No false promises here! These crumbed / breaded chicken tenders come out of the oven perfectly golden all over, super crunchy, just like they’ve been deep fried! AND you won’t get your fingers caked with batter and breadcrumbs in the process of making them. Find out my little tricks!
Have you ever made a recipe based on the photos showing a perfect golden BAKED crumbed chicken, only to find that:
a) the crumbing comes out splotchy with some burnt bits and some white bits; and
b) the crumbing is not that crunchy (unless you bake it so long the chicken overcooks)?
My hand is raised high because I am one of those people. For many years, I was lulled into a false sense of hope each time I saw a photo of a perfectly golden “oven fried” crumbed chicken for a recipe. And I was disappointed every single time. (PS It’s called Photoshop. Food photographers can’t live without it, but have been known to abuse its powers!!!)
Plus my other gripe with coating anything with breadcrumbs is that you end up with what I call “Marshmallow Fingers”, where the egg batter and breadcrumbs builds up with each piece of chicken you coat.
So one day, I actually applied some brain power to solving these problems. I know, I’m a weirdo. It’s a testament as to how much I love crunchy crumbed things, and how much I fear frying (as well as what I consider to be a waste of oil). (Oh – and health matters too 😝).
And here’s my solution.
HOW TO MAKE PERFECT OVEN FRIED CHICKEN
(without getting your fingers dirty!!!)
1 . Toast panko breadcrumbs in the oven for just 3 minutes. This gives them a head start on the colour so they come out an even golden brown all over AND dries them out even more to make them uber crunchy. For this recipe, I add parmesan cheese to the breadcrumbs for flavour and as the seasoning – no need to add any salt!
2. Don’t dredge in flour then egg separately. Add the flour into the egg. This makes the batter slightly thicker, making the breadcrumbs adhere better to the chicken AND it avoids “Marshmallow Fingers”. (PS I also add mustard and mayo – for thickening + flavour + mayo helps make this taste fried!)
3. Avoid messy fingers: Mix chicken in batter, pick it up with your left hand and place it in the breadcrumbs. Use your right hand to sprinkle with panko, press to adhere, then transfer to baking tray. No Marshmallow Fingers! Yay!
Here’s a comparison of the chicken before and after baking at a fairly high temperature (200C/390F) for 15 minutes (any longer and the chicken tenderloins will lose juiciness). Notice how there’s not that much difference? Good thing we toasted the breadcrumbs first!
Here’s an up close and personal look at these tenders. I’ll let you be the judge – don’t you think they look like they’ve just come out of the deep fryer??? They certainly TASTE like they have!
I like to serve these with a simple Ranch dipping sauce or Honey Mustard sauce, both of which I’ve provided in the recipe notes. But honestly, with the addition of parmesan, these are super flavourful plus nice and juicy inside (no dry overcooked chicken!!!), so I usually serve these without any sauce.
Hope you’re having a great week! I am soooooo looking forward to the recipe I’m sharing on Friday, and I hope you like it too. I worked really hard to get it perfect, including taste testings by the toughest taste testers in my life – my brother and mother! – Nagi x
PS These are the parmesan flavoured version of these Truly Crunchy Golden Baked Chicken Tenders, here by popular demand because I’ve been asked for this parmesan version so many times! The technique I use in this recipe is improved – I used to pan fry the breadcrumbs until golden. Baking for a few minutes is much more efficient AND they come out evenly golden. I must update that recipe with the new method!
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs (Note 1)
- Olive oil spray
- ½ cup grated parmesan cheese, store bought (Note 2)
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp mayonnaise* (I use whole egg mayonnaise)
- 1½ tbsp dijon mustard* (or any other mustard of choice)
- 1 garlic clove, minced*
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- Salt & pepper
- 500g/1lb chicken tenderloins (or chicken breast cut into ⅔" / 1.5cm thick slices, lengthwise)
- Oil spray
- Preheat oven to 200C/350F.
- Spread panko breadcrumbs on a baking tray. Spray lightly with oil. Bake for 3 to 5 minutes or until LIGHT golden.
- Scrape into a bowl. Add parmesan and mix.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together Batter ingredients with a fork. Add chicken and mix to coat.
- Optional: Place a rack on the baking tray (Note 3)
- Pick up chicken with left hand and place in breadcrumbs. Use right hand to sprinkle with breadcrumbs, press to adhere. Use right hand to transfer to baking tray. Repeat with remaining chicken. Spray lightly with oil.
- Bake for 15 minutes for small tenders, 18 minutes for large ones. No longer than 20 minutes, otherwise they will begin to lose juiciness.
- Serve immediately with Ranch or Honey Mustard Dip if desired (Note 4).
2. ½ cup store bought grated parmesan cheese (the real stuff in the refrigerator section NOT the pasta aisle!) = approximately ¾ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese. This is still really tasty even without parmesan cheese, just use an extra ½ cup of panko and add a bit of extra salt into the batter.
3. The tenders come out more evenly golden if baked on a rack. This is optional though, if you place it directly on the tray then the underside will get some darker golden patches.
4. 2. Ranch Dipping Sauce (optional)
1/4 cup each mayonnaise (preferably whole egg) and sour cream
2 tbsp milk
1 tsp lemon juice or white vinegar (or any other light coloured vinegar)
1/4 tsp EACH dried parsley or dill, dried dill, dried fresh chives (Note a)
1/2 tsp garlic powder (Note b)
1/8 tsp salt + black pepper
Place ingredients in a bowl and whisk to combine. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste.
a) All the herbs can be substituted with fresh herbs, finely chopped. Double the quantity - i.e. use ½ tsp.
Don't worry if you don't have all the herbs. If you have at least 1, it will still taste similar to what it should taste like, just use more of the herbs you have (3/4 tsp dried herbs in total).
b) The garlic powder is a key flavour component, fresh garlic is not quite the same. If you want to substitute with fresh garlic, use 1 small clove, mince it then make sure you set the sauce aside for at least 20 minutes to allow the flavours to develop.
HONEY MUSTARD SAUCE: Another simple sauce I often serve this with - mix together ⅓ cup mayonnaise, 2 tbsp dijon mustard, 2 tbsp honey, 1 - 2 tsp lemon juice, salt and pepper.
* These ingredients are optional.
Nutrition per serving, assuming 4 servings (no ranch dip).
Life of Dozer: So embarrassed in this jumper, he can’t even look at the camera. 😉 It’s so cruel that I dress him up just for my own amusement!!!