This easy healthy recipe for Homemade Chicken Tenders (or Chicken Fingers) is always such a hit when I make it!
This recipe hits all of the notes of a perfect homemade chicken tender: satisfying crunch, great flavour, and juicy yet fully cooked chicken. You’ll never want over-salted, dry boxed chicken fingers again!
The active time for this recipe is pretty quick, about 5 minutes, but for the best results you want to marinate your chicken for a few hours (or overnight) in some buttermilk. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can use a mixture of 3/4 cup milk and 1/4 cup vinegar, or use yogurt.
I love first marinating chicken breasts in a salt water brine for a few hours, and then switching to marinating them in milk, but I sometimes only have time to marinate once. I also love adding a couple dashes of hot sauce to the brine – but we are admittedly addicted to all forms of hot sauce in this house. (Your chicken will still taste great if you skip the hot sauce.)
Marinating in dairy products with a bit of acid helps tenderize the meat, but also helps with ensuring that your homemade chicken tenders are wonderfully juicy.
For the coating, I like to do a double coating to get that amazing crunch. First, a flour and spice coating, then a breadcrumb and spice coating – the breadcrumb coating is definitely the most important. (We like Panko breadcrumbs and it’s what a lot of top chefs use, as well.)
We typically use paprika, mustard powder, salt, and pepper to season our coatings, but we’ve also enjoyed oregano, rosemary, thyme, garam masala, and sumac (not all at the same time).
Dip your chicken strips first into the egg mixture, then the flour mixture, then back into the egg mixture, and finally into the breadcrumbs mixture before placing it carefully on the lined baking tray. Make sure to spread them out and not overcrowd the chicken when cooking.
Bake for 10-15 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. (Eventually you will be able to tell when the chicken is fully cooked by just looking at your meat, but you can use a meat thermometer or cut into one of the homemade chicken tenders to check.) You can flip the chicken tenders halfway through, but I’m always too distracted with the other side dishes or cleaning off the kitchen table to bother.
- 4 chicken breasts, cut into strips
- 1 cup milk
- 2 eggs
- 1 Tablespoon mustard
- 1/2 cup flour
- 3/4 cup breadcrumbs (preferably Panko)
- 4 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoon mustard powder
- Salt and Pepper
- Marinate your chicken breasts overnight in milk.
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Mix the eggs with a tablespoon of your favourite mustard. Set aside.
- Mix the flour with half of the spices (2 tsp paprika, 1 tsp mustard powder, and salt and pepper) and the breadcrumbs in a separate bowl with the remaining half.
- Dip the chicken strips first into the egg mixture, then the flour mixture, then the egg mixture again, and finally a final coat of the breadcrumbs.
- Place the chicken strips carefully on a lined baking tray, space them out a bit, and cook 10-12 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.
- Serve alongside the same mustard that you used in the egg mixture, plum sauce, or honey.