Chicken tenders seems like one of those basic menu staples, beloved by all ages, that I should have mastered by now. But I haven’t mastered them, because I have this erroneous idea that they’re hard to make, or that I have to I have to cook them in a vat of hot oil. And I tend to avoid vats of hot oil.
So when Lindsey told me about her super easy chicken tender technique — she encrusts them with crushed almonds and bakes them in the oven — my ears perked up and I asked her to share.
This recipe would definitely work well as an easy weeknight meal, but I thought it would be especially fun for upcoming game day festivities!
You’re going to LOVE this recipe! Come see how quickly these come together.
Here’s what Lindsey says:
Game Day is all about the food. Am I right? I know it can also be fun to actually watch the big game, but I am hands down more excited about the menu!
I’m sharing a super easy recipe for homemade chicken tenders that is going to rock your snack table. You only need a few simple ingredients, and I’ve included tips for super easy dipping sauces too. I promise this is going to be one of your go-to recipes for football season and beyond.
Like I said, you only need a few ingredients: chicken tenders, eggs, flour, and ground Blue Diamond Almonds. That’s it! Normally chicken tenders are breaded and deep fried, but not these! The almonds add so much flavor and make the perfect “breading” for the chicken tenders. And they’re baked, not fried. We’re talking mega deliciousness here.
Let’s get too it!
First, the almonds need to be finely chopped in a food processor. A blender can work in a pinch too. The trick when grinding the almonds is not to go too far or you’ll end up with almond butter. I use the pulse function to get them to the right texture. I prefer a medium-fine grind that adds a crisp coating for the chicken.
And now we set up our “assembly line.”
A small note: the flour is lightly seasoned so the chicken has flavor on every level up to the breading. The flour’s main purpose is to give the eggs something to stick to, or they’d just slide right off. Then the eggs help the ground almonds adhere to the chicken tenders. Those three things work together to create a nice crust that seals in the juices for tender tenders. (Ha!)
So, start with dredging the tenders in flour, then move them to the bowl with lightly beaten eggs, then to the ground almonds, and onto the baking sheet. (I always use parchment paper for easy clean-up and even baking.)
The don’t need a long time in the oven, between 15-20 minutes for the tenders to cook through and the crust to become extra toasty and crisp. You’ll know when the chicken tenders are done because the smell will be amazing — toasty and nutty. Mmm!
And for dipping? A really delicious and very simple dipping sauce is made from all-fruit or low-sugar apricot jam and Dijon mustard. The recipe is included below. Just stir it together and it tastes a little fancy and a little rustic at the same time. But you can use any favorite dipping sauce you like.
Homemade Chicken Tenders
2 cups almonds (any salted or savory variety will do well)
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon each: garlic powder and paprika
Fresh ground black pepper
1 to 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders
1/2 to 3/4 cup dipping sauce, your favorite (see below for suggestions)
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or lightly grease.
2. Place the almonds into the bowl of a food processor. Pulse until almonds are finely chopped. Check to make sure the food processor isn’t grinding the almonds into nut butter. Set aside.
3. In a shallow dish, combine the flour with the salt, garlic powder, paprika, and freshly ground black pepper. In assembly line fashion, set up the chicken tenders, seasoned flour, beaten eggs, ground almonds, and prepared baking sheet.
4. Working with one or two at a time, dip the tenders into the seasoned flour, then the egg, and last the ground almonds. Place on the baking sheet. Repeat until all of the tenders are coated in the almonds.
5. Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through and the almond crust is golden brown. (They will smell nice and toasty too!)
6. Remove the tenders from the oven and transfer to a serving platter. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
Dipping sauce suggestions:
– BBQ sauce
– Ranch dip
– Apricot Mustard (recipe below)
– Spicy ketchup (ketchup plus a good spoonful of Sriracha)
– Garlic aioli
– Marinara sauce
– Buffalo wing sauce
Apricot Mustard Dipping Sauce
1/4 cup all-fruit or low-sugar apricot jam
2 heaping tablespoons Dijon mustard
Whisk together and transfer to a serving bowl.
These look amazing, Lindsey! Thank you. And I’m totally into the idea of the dijon-apricot dipping sauce. I love that it’s only two ingredients but sounds pretty dang sophisticated. Tell me, Friends, do you ever make homemade chicken tenders? And will you be hosting anyone for game day this year?
Credits: Images, styling & recipe by Lindsey Johnson.