Fried Chicken Tenders

If you have kids, you are probably no stranger to chicken nuggets.  Frozen, refrigerated, at fast food restaurants, and also nicer sit-down places, those nuggets (or tenders of fingers or strips) are like a running theme song in the lives of families with younger kids. 

Homemade Chicken Tenders

And let’s be honest, when they are good, they’re good.  But sometimes you are a bit baffled by the mystery mixture inside these golden little chunks.  Here’s a very simple recipe for making those really, really good ones (as in, all white breast meat, not chopped, and not mixed with fillers) at home with the kids, and there is not a question in the world about what the ingredients are.

Breading for Crispy Chicken Tenders

There are three quick parts to the breading process.  First the chicken is dipped into seasoned all-purpose flour, which adheres to the chicken, and helps the second dip in beaten egg coat the strips better.  Then the egg makes the third roll in Panko cling better to the chicken, resulting in a nicely crispy exterior.

Homemade Chicken Tenders

Homemade vs. Frozen Chicken Nuggets

A long time ago, when my kids were fairly wee, I wrote an article where I had to test and evaluate as many types of nationally branded frozen or refrigerated chicken nuggets as I could find.  At first, my children could not believe their luck, and were giddily high-fiving each other all over the house (frozen chicken nuggets do not make many appearances on our dinner table).  “This is awesome!” they cried, beaming at me as though I had invented video games.

Well, 63 nuggets, tenders, fingers, popcorn bites, and sticks later they (and a stalwart group of their friends) were a little green around the gills.  And even though often there were 6 or 7 nuggets at a tasting, and they only had to taste one bite of each kind, they didn’t in the end find all that many that were worth a second nugget. 

Homemade Chicken Tenders

There is an awful lot of ground up, dry chicken-esque filling in some of these nuggets, and in many cases not a whole lot that tasted like actual chicken.  One brand had somewhere near 35 ingredients, a few of which were sodium diacetate, silicon dioxide, sodium tripolyphosphate and artificial flavoring.  Gosh, I must have run out of sodium tripolyphosphate and not even realized it.  How embarrassing. 

Homemade Chicken Tenders: Crispy and juicy, made with real white meat chicken – these aren’t just for the kids!

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What the Kids Can Do:

  • Measure and mix the dry ingredients.  
  • Crack and beat the eggs
  • Dip and coat the chicken tenders in each of the bowls (make sure to have a dishtowel on hand, and remind them to wash hands well with warm soapy water before and after handling the chicken)
  • Choose condiments of their choice.
Homemade Chicken Tenders

What’s Panko?

Panko is a Japanese-style breadcrumb, traditionally used as a coating for various fried foods.   Panko is lighter and fluffier than traditional breadcrumbs, partly because the bread is grated into larger, flakier crumb, and partly because it is usually made without the crusts.  Besides being used as a coating, it can also be used in recipes as a binder; in meatloaf or crab cakes, for instance.

What to Serve with Chicken Tenders:

Homemade Chicken Tenders

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Homemade Chicken Tenders

Crispy and juicy, made with real white meat chicken – these aren't just for the kids!
Yield: 8 People


  • 1 pound chicken tenders or boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • ¾ cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil divided

To Serve (Optional)

  • Ketchup
  • Mustard or honey mustard
  • Barbecue sauce


  • If you are using breasts, not tenders, cut the chicken into ½ -inch thick strips.
  • In a shallow bowl, stir up the flour with the paprika, salt and pepper. Place the beaten eggs in another shallow bowl. Place the Panko in a third shallow bowl.
  • Coat each chicken strip first in the flour mixture, then dip them into the beaten eggs, then roll them in the Panko.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Sauté about half of the chicken tenders for about 4 minutes on each side, until lightly browned, and the chicken is cooked through.   Remove, set aside on a plate lined with a paper towel, then heat up the rest of the oil, then sauté the rest of the chicken the same way.
  • Serve with whatever dipping sauces your kids are into.

Nutrition Information

Calories: 357kcal | Carbohydrates: 21g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 16g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 154mg | Sodium: 827mg | Potassium: 500mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 399IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 39mg | Iron: 2mg

The nutrition values are provided as an estimate. It is not intended as a substitute for the advice of a qualified healthcare professional.

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  1. These look simple and delicious–not just for kids anymore! Quick question: have you tried baking them? I would love to have an oven baked recipe.

    1. You can bake them! I would give them a little spritz of olive oil if you have a mister to ensure the crust gets nicely crispy – otherwise just go ahead and bake them at 350 for abiout 10 minutes, until cooked throughout. the outside bread crumb coating will be a bit drier, but they will taste good!

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