Healthy Baked Chicken Tenders (no breading) are the perfect 30-minute weeknight meal. Juicy chicken coated in gluten-free, garlic parmesan breading and oven-baked until crispy and golden brown.
We can't get enough of this Healthy Baked Chicken Tenders recipe. We usually double the batch because everyone wants seconds, and there is never enough.
We also love that these Baked Chicken Tenders cook in about 20 minutes, so dinner is on the table in roughly 30 minutes. If you have leftovers, use our step-by-step guide to reheating chicken tenders.
Traditionally, the tenders are dredged in flour, dipped in an egg mixture, then coated in breadcrumbs.
Not here! There are no flour or bread crumbs for this healthier version, but you still end up with crispy yet tender chicken pieces. And it's low carb.
Total bonus in the mom handbook! Definitely add these to your Weekly Meal Planning!
Ingredients for GF baked chicken tenders
For this healthy chicken strip recipe, you'll need:
- Chicken Thighs - or chicken breast.
- Almond Flour - or coconut flour.
- Parmesan Cheese - grated.
- Italian Herbs - oregano, basil, etc.
- Garlic Powder - adds just the right flavor.
- Onion Powder - again, it just adds a little flavor.
- Paprika - a mild spice that's underutilized 🙂
- Cayenne Pepper - or chili powder is optional.
- Salt and Black Pepper - to taste.
- Egg - it helps the coating stick to the chicken.
With this ingredient list, these qualify as a Keto recipe as well.
The measurements and instructions are below in the printable recipe card.
How to make healthy chicken tenders
One of the great things about this recipe is that you can customize your coating and spice level.
So, technically, tenders are breast meat, but we like to use chicken thighs in this recipe. They come out juicy and create such a wonderful flavor.
You can either buy chicken tenders or purchase thighs and cut them into tender-size pieces.
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F. Next, line your baking sheet with parchment paper.
Now, gather all your supplies. You'll need two shallow bowls or plates for this recipe—one for the egg and one for the almond flour breading mixture.
The spices (including salt and pepper if using) and parmesan go into the almond flour to create a yummy yet healthier breading.
For efficiency, we like to create a little assembly line. First, dip the chicken into the egg and then the breading. Then, put it on the parchment-lined baking pan.
You dip each piece of chicken into the egg and then the breading. Place them on the baking sheet.
Then it's ready to slide into the oven and bake until nice and crispy.
So, we've tried the recipe in several ways. We like using parchment paper to line the baking sheet.
The parchment helps get the delicious crispy coating. Also, flipping the pieces halfway through the cooking time ensures you have crispy chicken on both sides.
Plus, it's easy to clean up, which is great for a busy night.
Air fryer chicken tenders
If you'd like to use your air fryer for a perfect quick dinner, follow these directions:
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F.
- Coat the air fryer basket with no-stick cooking spray, then add chicken tenders in a single layer so that they are not touching.
- Coat the top of the chicken tenders with non-stick spray.
- Cook the chicken tenders for 7 to 8 minutes, pulling out the air fryer basket and flipping the pieces over halfway through.
How long to bake chicken tenders
We really like our chicken tenders crispy for our family, so we bake them at a higher temperature - 425 degrees Fahrenheit for about 12 - 13 minutes.
Depending on the size of your tenders, it may take a few minutes longer. To be sure, we always test with a meat thermometer to make sure they're done.
Note: Chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.
You don't need to leave them in the oven that long with this higher temperature. However, flipping the tenders halfway through is crucial to get them crispy on both sides.
Tips & tricks
- As mentioned, you can use chicken breast or thigh meat for this recipe. Whatever you prefer.
- These Baked Chicken Tenders come out crispy straight from the oven, but the almond flour breading doesn't stay crisp the second day. So, they are best eaten when finished cooking. However, we like them so much. We eat the leftovers in a salad for lunch the next day.
- For the cheese, make sure you use grated Parmesan cheese, not shredded, as it sticks to the chicken meat better.
- Serve your Baked Chicken Tenderloins with your favorite dipping sauces. We like honey mustard, and the kids like ketchup or BBQ sauce, but a healthy ranch dressing is also nice.
PRO TIP: If you can, use fresh chicken! The fresher the meat, the more juicy and tender it will be!
How to store
Store any leftover chicken tenders in an airtight container in the fridge for 2-3 days.
How to freeze chicken tenders
When things get busy, freeze a batch or two of these Healthy Chicken Fingers for a fast meal.
- Place your baked, cooled chicken strips on a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Flash freeze by placing the chicken into the freezer until frozen solid.
- Once frozen solid, transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe bag and store in the freezer for up to 3 months. Here are our tips for preventing freezer burn.
How to cook frozen chicken tenders
To prepare your Chicken Strips from frozen, place frozen chicken tenders onto a baking rack on a rimmed baking sheet and bake at 400 degrees F. for 18-22 minutes or until warmed through.
They might not be as crispy as when you first made them, but they will be tasty!
Other Healthy Chicken Dinner Recipes
Chicken Lettuce Wraps - Tender, flavorful chicken wrapped in a lettuce wrap. Readers find this recipe as good, if not better, than PF Changs.
Thai Chicken Quinoa Bowls - A flavor-packed recipe that comes together very quickly for weeknight meals.
Crockpot Honey Garlic Chicken - Easy, flavorful, and very kid-friendly.
Slow-Cooked Chicken Noodle Soup - the traditional recipe with a little flavor boost.
Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas - An easy recipe that's healthy and gluten-free.
A great dipping sauce for chicken nuggets
For a Honey Mustard Sauce:
Mix 2 tablespoons of honey with 1 tablespoon of mustard. Use this 2:1 ratio of honey to mustard to create any amount of sauce.
Ranch Dressing is another dipping sauce option.
Substitutions for baked chicken fingers
- You can use panko bread crumbs in place of the almond flour.
- Chicken breast and chicken thighs are equally great in the recipe.
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Baking Pan - a kitchen staple.
Meat Thermometer - the best way to tell if meat or poultry is done and safe to eat. Instant read and easy to use.
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Healthy Baked Chicken Tenders
- Baking pan
- parchment paper
- two bowls
- 1 ½ pound chicken thighs (cut into strips)
- 1 cup almond flour
- ⅓ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon Italian herbs
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ - ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 egg (beaten)
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Whisk egg in a shallow bowl or plate. Set aside.
- Mix almond flour, Parmesan, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, Italian herbs and salt in another shallow bowl or plate.
- Dip a piece of chicken into the egg mixture and coat on both sides. Then, dip the chicken into the almond flour mixture, coating both sides. Put the breaded chicken on your lined baking sheet and repeat until all pieces are done.
- Place chicken into the oven and bake for 7 minutes. Turn each piece over and cook for another 5 minutes until golden brown and crispy and until internal temperature measures 165 degrees.