Today's recipe is a healthy version of oh-so-popular chicken nuggets and tenders. Unlike the fast-food fried versions, my nuggets and tenders are baked with a healthy whole grain, seasoned breading that is crunchy and flavorful. The chicken pieces have a moist, tender interior. These are so good that they're not just kid food in our house--my husband loves them! He was a very happy taster as I made test batches of nuggets and tenders for this recipe.
These can be a dinner main coarse for kids or adults, and the nugget version also makes a tasty appetizer. Serve a platter of nuggets with a dip or two, and watch them disappear in a flash! They're great for Game Day snacks. I also like to top a salad with this healthy, crunchy chicken.
Make-ahead convenience, too! You can make these ahead and refrigerate or freeze them. I'll explain how easy it is.
Step 1. Assemble the ingredients.
view on Amazon: whole wheat panko bread crumbs,
Step 2: Remove the white tendon that runs through the chicken tenders. The tendon is tough and unpleasant to eat.
Here's a short video that shows you how to remove the tendons from the chicken using a fork and needle-nose pliers:
Step 3. MIX THE BATTER. In a shallow bowl, combine buttermilk, mayonnaise, egg, flour and salt. Whisk with a fork until evenly combined.
view on Amazon: shallow bowls (great for salads and soups, too)
Watch me mix the batter in this short video:
Step 4. Add the chicken to the bowl of batter, tossing to completely coat every piece. Set aside to marinate while mixing the breading ingredients.
Step 5. MIX THE BREADING. In a second shallow bowl, combine panko crumbs, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, oregano, pepper and salt. Stir with a fork until evenly combined.
Step 6. Place a rack inside a baking pan and spray with cooking spray. Set tray near bowls of batter and breading.
Step 7. BREAD THE CHICKEN. Use tongs to lift up a chicken piece and allow excess batter to drip off. Place it in the bowl of breading. Use a fork to toss breading onto the chicken, covering it completely with breading and pressing down with back of fork to adhere breading to chicken. Use clean tongs to transfer breaded chicken piece to prepared rack/pan.
This short video demonstrates how to batter and bread the chicken:
For maximum crispiness, space the chicken pieces on the tray so they don't touch and the oven heat can circulate around them.
Step 8. BAKE THE CHICKEN. Bake at 425 degrees F for 15-18 minutes until the chicken has reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F and is browned. Use an instant-read thermometer to test temperature. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.
view instant-read thermometers:
TO MAKE NUGGETS, cut chicken into 2" pieces before breading and baking following the same procedures. Bake nuggets for 12-15 minutes.
TO MAKE AHEAD AND FREEZE, place the breaded, uncooked chicken pieces in a single layer uncovered on a pan/plate in freezer for 3-4 hours until frozen solid. (I line the pan with a silicone mat to prevent sticking.) Transfer to a plastic freezer bag, squeezing out as much air as possible; freeze for up to 2 months. Follow baking directions above, extending baking time to 20 to 25 minutes. (NOTE: There's no need to thaw the chicken before baking.) By flash-freezing the chicken pieces first, they won't stick together when added to the freezer bag. That way it's easy to remove and reheat as many pieces as you want.
REFRIGERATE AND REHEAT LEFTOVERS. Cool baked chicken completely and place in a sealed container. Refrigerate up to 3 days. Reheat chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet at 375 degrees F for 10 minutes. A toaster oven works well for reheating small portions.
SERVE WITH ranch or blue cheese dressing, ketchup or ketchup mixed with sriracha, marinara sauce, barbecue sauce, or another favorite dipping sauce.
For lunch, I love to slice one of these tenders to enjoy over a salad--yum!
Every bite is tender and moist on the inside and crispy on the outside. You can enjoy all that without the added fat and calories of the fried version.
Make it a Yummy day!