I’ve been making homemade chicken tenders for a long time — in fact, I made a large tray of them for a friend’s event and her guests could not believe how delicious they were. When it comes to chicken tenders, there are two schools of thought — some treat them as they would if they were making fried chicken and use a flour only breading and others prefer something a little more substantial, like a panko crust. Personally, I find that a crispy crust makes them irresistible, so I usually go with that. They are really easy to make and before you know it, you’ve got a delicious meal on the table and everyone is full and happy.
Thursday is generally my shopping day, and I try to hit as many places as I can because I prefer to avoid grocery stores on the weekends. I don’t always find a good quality, organic chicken tender, but when I do, I buy up whatever I find. I keep them refrigerated until the weekend when I have a little more time to prep everything. I either cook some up for lunch or dinner and/or stash them in the freezer for quick weeknight meals. If the kids are being fussy and don’t want to eat what your cooking up for dinner, it’s easy to pull out a few of these from the freezer and fry them up. It’s a meal that will definitely satisfy them, and keep you happy knowing that they are not only delicious, but made from real chicken!
I don’t think I’ve met anyone who does not like these delicious chicken tenders — they’re a perfect meal for young and old. The kids may choose to eat them with their favorite dipping sauces which might include homemade marinara sauce, honey mustard dressing, BBQ sauce or even some homemade ranch dressing, and us big kids may choose to stuff them into a large flour tortilla shells or a crusty roll and pile on the fixings.
Preparing meals doesn’t have to be complicated, but they should always be delicious. Serve your chicken tenders next to a pile of scraggly homemade chips and I guarantee that this will be one of those meals that your family will ask you for time and time again.
Homemade Chicken Tenders
2 # chicken breast tenders
2 large eggs plus 2-3 tablespoons of water
1 teaspoon mustard
3/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1 teaspoon ground onion powder
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
3 cups panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
S&P after frying
When you head to the store next time, make sure to look for chicken tenders — there really is such a thing, and it’s not just cut up pieces of chicken breast. They are the little strips of meat that are attached to the underside of each breast , and sometimes called hanging tenders. When cooked properly, these narrow pieces of meat are very moist and tender.
To prep your chicken tenders, put them on a plate or sheet pan and sit this in the sink. Rinse the chicken tenders well, and then remove the long piece of tendon that runs down the length of the tender. It actually separates the tender into 2 pieces, and if you are lucky enough, you can just pull it out with your fingers. I prefer to just run a sharp knife alongside the tendon and cut it out so that I don’t destroy the meat. Prepare all of the tenders the same way and keep them refrigerated until you set up your breading station.
Place your eggs and a little water in a small bowl along with a teaspoon of mustard and set aside. Next, take all of your dry ingredients (excluding the panko, parmesan and dried parsley) and place them on a large plate. Use a fork to mix everything well together. Then place your panko crumbs, parmesan and dried parsley on another large plate of the same size. This is going to be your breading assembly line.
First dredge the chicken tenders in flour and shake off any excess, then place it into the egg mixture and make sure each piece is well coated. Next toss them into the panko crumbs and dried parsley and roll each piece to coat well, then place each finished piece onto another large plate. Allow these to sit in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to 1 hour before frying, to give the breading time to adhere to the chicken. When ready to fry, preheat your oil to a moderate temperature and then fry the tenders until they are golden brown. If your oil is too hot, the breading will burn quickly and the chicken will remain raw inside. Once golden brown, remove them from the oil and place them on a paper lined plate and add some S & P while they are still warm. Eat them as is with a dipping sauce or stuff them into a sandwich.
If you are not planning to fry them all right away, you can place them in a lidded container or a ziploc bag and store them in the freezer until ready to use. BUT, before you do that, they need to be individually quick frozen (IQF) first! Place the tenders in a single layer on a sheet pan and freeze them. Once they are frozen, place the frozen pieces into your storage bag or container. This prevents them from sticking together and you also don’t have to worry about putting a piece of parchment or plastic wrap between the layers.