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Tortilla Chip Chicken Tenders

Tortilla chip chicken tenders are fast and easy to make. The crunchy coating is made from crushed tortilla chips and pumpkin seeds ground in a food processor. This recipe is kid-friendly but adults love these too. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce for delicious finger food!

tortilla chip chicken tenders on a white plate

Tortilla Chip Chicken Tenders

Skip the breadcrumbs because you can use crushed tortilla chips instead to make chicken tenders.

It’s SO EASY to make these! And if you choose a good quality tortilla chip, you’ll be taking a healthy step. I like to use a thin and crispy tortilla chip because they’re easier to turn into crumbs. These chicken tenders are totally delicious, crispy, and also gluten-free!

What Exactly Are Chicken Tenders?

Chicken tenders are actually parts of the chicken that are attached to the underside of each chicken breast. They’re a smaller cut of chicken. Technically, every chicken has two chicken tenders. However, you can also make chicken tenders by using the whole chicken breast and slicing it into thin strips.

tortilla chip chicken tenders on a white plate with dipping sauce. parsley and kitchen towel beside it.

Tortilla Chip Chicken Tenders Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this recipe:

  • Tortilla Chips – I used thin and crispy tortilla chips. I like using thin tortilla chips for this recipe because they crumble nicely, creating a light and crispy coating.
  • Roasted Pumpkin Seeds – These add extra protein and crispiness to the chicken. They pair really nicely with the tortilla chips. You can buy roasted pumpkin seeds or buy raw pumpkin seeds and toast them in a frying pan yourself.
  • Mayonnaise – Personally, I love this mayonnaise made with avocado oil. The ingredients are real food and simple – not a lot of preservatives. You could also use a plant-based mayo if you want to make this recipe dairy free.
  • Milk – You can use any kind of milk you want – regular milk, goat’s milk (this is what I used) or non-dairy milk like oat milk, almond milk etc.
  • Barbecue Sauce – I prefer to use a no-sugar barbecue sauce in my recipes. But you can use any barbecue sauce you’d like.

What Chicken Cut Do You Use For Chicken Tenders?

Chicken fillets are made from boneless, skinless chicken breasts. This type of chicken cut has been flattened and shaped to resemble a cutlet or chicken tender. I was able to purchase chicken fillets that were already cut into tenders.

If you can’t find those you can purchase boneless skinless chicken breasts and cut them into 1-inch strips.

TIP: If you prefer, you can make the chicken tenders without pumpkin seeds. Skip them in the recipe and use 3 ¼ cups of crushed tortilla crumbs for the coating mix.

How To Make Tortilla Chip Chicken Tenders

  1. Prep The Chicken – I purchased chicken fillets already cut into strips. These aren’t always available. You can also purchase chicken fillets or chicken breasts and cut them into 1-inch strips yourself.
  2. Make Tortilla Chip Mix – I used a mixture of crushed tortilla chips and roasted pumpkin seeds. These can be pulsed in the food processor or blender to create crumbs. If you prefer, you can also just use tortilla chips and crush them with a spoon in a bowl.
  3. Make Mayonnaise Mix – Mix together mayonnaise (I use this mayonnaise made with avocado oil), milk and barbecue sauce together in a separate bowl. You can make this dairy free by using the mayo link above and a dairy-free milk (almond milk, oat milk, coconut milk etc.)
  4. Dip – First, dip one piece of chicken in the milk mixture. Shake off excess sauce, then add it to the tortilla chip crumbs. Coat both sides of the chicken and place it on a baking rack or baking sheet. Repeat dipping with the rest of the strips. Ligthly spray the tops of the chicken with nonstick cooking spray.
  5. Bake – Bake for 15 minutes, then flip the chicken with tongs. Cook an additional 5-8 minutes.
  6. Serve – Serve with my crispy air fryer potatoes or homemade fries. Grab your favorite dipping sauce: ketchup, honey mustard, mayo, barbecue sauce, or hot sauce will all work. Serve and enjoy!

How To Get Crispy Chicken Tenders

  • Don’t Wash The Chicken – Instead, just pat dry with a towel.
  • Use a Baking Rack – This allows moisture to drip away from the chicken while it’s cooking (this is the baking rack I used in the photos).
  • Just Before Baking – Lightly spray the chicken with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Broil – If you find that the chicken isn’t crisping enough, you can broil it in the last 2-3 minutes. I find when I use a baking rack I don’t need to do this step.

Equipment I used

  • Nordicware Baking Tray – This pan drains grease away and lets air circulate so there’s no need to flip during the cooking process.
  • Avocado Oil Spray – My favorite cooking spray made with avocado oil. I use it for all of my recipes!
  • Food Processor – The easiest way to make crumbs from tortilla chips and pumpkin seeds.

More Easy Chicken Recipes

  • Baked Parmesan Chicken Wings – Made with freshly grated parmesan and a few spices – it makes the perfect crunchy coating.
  • Lemon Garlic Chicken Wings – These wings taste light and fresh using ingredients you already have in your kitchen.
  • Air Fryer Salt and Pepper Wings – These taste just like wings from the pub. They’re a big hit with my family.
  • Easiest Oven Baked Chicken Legs – These chicken legs are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside making the perfect weeknight meal.

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Tortilla Chip Chicken Tenders

Tortilla chip chicken tenders are fast and easy to make. The crunchy coating is made from crushed tortilla chips and pumpkin seeds ground in a food processor. This recipe is kid-friendly but adults love these too. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce for delicious finger-food!
Print Pin Recipe
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 26 minutes
Total Time: 41 minutes
Servings: 12 chicken strips

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 450°F. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil or use baking rack and set aside.
  • Crush a handful of tortilla chips into a bowl. Measure out 2 ½ cups worth.
    crushed tortilla chips in a white bowl
  • Add the tortilla chips to a food processor or blender along with pumpkin seeds. (you can also skip this step for a full tortilla chip option – see notes section)
    crushed tortilla chips and pumpkin seeds inside a food processor
  • Blend on high for 10-20 seconds until crumbs form.
    pulsed tortilla and pumpkin seeds in food processor
  • Pour the tortilla pumpkin seed mixture into one bowl.
    In another bowl, add the mayonnaise, milk, and barbecue sauce.
    container or raw chicken, bowl of tortilla pumpkin seed crumbs, bowl of milk mixture
  • Dip one chicken breast fillet into the milk mixture, shake off excess.
    white bowl with piece of chicken and milk mixture inside with fork
  • Add the chicken fillet to the tortilla pumpkin seed mixture and coat on all sides.
    white bowl with piece of chicken and tortilla pumpkin seed crumbs and fork
  • Place chicken on a baking rack or baking sheet lined with aluminum foil. Repeat until all chicken tenders are used.
    Lightly spray the tops of the chicken with cooking spray – I used avocado oil spray.
    chicken tenders on baking rack with avocado oil spray beside it
  • Bake 18 minutes, then flip and cook an additional 5-8 minutes, or until chicken is fully cooked and reaches 165°F as an internal temperature when poked with a meat thermometer.
    Outsides will be crispy golden brown. Add to serving plates and enjoy!
    cooked chicken tenders on a baking rack

Recipe Notes:

The pumpkin seeds add extra crunchiness and protein. But they are optional. You can also make this recipe using just tortilla chips. 
Here’s how to do it: 
  • Add crushed tortilla chips to a bowl. Use the back of a spoon to crush and grind them into crumbs. 
  • You’ll need about 3 ¼ cups of crushed tortilla crumbs. Use this as the coating mix. Keep the milk mayonnaise mixture the same.
Nutrition
Calories: 208kcal | Carbohydrates: 18g | Protein: 12g | Fat: 10g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 25mg | Sodium: 181mg | Potassium: 260mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 24IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 1mg

Please note these nutritional values provided above are just an estimate. Actual numbers will vary based on brands and ingredients you choose, and your preferred portion sizes.

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