Chicken tenders seem like they should be fairly easy to make but sometimes it’s hard to achieve the most perfectly crispy chicken tenders. However, using the same technique that we use for our garlic parmesan baked chicken to make tasty chicken tenders, we achieved all the crunchiness of fried chicken strips, but with more flavor and less oil in this crispy baked chicken tenders recipe.
What makes these chicken tenders special is that we combine eggs and mayo to reduce the dredging yet still up the flavor and texture. Moist chicken is enveloped in simple panko crumbs for the most crispy tenders that come together quickly.
If this is your first time making chicken tenders at home (or if you’ve done it for ages), you’ll find that this is the most simple recipe for tenders that are moist inside but have the best crunchy coating. It’s a great way to get an easy dinner on the table in a breeze, and if you’re lucky you might have leftovers to enjoy all week.
Why You’ll Love Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
These chicken tenders are going to beat any that you’ve had before.
- Mayo Makes These Tenders Perfect – Dredging in mayonnaise creates extra flavor, makes them moist, and helps the bread adhere to the chicken better, making for a perfect bite, every time.
- Easy Prep and Cleanup – With fewer dredging pans than a traditional chicken tender recipe, these are faster and easier to make and cleanup is a breeze.
- Adult and Kid-Friendly – While you can make these as a simple snack or meal for kiddos, there are plenty of ways to elevate it for the grown-ups, too.
Grab your eggs and chicken at the grocery store and combine them with some pantry staples for easy and quick tenders that are as perfect for dinner as they are for game day.
- Boneless skinless chicken breasts (or chicken tenderloin pieces) – Using lean, boneless chicken ensures you have juicy tenders, allowing the crispy coating to perfectly complement the moist meat.
- Eggs – As a binding agent, the eggs help the breading adhere to the chicken, creating a crispy and golden exterior during baking.
- Mayonnaise – Mayo imparts richness and moisture to the chicken and ensures the breadcrumbs stick to the surface.
- Flour – Flour also helps the breading adhere, creating a crispy, even texture.
- Onion Powder – Onion powder adds depth of flavor but is subtle enough to be amenable to even picky palates.
- Garlic Powder – This essential seasoning adds garlicky flavor.
- Coarse Kosher Salt – The salt helps to balance the flavor profile of the breading.
- Smoked Paprika – This variety of paprika adds subtle smokiness to the tenders.
- Panko Breadcrumbs – The flaky texture of panko creates a crispy and light crust. Regular and seasoned can also be used. Even try making your own breadcrumbs from any type of bread for a unique flavor.
How to Make Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
You’ll forget about ever grabbing takeout chicken tenders after you try this easy recipe.
- Slice chicken. Using a sharp knife, slice the raw chicken breasts into uniform strips. Making them the same size will ensure that they cook evenly. If one if huge, it will take long while the smaller ones dry out.
- Make dredge. Add the eggs, mayonnaise, flour, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and smoked paprika to a large bowl. Use a rubber spatula to mix them together until completely combined.
- Coat chicken in dredge and breadcrumbs. Pour the panko into a dredging pan or dish. Cover a chicken piece completely with the mayonnaise mixture before dredging through the breadcrumbs.
- Add to baking sheet. Place the dredged chicken onto a prepared baking sheet lined with parchment paper or cooking spray.
- Bake. Place the sheet pan of coated tenders into the preheated oven and bake for the recommended time, flipping halfway through.
- Allow to rest. Let the chicken tenders rest briefly before serving. This let’s the juices stay in the tenders and reduces the risk of burning your tongue.
What to Serve with Crispy Oven Baked Chicken Tenders
First and foremost, you’ll want a great dipping sauce to for these tenders. Honey mustard sauce is a great option, but you can also serve Nashville hot sauce, BBQ sauce, yum yum sauce, marinara, ranchero sauce, or your own favorite dipping sauces. We also love drizzling them with hot honey to eat with a fork and knife all on their own, or over waffles.
For a kid-friendly meal, serve these tenders alongside some steamed or cold veggies and mac and cheese or french fries. For adults, serve them over a simple salad, kale salad or with other appetizers at a party — try chicken wings, pizza stuffed peppers, fried cheese curds, or baked jalapeno poppers.
You can change up these chicken tenders with just a few easy modifications.
- Nuggets – Make chicken nuggets by slicing the chicken breast into smaller pieces. This will also reduce cooking time.
- Seasoning – Add seasoning salt, Homemade Italian Seasoning, or other seasoning blends to the mayonnaise. Make grown-up tenders by adding spiciness with hot sauce, cayenne pepper, or chili powder.
- Tanginess – Mix some yellow mustard, dijon mustard, apple cider vinegar, or pickle juice into the mayo for tangy flavor.
- Fresh Herbs – Grab some of those herbs from the garden to add fresh flavor.
- Crumbs – Instead of panko bread crumbs, use regular breadcrumbs, crushed Ritz crackers, or crushed corn flakes for a different breading.
- Cheese – Add parmesan cheese to the breading for nutty, cheesy flavor.
- Cooking Method – Make air fryer chicken tenders instead of baking in the oven.
Storage and Freezing
You can make these simple, crispy oven-fried chicken tenders and have them ready to eat during the week.
Make Ahead: Slice the chicken ahead of time and store them for up to 24 hours before preparing the tenders.
Refrigerator: Store leftover chicken tenders in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge.
Freezer: Freeze chicken tenders in a freezer-safe container or resealable freezer bag for up to 3 months.
Common Questions About Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
If you’ve already baked your chicken tenders but need to keep them warm, place them on a wire rack in an oven set to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. They’ll stay both warm and crispy.
If you don’t completely coat the tenders in breadcrumbs, they won’t be crispy. Also, not cooking chicken tenders long enough, or not flipping them, will also result in a soggy coating.
Making sure to fully dredge chicken tenders (or other cuts) through the liquid before then dredging them through the bread crumbs so that you can entirely cover the chicken.
More Delicious Chicken Recipes
No more boring chicken recipes here- these are all guaranteed to be delicious!
Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders Recipe
- Preheat the oven to 450°F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
- Cut each piece of chicken into chicken strips about 2/3 of an inch thick. Try to make pieces uniform size so they cook evenly.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, mayonnaise, flour, onion powder, garlic powder, salt and paprika until it makes a creamy paste.
- Place the panko breadcrumbs in a shallow dish or dredging pan.
- Dredge each piece of chicken in the mayonnaise mixture and then the panko breadcrumbs, pressing the crumbs into the chicken and tapping off the excess. Place the chicken onto the prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining chicken strips.
- Bake for 7 minutes. Remove and flip each piece of chicken. Return to the oven for another 7 minutes or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Remove and allow to sit for 5 minutes before serving with your favorite dipping sauce.
- If you've tried this recipe, come back and let us know how it was in the comments or star ratings.