fun extras you find in there.
But a Cobb salad with crunchy chicken tenders to boot? I’m halfway to the kitchen already!
Every Cobb salad should include lettuce, chopped boiled eggs, red onion, tomato, bacon, and bleu cheese dressing.
From there, you can adapt and add anything you think will taste good.
I almost always include avocados and croutons, and I’ll bet cucumber and shredded cheddar cheese would work, too.
Although, if you top it off with crunchy chicken, you probably won’t need any croutons.
As tasty as the chicken tenders are in this dish, let’s talk about that beautiful lemon and mushroom cream sauce!
You’ll cook mushrooms and onions in butter in the same pan you’ve already seared the chicken in for a boost of flavor.
Garlic comes next, followed by half & half, chicken broth, lemon juice, dill, and cornstarch.
Always be sure to start with room temperature cream, or it might split when it hits the heat.
This zesty and fragrant sauce will work well on pork chops, too.
Last but not least, just picture the look of your family’s faces when you bring out a platter full of cheesy, bacon-wrapped chicken.
I like to use mature cheddar or Gruyère since it’s nice and smokey. Just don’t use anything that’s pre-shredded since that stuff doesn’t melt right.
This is extra scrumptious with BBQ sauce brushed over the top and would be the ultimate side to a big plate of mac & cheese.
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