Every summer, our neighbors host an annual potluck where everyone brings a dish from their culture. Last summer, during our trip to Nashville, we stumbled upon this fantastic little eatery that served the most delicious chicken tenders. Inspired by those flavors and wanting to add a healthier twist, I decided to bake them instead of frying. Let me tell you, they were a hit at the potluck! Not only did the children love it, but even the adults couldn’t get enough.
Baking chicken tenders instead of frying cuts down on oil and calories, but there’s no compromise on taste or texture. The panko breadcrumb coating guarantees that delightful crunch we all crave. Let’s dive into how to bring this dish to your table.
How to Prepare Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
Ingredients for Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
- 1 sizable egg, whisked smoothly
- 1 1/4 cups of golden panko breadcrumbs
- 2 teaspoons of aromatic garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon of fresh onion powder
- 1 teaspoon of smoky paprika
- 1 teaspoon of natural sea salt
- 1 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
- 4 tender chicken strips, skinless and boneless, sliced into 1/2-inch strips
- Quality cooking spray for a non-stick experience
Directions for Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
- Start by preheating your oven to a good 450 degrees F. Prepare a baking tray by lining it with foil and give it a light spray with the cooking spray.
- In a flat dish, pour in the whisked egg. Meanwhile, mix the panko breadcrumbs with the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper in a spacious zip-top bag.
- For each chicken strip, immerse it into the egg mixture, ensuring each side is coated. Place it in the panko mixture bag, seal, and give it a good shake for an even coat. Arrange the chicken on the tray.
- Once all chicken tenders are coated and on the tray, spritz them with the cooking spray.
- Place them in the oven and let them bake for about 7 minutes. Afterward, flip each one and continue baking for another 7 minutes.
- To achieve that golden crunch, set the oven to broil and let them sizzle for an additional 1-2 minutes. But always keep an eye to avoid burning!
- Serve immediately with your favorite dips and side dishes. Bon appétit!
What’s the secret behind the crunchiness?
It’s the panko breadcrumbs! They’re lighter and flakier than regular breadcrumbs, giving that extra crisp texture.
Can I use regular breadcrumbs?
Yes, you can. However, panko offers a unique crispy texture that regular breadcrumbs might not achieve.
Any alternative to egg for the coating?
Certainly! You can marinate the chicken in light buttermilk for an hour. This offers a richer taste and helps the breadcrumbs stick better.
What dipping sauces pair well with these tenders?
Homemade ketchup, honey mustard sauce, comeback sauce, or even a spicy BBQ sauce work wonders. Feel free to experiment!
Any recommendations for side dishes?
Pair these tenders with baked French fries, Caesar salad, creamy mashed potatoes, steamed asparagus, or roasted broccoli for a complete meal.
How can I ensure they’re cooked perfectly?
Use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should read at least 165 degrees F, ensuring they’re fully cooked.
Any tips to make them spicier?
For a spicy kick, add some cayenne pepper to the breadcrumb mix. Adjust according to your heat preference!
Can I make these in an air fryer?
Absolutely! Adjust the cooking time accordingly. Many have found success at 400°F for 8-10 minutes in an air fryer.
What about storing leftovers?
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For reheating, use an oven or air fryer to maintain the crispy texture.
Baked Chicken Tenders
- 1 large egg beaten
- 1 1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 skinless boneless chicken tenders, cut into 1/2-inch strips lengthwise
- cooking spray
- Gather all ingredients.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and spray with cooking spray.
- Place egg in a shallow dish. Place panko, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper into a large zip-top freezer bag and mix well.
- Dip 2 chicken strips into egg, then place into panko mixture and shake to coat. Place coated chicken pieces onto the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining chicken.
- Spray each chicken tender with cooking spray twice.
- Bake tenders in the preheated oven for 7 minutes. Flip and continue to bake on opposite side until no longer pink in the centers, about 7 minutes more. Remove from the oven.
- Set an oven rack about 6 inches from the heat source and preheat the oven's broiler.
- Broil tenders in the preheated oven for extra crunch, about 1 to 2 minutes more.
- Serve hot and enjoy!