Gluten Free Chicken Tenders
Chicken tenders are a family favorite, but traditional breading mixes contain gluten which doesn’t work for those following a gluten free diet. Never fear, you can still enjoy the crispy crunch of breaded chicken with this easy homemade gluten free chicken tenders recipe!
I’ll walk you through preparing the chicken, making the gluten free breading, frying to golden perfection, and offer some dipping sauce ideas to take these gluten free chicken tenders over the top. Whether it’s for a weeknight family dinner or game day appetizers, these chicken tenders are sure to disappear fast. Let’s get started!
What You Need for Gluten Free Chicken Tenders Chicken
– Boneless, skinless chicken breasts or tenders work best. Choose an official USDA organic brand for quality assurance.
Eggs & Milk – Eggs and milk create adhesion for the breading. Select certified humane pasture-raised eggs and rBST-free milk.
Gluten Free Breading – For the breading, we’ll make our own flavorful mix using gluten free flour, spices, and herbs. See below for the recipe.
Frying Oil – For frying, choose a high smoke point oil like avocado, vegetable, canola, or peanut oil. Consult manufacturer guidelines and safety information.
Dippers – Gluten free chicken tenders pair nicely with dipping sauces like honey mustard, barbecue sauce, ranch dressing, blue cheese, sweet chili sauce, or hot sauce. Choose official brand products for accuracy.
Equipment Needed Here’s the basic kitchen equipment you’ll need:
- Cutting board and knife
- Mixing bowls
- Baking sheet
- Heavy pot or dutch oven for frying
- Paper towels
Instructions for Making Gluten Free Chicken Tenders
Cut the Chicken
Rinse 1 pound of chicken breasts under cold water and pat dry with paper towels. Remove any fat or tendons. Slice the chicken lengthwise into 1/2 inch wide strips.
Safety: Ensure your hands and cutting surfaces remain clean when handling raw chicken to prevent cross contamination.
Prepare the Gluten Free Breading In a shallow bowl, whisk together the breading ingredients:
- 1 1/2 cups gluten free flour blend (I use Bob’s Red Mill or King Arthur brands)
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon celery salt
Stir well until combined thoroughly. The spices infuse the flour blend with lots of flavor.
Bread the Chicken Tenders Crack 2 large eggs into a separate shallow bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Pour 1/2 cup of milk into another bowl.
Set up your breading station in this order:
- Bowl of egg wash
- Bowl of gluten free breading
- Baking sheet
Take each chicken strip and dip it in the egg mixture, allowing any excess to drip off. Then place the chicken in the gluten free flour blend, turning and pressing the breading into the chicken.
Ensure the chicken is thoroughly coated on all sides, covering every nook and cranny for even frying. Gently shake off any excess coating and place on the baking sheet.
Repeat process until all the chicken pieces have been breaded. Let breaded chicken strips rest for 10 minutes before frying.
Preheat Frying Oil
Pour 2-3 inches of frying oil into a heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven and clip a deep fry thermometer to the side. Heat oil over medium-high heat until it reaches 350°F.
Maintain this temperature throughout frying process. Consult safety guidelines when deep frying foods.
Fry the Chicken Tenders Working in batches, carefully drop 4-5 chicken tender strips into the hot oil and fry for 4-5 minutes, occasionally flipping and turning them over, until golden brown and crispy.
Use metal tongs to flip chicken. Avoid overcrowding.
Drain and Season Chicken Tenders
When chicken reaches desired golden crispiness, remove strips from the oil and allow excess oil to drain off onto a paper towel lined plate. Lightly sprinkle with salt while hot.
Serve gluten free chicken tenders immediately with choice of dipping sauces (recipes in next section). Enjoy!
- Smaller chicken tender strips fry up with a crisper exterior versus larger pieces.
- Letting breaded chicken sit for 10 minutes helps create a better crust.
- Use gluten free panko breadcrumbs for an extra crunchy texture.
- Adjust oil temperature as needed to maintain 350°F.
- Fry in batches for even cooking without lowering oil temp.
- Let oil return to temp between batches for consistency.
- Keep fried tenders warm in a 200°F oven if necessary.
Gluten Free Dipping Sauces No chicken tender meal is complete without a flavorful dipping sauce! Whip up one of these 5 minute sauces:
Honey Mustard Sauce: Whisk together 1/4 c honey, 3 tbsp gluten free yellow mustard, 1 tbsp lemon juice and 1 tsp apple cider vinegar until smooth.
Mix 1 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup milk, 1 tsp each dried parsley, dill, onion powder, garlic powder and pepper for a quick homemade ranch.
Spicy Sriracha Mayo:
Stir sriracha and lime juice into mayonnaise, starting with 1 tbsp of each per 1/2 cup mayo. Taste and adjust spice as desired.
Combine 3/4 cup ketchup or tomato paste with 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tbsp brown sugar, 1 tsp each Worcestershire sauce, smoked paprika and mustard. Simmer 5 minutes.
Blue Cheese Dip:
In a bowl, mix 1/2 cup blue cheese crumbles, 1/2 cup mayo or Greek yogurt, 1/4 cup sour cream, dash Worcestershire sauce, pepper and garlic powder.
When Cooking Gluten Free Chicken Tenders Here are some important food safety guidelines when making this recipe:
- Only thaw chicken in the refrigerator, never at room temperature or in hot water.
- Prevent cross contamination by washing hands, utensils, cutting boards after touching raw chicken. Keep raw meats separate from other foods.
- Use a meat thermometer to confirm chicken reaches safe 165°F internal temperature when cooked.
- Refrigerate leftover fried chicken tenders within 2 hours in airtight containers. Reheat within 3-4 days to 165°F.
- Discard oil used for chicken if it smells, smokes, or foams excessively during frying.
Crispy Gluten Free Chicken Tenders If your breaded chicken tenders turn out underdone or not as crispy as you hoped, here are some tips:
- Ensure oil reached and stayed at 350°F for frying. Let it reheat fully between batches.
- Fry chicken tenders in smaller batches to maintain oil temperature.
- Use a digital thermometer to double check your frying oil temp.
- Let raw breaded chicken strips sit for 10 mins before frying to better adhere.
- Try slightly undercooking inside, as they’ll continue cooking after removing from oil.
- Use extra crispy panko-style gluten free breadcrumbs in the coating.
- Adding an extra egg or two makes the coating more adhesive.
- If tenders brown too quickly outside, oil temp is likely too high – lower to 325°F.
Now you’re all set to fry up the best gluten free chicken tenders! This versatile recipe works as an easy dinner, game day appetizer, or even healthy kids meal. Dip those tender crispy gluten free chicken strips in your favorite sauces and enjoy!
The Most Common Chicken Tender Questions If you’re new to cooking chicken tenders, chances are you have some questions. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions:
- What’s the best oil for frying chicken tenders? The best oils for frying chicken have high smoke points around 400°F or above. This includes refined vegetable, canola, peanut, avocado, sunflower, grapeseed or light olive oils. Avoid unrefined olive oil.
- Is it better to bake or fry chicken tenders? The cooking method depends on your goals. Fried chicken gets crispier with a golden brown exterior while baked chicken tends to be lighter and healthier. Both work well with gluten free breading.
- How long does it take to cook chicken tenders? In the oven, boneless chicken tenders bake at 425°F for 10-15 minutes until 165°F inside. Fried chicken tenders at 350°F take just 4-6 minutes per batch. Watch closely to avoid over frying.
- Can you freeze cooked chicken tenders? Yes, freezing cooked chicken works well. First cool fried or baked tenders completely, then store in airtight freezer bags or containers for 2-3 months. Reheat still frozen tenders in a 400° oven until hot, about 15 minutes.
- Why soak chicken in buttermilk? Buttermilk marinade makes chicken extra moist and tangy. The lactic acid also helps tenderize chicken. For gluten free diets, skip buttermilk breading and coat tenders with seasoned flour and egg wash instead before frying.
More Delicious Gluten Free Chicken Recipes
If this gluten free chicken tenders recipe gets those taste buds fired up for more gluten free chicken dishes, here are a few favorites:
- Garlic Parmesan Crusted Chicken
- Chicken Fajitas with Peppers and Onions
- Buffalo Chicken Casserole
- Tuscan Chicken Pasta
- Chicken Pot Pie with Hashbrown Crust
Or try swapping chicken for pork, beef, shrimp or vegetables in these gluten free recipes:
- Crispy Pork Carnitas Tacos
- Gluten Free Meatloaf
- Shrimp Scampi Zoodles
- Veggie Fried Rice
We hope these gluten free chicken tender tips help you whip up the perfect crowd-pleasing platter. With a few tricks and the right technique, you can enjoy the same crispy, golden tenders and dipping sauces even on a gluten free diet. Now get cooking!