A healthy dinner option that looks and tastes like comfort food is always a win for family dinners. These Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders bake up golden and crispy just like real-deal Fried Chicken Strips, and you can rest assured — your family will never taste the difference.
In addition to a low-fat take on a comfort food favorite you can feel good about serving, we’ll talk how to make the perfect breading for crispy chicken tenders, along with two simple steps that ensure extra crunchy chicken tenders every single time!
Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders coated with a crunchy Panko breading and baked in the oven until golden and crisp are the perfect, healthy alternative to fried chicken. You’ll find the only thing that separates these baked tenders from fried chicken tenders is the calorie count, a large amount of grease, and the mess frying leaves behind.
OVEN-FRIED CHICKEN TENDER INGREDIENTS
- Chicken tenderloins
- Panko Breadcrumbs
- Hot Sauce
Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders begin exactly the same way as their fried counterpart — with a dredge. Dredging helps to build up a crunchy crust on the chicken tenders. One that will actually stay put while cooking and eating.
THE BEST BREADING FOR CRISPY BAKED CHICKEN
Your dredging station will consist of three shallow containers, such as pie dishes, shallow bowls, small casserole dishes, or breading trays.
TRAY 1: The initial dredge in all-purpose flour is the first building block of a good crust, and it will help the egg wash in the second tray to stay put when applied to the chicken.
TRAY 2: The second tray is a mixture of eggs, milk, and hot sauce for a little extra flavor. The egg wash will help the Panko coating to stay put.
TRAY 3: The final stop in the dredging station is a mixture of crispy Panko breadcrumbs, salt, and pepper. Panko breadcrumbs stay crunchy under just about any circumstance and are the perfect addition to baked chicken tenders.
HOW TO MAKE CRISPY OVEN-FRIED CHICKEN TENDERS IN THE OVEN
- Season the tenderloins.
- Set up your dredging station and dredge the tenderloins.
- Add to baking sheet and spray with cooking spray.
- Bake for 13 minutes, flip, and bake 13 minutes more.
You might be surprised at the difference a little preliminary seasoning can make when it comes to breaded chicken. Once your chicken tenderloins are seasoned with a little extra salt and pepper, it’s off to the breading stations and it’s (almost) time to bake.
WHY THE OIL MATTERS
In order for the breading of baked chicken tenders to get crispy, it must first be misted with a little oil. If not, you’ll likely end up with the taste of flour in your mouth and a dry coating on your tenders. You can do this by using just about any type of cooking spray (however, avoid those that say “with flour” on bottle). Oil is also what turns the crust of your baked chicken a gorgeous golden-brown. You can also drizzle the breaded chicken tenders with olive, avocado or canola oil if you do not have cooking spray.
THE DOUBLE-CRUNCH OPTION
If you like a thicker breading when it comes to chicken tenders, dredge the chicken in the flour and egg twice before adding it to the Panko mixture. If using this method, you’ll need to drizzle the tenderloins with olive oil rather than using the cooking spray. This way the oil can saturate the breading for a crispy crust.
Note: Apply oil to both sides of the chicken if you want your tenders to be equally delicious and golden-brown on both sides. Speaking of which…
HERE COMES THE FLIP
The next step in achieving an all-around crispy, crunchy coating on your Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders happens half-way through the cooking process.
A problem that often occurs when baking breaded chicken in the oven is one side will turn out crispy, while the other side is a lackluster, soggy mess. However, the simple act of flipping each tender half-way through baking ensures seriously crunchy Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders all the way around.
BAKING TIP: Making sure your sheet pan is lined with either parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil will make easy work of turning over the chicken and ensure the breading stays on the chicken and does not stick to bottom of the pan.
DIPPING SAUCES FOR CHICKEN TENDERS
You might find it difficult not to dive right in once these Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders come hot out of the oven, but you can save the roof of your mouth by taking a moment to whip up a homemade dipping sauce:
This is everything you need to know to bake up a batch of Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders that would rival a batch of fried chicken, no problem. Just a few simple steps — that’s all it takes. Use these tenders to satisfy any fried food cravings, as a family-friendly dinner option, on top of a salad or even wrapped up in a taco. The possibilities are almost endless.
5 MORE BAKED DINNER IDEAS YOU’LL LOVE
- Baked Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Tenders is a healthy recipe for parmesan crusted chicken tenders featuring chicken strips, panko breadcrumbs, and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. And, don’t forget marinara sauce for dipping!
- Breaded and Baked Pork Chops with a crispy panko breading are always tender and never dry — this easy pork recipe will be your family’s new dinnertime favorite!
- BBQ Baked Chicken features crispy, seared chicken legs and thighs smothered in barbecue sauce and baked to perfection!
- Baked Buffalo Wings at home…secrets revealed! Learn how to make the all-time best Buffalo Wing Sauce and bake up a batch of seriously Crispy Baked Wings while you’re at it!
- Baked Chicken Leg Quarters are the perfect change of pace to your dinnertime lineup. They’re juicy, flavorful, and tender, but let us not forget the best part — that beautiful, golden, crispy skin!
Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders bake up golden and crispy just like their fried counterpart!
- 2 pounds chicken tenderloins
- 2 1/2 teaspoons Kosher salt, separated
- 1 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, separated
- 1 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 large eggs slightly beaten
- 1/2 cup milk
- 3 dashes hot sauce
- 2 1/4 cups plain Panko breadcrumbs
- Olive oil cooking spray (you could also use canola oil or avocado oil cooking spray)
Preheat the oven 375° and have ready a rimmed sheet pan lined with parchment paper or nonstick aluminum foil. Also, have ready 3 shallow bowls for dredging station.
Evenly sprinkle the tenderloins with a 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a 1/4 teaspoon of pepper. Set aside while you prepare the breading trays.
Add 1 cup of flour to the first tray. Add eggs, milk, and hot sauce to the second tray and whisk to combine. In the last tray, stir together panko bread crumbs, 2 teaspoons of Kosher salt, and 1 teaspoon of pepper.
Dredge each tenderloin in the flour, shaking off any excess. Next, dip it in the egg mixture (allowing the excess to drip off), and lastly coat thoroughly in the Panko breadcrumbs, pressing to adhere if necessary.
Place tenderloins on a baking sheet so they are not touching (prepare a second sheet pan, if necessary). Generously spray each tenderloin with olive oil spray, then flip and spray the other side as well.
Bake for 13 minutes. Then, flip the chicken over and bake for 13 minutes more. Allow to cool slightly, serve, and enjoy.
If you like a thicker coating of batter, dip the tenders in the flour and egg mixture as directed, but before you go to the panko, dip them back into the flour, followed by the egg mixture once more. Then dip them in the panko bread crumbs and proceed with the recipe. You will need to drizzle generously with oil rather than using cooking spray if using this method.