Throw these crispy and delicious pan-fried chicken tenderloins together for a simple and fast dinner any night of the week! They’re well-seasoned and seared until the outside is crisp and the meat on the inside is juicy.
When I need something quick and easy to feed my family, I’ll whip up my famous crispy pan-fried chicken tenderloins recipe for dinner. Chicken fingers are always a hit in our household and healthy to boot! They are so easy to cook, whether in the air fryer, grill, or oven baked. This stovetop version is also a winner.
Table of Contents
Why this recipe works
- On the table in under 10 minutes! I’ll whip up these chicken tenders for simple weeknight dinners or nights when I don’t feel like cooking because they’re so fast and simple.
- Beyond flavorful. A blend of pantry-staple seasonings packs these tenderloins with big, irresistible flavors.
- No breading needed. Unlike other chicken tenderloin recipes, this one doesn’t need any breading whatsoever, so it’s also gluten-free.
- Versatile. Enjoy the tenders with BBQ sauce or ranch dressing, slice ‘em up and use them as the protein in a salad, or serve them any way you like.
I typically have most of the ingredients for this recipe on hand at all times. Here’s what you need:
- Chicken tenderloins. I love cooking chicken tenderloins over chicken breasts because they are much faster to cook. If you can’t find tenderloins at your grocery store or butcher, slice up some thick chicken breasts (if I use breasts, I typically get 3 tenderloins per 6-ounce chicken breast).
- Spices. A combination of garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, oregano, salt, and black pepper turns this chicken into something delicious.
- Olive oil. Just a bit of oil is all you need to get perfectly golden-brown, crispy tenders.
- Parsley. This is optional, but fresh chopped parsley adds a nice pop of color here.
Find the printable recipe with measurements below.
How to cook chicken tenderloins
Step 1 – Make the seasoning. Combine all of the dry seasonings in a bowl.
Step 2 – Season the chicken. Coat the chicken strips with a generous layer of the chicken dry rub.
Step 3 – Pan-fry. Heat the olive oil in a skillet, then add the chicken strips and sear until golden brown and cooked through.
Step 4 – Garnish and serve. Garnish with fresh parsley, then serve with your favorite dipping sauces. Enjoy!
Alternative cooking methods
As mentioned above, we often cook chicken tenders in the oven, grill, and the air fryer, and this exact recipe works using all three methods too.
Oven-baked: Lay the seasoned chicken strips on a baking sheet and bake at 375ºF for 20 to 25 minutes or until the tenders are cooked through.
Air fryer: Lay the tenders in a single layer in the air fryer basket and cook at 375ºF for 8 minutes, flipping halfway through. Cook them in batches to avoid overcrowding.
Grilled: Grill the seasoned chicken tenderloins on a preheated grill for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
Recipe tips and variations
- Pat your chicken dry. For the crispiest chicken, use paper towels to remove excess moisture before seasoning the tenders.
- Check doneness with a meat thermometer. You’ll know the chicken is fully cooked when its internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
- Fry from frozen. You can use frozen chicken tenders instead of fresh, but be sure to add a few extra minutes to the cooking time and check that your chicken reaches the proper temperature.
- Pound your chicken. To ensure even cooking, I like to use tenders of a similar size. If some are larger than others, lightly pound them as needed.
- Don’t overcrowd the pan. If needed, cook the chicken in batches. Overcrowding actually steams the chicken instead of searing it, which affects both the taste and texture.
- Marinate your chicken. Sometimes, I like to make my chicken tender recipes extra delicious with a marinade. I’ll soak the tenders in my chicken marinade or let them sit after covering them in the oil and seasonings for 1 to 2 hours before cooking.
- Play with the seasonings. Add cayenne pepper for heat, use more dry herbs for comfort, or slather them in the sauce of your choice to play around with the flavors.
To store: Keep your leftover chicken tenders in an airtight container in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
To freeze: Transfer the leftover chicken to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. Allow the tenderloins to thaw in the fridge before reheating.
To reheat: Reheat the chicken in the microwave, the oven, an air fryer, or a skillet with a little bit of oil until warmed through.
Frequently asked questions
Sure! Tossing them in a breading before cooking will give the tenders a ton of extra crunch. I like using a mix of panko and bread crumbs, but you can also use almond flour and/or parmesan cheese.
Think of this as an all-purpose chicken recipe. The tenders can be eaten as the main protein for your dinner or repurposed for a ton of other meals. For example, you can toss them into an avocado chicken salad, wrap them in a vegetable wrap, add them to chicken soup, or use them as a protein-packed topping on salads, stir-fries, and grain bowls.
More easy chicken recipes to try
- Firecracker Chicken – An exciting chicken dinner with fiery flavors.
- Chicken Patties – Learn how to make parmesan and spinach-infused chicken patties.
- Greek Chicken – Mediterranean-inspired marinated chicken breasts.
- Chicken Satay – Grilled chicken skewers paired with an addictive peanut sauce.
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Serving: 1servingCalories: 164kcalCarbohydrates: 1gProtein: 24gFat: 6gSodium: 423mgPotassium: 434mgFiber: 0.1gSugar: 0.1gVitamin A: 54IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 8mgIron: 1mgNET CARBS: 1g
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