Healthy, Homemade Chicken Tenders, 4 Ways

Kids and kids-at-heart can’t resist crispy, crunchy chicken tenders, with lots of yummy sauces for dipping and dunking. But skip the ones that come from those greasy chicken joints, which come with a side of crazy calories and saturated fat, and make your own at home instead. It’s so healthy and easy—just pop a sheet pan into the oven. And you can make them even more nutritious if you get creative with the coating, experimenting with whole-wheat breadcrumbs, nuts, seeds, and even quinoa.

Here are four variations for healthy, homemade chicken tenders. Whichever version you choose, don’t forget to whip up a dip.

Hungry for more? Check out this family-friendly meal plan, with a week of healthy dinner ideas to bring everyone running to the table.

Baked Chicken Tenders with Whole-Wheat Crumbs & Granch

Olive oil cooking spray
1 lb (500 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
1½ cups (2½ oz/75 g) whole-wheat breadcrumbs, preferably panko
Greek Yogurt Ranch for dipping

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Spray a large baking sheet with olive oil. Slice the chicken into long strips about ½ inch (12 mm) thick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Crack the eggs into a shallow bowl and whisk with a fork. Pour the breadcrumbs onto a plate. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dip in the beaten eggs, letting any excess drip back in the bowl. Coat with the breadcrumbs, pressing gently to help them stick. Repeat with all of the chicken, placing the coated pieces on the baking sheet. Spray over the top with olive oil. Bake until the breadcrumbs are golden and the chicken is firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm with the dipping sauce on the side.

252 calories, 33 g protein, 7 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 13 g carbs, 2 g fiber, 3 g total sugars, 2 g added sugars, 246 mg sodium

Baked Chicken Tenders with Flax Seeds & Green Goddess Dressing

Olive oil cooking spray
1 lb (500 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
1 cup (1½ oz/45 g) whole-wheat breadcrumbs, preferably panko
½ cup (4 oz/125 g) flax seeds
Green Goddess Dressing for dipping

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Spray a large baking sheet with olive oil. Slice the chicken into long strips about ½ inch (12 mm) thick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Crack the eggs into a shallow bowl and whisk with a fork. Pour the breadcrumbs and flax seeds onto a plate and stir to combine. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dip in the beaten eggs, letting any excess drip back in the bowl. Coat with the breadcrumbs and flax seeds, pressing gently to help them stick. Repeat with all of the chicken, placing the coated pieces on the baking sheet. Spray over the top with olive oil. Bake until the breadcrumbs are golden, the seeds are toasty, and the chicken is firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm with the dipping sauce on the side.

321 calories, 34 g protein, 14 g total fat, 3 g saturated fat, 13 g carbs, 4 g fiber, 2 g total sugars, 1 g added sugars, 196 mg sodium

Baked Chicken Tenders with Sesame Seeds & Sweet Chili Sauce

Olive oil cooking spray
1 lb (500 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 tablespoons (1 oz/30 g) miso paste
¼ cup (2 fl oz/60 ml) mirin
1 cup (1½ oz/45 g) whole-wheat breadcrumbs, preferably panko
½ cup (4 oz/125 g) sesame seeds, white, black, or a combo
Sweet chili sauce for dipping*

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Spray a large baking sheet with olive oil. Slice the chicken into long strips about ½ inch (12 mm) thick. In a large bowl, combine the miso and mirin and whisk to combine. Add the chicken strips and turn to coat. Pour the breadcrumbs and sesame seeds onto a plate and stir to combine. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, lift from the miso mixture, letting any excess drip back in the bowl. Coat with the breadcrumbs and sesame seeds, pressing gently to help them stick. Repeat with all of the chicken, placing the coated pieces on the baking sheet. Spray over the top with olive oil. Bake until the seeds are toasty and the chicken is firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm with the dipping sauce on the side.

344 calories, 30 g protein, 10 g total fat, 2 g saturated fat, 34 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 16 g total sugars, 15 g added sugars, 745 mg sodium

*Shopping tip: Sweet chili sauce contains some sugar, so compare labels and go with the lowest option.

Baked Chicken Tenders with Crispy Quinoa & Spicy Peanut Sauce

1 cup (6 oz/185 g) cooked quinoa
⅓ cup (1½ oz/45 g) shredded coconut, unsweetened
Olive oil cooking spray
1 lb (500 g) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Salt and freshly ground pepper
2 large eggs
Spicy Peanut Sauce for dipping

Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Spread the quinoa and coconut on a baking sheet, and toast until fragrant, about 10 minutes. Spray another large baking sheet with olive oil. Slice the chicken into long strips about ½ inch (12 mm) thick. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Crack the eggs into a shallow bowl and whisk with a fork. Pour the toasted quinoa and coconut onto a plate and stir to combine. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, dip in the beaten eggs, letting any excess drip back in the bowl. Coat with the quinoa mixture, pressing gently to help it stick. Repeat with all of the chicken, placing the coated pieces on the baking sheet. Spray over the top with olive oil. Bake until the quinoa is golden and the chicken is firm, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve warm with the dipping sauce on the side.

346 calories, 36 g protein, 18 g total fat, 6 g saturated fat, 15 g carbs, 3 g fiber, 4 g total sugars, 1 g added sugars, 446 mg sodium

Each variation makes 4 servings

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