Brining these baked chicken tenders in buttermilk before breading them makes the chicken extra juicy and flavorful. Serve them with a deliciously tangy honey mustard dip.
I’ve been obsessed with Samin Nosrat’s buttermilk chicken lately. It’s super easy to make and the buttermilk marinade makes it come out flavorful and juicy every time. Plus it’s so beautiful – check out that deep golden color!
I had some leftover buttermilk in the fridge that needed to get used up so I decided to use a similar technique to make crispy baked chicken tenders. Like Samin’s roast chicken, these tenders are marinated overnight in a mixture of buttermilk and salt. Then they’re dredged in seasoned flour and almond meal and baked in a super hot oven until they’re golden brown and crisp. These are some of the best baked chicken tenders I’ve ever eaten – the crispy, craggy coating rivals deep-fried versions.
Chicken tenders are only as good as the sauce you have to dip them into, so I also mixed up some homemade honey mustard dipping sauce. A touch of Greek yogurt adds extra tang and makes this dipping sauce ultra creamy. I love the sweet and spicy flavor paired with the crispy breaded chicken. If honey mustard isn’t your favorite, this chicken tender recipe would also be great paired with my maple barbecue sauce.
How to make the best baked chicken tenders:
There are a few helpful tips to follow if you want to make the best crispy chicken tenders at home. First off, plan ahead so your chicken can soak in buttermilk for at least 8 hours. The acidity of the buttermilk will help make the chicken super tender and juicy. Adding salt to the marinade will help it act like a brine, seasoning every bite of meat. You’ll need 1 cup of buttermilk to make this recipe, but the chicken will only absorb about half of that.
Next, it’s all about the breading. I wanted to keep the carbs in the recipe in check, so I used mostly almond meal with a little white flour mixed in for texture. (Using all almond meal didn’t work – the batter just got mushy. Try my quinoa-crusted version if you’re looking for gluten-free chicken tenders.) You also want to be sure to season your flour mixture to give it tons of flavor. I like to use salt, pepper, cayenne, and paprika. You could also use seasoning salt. Finally, mix in a little more buttermilk to form a thick, craggy batter. This gives the breading that great fried chicken texture with tons of nooks and crannies that help it get extra crisp.
Finally, arrange the chicken in a single layer on a preheated baking sheet and spritz the top with olive oil (I use a spray bottle like this one) to help everything get crispy and golden brown. Place the pan on the top rack of your oven and push it to the very back where it’s hottest.
For the chicken:
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into tenders
- 3/4 cup almond meal
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Salt and pepper
- 3 Tablespoons buttermilk
For the Honey Mustard Dip:
- 2 Tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt
- 2 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 2 Tablespoons honey
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
- Salt and pepper
- Combine 1 cup buttermilk and salt in a large zip top back. Add the chicken and turn to coat. Refrigerate 8-12 hours. Remove the chicken from the bag and scrape off all but a thin coating of the marinade. Discard any remaining marinade.
- Heat your oven to 450F. Place a baking sheet on the top rack of the oven to preheat.
- In a shallow dish, combine the almond meal and flour. Season with paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper. Stir in the remaining 3 Tablespoons of buttermilk to form a craggy, sand-like batter. Press the chicken into the batter, coating both sides.
- Remove the baking sheet form the oven and spritz with olive oil. Place the chicken on the sheet in a single layer; spritz with olive oil. Return the pan to the oven and bake 20 minutes, turning once, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through.
- Remove form the oven and let rest 5 minutes before serving.
- Meanwhile, prepare the honey mustard sauce. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt, mustard, honey, garlic powder, and onion powder. Mix well to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 454Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 13gCholesterol 103mgSodium 2178mgCarbohydrates 30gFiber 4gSugar 12gProtein 46g