Crunchy baked chicken tenders use a quick and easy dredging station and come out well seasoned and with an amazingly crispy crust. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!
We are back from a week at the beach and man, is that a bummer. 😂
We just had so much fun! Beach, pool, fishing, kayaking, bike rides, ice cream, movie nights, even a special trip to go parasailing - we packed it all in! Which makes it that much harder to leave and return to reality. But while I'm not really excited about getting back to work this week, I am super thankful for the amazing time away with my family. 💖
Today I’m finally sharing one of my go-to family recipes for crunchy oven baked chicken tenders.
They are a kid favorite and, I can’t lie, I love them as much now as I did when I was a kid myself.
(And I was that kid that ordered chicken fingers from every possible restaurant. If that was on the menu, I didn’t even look at the rest of the options. So I’m serious about some chicken tenders!)
As I got older though, I also got more serious about making my own food and not relying on store-bought prepared foods that have, well, “extra” ingredients I might not want to give my children.
So I had to come up with my own version. And then I perfected it over the course of a couple of years. Lots of trials. Definitely a few errors. And then mainly just tweaking the recipe to get it right.
And wow, it was worth it!
My entire family loved them. My kiddos cheer when they find out this is what’s for dinner.
These crispy baked chicken tenders are tender on the inside with a super crunchy crust on the outside. In other words - the perfect balance!
Plus, I feel good about these breaded chicken tenders being baked in the oven instead of fried in a ton of oil. (Way easier and less messy, too!)
AND, the way we add the seasonings to the different layers means these come out super flavorful through and through. (None of those bland baked tenders you sometimes get.)
So look no further, this is the ultimate baked chicken tenders recipe you’ve been looking for!
Let’s get cooking.
Now, I’ve got some notes and substitutions coming up on how to make baked chicken tenders. Just tryin’ to be helpful.
If you want to jump on down to the recipe, simply scroll right on through the rest of the text. The recipe card is near the bottom of the page, above the comments section.
Notes on making crispy baked chicken tenders:
- I almost never have buttermilk on hand. Anyone else? Instead, I use 1 cup regular milk (even skim is fine) and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Mix them together and let sit for a few minutes, then proceed.
- Letting the chicken tenders marinate in the buttermilk is a helpful step and adds flavor and tenderness, but you can skip it if you are pressed on time. (I've done this before.)
- All-purpose or whole wheat flour will work here. I think you could also use an almond flour or flour blend, if you prefer, but I haven’t tested that myself.
- Panko breadcrumbs are a must here to get the amazing crunchy crust on the chicken tenders.
Yes, dredging stations are a bit messy. But trust me, it’s necessary. I’ve tried streamlining this before, taking shortcuts and all manner of other ideas and it just didn’t work. You won’t get that crunchy coating.
It does help to use tongs to transfer the chicken tenders between the various bowls. It’ll get clumped up, but then, so would your hands if you used those instead.
Don’t have chicken tenders? You can slice up boneless, skinless chicken breasts to use for this recipe. Just make sure the strips are similarly sized so they cook in the same amount of time. And you may need to adjust the final cook time if they are larger or thicker than regular chicken tenders from the store.
(I have, use and very much recommend a digital thermometer to test meat to ensure it’s properly cooked.)
Also, this is a super kid-friendly recipe. And it’s made even more so if you serve it with your child’s favorite dipping sauce.
There’s tons of ideas here, and the adults can certainly join in on the dipping fun.
Dipping sauces for chicken tenders:
- BBQ sauce
- Honey mustard
- Ranch dressing
- Caesar dressing
- Fry sauce
- Creamy pesto dip
- Creamy salsa dip
Or any other favorite sauce you love to pair with chicken fingers.
OK, now that the chicken part is all squared away, let’s round out this meal.
What to serve with chicken tenders?
- Chicken tenders go great with some oven baked fries or roasted potato wedges.
- Mac and cheese is another great side to serve. (My quick stovetop mac and cheese can be made while these tenders are baking in the oven. 👍)
- As for veggies, make a quick side salad or steam your favorite veggie, such as broccoli or asparagus.
So there you have it. Another delicious dinner served up. 🙌
I hope you give these baked chicken tenders a try and that they become a favorite in your house, too.
P.S. You might also want to check out my Air Fryer chicken tenders. No dredging station needed for those so they're even easier!
- 1 ½ lbs. chicken tenders (see notes)
- 1 cup buttermilk (or sub milk and lemon juice; see notes)
- ¾ cup flour of choice
- ¾ teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
- ¾ teaspoon paprika
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- ¾ cup cornmeal
- ¾ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 450. Line a baking sheet with Parchment paper and set aside.
- In a large bowl, place the chicken tenders in the buttermilk and let marinate for up to 30 minutes, if possible. (If you are short on time, it's OK to shorten or skip this part.)
- Meanwhile, set up the dredging station. Place the flour, Italian seasoning and paprika in a shallow bowl and mix well. In a separate shallow bowl, combine the Panko breadcrumbs, cornmeal, salt and pepper.
- One at a time, remove a chicken tender from the buttermilk and dredge in the flour on all sides. Return the chicken tender to the buttermilk for a quick dunk then move to the bowl with the Panko breadcrumbs mixture and press down to get it to adhere to all sides. Place the coated chicken tender on the prepared baking sheet. Repeat until all chicken tenders have been coated.
- Spray the tops of the chicken tenders with baking spray.
- Bake at 450 for 20-25 minutes, until lightly browned and cooked through.
- Serve immediately with any desired dipping sauces, such as ketchup, honey mustard, Ranch or BBQ sauce.
If you don’t have chicken tenders, you can slice up boneless, skinless chicken breasts to use for this recipe. Just make sure the strips are similarly sized so they cook in the same amount of time. And you may need to adjust the final cook time if the strips are larger or thicker than regular chicken tenders from the store.
I almost never have buttermilk on hand. Instead, I use 1 cup regular milk (even skim is fine) and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Mix them together and let sit for a few minutes, then proceed.
Letting the chicken tenders marinate in the buttermilk is a helpful step, and adds flavor and tenderness, but you can skip it if you are pressed on time.
All-purpose or whole wheat flour will work here. I think you could also use an almond flour or flour blend, if you prefer, but I haven’t tested that myself.
Panko breadcrumbs are a must here to get the amazing crunchy crust on the chicken tenders.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 515Total Fat: 21gProtein: 29g