Chicken/ Finger Food

EXTRA Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders

December 2, 2019 (Last Updated: December 4, 2019)

Here I’ll show you the secrets to getting extra crispy chicken tenders in the oven. Easy to make and bursting with flavour, these breaded chicken tenders are the ultimate finger food!

overhead shot of chicken tenders straight out the oven

Baked Chicken Tenders

There’s literally nothing more delicious than a darn good crispy goujon, slathered in your favourite dip. UGH 🤤. It actually wasn’t too long ago I uploaded my Fried Chicken Tenders. Understandably deep frying isn’t for everyone, so I thought I’d see if it was possible to get the same delicious flavour, the same crispy exterior AND the same juicy chicken, whilst baking in the oven.

Spoiler alert – the answer yes. 

Before we get our hands dirty, just so we’re all on the same page:

What is a Chicken Tender – A chicken tender is actually the strip of meat directly under the breast meat. You know, the annoying bit when you’re trying to butterfly the breast. As the name suggests, it is ever so slightly more tender than the breast itself.

closeup on sliced chicken tender showing chicken inside

CRISPY Breaded Chicken Tenders

In contrast to fried chicken tenders, where you simply coat in flour, for oven baked chicken tenders you’ll want to coat them in breadcrumbs. 

Breadcrumb Tip #1 – Make sure that you’re using Panko breadcrumbs. These are Japanese breadcrumbs, which are perfect for chicken tenders as the crumbs themselves are so large. Larger breadcrumbs = more crispiness! You’ll find Panko breadcrumbs in most supermarkets, most likely in the Asian section.
Breadcrumb Tip #2 – Toast your breadcrumbs before coating! As you bake the chicken tenders, they’ll release a small amount of moisture. If the breadcrumbs are too soft, they’ll simply absorb the moisture and come out slightly mushy, as opposed to crispy. 

You can simply spray your breadcrumbs with oil and bake them, but I prefer to fry in butter. Simply melt butter into a pan over medium heat, stir in your breadcrumbs and fry until light golden. A ratio of 1 tbsp butter : 1 cup breadcrumbs works great. Although it’s tempting, any more butter and the crumbs become too oily/wet.

how to make buttered panko breadcrumbs - 3 step by step photos

Parmesan Chicken Tenders

The next secret to getting not only super flavoursome chicken tenders, but extra crispy chicken tenders, is using parmesan.

If you’re a regular reader of mine you’ll know I use parmesan in practically everything 😂. Well, these are no exception. By mixing in parmesan with the breadcrumbs you not only inject a nice salty flavour, but the parmesan helps bind the breadcrumbs together. To coat the tenders you’ll need 3 bowls:

Bowl #1 – Flour + Half of Spice Mix
Bowl #2 – Egg + Milk
Bowl #3 – Toasted Breadcrumbs + Parmesan + Half of Spice Mix

How to bread chicken tenders (quick summary)

  1. Set up your bowls and bring chicken to room temp.
  2. Coat in flour, then egg, then breadcrumbs.
  3. Place on a baking tray, preferably elevated on a wire rack if you have one.

how to bake chicken tenders in the oven - 3 step by step photos

From there it’s simply a case of baking until golden and crispy! I then like to rest the tenders on a cooling rack for a few mins just to let the final bit of steam escape. This will allow them to finish crisping up.

Do I have to use parmesan?

I’ve actually tested these with and without parmesan. The parmesan does add a nice salty flavour and also helps with the crispiness, however it’s not a deal breaker if you don’t have it.

What spices to use?

For me, this is the winning combo: paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper and salt.

Can I use chicken breast instead of tenders?

You absolutely can! You’ll probably get around 5-6 ‘tenders’ from one breast.

chicken tenders fresh out the oven on cooling rack

And there we have it! Extra crispy chicken tenders are yours for the taking. Just to summarise:

Tips for Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders

  • Use Panko breadcrumbs.
  • Toast the breadcrumbs before baking.
  • Use parmesan in the breadcrumbs.
  • Don’t cook the chicken straight out the fridge (cold chicken seizes up and releases excess moisture).
  • Use a wire rack for baking and for cooling.

If you love the sound of these crispy baked chicken tenders, I know you’ll LOVE my crispy baked jalapeno poppers, crispy baked fries and crispy baked avocado fries. And what’s a tender without a dip?!

Dipping Sauces for Chicken Tenders

Alrighty, let’s tuck into the full recipe shall we?!

dunking chicken strip into dip

How to make Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders (Full Recipe & Video)

overhead shot of chicken tenders straight out the oven

EXTRA Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders

Here I'll show you the secrets to getting extra crispy chicken tenders in the oven. Easy to make and bursting with flavour, these breaded chicken tenders are the ultimate finger food! Makes approx 16 tenders (depending on size) so serving is approx 4 people.
5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Appetizer / Finger Food / Side Dish
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings (click & slide): 16 tenders
Calories: 354kcal
Cost per serving: ยฃ3 / $4

Equipment:

  • Large Baking Tray + Wire Rack (optional)
  • Cooling Rack
  • 3 Large Bowls
  • Small Bowl (for spice mix)
  • Sharp Knife & Chopping Board
  • Frying Pan & Wooden Spoon

Ingredients (check list):

  • 1.3lb / 600g Chicken Tenders OR Chicken Breast, sliced into strips & at room temp (see notes)
  • 1/3 cup / 70g Flour
  • 1 1/4 cups / 75g Panko Breadcrumbs (see notes)
  • 1 heaped tbsp Butter
  • 1oz / 30g freshly grated Parmesan (see notes)
  • 1 Egg, beaten
  • 2 tbsp Milk
  • 1 tsp each: Paprika, Salt
  • 1/4 tsp each: Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Black Pepper
  • 1/8 tsp Cayenne Pepper, or to taste
  • Oil Spray

Instructions:

  • Melt 1 heaped tbsp butter into a frying pan over medium heat and stir in 1.25cups/75g Panko breadcrumbs. Continue frying for 5 or so mins until the breadcrumbs turn light golden. Remove from heat.
  • Pre heat oven to 200c/390f.
  • In a small bowl combine 1 tsp paprika and salt, 1/4 tsp onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper, and 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste).
  • Line up 3 large bowls. In the first bowl combine 1/3cup/70g flour with 1 tsp of your spice mix. In the second combine 1 beaten egg with 2 tbsp milk. In the third combine breadcrumbs with 1oz/30g parmesan and the rest of your spice mix.
  • One by one dip your tenders first into the flour, then into the egg and finally into the breadcrumbs, ensuring you fully coat at each stage (especially the last).
  • Space out (important so they don't turn mushy) on a baking tray (preferably elevated on a wire rack if you have one), spray with oil then pop in the oven for 20mins or until golden, crispy and piping hot through the centre. If at all you notice them starting to char at all, turn down the heat.
  • Place on a cooling rack for a few mins to allow all the steam to escape and crisp up. Serve with your favourite dip!

Quick 1 min demo!

Notes:

a) Chicken Tenders - A chicken tender is actually that strip of meat located underneath the breast. I find them to be ever-so-slightly more tender than the breast itself, so if you can get a pack of pre sliced chicken tenders go for that. However, sliced chicken breast works perfectly. One breast should get around 5-6 'tenders'.
b) Panko Breadcrumbs - These are Japanese style breadcrumbs and work perfectly as they're nice and chunky (i.e extra crispiness). You'll find them in most supermarkets/grocery stores, most likely in the Asian section.
c) Parmesan - I've actually tested these tenders with and without parmesan. I find the parmesan does add extra flavour and a little extra crispiness, but if you don't have it it's not a deal breaker. They come out great without it too.
d) Dips - I served these with Sweet Chilli Mayo, but do check out my other Delicious Dips for more inspo!
e) Calories - Assuming parmesan is used and the whole recipe is shared between 4 without a dip.

Nutrition:

Nutrition Facts
EXTRA Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
Amount Per Serving
Calories 354 Calories from Fat 101
% Daily Value*
Fat 11.21g17%
Saturated Fat 4.038g20%
Trans Fat 0.084g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.418g
Monounsaturated Fat 3.414g
Cholesterol 275mg92%
Sodium 914mg38%
Potassium 616mg18%
Carbohydrates 19.21g6%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 1.72g2%
Protein 41.21g82%
Vitamin A 603IU12%
Vitamin C 0.1mg0%
Calcium 121mg12%
Iron 2.6mg14%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Nutrition is based on the absence of salt unless stated as a measurement in the ingredients. Cost is worked out based on ingredients bought from UK supermarkets, then divided by the number of servings. In both instances these values are just for guidance. Please check out my FAQ Page for more info.
Tried this recipe?Show me how you got on by tagging @dontgobaconmyheart_ on IG and #dontgobaconmyheart!

If you loved this Baked Chicken Tenders Recipe then be sure to pin it for later! Already made them or got a question? Give me a shout in the comments below and pick up your free ecookbook along the way!

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Jacqueline Debono
    December 2, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    5 stars
    I love adding Parmesan (parmigiano) to breadcrumbs! I do it with my schnitzel! These baked chicken tenders sound like the perfect party food!

  • Reply
    Jenn
    December 2, 2019 at 5:18 pm

    5 stars
    I adore the fact that these are baked, and they look so crunchy and golden-brown that they’re sure to be a hit at our dinner table. I can’t wait to try them! Bookmarked AND printed!

  • Reply
    Toni
    December 2, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    5 stars
    I love how easy this is to make!! Thank you so much!

  • Reply
    Jen
    December 2, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    5 stars
    You still get all the yummy flavor without the hassle and guilt of deep frying. Thanks for tip about toasting the breadcrumbs. Totally worked!

  • Reply
    Kelsey
    December 2, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    5 stars
    These are so crispy! I love how detailed your photos show that! Cannot wait to make them!

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