Kid-friendly, adult-approved and SUPER freezer-friendly!
These crispy, yet tender, egg-free chicken tenders take 30 minutes to make start to finish and use a few staple, real-food ingredients that you probably already keep in your kitchen! They’re perfectly spiced, are baked rather than fried, and taste great dipped in homemade Honey Mustard, your favorite BBQ sauce or ketchup. The best part—they’re freezer-friendly so you can make a double batch and freeze the leftovers for later!
We love making childhood favorites like these chicken tenders at home.
After a serious nugget craving a few months ago, I (Kalie) scoured the supermarket aisles for what felt like forever but couldn’t find ANY that I felt good about serving. Instead, I found box after box of frozen nuggets FILLED with preservatives, artificial flavors, and ingredients my grandmother’s grandmother would have NEVER heard of.
In traditional FfL fashion (and rather than giving in to the highly processed food trap), I decided to try making my own healthier, real-food version. Not only did these crispy tenders (which double as nuggets) get rave reviews, the leftovers reheated so well that we now make double batches every time this recipe pops up in our rotation!
Have a picky eater? You can absolutely eliminate the cayenne pepper or switch up the seasonings to fit your family’s taste preferences. The same goes with dipping sauces, although I‘m not sure it can get much better than homemade Honey Mustard.
What type of breadcrumbs or panko should you use?
Because most breadcrumbs are made with bleached and refined white flour, as well as some other not-so-great ingredients, be sure to check for FfL-friendly, real-food ingredients.
Make your own breadcrumbs: Bake pieces of bread in a warm oven, about 200 degrees, for 1–2 hours until dried out, then run them through the food processor or a hand grater. Store leftover breadcrumbs in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Our favorite store-bought, gluten-free breadcrumbs: When we don’t make our own, we use this tasty store-bought alternative: Ian’s Whole-Wheat Panko Bread Crumbs.
What to serve your tenders with
Besides dipping sauce, we love to serve our tenders with one or two of these fan favorites:
- Homemade Fries
- Mac and Cheese
- Hidden Veggie Mac and Cheese
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts
- A hearty family-friendly salad
Simplifying the week with food prep
Food prep doesn’t need to be mega creative or time-consuming. Instead, it should be practical and something that simplifies healthy eating throughout the busy week. If you want to prep ahead for your Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders, grate your Parmesan cheese on your food prep day or the night before.
To freeze and reheat your chicken tenders
To freeze them: Once your tenders are cooled completely, layer them between sheets of parchment paper in a freezer-safe container and freeze them for up to 3 months.
To reheat them: Busy schedule and in need of a quick, guilt-free dinner? Simply pull your tenders out of the freezer and microwave them for 1–2 minutes OR bake them in the oven until nice and crispy.
Some ways to “reinvent” your leftover chicken tenders:
- Wrapped in a tortilla taco-style
- Chopped up and tossed in a pasta dish
- On a homemade pizza
- In a bowl with rice and beans
- On top of a salad
- Southwest wrap filled with leftover chicken, chopped romaine, salsa, and avocado (eaten cold)
- Chicken cobb salad wrap filled with chicken, bacon, chopped romaine, and ranch
- Grilled honey mustard wrap filled with chicken, spinach, Muenster cheese, and homemade Honey Mustard Dressing
- In a quesadilla
These crispy, yet tender, egg-free chicken tenders take 30 minutes to make start to finish and use a few staple, real-food ingredients that you probably already keep in your kitchen! They’re perfectly spiced, are baked rather than fried, and taste great dipped in homemade Honey Mustard.
- 2 pounds chicken breast tenderloins (for nuggets, use chicken breasts and cut into cubes)
- 3/4 cups panko or whole wheat breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (yields mild heat)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking pan with aluminum foil and an oven-safe wire metal rack (an oven rack is not absolutely necessary but will help to crisp tenders). Set aside. If making nuggets, rather than tenders, chop the chicken into small chunks.
- In a medium bowl, mix the remaining ingredients (panko, Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper). Toss each chicken tender in the mixture until completely coated. Use tongs to transfer to the wire rack, placing each tender about 1 inch apart.
- Bake for 20-24 (depending on the size of your tenders), until chicken is cooked through and no longer pink in the center. If making nuggets, reduce baking time by 5 minutes.
- Finish your tenders under the broiler for a few minutes (about 2 minutes per side), until golden and crispy. Serve with homemade Honey Mustard.
- Leftover tenders can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. To reheat them, place them on a baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees for a couple of minutes until heated through.
Keywords: Chicken Tenders, Chicken Nuggets, Baked Chicken Tenders