When life is busy, and I don’t want to order fast food or pizza for the third night in a week, I pull out my Spicy Baked Chicken Tenders magic. It’s a 15-minute prep/let-the-oven-do-the-rest-of-the-work kinda dish, and it tastes like the best chicken tenders your mind can imagine. BAKED, not fried, and it tastes as good as fried. I MEAN. FEED ME NOW.
Don’t love the spicy? This recipe is mild-medium in its spice level. Take out one ingredient (cayenne powder) and turn it into a good ole regular Non-Spicy Baked Chicken Tenders. But for me, I like to put a little spice into my life. 😉
This recipe is seriously YUM and easy, like walk-in-the-park, close-my-eyes-and-cook kinda easy. Well, maybe not literally close your eyes, because while that sounds like a tempting challenge, most of us aren’t superheroes. But you know what I mean.
I have loved chicken tenders/chicken nuggets since I was a kid. I have bad cravings for them as an adult every three weeks or so. It’s like clock work. When that happens, I fix it by getting myself to a Chick-Fil-A, but these days I just make these. And let me tell you, it’s like having Chick-Fil-A at home.
There are so many reasons why these things ROCK. One of them is that we coat these chicken tenders with extra virgin olive oil, which is a good, healthier oil to use. I usually throw the chicken (make sure it is completely defrosted and pat dry) into a zip lock bag and coat it with lots of olive oil.
A side note: remember to completely defrost the chicken and pat it dry before coating it with oil. This is important as access moisture will make the breading soggy (way less ideal in chicken tender land).
Then combine breadcrumbs, smoked paprika, cayenne powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper, in a plate, or low bowl with a large flat surface. Omit the cayenne powder if you want this non-spicy.
Coat each piece of chicken tenders with the breading, then place on a baking sheet (I typically line with aluminum foil for easy cleanup) greased with olive oil. Bake chicken tenders at 350 degrees on one side for 15 minutes.
Remove from oven, flip them over, add additional olive oil to the baking sheet if they look like they will stick to the pan, and bake for another 15 minutes. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness – it should be at least 165 degrees F in the thickest part of the meat when done.
And dinner is served! So easy, right?
Juicy chicken coated with crispy breading mixed with flavorful spices. SO DANG GOOD.
Dipping sauce is the cherry on top of the ice cream for these chicken tenders. Honey mustard, ketchup, barbecue sauce, ranch…whatever sauce your heart desires.
If you are a purist, or a sauce-hater (which my sauce-loving heart finds difficult to understand, but I do still want to be friends…), I am sure your indulgence in the lovely chicken tenders will be just as satisfying as it is for some of us sauce-lovers. Because, with all that great flavor and moistness in the protein, this Spicy Baked Chicken Tenders can hold itself up, sauce or no sauce, like nobody’s business.
It’s just pretty awesome like that.
So, my foodie friends, I am ending this post with a sense of accomplishment, because the recipe to an amazing BAKED chicken tenders is shared, and deliciousness, along with joy, is spread. My job here is done. Till our next food adventure, keep on creating… 🙂
Spicy Baked Chicken Tenders
Juicy, moist chicken tenders coated with crispy breading mixed with delicious spices. Omit ONE ingredient to make it non-spicy! Baked, not fried! And dangerously tasty!
- 8-10 pieces chicken tenderloins
- 1 cup breadcrumbs
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp cayenne powder
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- extra virgin olive oil
Pre-heat oven at 350 degrees F.
Pat dry and coat defrosted chicken tenderloins evenly with olive oil in a zip lock bag
Line baking sheet with aluminum foil and drizzle olive oil all over.
Combine breadcrumbs, smoked paprika, cayenne powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Omit cayenne powder if you like this non-spicy. Coat chicken tenderloins on both sides in breadcrumb mixture.
Place chicken tenderloins on baking sheet. Do not touch or overlap chicken tenderloins.
Bake for 15 minutes, then remove from oven, and flip chicken tenders over. Bake for another 15 minutes.
Remove from oven and serve with your choice of dipping sauce(s). Enjoy!