I don’t think there’s a chicken tender that my family doesn’t love. It’s what my kids order every time we go out, our go-to weeknight meal option and our favorite game day appetizer. I make these Cheez-It Coated Baked Chicken Tenders almost 3-4 times a month. We dip them in sauces, cut them up for sandwiches and toss them into salads. They’ve got a tangy cheddar crunch on the outside and they’re juicy tender on the inside – you can’t go wrong.
I started making these when it was the end of the month. In our house (because we get once a month) that means we’re getting tight on money. Our local grocery store oftentimes puts chicken tenders on sale for $1.50 per pound. I grab them when they’re on sale and stock up on them in our freezer.
One day, It took me staring into our pantry and refrigerator (for longer than I care to admit) to come up with this recipe idea. We happened to have cheez-its and we happened to have the tenders in the freezer. I immediately thought of crushing the crackers – inspired by the old-school shake-n-bake product.
The end result was such a hit with my family. These Cheez-It Coated Baked Chicken Tenders have a great exterior crunch, while the inside is juicy. Sometimes I have to make 3-4 packages of chicken tenders because our kids love them so much.
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How To Make Cheez-It Coated Baked Chicken Tenders
This recipe uses the combination of a jelly roll pan and cooling rack. You’ll place the cooling rack on top of the jelly roll pan so any crumbs or juice can fall through. This helps to keep the chicken tenders crispy on the outside. If you don’t have a cooling rack already, it’s a great kitchen investment to make. Use it for meats in the oven, cooling cookies and adding glazes to cakes. It’s so versatile.
Why I Love Making Cheez-It Baked Chicken Tenders For Weeknight Meals
First off, it’s super easy clean up. Lining your jelly roll pan with aluminum foil means that you don’t have to scrub or clean it. Just throw that aluminum foil in the trash and you’re done. Secondly, the chicken tenders only take a few minutes to prep and less than half hour to bake. The tenders are versatile to use in sandwiches or salads, but so easy to make that you can do a big batch. This recipe is truly a staple in our home.
What To Serve With Your Baked Chicken Tenders
I’m all about the sauce! You can’t go wrong making some homemade sauces to accompany your chicken tenders. Everyone wants to dip when you serve them as an appetizer. Try homemade barbecue, honey mustard and ranch dressing.
Get creative with your chicken tenders. You can serve with with as a hoagie with bread or over lettuce for a salad. They’d even be great as a Chicken-n-Waffles. I make a big batch and then use them in so many different ways. It never gets boring for our us.
How Many Chicken Tenders Do I Serve Per Guest?
I would plan to make 2-3 chicken tenders per person. If you’re enjoying them as a family dinner idea, even 3-4 might work for hungry teens. If you want to enjoy them as a party appetizer, a little less per person is fine because it’s served with other items. Usually, I buy 2-3 pounds to make. This recipe calls for 1 pound of chicken tenders, so you can double (or triple) the recipe for the more you make. My jelly roll pan will hold 12 chicken tenders total. You can always use two pans and two oven racks.
How To Store Your Baked Chicken Tender Leftovers
If you have any leftovers, like when you make a big batch, just place them in an air-tight food storage container. They do lose a little crisp in the refrigerator. You can enjoy them for 5-6 days after making them.
How To Reheat Your Cheez-It Chicken Tenders
To reheat your baked chicken tenders, you can use the oven again. Reheat them at 300º for 20 minutes. That’ll give you the crispy texture that they once had. You can also use a microwave to reheat them for 1-2 minutes on high – they probably won’t have the same crispy texture though.
Can I Freeze These Tenders?
After they’ve cooled, you can freeze them for up to three months. Cover them in plastic wrap to or store them in a freezer bag. Let them thaw for 24 hours before following the reheating instructions.
Recipe Substitutions You Can Make
There are so many recipe substitutions you can make. I’ve used Goldfish crackers in a pinch and you just crush them like the Cheez-Its. I’ve used Reduced Fat Cheez-Its and other flavor varieties. You can use whatever type of mayo you prefer and dijon mustard if you don’t have classic yellow.
What You’ll Need From The Grocery Store:
- Cheez-It Crackers
- Yellow Mustard
- Apple Cider Vinegar
- Grated Parmesan Cheese
- Non-stick Cooking Spray
- Salt and Pepper
Step-By-Step Directions To Make Cheez-It Coated Baked Chicken Tenders
Preheat the oven to 425º. Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil for easy clean up and place your cooling rack on top. Spray the rack with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Crush your Cheez-It’s (I use a freezer bag to do so).
For the chicken tenders, mix the cracker crumbs and parmesan together in a large bowl. In a shallow dish (or pie pan) mix the mayonnaise, mustard, cider vinegar and some salt-n-pepper.
Place the chicken tenders, one-by-one, in the mayonnaise mixture. Shake off excess mayonnaise and then roll the tenders in the crumb mixture to coat. As you go, place the coated tenders on the wire rack.
Bake until cooked through and golden brown, for 25 minutes. Let cool on the rack for 5 minutes. Serve with dipping sauces and enjoy!
- 1 Pound Chicken Tenders
- 3 Cups Cheddar Cheez-It Crackers, Crushed
- 1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
- 1/2 Cup Mayonnaise
- 1/2 Teaspoon Yellow Mustard
- 1 Tablespoon Apple Cider Vinegar
- Salt and Pepper
- Non-stick Cooking Spray
- Preheat the oven to 425º. Line a jelly roll pan with aluminum foil for easy clean up and place your cooling rack on top. Spray the rack with non-stick cooking spray and set aside. Crush your Cheez-It's (I use a freezer bag to do so).
- For the chicken tenders, mix the cracker crumbs and parmesan together in a large bowl. In a shallow dish (or pie pan) mix the mayonnaise, mustard, cider vinegar and some salt-n-pepper.
- Place the chicken tenders, one-by-one, in the mayonnaise mixture. Shake off excess mayonnaise and then roll the tenders in the crumb mixture to coat. As you go, place the coated tenders on the wire rack.
- Bake until cooked through and golden brown, for 25 minutes. Let cool on the rack for 5 minutes. Serve with dipping sauces and enjoy!
Store leftovers in an air-tight container. Reheat using the oven or microwave.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 323Total Fat: 20gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 40mgSodium: 136mgCarbohydrates: 9gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 25g
**Nutrition is calculated by a third party. Actual values may vary.