Pan-Fried Chicken Tenders

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.

Eight pan-fried chicken tenders piled on paper towels on a plate.

Adapted from Melissa BahenFarmhouse Weekends | Gibbs Smith, 2021

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

Eight pan-fried chicken tenders piled on paper towels on a plate.
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.
Melissa Bahen

Prep 25 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 45 mins
Entree
American
6 servings
421 kcal
5 / 2 votes
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Ingredients 

  • 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

Directions
 

  • 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.
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Notes

*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.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 421kcal (21%)Carbohydrates: 21g (7%)Protein: 45g (90%)Fat: 16g (25%)Saturated Fat: 9g (56%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 183mg (61%)Sodium: 1214mg (53%)Potassium: 775mg (22%)Fiber: 1g (4%)Sugar: 1g (1%)Vitamin A: 199IU (4%)Vitamin C: 5mg (6%)Calcium: 28mg (3%)Iron: 2mg (11%)

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.

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Wow! This was the best fried chicken I’ve ever made. With many other recipes I’ve tried, the batter did not cling to the chicken the way this batter did. The chicken was crunchy on the outside and tender in the middle. the spice combo was simple but still stood out in flavor. I give this recipe two thumbs up!

  2. My mom used to fry the best chicken (and we aren’t from the south). We raised our own fryers. But for the life of me, I can’t figure out how her chicken was so good, when she didn’t do any brining or battering. After she washed it, she just rolled it in seasoned flour and fried it in lard or sometimes Crisco and butter. But mostly lard saved from the butchering of hogs etc. I have tried to do it that way and it doesn’t work well for me, not like hers did. LOL

    1. Sometimes those memories are so cherished, it feels like we’ll never be able to recreate them, Holly. Perhaps this recipe will do the trick for you?

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