Was anyone else a chicken tender fanatic as a kid? I definitely was. They’re crispy, juicy, hot, and a delicious handheld entree. Plus, they go great with everything!
With this recipe, I wanted to capture all the nostalgia of the childhood favorite, but elevate it just a bit with the marinade. I let these soak overnight in a combination of Greek yogurt and lemon juice, along with a selection of seasonings and spices. The lemon juice and the yogurt both have acid that penetrates into the meat to make it tender and lets the flavor of the spices permeate the meat. Along with that, the yogurt provides fat to make the chicken extra juicy.
As a bonus, this marinade also helps minimize the time it takes to bread the chicken. Instead of going through the three-step breading process (flour, egg, and breadcrumbs), you can take the chicken straight from the marinade and put it directly into the breadcrumbs. I like using panko (Japanese breadcrumbs) because they provide a lighter texture while being perfectly crunchy and crispy.
Finally, these are oven-fried, which takes away a ton of the risk and the mess of frying. Instead of having to deal with pulling out your deepest pot, filling it with oil, and keeping it at the right temperature while avoiding splatters, you just have to put a little bit of butter into a baking dish before popping it in your oven. It doesn’t get much easier than that!
To serve, the possibilities are endless. You could go with the classic side of fries, or you could slice these up and use them in some other favorite recipes. If you need inspiration, keep an eye out in the days ahead! 😉
Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders
1 cup plain Greek yogurt
1/4 cup lemon juice
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp Italian seasonings
12 chicken tenders
1/2 cup butter, divided
3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
Whisk together first 6 ingredients, then toss the chicken tenders in the marinade. Pour into a plastic bag, squeeze out all the air, and let sit in the fridge overnight.
Preheat oven to 400F. Place a 9×13 baking dish in the middle of the oven, and let 1/4 cup butter melt in there as the oven comes up to temperature. Repeat with a second pan. Shake the excess yogurt off of the tenders, coat them in the panko, and place them the buttered dish, 6 tenders in one pan. Bake at 400 for 10 minutes; flip over the tenders, and bake for another 10-12 minutes. Your chicken should be fully cooked, but tender and juicy. Serve immediately.
Serves up to 4.