One of my husband and mine’s favorite holiday movie is Elf with Will Ferrell. If you’ve seen it, you probably remember the part where he congratulates the owner of “World’s Best Coffee,” by saying “You did it!”
That’s where I got the idea for naming this recipe. Is this actually the world’s best chicken tender recipe? Probably not. But I think they are pretty darn good.
My search for the perfect homemade chicken tender (or nugget) recipe came when working on Fearless Feeding, where this recipe originates. I’ve even made a few small changes since then.
It started with getting the spices right. Here are the cast of characters that I found worked best — ground mustard, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and pepper. Play with the spices until you find a combo you like.
You mix these spices with 3/4 cup of bread crumbs (substitute some with flaxseed meal if you like) and 1/3 cup of parmesan cheese. I use Trader Joe’s Organic Bread Crumbs. you can also use panko breadcrumbs for a crispier texture.
I like using chicken tenders and cutting each one in half but chicken breast also works well. Or you can leave the tenders as is (better for bigger kids). You have the choice of dipping the chicken in egg or butter or just using egg. That being said, the butter makes a richer nugget.
If you have a child used to store-bought or fast food tenders, you might want to pulse the chicken in a food processor or use ground chicken.
And for a sauce, you can try homemade honey mustard using equal parts mayonnaise, Dijon mustard and honey, ranch or even ketchup (or nothing at all). I know these will be family favorite for a long time. I think the key is to experiment until you find the World’s Best for your family.
- 1 egg beaten or melted butter
- 1 pound chicken tenders (cut into 1-2 inch pieces if you want them nugget style)
- ¾ cup bread crumbs
- ⅓ cup parmesan cheese
- ½ tsp paprika
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp ground mustard seed
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp pepper
- Preheat oven to 400. Crack the egg (or use butter for a richer nugget) and beat in a small bowl and cut the chicken tender pieces in half. Add dry ingredients and spices to a medium-size bowl.
- Dip chicken in egg or butter and then dredge well through mixture, using your hands to add more mixture on top so they are coated.
- Place chicken on a cookie sheet lined with foil (sprayed with cooking spray) or parchment paper. Cook for 20-22 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Freeze what you don't use for quick meals.
For more easy recipes that are family-friendly, check out my book The Family Dinner Solution: How to Create a Rotation of Dinner Meals Your Family Will Love
I love making my own chicken tender’s. To make it fun for my kids, I put them on a popsicle stick so they can have fun dipping them in their favorite sauces!
Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD says
Great idea Lisa!
Destini Borchardt says
These chicken tender’s are great! My family loved them. I love the idea of putting them on popsicle sticks. I will have to try that next time.
Craig Pearson says
ive made these 3-4 times now. my kids love them. i second the popsicle stick idea. gets little fingers away from sauces and the like.
for the adults i add some chili flakes. always a hit. thanks for the recipe.
Jean Norris says
hi I am curious and would like to know you’re freezing method and how ling they would last in the freezer and how ypu re heat once removed from the freezer
thanks for this recipe mrs. jacobsen, it looks fantastic! will be trying it soon.
I love these chicken tender’s. I must to try that next time.
You might want to correct this: in the picture and copy above, you say ground mustard. In the recipe, you indicate mustard SEED. I’m pretty sure my kids would NOT be into crunching on mustard seeds! 😉
Madeleine Pearce says
Just had to post and say how much my whole family LOVES this recipe!! I’ve been making it for 5+ years and it is always a crowd pleaser! Thank you 💝
Maryann Tomovich Jacobsen, MS, RD says
That’s nice to hear!