These Baked Chicken Tenders are juicy on the inside, crispy on the outside, and so easy to make. Kids and adults alike will go nuts for these!
Everyone loves chicken tenders . . . admit it, whether you’re in your 30s, 40s or beyond, your love for chicken fingers runs deep.
These baked crispy chicken tenders will please both your 5 year old AND the 5 year old in you. 😉 They are baked, so they’re *bonus* healthier and easier than frying and they’re loaded with yummy flavors like ranch and parmesan.
These are PERFECT for busy school nights when you have absolutely zero idea of what to make for dinner.
I promise you, you won’t hear any complaints.
Just 10 ingredients to make this super simple chicken recipe—most you probably already have on hand!
- Buttermilk and Lemon Juice – make up the marinade for the chicken. The buttermilk helps keep these tenders ultra moist and the lemon juice adds a nice tang.
- Salt and Pepper – gives the tenders a little spice and brings out flavors.
- Chicken Tenderloins – super healthy and high in protein! You can cut the tenderloins yourself from a chicken breast, but if you can find them, use pre-cut tenderloins from the butcher!
- All-Purpose Flour – helps the egg stick to the tenders. Use all-purpose, wheat, or even a gluten free variety.
- Dry Ranch Seasoning Mix – this adds a ton of flavor in one easy step!
- Eggs – help the panko stick to the chicken tenders.
- Panko – absorbs less oil than regular breadcrumbs, so it keeps these tenders crispier and crunchier!
- Parmesan – adds a salty, cheesiness!
How to make chicken tenders
Want extra juicy chicken tenders? Be sure to let the chicken marinate for 8 hours! Don’t have time? Let them marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. These chicken fingers couldn’t be easier!
- Whisk together buttermilk, lemon juice, salt, and pepper in a large bowl.
- Add in chicken, stir to combine, and then let it marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes OR for up to 8 hours in the fridge.
- Whisk together flour and ranch seasoning on one plate, eggs on another, and panko and parmesan on a third.
- Cover each tenderloin first in flour/ranch, then eggs, then panko/parmesan and place on a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat.
- Spray the tops with cooking spray, bake, then serve and enjoy! Spraying the tops with cooking spray encourages the panko to brown!
What is the difference between chicken strips and chicken tenders?
Most of the time, people use these terms interchangeably, but technically, chicken strips are made of chicken breast, cut into strips and chicken tenders are made up of a particular part of the breast. They are a strip of breast meat that can be easily detached and used separately.
How long to bake
Bake chicken tenders at 425 degrees F for 15-20 minutes.
Your chicken tenders should bake long enough for the panko/parmesan coating to become golden-brown and the chicken to be cooked through.
Use a meat thermometer to ensure that your chicken has reached a minimum internal temperature of 165ºF.
Tips for making your breading extra crispy
Chicken tenders are delicious, but they’re even more delicious when they’re extra crispy! Here are some tips to make sure your tenders reach golden-brown perfection.
- Dab your chicken dry before starting. Before you coat your tenders with the seasonings, dab each one with a paper towel to take off excess moisture. This prevents the moisture from over-soaking the breadcrumbs so they are able to get extra crunchy in the oven.
- Use Panko. Panko is crunchier than other breadcrumbs, because of its light texture. It also absorbs less oil than breadcrumbs, which keeps the food more crisp.
- Spray with cooking spray. Before you bake, don’t skip the cooking spray step. This really allows the coating to crisp up.
What goes with chicken tenders?
These tenders are delicious as-is or with a side of ketchup, honey mustard, ranch, and fries, but here are some of my favorite side dishes to serve with this recipe to bulk up the meal:
How to store
Cooked and cooled tenders can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months.
How to reheat chicken tenders
To reheat, pop your tenders in the microwave until the chicken is heated through.
To reheat AND re-crisp, put the tenders on a lined baking sheet and bake in the oven at 425 degrees F until the chicken is warm.
Equipment for this recipe
- 1/4 cup buttermilk
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 pound chicken tenderloins
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 (1 oz packets) dry ranch seasoning mix
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 1/2 cup grated parmesan
- In a large bowl, mix together buttermilk, lemon juice, salt, and pepper.
- Add in chicken, then stir to combine.
- Let marinate at room temperature for 30 minutes. If you're going to marinate longer, cover the bowl with saran wrap and place it in the fridge for up to 8 hours.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F and line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat. Set aside.
- Mix together flour and ranch seasoning on one plate.
- Whisk eggs on another plate.
- Mix panko and parmesan on a third plate.
- Drain chicken.
- Working with one chicken tenderloin at a time, fully cover the tenderloin in the flour/ranch mixture, then whisked egg, and then panko/parmesan mixture.
- Place onto prepared baking sheet, then repeat with remaining tenderloins.
- Spray the tops with cooking spray.
- Bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until the panko is golden-brown and the chicken is cooked through.
*Note: Nutrition information is estimated and varies based on products used.