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Returning readers might be starting to get the idea that we really, really like chicken tenders. And we can explain why that is—it’s because we do in fact really, really like chicken tenders!
We don’t think we’re overselling it when we say chicken tenders are easily somewhere within our top 5 perfect foods. They contain a good amount of protein, along with vitamin B12, iron, copper, zinc, and other nutrients. And even setting aside the nutritional health benefits, chicken tenders are just chicken-tending delicious!
The Complicated History of Chicken Tenders
The one true origin of chicken tenders has been lost to history, but chicken tender historians generally believe that they were first popularized in the United States in the late 20th century. Some sources claim that chicken tenders were created by a chef at a New Orleans restaurant in the 1960s, while others attribute the invention to a chef at a restaurant in Greenville, South Carolina, in the 1970s.
Regardless of the exact moment of creation of the first chicken tender, chicken tenders became widely popular in the 1980s and 1990s, particularly at fast food chains and casual dining restaurants. They were often served as part of a meal with French fries and dipping sauce.
In the 21st century, chicken tenders have continued to be a popular choice at restaurants and in home cooking. They have also evolved beyond just being breaded and fried, with many variations now including grilled or baked options as well. Today, chicken tenders are enjoyed by people of all ages and can be found on menus at a wide range of restaurant types catering to many different flavor preferences.
Chicken Tenders and Friends
Now that explains chicken tenders, but there are also strips, fingers, and nuggets. We know what you’re thinking: Is there really a difference or is this some kind of chicken scam? Yes, there are differences and we’re happy to explain! Here’s a breakdown of all the most important differences between these popular chicken formats.
Chicken tenders are thin strips of boneless, skinless chicken breast that are typically breaded and fried. They are often served with dipping sauces, such as ketchup, barbecue or buffalo sauce, or honey mustard. Chicken tenders are usually tender and juicy, making them popular with both adults and kids.
Chicken strips are a lot like chicken tenders, but they are usually thicker and longer. Like chicken tenders, they are usually breaded and fried, and they are often served with dipping sauces. Some people prefer chicken strips because they have more breading, which makes them more flavorful.
If chicken strips are the thicker and longer version of chicken tenders, chicken fingers are the thinner version of chicken tenders, being smaller and more fingerlike in general shape than chicken tenders or strips. Just like chicken tenders and strips, chicken fingers are also often served with dipping sauces.
Chicken nuggets are smaller, bite-sized pieces of breaded and fried chicken. Like the other chicken formats above, they are usually served with dipping sauces, and they are a popular choice for kids (and adults). Unlike chicken tenders, strips, and fingers, chicken nuggets are usually made from ground chicken or chicken scraps rather than cut whole chicken breasts.
Do you have a better understanding of the differences between chicken tenders, chicken strips, chicken fingers, and chicken nuggets now? What do you mean they all sound like different names for the same thing but shaped differently? We don’t think that’s really accurate at all. Chicken nuggets are completely different, with their recipe being more like a modern English pudding than the other cut and breaded formats of chicken.
Essentially, the differences mainly come down to the size and shape of the chicken. Chicken strips are thicker and longer than tenders, whereas chicken fingers are thinner and finger-shaped. Chicken nuggets are small and bite-sized. However, no matter which size and format of chicken you choose, they can all be part of a delicious and satisfying meal!
Homemade Chicken Tenders
If you haven’t made your own chicken tenders before, we encourage you to give it a try! They can be made using this simple recipe that’s easy enough for newer cooks but has plenty of room for variations by those who are more experienced in the kitchen.
You’ll need boneless, skinless chicken breasts, all-purpose flour, eggs, breadcrumbs, and your choice of seasonings. You’ll also need oil for frying, unless you plan to bake your chicken tenders.
Preheat your oven or heat your oil. If you plan to bake your chicken tenders, preheat your oven to 400°F. If you plan to fry your chicken tenders, heat your oil in a deep fryer or a heavy-bottomed pot to 350°F.
- Cut the chicken into strips. Slice your chicken breasts into thin strips about 1 inch wide and 3-4 inches long.
- Prepare the breading mixture. In one shallow dish, mix together the flour and your chosen seasonings. In another shallow dish, beat the eggs. In a third shallow dish, mix the breadcrumbs with any additional seasonings you want.
- Coat the chicken strips. Dip each chicken strip into the flour mixture, shaking off any excess, then dip it into the beaten eggs, allowing any excess to drip off. Coat the chicken strip in the breadcrumbs, pressing gently to make sure the breadcrumbs adhere. Repeat with the remaining chicken strips.
- Cook the chicken tenders. If you are frying the chicken tenders, carefully place them in the hot oil and cook for 3-4 minutes or until they are golden brown and cooked through. If you are baking the chicken tenders, place them on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake them for 15-20 minutes.
- Serve and enjoy. Once the chicken tenders are cooked, remove them from the oil or the oven, plate them up with the rest of the meal, and serve them hot with your choice of dipping sauces.
If you enjoyed this chicken tender recipe, you should check out the other chicken tender recipes we collected in this blog post!
Come to Kate’s Kitchen for the Chicken Tenders of Your Dreams
After all this detailed chicken tender talk, the only question you probably have left is “Where can I get some?” And do we have good news for you! If you’re not interested in making your own chicken tenders, we’ve got the next best thing—chicken tenders made for you by Kate’s Kitchen!
Give us a call if you would like to place a to-go order!
Kate’s Kitchen… (816) 436-7200
Ronnie’s Restaurant… (913) 831-8600