These Delicious Skillet Chicken Tenders Are Perfect for You


This is how you make the best chicken tenders in a skillet with your favorite seasoning for a healthy entree or delicious protein for salad.

Perfect chicken tenders with blackened seasoning

Chicken tenders are quick, easy & delicious.

Nothing is quicker or easier than chicken tenders. They are super easy to make for an entree with vegetable sides or to put on top of a salad. I often meal prep at the beginning of the week by making chicken tenders and boiled eggs to use for salads during the week. Chicken tenders stay fresh in the fridge for 2-3 days and are perfect to pack for school or work.

Are chicken tenders good for you?

With an abundance of nutritional benefits, fried chicken tenders serve as a remarkable source of essential nutrients. They are rich in selenium, niacin, vitamin B6, and phosphorus, delivering more than 40% of your daily value as established by the FDA.

What cut of chicken is chicken tenders?

Chicken tenders, also referred to as chicken fingers, chicken goujons, chicken strips, or chicken fillets, are made from either the whole or half of the deboned chicken breast. They are derived from the pectoralis minor muscles, which are situated on both sides of the breastbone, beneath the breast meat (pectoralis major). These white meat strips offer a tender and flavorful culinary option.

Is chicken tenderloin the same as breast?

The two bear notable similarities, often leading to confusion between them, but they possess distinct characteristics. While the chicken tenderloin shares proximity with the chicken breast, it is not synonymous with it. Functioning as a slender muscle, the tenderloin accompanies the chicken breast, contributing to the confusion arising from their attachment.

Is chicken better in a skillet or the oven?

By far, the simplest and most flavorful method for cooking boneless and skinless chicken breast is to use a hot cast iron pan. Compared to baking in the oven or poaching in water, this technique significantly reduces the risk of overcooking the chicken breast. It allows for better control and ensures a delicious outcome.

What is the best way to cook chicken tenders?

Chicken tenders are one of the easiest forms of chicken to cook quickly and easily. They are perfect for healthy diets, as they are pan-fried or seared in a small amount of oil but still get a huge flavor from the seasoning.  Once you sear the chicken tenders on both sides, you can finish one of two ways. First, you can put a lid on the skillet and keep them covered until the internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees. Second, you can put the skillet in a 350-degree oven to finish cooking to the same internal temp. I like the first method, as it yields more moist chicken since the lid encases the tenders with a bit of moisture. If you want a crust that is dry and crisper, the oven option (no lid) is best.

Why are my chicken tenders rubbery?

When chicken becomes rubbery, it is often a sign of overcooking. As chicken cooks for an extended period, it gradually loses moisture. In the absence of moisture, the protein fibers within the chicken become elastic, resulting in a rubbery texture.

How do you make chicken tenders flavorful?

Boneless, skinless chicken tenders definitely need something to make them flavorful. There are two ways that you can get flavor infused into otherwise bland chicken tenders. First, the high-quality extra virgin olive oil used in the pan with high heat will impart a healthy, flavorful fat. When the seasoned tenders hit the pan and hot oil, magic happens. The heat, fat, and salt/seasonings form a yummy golden crust that encases the chicken and allows the inside to be tender. 

Are chicken tenders fatty?

Chicken tenderloins are usually exceptionally lean, exhibiting minimal visible fat on their exterior surface. However, you may notice a thin white line running along them, which should be removed before cooking. Tenderloins are renowned for their tenderness, making them the most delicate portion of the chicken. Additionally, they boast a high protein content.

Can you substitute chicken tenderloins for breasts?

Feel free to experiment with mixing, matching, and swapping ingredients as you please. However, it’s important to note that when substituting ingredients, you’ll need to make corresponding adjustments to the baking time, marinating time, frying time, and overall cooking time as well.

Are chicken nuggets and tenders the same?

Breaded and fried chicken pieces can vary in composition. Classic chicken tenders are typically crafted from the tender part of the chicken breast, whereas nuggets are predominantly made from processed ground chicken meat, including both breast and thigh meat. This mixture is then formed into nuggets, dino shapes, and sometimes even rings. It’s important to note the distinction in the ingredients used for these different types of chicken pieces.

Can you marinate chicken tenders for too long?

Typically, recipes for marinating meat and poultry suggest a marinating time of six to 24 hours. It is generally safe to keep the food in the marinade for a longer period, but it’s important to note that after around two days, the marinade may begin to break down the meat fibers, resulting in a mushy texture.

How do you keep chicken tenders moist?

Once the tenders get a flavorful crust, covering the skillet with a lid will finish cooking them with a gentle heat that has just enough moisture to cook without drying. The skillet is off of the heat but still traps enough heat under the lid to continue cooking until the meat reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 F.

How do you tenderize chicken tenders?

One of the most effective do-it-yourself techniques to tenderize chicken prior to cooking is by pounding it. By applying pressure, the fibers in the chicken are broken down, resulting in quicker and more even cooking. It is essential to cover or wrap the chicken using plastic wrap or a sealable bag for this process.

How do you keep chicken tenders from drying out?

A simple yet effective technique involves using a spoon or spatula to scoop up hot oil or butter from the pan and drizzle it over the meat while cooking. This method aids in distributing the fat and juices, preserving moisture during the cooking process, intensifying the flavor, and achieving a more uniform cook throughout the meat.

What makes chicken tenders chewy?

When chicken is undercooked, it hasn’t been cooked sufficiently to fully break down the connective tissue, resulting in a rubbery and chewy texture. On the other hand, overcooked chicken, even if it retains some moisture, can be chewy due to the denatured proteins present in the meat.

Do chicken tenders have skin?

Tender cut chicken refers to solid meat without any skin or bone, which contributes to its higher price point. Breast tenders, in particular, are not only valued for their tenderness but also for their nutritional value. They offer a nutritious option, made from lean white meat with minimal fat. Furthermore, due to the absence of skin, breast tenders tend to have fewer calories compared to skin-on alternatives.

Why are my chicken tenders always dry?

The most reliable way to determine if chicken is cooked properly is by checking its temperature. Occasionally, fully cooked chicken can still exhibit a slight pinkish color. However, it’s crucial to avoid overcooking by continuing to cook it beyond 165°F (74°C) as the meat will likely become dry. Therefore, using a thermometer to measure the internal temperature remains the best indicator of doneness.

Can I use butter to cook chicken fingers?

Absolutely! In fact, my preferred blackening method includes butter. I dip the chicken in butter before dredging in the blackened seasoning. Then I finish the tenders in a skillet with a tad of EVOO. This is not necessary; it just tastes great! For most of my chicken tenders, I use the EVOO spray as a healthier option.

How does salt tenderize chicken?

A dry brine utilizes the process of osmosis. By salting the meat in advance, moisture is drawn out from the meat. This released moisture subsequently interacts with the salt, resulting in its breakdown and reabsorption into the protein. This not only adds flavor to the meat but also contributes to tenderizing it, enhancing its overall texture and taste.



What are the best seasonings for chicken tenders?

The sky is the limit when choosing seasonings for chicken tenders! There are so many options~both homemade and store-bought. Below, I share my recipe for homemade blackened seasoning.  I also took a photo of some of my favorite seasonings for skillet tenders. Although I did not include them in the photo, I often use Dak’s spices along with my regular seasonings to reduce the sodium.  You can read about Dak’s in my post~My Pick for the Best No-Salt Seasoning Ever.

seasoning for chicken tenders
Some of my fave seasonings for chicken tenders.

What is the best skillet to use for cooking chicken tenders?

I link to several skillet options that I recommend. My picks include cast iron,  traditional non-stick, ceramic non-stick, and carbon steel options. I based my choices on recommendations from Cook’s Illustrated equipment reviews and my personal preference. Since this technique calls for using a lid or covering the skillet during the last part of cooking, I link to lids for some skillets that sell them separately

How else can you cook chicken in a skillet?

A skillet is my most often used method for cooking chicken~whether it be tenders, thighs, or a whole bird. Below are links to my favorite chicken recipes cooked in a skillet.

How I cook chicken breasts for white meat

If you want a lot of white meat for dishes like casseroles, chicken salad, soups, or stews, chicken tenders would be quite expensive. In my blog post, How to easily cook perfect all white meat chicken in the oven, I share the simple, inexpensive method that I love! You can also watch how I do breasts in the video below.

I hope you found this helpful! I love feedback, so feel free to leave comments below. As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!!

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As always, thanks so much for stopping by. Be blessed, and stay savvy!!!


Chicken Tenders in a Skillet

Yield: 8
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Chicken tenders have never tasted so yummy!


  • 8-10 chicken tenders (fresh or frozen) uncooked and no breading
  • 2 TB extra virgin olive oil (for skillet)
  • EVOO spray or butter (to coat tenders before adding seasoning)
  • 2-3 TB seasoning (or to taste)
  • Blackened Seasoning
  • 2 TB paprika
  • 1 TB smoked paprika
  • 1 TB onion powder
  • 1 TB garlic powder
  • 1 TB cayenne pepper
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground thyme
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1 tsp black pepper


  1. Place EVOO in skillet.
  2. Spray or brush tenders with EVOO. *
  3. Sprinkle seasoning generously on all sides.
  4. Allow tenders to sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  5. Heat skillet until hot (high).
  6. Place tenders on skillet; allow to sit untouched for 4-5 minutes or until golden crust forms.
  7. Turn tenders; cook 2-3 minutes.
  8. Turn off heat; place lid or cover on the skillet.
  9. Allow tenders to sit for 10 minutes. For larger tenders, wait 30 minutes to allow more time to cook.
  10. Check the internal temp of tenders; make sure it is 165 F or higher.
  11. Serve tenders with sauce as an entree or as topper for a salad.


* I spray my fish and chicken with Trader Joe's extra virgin olive oil spray. You could also brush the tenders with butter. Just put something on it to add fat that will keep the seasoning on the surface of the meat.

Nutrition Information
Yield 10 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 327Total Fat 29gSaturated Fat 14gTrans Fat 1gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 73mgSodium 523mgCarbohydrates 9gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 8g

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  1. Oh no!! I hate they didn’t turn out. Although recipes are usually “accurate,” I always recommend watching the food and timing as you see things begin to cook.

  2. Hi Jill! It truly is one of the easiest entrees ever~and so full of flavor and protein!!! I love having creative ways to serve chicken. XoXo

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