Fast Food Chicken Tenders are your favorite greasy, crunchy, and juicy chicken fingers from fast food places now made at home in your oven. They’re flexible, fun, and can be prepped and stored in your freezer!Jump to Recipe
My first job was at an amusement park and every time I worked a double shift, I’d get these irresistible chicken tenders and French fries. For whatever reason, fried foods and theme parks or carnivals just go hand in hand.
You know the kind too. They’re crunchy, greasy, and so juicy on the inside. The chicken is flavorful and so dippable, with an array of sauces. There’s something nostalgic about chicken tenders – or maybe it’s because they’re on every single children’s menu.
That being said, this recipe is so flexible, especially for kids. It’s home-cooked fast food for dinner that you can feel really good about, not just while eating it. These make a great dinner for any time of the week, that turns out really fun, nostalgic, and a sure crowd-pleaser.
TIP: you can pair these chicken tenders with French fries from scratch at the same time on another baking sheet and put them in the oven too. Prep each baking sheet, pop them in, and dinners done in about twenty minutes.
If you want to regularly serve your kids (or yourself for that matter) homemade chicken tenders that are not the usual frozen kind and are made from real chicken – make a big batch of these and FREEZE them! Pull them out as needed and pop them in the oven to reheat. Having prepped food on hand can be a game-changer for the days when things go awry or when you just need a break.
You know that crunch you get from fried chicken? Usually, that’s nowhere to be found when you make it in the oven. There’s a few reasons why this happens and how to get it back. Some reasons why your chicken won’t come out as crispy as possible:
- Use a cooling rack and/or baking sheet: The first rule of thumb when trying to get food in the oven to come out crispy, use a baking sheet, not a baking dish. The sides of the dish create steam and that makes the outsides more mushy than crispy.
- Cooking spray: Adding some moisture to the outside of the breading acts a little like oil would and helps to brown
- High heat: A fryer is very hot, so to replicate that, the temperature has to be pretty high to fry the outside of the food, just as an air fryer would
- Breading: Sometimes, the crispy exterior could be really impacted by the ingredients used, such as flour or cornmeal. Cornmeal is gritty and results in a very textured, coarse breading whereas flour has the potential to steam and be soggy, but can also turn out great.
These Fast Food Chicken Tenders come together by dredging the chicken strips in a batter made of egg, flour, and mayo & then coating them in the breading of panko and crushed cornflakes. Then they bake on a rack set into a baking sheet for 15-20 minutes and come out crispy.
You could make these in an air fryer, but I did not test that. For me, it was easier to make them on a baking sheet all at once and bake them at a high temperature in the oven rather than rotate batches. I’ve found that my air fryer works well for either small servings, small foods, or things that can stack. Chicken tenders don’t fit any of those categories. You could also use the convection baking setting on your oven, which works similarly and cook in less time.
Mayo – I know it feels a little weird to be putting mayo into the batter, but it gives the breading the fat it needs to taste as if it’s drenched in oil and fried…also known as, greasy. It keeps everything really moist, but not overly oily either!
Breading – the combo of panko and cornflakes keeps the texture interesting with a fine grain crumbs and larger panko crumbs. Make sure to spray the tenders with cooking spray before putting them in the oven to get the crispiest crust
Dips – your choices are endless here and completely up to you. Some ideas: ketchup, bbq, ranch, honey mustard, hot sauce, shake shack sauce, etc
A serving of these chicken tenders is 4 ounces. It has 350 calories, 36 grams of protein, 15 grams of fat, 16 grams of carbs, and only 395mg of sodium.
REHEATING AND STORING
Store leftovers in sealed Tupperware for up to 5 days. Reheat in the oven around 400 on a baking sheet. To make ahead and freeze, store in a zip lock bag, but separate with parchment paper so they don’t freeze together. You can also store in separate bags. You can cook these directly from frozen.
AS ALWAYS, IF YOU MAKE THIS – PLEASE LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW!
Fast Food Chicken Tenders
- 2 lbs chicken breasts or tenderloins
- Salt & pepper
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 cup panko
- 1 cup crushed cornflakes
- 1 egg
- ¾ cup light mayo
- 2 tbsp flour
- Dipping sauces: ketchup bbq sauce, ranch, honey mustard
Preheat oven to 400.
Prepare chicken by cutting into strips. Season both sides with salt and pepper to taste.
In a shallow bowl, prepare the breading by mixing together the garlic powder, onion powder, panko, and cornflakes. Mix all together. Pour the breadcrumbs out on a baking sheet and toast in the oven for 5 minutes.
Prepare the egg wash in another shallow bowl by combining the egg, mayo, and flour.
Dredge the chicken in the egg wash followed by the breadcrumbs. Place the chicken tenders on a rack set in to the baking sheet to aerate.
Bake for 15-20 minutes until crispy.
STORING: Chicken tenders will keep for 5 days
REHEATING: Reheat under the broiler for best results or in the microwave.
DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?
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