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Panko Chicken Tenders Recipe

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Crispy oven-baked panko chicken tenders are a real crowd-pleaser and they’re packed with flavor. This recipe is easy to make, uses simple ingredients, and the result is absolutely delicious.

Panko Chicken Tenders

Every time I make these crispy panko chicken tenders, I remember why they’re a favorite in my household. The crunch of the golden-brown crust, the tender and juicy chicken inside, and the perfect blend of flavors make these tenders absolutely delicious.

I love that they’re easy to make and use simple ingredients, but the result is a dish that feels gourmet. Whether it’s a family dinner or a casual get-together, these chicken tenders are always a hit!

Trust me, once you taste these chicken tenders, you’ll never want to go back to the store-bought ones. They’re that good!

While you’re here, be sure to check out our garlic butter chicken tenderloins. This 15-minute recipe is delicious, easy to make, and has tons of 5-star reviews.

Ingredients

Flour: All-purpose flour is the best base for the coating for these chicken tenders. It creates a dry surface on the chicken, allowing the other ingredients to adhere better, and it contributes to the overall structure and texture of the coating.

Buttermilk: Buttermilk is a key ingredient in this recipe. It tenderizes the chicken and adds a tangy flavor that perfectly complements the other ingredients. I recommend using full-fat buttermilk for the best results.

Eggs: Eggs are the binding agent in this recipe, enabling the breadcrumb mixture to stick to the chicken. 

Dijon Mustard: Dijon mustard gives a subtle tangy flavor to the chicken tenders, adding an extra layer of depth to the taste.

Hot Sauce: A good hot sauce lends a bit of fiery kick to the chicken. Frank’s RedHot is a great choice because it has a nice balance of heat and flavor.

Panko Breadcrumbs: These Japanese breadcrumbs are coarser than regular breadcrumbs, resulting in a crunchier, more textured coating.

Parmesan Cheese: Freshly grated Parmesan cheese adds a savory and umami flavor to the chicken tenders.

Spice Blend: The blend of garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, dried parsley, black pepper, and sea salt adds tons of flavor to the chicken.

Cooking Oil Spray: A light spritz of cooking oil helps the chicken achieve a beautiful golden brown color in the oven.

The labeled ingredients for panko chicken tenders.

Alternative Ingredients

If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, don’t worry! You can easily substitute it with a mixture of milk and lemon juice or vinegar. Just combine 1/4 cup milk with a scant teaspoon of lemon juice or white vinegar and let it rest for 5 minutes before mixing it with the other ingredients.

How To Make Panko Chicken Tenders

Prepare the Breading Station: Start by setting up three shallow dishes. Add the all-purpose flour to the first dish. In the second dish, combine the buttermilk, eggs, Dijon mustard, and hot sauce, whisking until well mixed. In the third dish, mix together the panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, and all the spices. (See the recipe card below for the full printable instructions.)

Adding eggs, buttermilk, hot sauce and dijon mustard to a shallow bowl and thoroughly beating until incorporated.

Bread the Chicken: Begin by coating each chicken tender in the flour, shaking off any excess. Next, dip the floured chicken into the buttermilk mixture, ensuring each piece is evenly coated. Lastly, press the chicken into the panko mixture, making sure it is fully covered. Press down gently to make sure the breadcrumbs adhere to the chicken.

Setting up the dredging station then coating each tender.

Prepare the Baking Sheet: Arrange the breaded chicken tenders on a wire rack set over a baking sheet, ensuring there is space between each tender.

Set the Breading: Allow the breaded chicken to rest for about 10 minutes. This helps set the breading and makes it stick better to the chicken.

Ready for Baking: Lightly spray the chicken tenders with cooking oil. This will help them achieve a beautiful golden brown color in the oven. 

Bake: Place the baking sheet in the preheated oven and bake until the chicken tenders reach an internal temperature of 165F and the breading is golden and crispy.

Placing the coated tenders on a wire rack and spraying each tender with cooking oil and then baking in an oven until golden brown.

Serve: Allow the baked chicken tenders to rest for a couple of minutes before serving. Enjoy these with your favorite dipping sauce, like honey mustard, ranch, or barbecue sauce. See the recipe card below for the full written instructions, including ingredient amounts, and helpful tips, etc.

Pro Tips

  • Let your breaded chicken rest for a few minutes before baking. This allows the breading to set and stick better to the chicken.
  • Don’t overcrowd your baking sheet. Keeping space between the chicken tenders ensures they cook evenly and get nice and crispy.
  • Always check the internal temperature of your chicken. It should read 165°F on an instant read meat thermometer. Tenders overcook quickly though, so it’s important to check it to make sure it’s not overcooking.
A delicious spread of freshly baked chicken tenders garnished with fresh parsley.

Why Do You Put Flour Before Panko?

Flour acts as a primer in the breading process. It creates a dry surface on the chicken, helping the wet ingredients (like the buttermilk and egg mixture) adhere better. The flour also forms a sort of glue when it comes into contact with these wet ingredients, allowing the final layer of panko breadcrumbs to stick effectively. 

Can I Use Panko Without Flour?

Yes! You can skip the flour and use just the egg and panko for a lighter, but still crispy and flavorful, coating. However, keep in mind that the flour does help the breadcrumbs stick better to the chicken, so without it, you might have a slightly less uniform crust.

A side image of a stack of chicken tenders on top of a wooden table.

Do You Need Eggs for Panko?

Eggs serve as the binding agent in the breading process, helping the panko breadcrumbs stick to the chicken. If you’re out of eggs or prefer not to use them, you can substitute with mayonnaise.

How Do You Get Panko to Stick to Chicken?

The key to getting panko to stick to chicken is the classic three-step breading process: flour, then egg (or a wet mixture like buttermilk and egg), then panko. Each layer plays a critical role, with the flour drying the surface of the chicken, the egg acting as the glue, and the panko forming the crispy, delicious exterior.

A delicious spread of freshly baked chicken tenders garnished with fresh parsley.

Should You Toast Panko Before Baking?

Toasting panko breadcrumbs before using them to bread chicken can enhance their golden color and give them a head start on crisping up. However, since we’re baking the breaded chicken tenders at a high heat in this recipe, it’s not necessary to toast the panko beforehand. The oven will do the job of browning and crisping them perfectly. 

Why Should You Use Buttermilk for Chicken Tenders?

Buttermilk serves a few important purposes in this recipe. First, it tenderizes the chicken by breaking down proteins, resulting in a more tender and juicy texture. Second, buttermilk’s thick consistency helps the breading stick to the chicken more effectively. Finally, the slight tanginess of buttermilk balances the savory notes from the Parmesan cheese and spices, enhancing the overall flavor profile.

A pile of panko chicken tenders with a split tender on top showing the juicy inside texture.

Keep In Touch

I’d love to hear what you thought of this recipe in the comments or on Instagram! @KeyToMyLime #KeyToMyLime

Pin this recipe for later!

A Pinterest pin image with a picture of panko chicken tenders, with title text at the top.

Chicken Recipes

If you like this recipe, be sure to check out all of our other chicken recipes. Some reader favorites are:

Yield: 6 servings

BEST Panko Chicken Tenders Recipe

The best panko chicken tenders recipe.

Crispy oven-baked panko chicken tenders are packed with flavor, easy to make, uses simple ingredients, and the result is absolutely delicious.

Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Additional Time 12 minutes
Total Time 42 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1.5 pounds boneless skinless chicken tenders
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 Tablespoon hot sauce (I used Frank's RedHot)
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese (freshly grated is best)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried parsley
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • Cooking spray

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Prepare your workstation: Line up three shallow dishes. In the first dish, place the all-purpose flour. In the second dish, whisk together buttermilk, eggs, Dijon mustard, and hot sauce until well combined. In the third dish, mix panko breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, dried parsley, black pepper, and sea salt.
  3. Dredge the chicken tenders: First, coat the chicken in the flour, shaking off any excess. Then, dip it into the buttermilk mixture, making sure it's evenly coated. Finally, press the chicken into the panko mixture, covering it completely and pressing down gently to ensure the breadcrumbs stick.
  4. Arrange the breaded chicken tenders on a wire rack set over a baking sheet, leaving space between each tender. Allow them to rest for 10 minutes to set the breading.
  5. Lightly spray the tenders with cooking spray, then bake in the preheated oven for 15-20 minutes, or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F on a digital meat thermometer and the breading is golden brown and crispy. Chicken tenders can overcook quickly, so checking the temperature with a meat thermometer is crucial for perfectly cooked tenders.
  6. Allow the cooked chicken tenders to rest for a couple of minutes before serving with your favorite dipping sauce, such as honey mustard, ranch, or barbecue sauce.

Nutrition Information:

Serving Size:

1/6

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 419Total Fat: 9.5gCarbohydrates: 33.9gFiber: 1.5gSugar: 2.7gProtein: 45.8g

Nutrition information isn’t always accurate.

DID YOU MAKE THIS RECIPE?

Tag @KeyToMyLime on Instagram so we can see your delicious meal!

Give these crispy panko chicken tenders a try, and I’m sure they’ll become a favorite in your home too.

The best panko chicken tenders recipe.

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