These incredibly crunchy oven-baked chicken tenders are SO crispy and delicious, you won’t miss the fryer at all! At just 2 weight watchers smart points per serving, they’re a healthy way to indulge in a childhood treat!
Just because you’re eating healthier, that doesn’t mean you have to forgo all comfort food, like chicken tenders!
I have to say… I’m a grown woman in my 30’s and I still order chicken tenders at some restaurants. People sort of look at me weird, but hey, they’re SO good! Plus, I love to dip, and they’re just so… well, dip-able!
Now that we’re trying to eat healthier, I thought chicken tenders were going to be a long-lost favorite food of mine, that I wouldn’t be able to have anymore. Thankfully, with the new Weight Watchers freestyle program, chicken breasts and tenders are a zero point food! Eureka!!
At first I was concerned with the breading, since breadcrumbs are certainly not a zero point food, but by using crunchy panko, I found I could use a little less, and still get good great crunch and coverage.
HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN TENDERS IN THE OVEN
Traditionally, the tenders are dredged in flour, then dipped in an egg mixture, then coated in breadcrumbs. For this healthier version, I omitted the flour, and use egg whites instead of whole eggs.
HOW LONG TO BAKE CHICKEN TENDERS
It depends on what temperature you’re baking them. To get the crispy, golden brown coating, I like to bake mine at 450F degrees, and it only takes 12-15 minutes (depending on the size of the tenders).
WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHICKEN BREAST AND CHICKEN TENDERS
Technically, they’re both breast meat. The chicken breast it attached to the ribs, and the tender is a strip of breast meat that is connected but not completely attached. When you buy commercial boneless skinless chicken breasts in a package (like Tyson, etc), usually the tender is still attached. You can flip the breast over and see the strip of chicken tender.
WAYS TO JAZZ UP THIS CHICKEN TENDER RECIPE
- Add grated Parmesan cheese or low-fat shredded cheddar to the breading mixture (will increase point value)
- Play around with the spices in the breading mixture
- Use your favorite low point dipping sauce
- My personal favorite is a mixture of natural ketchup and the sauce from a can of chipotles in adobo sauce!
The secret to great golden brown tenders is two fold. First, the high baking temperature. Secondly, bake the panko to brown it BEFORE coating the chicken! It doesn’t take much time (3-4 minutes), but it adds a lot of crunch and color.
- Baking sheet and oven safe rack – I love using this set, as it’s a great way to bake or broil things without the underside of the food getting soggy!
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- 3/4 cup panko breadcrumbs
- vegetable cooking spray
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/4 tsp onion powder
- 1/4 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 lbs. chicken tenders (approximately 12 tenders)
- 2 egg whites
- splash of water
- Preheat oven to 400 F degrees, and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or parchment paper. Spread panko out into an even layer on baking sheet, spray lightly with cooking spray, and bake 3-4 minutes, until golden.
- Set panko aside in large shallow bowl. Add oven safe wire rack to top of baking sheet, and set aside. Increase oven temperature to 450 F degrees. To bowl, add parsley, salt, pepper, smoked paprika, onion powder and garlic powder. Toss to combine well.
- In another shallow bowl, add egg whites and splash of water. Beat lightly. Pat chicken tenders dry. Season chicken tenders with additional pinch of salt and pepper.
- Add chicken tender to egg white mixture, turning to coat. Lift up, allowing excess egg whites to drip off, then add to panko bowl. Coat chicken tender with seasoned panko, then transfer to prepared wire rack/baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tenders.
- Lightly spray chicken tenders with cooking spray if desired, then bake 12-15 minutes (depending on the size of the tenders), until golden brown and chicken is cooked through.
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Calories: 284 | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 40g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 108mg | Sodium: 662mg | Potassium: 693mg | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Vitamin A: 3.5% | Vitamin C: 2.5% | Calcium: 2.6% | Iron: 9.2%
I’m not a nutritionist, and nutritional values here on my recipes should be used for general information purposes only. This information is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should seek prompt medical care for any specific health issues and consult your physician before starting a new diet and fitness regimen.