Even though I try really hard to expose my kids to a wide variety of foods, I have to admit that they still love that staple of the children’s menu: chicken tenders. There have been times I’ve served microwaved frozen chicken nuggets, which they happily eat, dipped in ketchup, but I don’t really feel good about it. I’m not really sure what’s in them, and they’re salty but bland.
It turns out that it’s easy to make flavorful breaded chicken tenders at home, where you control the ingredients and the quality. Sure, it takes a little more time than two minutes in the microwave, but not much. A nonstick baking sheet is your friend here, saving you time, mess and calories over frying. The chicken browns nicely on the bottom without gluing itself to the pan. Clean up is easy, too!
I like to make these chicken strips more interesting by varying the seasoning. When they’re flavored with taco seasoning and a little cheddar cheese to meld it all together, serve them with salsa or guacamole. Or you can make them with Parmesan and Italian herbs, and dip them in warm marinara. Either way, these are chicken tenders that deserve a place off the kid’s menu and on your dinner table. Make an extra large batch and you’ll have something for lunch boxes tomorrow!
Easy Cheesy Baked Chicken Tenders
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 pound of chicken breast tenders, or chicken breast sliced into strips
2 cups panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. flour
1 cup finely shredded cheese
Seasoning of your choice: Taco (½ tsp.cumin, ¼ tsp. chili powder, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper) or Italian (2 tsp. Italian seasoning or mixed herbs, ½ tsp. salt, ¼ tsp. pepper)
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Brush a nonstick baking sheet with olive oil.
Mix the panko, flour, cheese, and seasoning in a gallon zip-top plastic bag. Dip each chicken strip in water and drop into the bag. Seal tightly and shake until all the strips are coated. Arrange chicken strips on baking sheet and press any extra breading mix onto the tops of the chicken.
Bake for 20-30 minutes, or until the strips are golden brown and the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.
Melissa Jerves writes about food, family and 21st century home economics on her blog, Home Baked.