Everyone loves crispy, crunchy chicken tenders… young, old – I don’t think it really matters. And what’s not to love? Tender sliced chicken breast, coated in a seasoned salt flour coating; then dipped in an egg wash; and finished with crispy breadcrumbs; fried until golden brown and completed in the oven. So yummy!
Crispy, Crunchy Chicken Tenders Recipe
So here’s the deal with this recipe, I just got sick and tiered of paying for chicken nuggets and tenders that had very little chicken in them to feed my kids. I mean come on! The bag says it’s chicken right, so that should be good enough and mean there is ACTUAL chicken in the chicken tenders, but after spending the time to actually read the labels I realized I was feeding them some sort of protein combined with chicken byproduct or parts and NOT just chicken. Gross!
So that was that, I began my quest for the best homemade chicken tenders I could possibly make for my family. All kidding aside, it truly took me a year to develop this recipe, only to find out in the end that the “old” way is still the best way. Remember that cast iron skillet your mom or grandma used to have? Yep, the one that weighed a ton and they stored it in a paper bag. Well, if you are lucky enough to have inherited a cast iron skillet you are all set. If not, no worries, you can pick one up for as little as $26.00 (I use a Lodge 12 inch skillet) . If you take care of it, you will be able to pass it down from generation to generation (an awesome gift if you ask me – a well seasoned cast iron pan is gold!). I found that a quick fry and then finishing the chicken tenders in the oven on a baking sheet with a wire rack is the absolutely best way to make the best, crispiest chicken tenders ever! One that your kids, and family with ask for seconds on.
I know you are thinking; she is not going to tell me that fried chicken tenders are better for my kids than the frozen store bought ones. Yep, I am, and they will love them. Ok, so I am not saying you should give your kids fried food all the time, but in comparison to the ingredient list on the back of that frozen package you are giving them from the super market, definitely a better option. One that you have total control over, and after you make these babies once there is no going back. The fact is, that you will want to make a double batch because they freeze and reheat so well.
Ok enough talking let’s get cooking these golden delicious, crispy, crunchy chicken tenders.
- 3 pounds boneless chicken breast or cutlets
- 3 large eggs
- 2.5 cups all purpose flour
- 1 ½ teaspoons fresh finely ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons seasoned salt (Lawry’s)
- 2.5 cups plain Panko bread crumbs
- 2 cups vegetable oil
- 1 larger (gallon sized) zipper freezer bag
- sheet pan with wire rack
- Metal tongs
- In a large bowl crack 3 eggs and whisk; set aside.
- In a large zipper freezer bag (1 gallon) add 2.5 cups all purpose flour and 1 ½ teaspoon finely fresh ground black pepper along with 2 tablespoons seasoned salt (Lawry’s is what I use); seal bag and shake to combine all ingredients evenly; set aside.
- Take 3 pounds of boneless chicken breasts and filet them in half and gently pound out so the thicker end becomes more uniform with the thin end (to save time you can buy chicken cutlets but they will cost more in the end); cut the chicken cutlets into uniform size strips.you should be able to get 6 strips out of one whole breast.
- Place the chicken strips in batches into the flour bag (3 to 4 at a time); shake the chicken in the bag and try to coat the chicken evenly. Remove chicken from bag and place on a sheet pan to the side. Repeat until all chicken strips are coated (about 18 strips or so).
- Once all chicken is coated in the flour mixture, add 2.5 cups plain Panko bread crumbs to the freezer bag, mix well; set aside.
- Dip the chicken tenders (in batches) into the whisked egg; then transfer the chicken in batches to the freezer bag coating the chicken with the Panko bread crumbs; place the chicken on a sheet pan and set aside, repeat till all chicken in coated.
- In a cast iron skillet, add 2 cups vegetable oil (depending on skillet size - I use a 12 inch Lodge skillet - you want the oil to go up the skillet sides about 1 inch; but be careful how high you make your oil as when the chicken is added it will displace the oil and the pan could overflow causing a fire); heat skillet on medium until the oil reaches about 225 degrees (if you don't have a fry thermometer you can test the oil with a little flour - you want the oil to bubble when a dash of flour hits it).
- in batches place 3 to 4 chicken tenders into the skillet and fry until lightly browned. Using tongs, remove chicken from skillet to paper towels to drain. Repeat until all chicken is completed.
- Pre-heat oven to to 350 degrees.
- Transfer chicken to half sheet pan topped with wire rack; place chicken on wire racked sheet pan into the oven for approximately 20 minutes or internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
- Serve and enjoy with your favorite dipping sauce.