These Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders are what kid and adult dreams are made of. Chicken tenders are coated in crushed up Cheez-Its, baked in just a touch of butter until they’re golden brown and crispy, and then served with any easy honey mustard dipping sauce.
Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
You know what one of the best parts about having kids is? Well, besides all the joy and love they bring to our lives, obviously. You get to eat like a kid again.
While I try to open my children’s eyes to foods other than Mac and cheese or hot dogs, sometimes, just like a kid, all I want is a big platter of chicken fingers and fries.
These crispy baked chicken tenders are what kid and adult dreams are made of. Except, guess what? They’re baked! Yup, those ultra-crispy chicken tenders you see up there are, in fact, baked. Oh, and they’re coated in crushed up Cheez-Its so there’s that.
Ingredients in Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
Chicken Tenders. All you need is a one-pound package of chicken tenders. You could also cut up a whole chicken breast into strips.
Flour and egg. These are your standard breading ingredients. Flour adheres to the chicken first, followed by the egg and then whatever your breading of choice is.
Cheez-its. This is the secret to crispy baked chicken tenders. I don’t know what it is about the cheez-its but they cook up infinitely more crisp than regular ol’ breadcrumbs. I throw them into a bag and crush them with a rolling pin. You could also throw them in the food processor as well. Just make sure you leave a little bit of texture and don’t pulverize them.
Butter. Another secret to these crispy cheez-it chicken tenders. Just like our Sheet Pan Chicken Parmesan, I cook the chicken on a hot pan and a little bit of melted butter. It helps the chicken crisp up beautifully.
Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
I’m a big fan of chicken fingers and honey mustard. This version is a little sweet, a little spicy and has lots of texture, here’s what’s in it.
- Mustard. Three different kinds. Regular yellow mustard, dijon mustard, and whole-grain mustard. I love the texture whole-grain mustard has, but if you only have one kind of mustard on hand, by all means, just use that.
- Honey. Can’t make honey mustard without honey.
- Mayo. Kind of a weird ingredient in honey mustard, but I find that if you don’t add something creamy, the mustard flavor is a little bit too strong. I like to use light mayo.
How to make Crispy Baked Chicken Tenders
Bread the chicken. This is your standard breading process. Season the chicken tenders with plenty of salt and pepper. Dip them in seasoned flour, then into egg. Coat in crushed up cheez-its. Repeat.
Cook the chicken. While I bread the chicken, I put my pan in a 375-degree oven to warm up. I do this because if the pan is already hot, like a skillet, it will immediately start to cook and brown the chicken fingers which helps them become super crispy.
Once you’re done breading the chicken, pull the pan out of the oven and drop a couple tablespoons of butter on it. Spread it around. Transfer the chicken quickly to the pan and then place in the oven. Bake for about 10 minutes, then flip and bake another 3-4 minutes until they’re done cooking.
Make the honey mustard. Mix the mustards, honey, and mayo together. Season with salt and pepper. Done!
Can I make these in advance?
Yes! You can bread them in advance and then store them in the fridge or freeze them. I have also made them from start to finish, spread them on a baking sheet and popped them in the freezer. Once they’re frozen I transfer them to a freezer zip lock bag and store for up to a month.
When you’re ready to cook, pull them out and bake in a 375-degree oven until they’re hot and crisp.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Make sure your pan is super hot before putting the chicken on.
- Always season every element of the process. Season the flour, egg, and cheez-its.
- Feel free to leave out the dijon mustard.
- Serve with ranch, ketchup or whatever your favorite condiment is.
- 1 lb chicken tenders
- 1/2 cup flour
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups crushed cheez-itz (about 3 1/2 cups whole)
- 2 tbsp butter
- 1/4 cup mustard
- 2 tsp dijon
- 2 tbsp honey
- 2 tsp whole grain mustard
- 1/4 cup light mayo
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place a large sheet pan in the oven to heat up.
- Season chicken tenders on both sides with salt and pepper. Add flour to a plate. Add eggs to a bowl. And add cheez-its to another bowl. Season flour, eggs, and cheez-its with salt and pepper.
- Dip the chicken tenders first in the flour. Pat off excess. Dip in the egg. Finish with the cheez-its. Use hands to make sure the tenders are completely coated. Repeat.
- Once you've breaded the chicken tenders, pull the sheet pan out of the oven. Place the butter on it and move it around so the butter coats the entire pan. Put the chicken tenders on the pan and place back in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes. Flip and bake another 3-4 minutes until cooked through. Serve with honey mustard.
- For the honey mustard. Mix mustards, honey, and mayo together in a bowl. Season with salt and pepper.