Crafting A Perfect Chicken Tender Platter: A Delicious Guide

Written by: Najma A.



Time to read 5 min


Chicken tenders are universally loved and appealing to kids and adults alike. Crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and versatile in their pairings, chicken tenders are the star of many menus. But have you ever thought about crafting the perfect chicken tender platter at home? In this guide, we’ll explore everything you need to know to create a mouthwatering chicken tender platter that’s sure to impress.

The Origin of Chicken Tender Platter

Chicken tenders, also known as chicken fingers, chicken goujons, or chicken strips, are made from the pectoralis minor muscles of the chicken. These strips of white meat are tender (hence the name), making them ideal for frying. Though their exact origin is debated, chicken tenders gained popularity in American fast-food restaurants during the 1980s and have since become a staple in kitchens worldwide.

Choosing Your Chicken

The foundation of a great chicken tender platter starts with the chicken. Opt for high-quality, boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Choose organic or free-range chicken for better flavor and texture. The pectoralis minor, a smaller muscle located under the breast, is the most tender part and ideal for chicken tenders.

Marinade: The Secret to Juicy Tenders

A good chicken tender marinade can elevate your chicken tenders from ordinary to extraordinary. Marinades typically consist of an acid (like buttermilk or lemon juice), an oil (like olive oil), and seasonings. Buttermilk is famous because its acidity helps tenderize the meat while adding a subtle tangy flavor.

Basic Buttermilk Marinade Recipe:

  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Combine all ingredients in a bowl, add the chicken tenders, cover, and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, preferably overnight.
Origin of Chicken Tender Platter

The Perfect Breading

The breading process is crucial for achieving that coveted crispy exterior. Here’s a step-by-step guide to perfect breading:

  1. Flour Coating: Dredge the marinated chicken tenders in seasoned flour (flour mixed with salt, pepper, and other spices).
  2. Egg Wash: Dip the flour-coated chicken into an egg wash (beaten eggs with a splash of milk or water).
  3. Breadcrumbs: Coat the chicken in breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs are an excellent choice for extra crunch.
  4. Pro Tip: Mix some crushed cornflakes or crackers into your breadcrumbs for an even crunchier texture.

Frying vs. Baking

While frying is the traditional method for cooking chicken tenders, baking can be a healthier alternative. Both methods have their merits:

  1. Frying: Heat oil (vegetable or canola oil works well) in a deep fryer or large pot to 350°F (175°C). Fry the tenders in batches, ensuring they don’t overcrowd the pan. Cook for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden brown and cooked through. Drain on paper towels to remove excess oil.
  2. Baking: Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C). Place the breaded chicken tenders on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Lightly spray the tenders with cooking spray to help them crisp up. Bake for 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through, until golden brown and cooked through.

Dipping Sauces: Elevate Your Platter

No chicken tender platter is complete without a selection of delicious dipping sauces. Here are a few crowd-pleasers: 

Classic Honey Mustard:

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 cup Dijon mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • Mix all ingredients until smooth. 

BBQ Sauce:

  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Simmer all ingredients in a saucepan until thickened.

Ranch Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 garlic clove, minced 
  • Mix all ingredients until smooth and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
Perfect Breading for Chicken Tenders

Side Dishes: Complementing Your Chicken Tenders

Suitable side dishes can turn a simple chicken tenders platter into a feast. Here are some ideas:

  1. French Fries: A classic pairing, crispy French fries are always a hit. For a healthier option, try baking sweet potato fries.
  2. Coleslaw: The tangy crunch of coleslaw balances the richness of crispy fried chicken tenders.
  3. Macaroni and Cheese: Creamy and cheesy, this comfort food pairs perfectly with crispy chicken.
  4. Vegetable Sticks: For a lighter option, serve with a variety of fresh vegetable sticks, such as carrots, celery, and bell peppers.
  5. Cornbread: A warm, buttery cornbread adds a Southern touch to your fried chicken platter.

Presentation: Making It Instagram-Worthy

]A visually appealing chicken platter can enhance the dining experience. Here are some tips for a beautiful presentation:

  1. Use a Large Platter: Choose a large, flat platter to arrange your chicken tenders and sides.
  2. Garnish: Add fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro for a pop of color.
  3. Arrange Neatly: Place the tenders in a circular pattern with dipping sauces in small bowls in the center.
  4. Color Contrast: Use colorful sides like vibrant coleslaw or roasted vegetables to make the platter visually appealing.

Catering to Dietary Preferences

Chicken tenders can be adapted to suit various dietary needs:

  1. Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free flour and breadcrumbs.
  2. Low-Carb/Keto: Skip the breading and bake the chicken tenders with olive oil and seasonings.
  3. Vegetarian: Use tofu or seitan as a chicken substitute and follow the same breading and cooking process.
  4. Final Touches: Adding a Personal Twist To make your chicken tender platter genuinely unique, consider adding a personal twist:
  5. Spices: Experiment with different spices and seasonings in your breading. Try Cajun seasoning, curry powder, or Italian herbs.
  6. Sauces: Combine your favorite ingredients to create your signature sauce. Think spicy sriracha mayo or tangy lime cilantro aioli.
  7. Sides: For a refreshing contrast, add an unexpected side dish like grilled corn on the cob or a fresh fruit salad.
Side Dishes for Chicken Tenders

Your Butcher Shop

Welcome to your favorite butcher shop. We carry custom cuts of beef, chicken, lamb, goat, grass-fed beef, wagyu, deli, and more. We ship across the United States in 1-2 business days.


Crafting the perfect chicken tender party platter is an art that combines quality ingredients, precise techniques, and creative presentation. You can achieve crispy, juicy tenders every time by starting with tender, high-quality chicken, marinating it for maximum flavor, and mastering the breading and cooking process. Pair them with delicious dipping chicken tender sauce and complementary sides like French fries, coleslaw, or macaroni and cheese to create a well-rounded and satisfying meal. Don’t forget to consider dietary preferences, offering gluten-free or low-carb options as needed. Finally, add your personal touch with unique seasonings, signature sauces, and colorful garnishes to make your platter stand out. Whether for a casual gathering or a family dinner, a thoughtfully prepared chicken tender platter will impress and delight your guests, making it a favorite addition to your culinary repertoire. So, gather your ingredients and get ready to serve up a crowd-pleasing, mouthwatering chicken tender platter!

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