Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders with Parmesan and Garlic
These truly crispy baked chicken tenders are…wait for it…tender and super-flavorful, too.
The key to the crispy coating is browning the panko (mixed with a little melted butter and parmesan) on its own before using it to coat the chicken. Panko is hilarious, because on its own it burns to a crisp in like seven minutes, but slapped on a piece of chicken it stays pale to the death. There’s a sweet spot in between, and that’s where this recipe lives.
Browning the panko on its own before using it to bread the chicken is the magic method that results in truly crispy baked chicken tenders.
Truly crispy baked chicken tenders
I’m obsessing over these flavorful, crispy baked chicken tenders, and so are our kids. They’re easy to make, reasonably good for ya, and equally at home as a party appetizer or weeknight dinner.
I’m like 98% sure I came up with this idea in my very own head, but in doing some research I saw that the wonderful and generous Nagi of the Australian food blog RecipeTin Eats uses a very similar method. So whether I saw her recipe at some point in the past and it snuck in without tripping the alarm, or whether I’m just introducing you to a terrific food blog you may not already be reading, well, win-win, and thank you Nagi.
In other news, my memory is TERRIBLE.
Why make baked chicken tenders?
Deep frying at home is a process. It’s a situation.
It’s all good once in a while. But why bother if it doesn’t improve the outcome?
With chicken tenders, you’ll get even more flavor, plus a better nutritional profile, if you skip it.
What makes our baked chicken tenders recipe great?
Our baked chicken tenders have a few things going for them.
CRUNCHY, FLAVORFUL BREADING
Chicken tenders are all about the crunch, and this can be the tricky part when baking instead of frying. Our method uses panko, a great start for crunch. But panko is hilarious. Baked by itself, it burns to a crisp in like seven minutes, but slapped on a piece of chicken it stays pale to the death. So we use a method that both browns the panko perfectly and gives it lots of flavor.
TENDER, FLAVORFUL CHICKEN
We let our chicken tenders hang out briefly in an easy, flavorful marinade and then use that marinade to help the breading coat the chicken. Hints of lemon and garlic really amp up the flavor of the chicken in a way that’s still very kid-friendly.
A HEALTHY CHICKEN TENDERS RECIPE
Since they’re baked and made from honest ingredients, our chicken tenders are better for ya than their deep-fried friends.
How long to bake chicken tenders
Chicken breast is cooked when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (73.8° C). Because chicken tenders are quite thin, and because the oven temperature in this recipe is high, your chicken tenders will cook quickly. They’ll only need about 15 minutes in the oven. The marinade will help these baked chicken fingers stay tender, but it’s still a good idea to pull them out of the oven as soon as they’re cooked through for maximum deliciousness.
Oven-baked chicken tenders?
Just to put this out there, chicken tenders are often called oven-baked chicken tenders. Dudes, why? Redundant. Please stop it. Thanks and bye.
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 2 large garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- A few good grinds black pepper
- 1/4 cup grated parmesan, divided
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders (about 12)
- 2 cups panko
- 2 tablespoons butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 425°F with a rack in the center.
- In a large mixing bowl, stir together mayo, garlic, lemon juice, mustard, salt, some pepper and two tablespoons of the parmesan. Dry chicken well with paper towels. Add chicken and stir to coat well. Set aside.
- On a rimmed baking sheet, mix together the panko, remaining two tablespoons parmesan and the butter with your hands. Spread out in a single layer and bake for about 4 minutes, watching very carefully to prevent burning, until just about browned to your liking. (They won’t brown much more once on the chicken.) Pour onto a large plate or into a wide, shallow bowl. Place wire rack onto baking sheet.
- Use tongs to remove each chicken tender from the bowl and dredge in panko until well coated, then lay on wire rack with a little bit of space between tenders.
- Bake for about 15 minutes, until chicken is just cooked through. Serve right away with ketchup or dipping sauce of your choice (if you like — the chicken is nice and flavorful on its own).