Food & Drink

July 21, 2014

Chicken tenders: From the mouths of babes to the family dinner table

Chicken tenders may be the most ordered dish for children when eating out. Now, this isn't a scientific study I've done, but one look around family restaurants and I see a lot of kids in booster seats with chicken tenders in their fists. And mouths.

Forget the silverware, this is basic finger food for youngsters. And they like it!

Trouble is, I think adults are missing out on the fun the kids are having -- using utensils, of course. We just need to find some recipes that suit grown-up palates.

Betty Crocker and thesaltykitchen.blogspot.com to the rescue. Here you will find seven chicken tender recipes the whole family can enjoy.

If you want extra convenience, buy a bag of frozen tenders, but check the label for ingredients. Some can contain sodium and other preservatives.

If you'd rather go the chicken breast route, three boneless, skinless breasts (about a pound) can be cut across grain into 8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices. Voila, you've got tenders.

And if you aren't convinced to try this dish at home, here are a couple other nudges: These will be on the table in less than 30 minutes, they require not much more than an oven pan, bowl and plastic bag to prepare and make excellent leftovers, hot or cold.

Experiment with a couple recipes at a time; they're that simple. That way, the family can taste-test to find their favorites.

Note: Many of the recipes call for Panko bread crumbs, which are Japanese-style bread crumbs that are bigger and crispier than regular bread crumbs. You'll find them in the same aisle.

Parmesan Garlic and Herb Chicken Tenders

1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise

1 tablespoon dried Italian herbs

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 cup plain Panko crispy bread crumbs

1/2 cup finely shredded Parmesan cheese

1 package (14 ounces) uncooked chicken tenders (not breaded)

Tomato pasta sauce, if desired

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray.

In shallow bowl, mix mayonnaise, herbs and garlic powder.

In a large resealable food-storage plastic bag, place bread crumbs and cheese.

Coat chicken with mayonnaise mixture. Place in bread crumb bag; seal and shake to coat.

Place chicken on cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center and bread crumbs are golden brown. Serve with tomato pasta sauce for dipping. Makes 4 servings.

Cheddar-Bacon Chicken Tenders

1 egg

1/2 cup plain panko crispy bread crumbs

1/2 cup finely shredded Cheddar cheese (2 ounces)

1 package or jar (3 ounces) cooked real bacon bits or pieces

1 package (14 ounces) uncooked chicken tenders (not breaded)

Chives and sour cream, if desired.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray.

In shallow bowl, beat egg.

In large resealable food-storage plastic bag, place bread crumbs, cheese and bacon.

Dip chicken into egg. Place in bread crumb bag; seal and shake to coat.

Place chicken on cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center and bread crumbs are golden brown. Serve with toppings. Makes 4 servings.

Asian Chicken Tenders with Zesty Lemon Sauce

3 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)

2 tablespoons soy sauce

1 tablespoon honey

1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1 cup Panko crispy bread crumbs

1/2 cup sweet-and-sour sauce

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon peel

Cut each chicken breast across grain into 8 (1/2-inch-thick) slices.

In medium bowl, mix soy sauce, honey, ginger and garlic powder. Add chicken; stir gently until coated. Let stand 20 minutes to marinate.

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a 15-by-10-by-1-inch pan with foil; spray foil with cooking spray.

Place bread crumbs in shallow dish.

Drain off any remaining soy sauce mixture from chicken. Toss chicken pieces in bread crumbs to coat; arrange in single layer in pan.

Bake 5 minutes. Turn chicken; bake 5 to 7 minutes longer, or until golden brown and crisp.

In small bowl, stir together sweet-and-sour sauce and lemon peel. Serve chicken with sauce for dipping. Makes 24 tenders.

Tips: Serve the tenders on wooden skewers so they're easy to pick up.

Honey Sriracha Chicken Tenders

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup Sriracha sauce*

1 cup plain Panko crispy bread crumbs

1 package (14 ounces) uncooked chicken tenders (not breaded)

Additional Sriracha sauce

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray.

In small bowl, mix honey and 1/4 cup Sriracha sauce.

In large resealable food-storage plastic bag, place bread crumbs.

Coat chicken with Sriracha mixture. Place in bread crumb bag; seal and shake to coat.

Place chicken on cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center and bread crumbs are golden brown. Serve with additional Sriracha sauce. Makes 4 servings.

*Sriracha sauce, from Thailand, is made from sun ripened chiles, garlic, sugar and vinegar. It is spicy hot, but a great accompaniment with all kinds of dishes.

Ranch Chicken Tenders

1/3 cup ranch dressing

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil leaves

1 cup plain panko crispy bread crumbs

1 package (14 ounces) uncooked chicken tenders (not breaded)

Additional ranch dressing

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray.

In small bowl, mix 1/3 cup ranch dressing and the basil.

In large resealable food-storage plastic bag, place bread crumbs. Dip chicken into ranch dressing mixture. Place chicken in bread crumb bag; seal and shake to coat.

Place chicken on cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center and bread crumbs are golden brown. Serve with additional ranch dressing. Makes 4 servings.

Smoky Barbecue Chicken Tenders

1/2 cup smoky barbecue sauce

1 cup plain panko crispy bread crumbs

1 package (14 ounces) uncooked chicken tenders (not breaded)

Additional barbecue sauce, if desired

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray.

In shallow bowl, place 1/2 cup barbecue sauce.

In large resealable food-storage plastic bag, place bread crumbs.

Dip chicken into barbecue sauce. Place in bread crumb bag; seal and shake to coat.

Place chicken on cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center and bread crumbs are golden brown. Serve with additional barbecue sauce. Makes 4 servings.

Honey Brown Sugar Chicken Tenders

1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar

1/4 cup honey

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 cup plain panko crispy bread crumbs

1 package (14 oz) uncooked chicken tenders (not breaded)

1/4 cup honey

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spray large cookie sheet with cooking spray.

In medium bowl, mix brown sugar, honey and salt.

In large resealable food-storage plastic bag, place bread crumbs.

Dip chicken into brown sugar mixture. Place in bread crumb bag; seal and shake to coat.

Place chicken on cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 20 minutes, turning once, until chicken is no longer pink in center and bread crumbs are golden brown. Serve with honey. Makes 4 servings.

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