About once per week I make a batch of baked chicken tenders and use them as part of multiple meals… salads, sandwiches, on their own, with rice, in burritos, etc. The best part about them is that they’re easy (yes, “easy” is still my favorite word), and as far as meats go, they’re quite healthy. I also appreciate that with tenders you are more aware of the amount of meat you’re consuming and for someone like me… I’m good with just one tender accompanied by more of the other plant based stuff.
Whenever making chicken, I used to make chicken breasts… but for the last 9 months or so I’ve switched from purchasing breasts to chicken breast tenders and I’m so glad I switched. Technically speaking, you can buy chicken breasts and cut them into tenders yourself… but I don’t do that. Call it lazy or whatever, but we don’t buy enough meat that the price makes that much of a difference. The reason I made the switch is because chicken breasts tend not to be even in thickness and while you can certainly pound the breasts, it just is more work and pounding still doesn’t necessarily create even cooking in my experience. Chicken tenders on the other hand only have to be cooked for such a short period of time and I’ve never had them cook unevenly (which creates dryness).
I buy organic chicken tenders and would suggest finding a brand you like locally. Something to look out for is a brand that seems to consistently cut close to equal sized pieces, and that there’s not a lot of fat or excess parts that you have to trim off. You won’t really know if a company is consistent with the tender pieces without purchasing multiple times… so if this is a new process for you, I apologize because it can be a bit annoying. I buy a package (usually about a pound because we definitely do not eat chicken everyday), cut/rip off that membrane part if it is still on there (it looks like a very thin skin but it makes the chicken texture very tough) as well as any pieces that don’t need to be on there. I don’t want to get too graphic but you know when you’re looking at pieces of meat and there’s just yucky parts that you don’t need?? Use your kitchen sheers to get rid of those parts. Chicken breast tenders are skinless as a rule which is healthier, but sometimes they still have membranes/other parts to be removed. Run each piece under cold water.
Then I take a cake pan (mine is metal but I’ve cooked tenders in glass as well… either works, I have no preference) and do a very thin coat of coconut or olive oil. I find that using a cake pan rather than a cookie sheet is easier for clean up but more importantly, the meat stays sitting in the juices which keeps it moist and tender. Next step, I place my freshly cleaned pieces of meat into the pan… evenly spaced and ideally not touching. I brush each piece of chicken with olive or coconut oil, then sprinkle with salt, pepper, and whichever additional spices I’m choosing to use this week. Sometimes I want more of a kick and add cayenne pepper, sometimes like today I add garlic flakes. And then you’re done prepping! How easy was that?! Pop into the oven for 25 minutes and you have tenders for multiple meals. You don’t need to turn the meat or anything! When you pull the meat out of the oven, let it rest for a few minutes before serving so the juices remain inside.
- 1 package chicken breast tenders
- About 1.5 – 2 tablespoons olive or coconut oil (less if you can… it is just for coating the pan and brushing the top of the chicken)
- Salt & pepper to season (no specific amount… just remember you’re only seasoning one side so you want to get a dusting on the entire top)
- Any additional seasonings you like!
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Prep chicken
- Lay in cake pan and season
- Bake for 25 minutes
If you’ve struggled to find the best and simplest chicken recipe that’s both healthy and juicy, try mine!
Let me know what you think!