Pan-fried chicken tenders are an easy and tasty way to get dinner on the table in a hurry. Covered in a crisp batter, the toothsome filets of white meat beg to be dipped and devoured.
My mom has always made the best fried chicken in the whole world. It’s deliciously crispy on the outside, and juicy and tender on the inside. Everyone in my family loves it, and it gets requested often when my siblings come into town to visit, or when someone gets to choose their favorite dinner for their birthday. It’s a true family classic, and comfort food at its finest. While most fried chicken recipes seem like a huge undertaking, this pan-fried version is as simple and quick as they come—it’s ready in under 20 minutes! It’s perfect for those busy weeknights when you’re short on time, but still want to get something fresh, wholesome, and homemade on the table for your family. The chicken is coated in a light egg wash, dredged in a savory mixture of flour and spices, and pan-fried in olive oil, resulting in a quick, easy version of a comfort food classic.–Melissa Bahen
Pan-Fried Chicken Tenders
- Mild vegetable oil
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons paprika hot, smoked, or regular
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 1/2 to 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast tenders*
- Dipping Sauces, such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, spicy bourbon maple syrup, or other desired dip
- Into a large, nonstick skillet, pour enough oil to cover the entire bottom of the pan. Set over medium heat.
- In a shallow dish or pie plate, whisk the eggs and water together until well combined.
- In a medium container with a tight-fitting lid or in a large re-sealable plastic bag, combine the flour, paprika, onion and garlic powders, salt, and pepper.
- Working in batches, coat the chicken tenders in the egg mixture, shake off any excess egg mixture, then place in the container or bag of seasoned flour. Tightly close the container or seal the bag, and shake gently to thoroughly coat the chicken tenders with flour.
- Working in batches, if necessary, place the coated chicken tenders in the skillet, and cook until golden on the bottom, 6 to 7 minutes. Flip the chicken tenders over, and continue to cook until golden on the other side, 4 to 6 minutes more. If you have a reliable food thermometer, the temperature of the chicken should be 170°F (77°C) when it is cooked all the way through.
- Use tongs to carefully remove the fried chicken from the pan, place on a plate or serving platter lined with paper towels, and serve hot, with your favorite dipping sauce.
*WHAT EXACTLY ARE CHICKEN TENDERS?You could, obviously, take a couple of chicken breasts and thinly slice them. You know, so they look like chicken strips. But if you’ve ever bought boneless breasts, then you’ve probably seen filets. Also know as tenders, these are the strips of meat that connect the breast to the breastbone. They’re the perfect size for this recipe, as well as being, well…rather tender.
Recipe Testers' Reviews
These pan-fried chicken tenders are really flavorful and crispy – they didn’t have that dense greasiness that so many chicken tenders embody. I was hugely impressed.
My kid? You’d have thought he won the lottery. He pronounced them a “Gabazillion out of 10” and was doing his happy bacon dance with a tender in each hand. These are terrific with ranch, and also ketchup/mayo magic sauce, as we call it in this house. High praise from everyone in the family makes these a winner!
When your better half says “You better make these again,” you know it’s a good recipe. I used a few boneless chicken breasts that I cut into strips. As I fried them, I used my instant-read thermometer to keep an eye on the internal temp. I turned them over after 2-3 minutes per side, and removed them when they hit 160°F, as I knew they would continue cooking as they rested. The result is wonderfully moist pan-fried chicken tenders. We served them with some Dijon mustard and a bit of ranch dressing for dipping. A couple of baked potatoes and roasted Brussels rounded out the dish!
Originally published April 6, 2021.