Moist, pan fried, chicken tenders are coated in blackened seasoning then pan fried until blackened on all sides. The blackened chicken tenders have a tasty crusted layer on the outside but are tender and juicy on the inside.
Why You’ll Love These Blackened Chicken Tenders
- These chicken tenders are gluten free and carb free
- They are incredibly addicting and kid friendly. Whether you serve them plain or with ranch or ketchup kids will love these! They are not spicy just full of flavor.
- Make these in less than 30 minutes. The blackened seasoning blend is very simple and everything can be thrown together quite quickly making it a great option for a weeknight meal.
What Does Blackened Mean?
When I refer to blackened chicken tenders, I bet you picture chicken tenders that have been pan friend until the seasoning has turned blackened. You may also be familiar with the famous blackened seasoning blend that can be found in popular recipes.
Blackened seasoning is typically a blend of paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, thyme, oregano, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. This is really similar to a cajun spice blend but cajun seasoning tends to be more on the spicy side.
These blackened chicken tenders don’t use the typical blackened seasoning with the ingredients listed above. Instead, we decided to use the following:
- smoked paprika
- ancho chili powder or regular chili powder
- garlic powder
- onion powder
The paprika and chili powder add incredible color and flavor to the chicken. When it’s pan fried it easily turns black when your meat is cooked at a high heat. The smoked paprika gives the chicken a nice but subtle smoky flavor. Using ancho chili powder instead of regular chili powder is a great option if you can find it because it has a sweet but smoky flavor as well.
If you’re someone who likes a little heat with your chicken, consider adding some cayenne pepper to this blend. I decided to keep it off the list to make it a more kid friendly version.
Aside from the spice blend that coats the chicken tenders, blackened also refers to the cooking method. This involves cooking the meat in a very hot cast iron skillet. A high heat is essential for the spice coating to turn black as it cooks.
What Part of Chicken Can Be Used to Make Blackened Chicken Tenders?
Chicken tenders are most commonly used to make this recipe. This is the part of the chicken that refers to the strips of meat on the underside of the breast. Every chicken has two tenders.
If you don’t have chicken tenders on hand you can cut boneless skinless chicken breasts into 1 inch strips to use in place of the tenders. You’ll cook them the same way you would if you were using chicken tenders.
How to Make Blackened Chicken Tenders
Step 1: In a small bowl combine paprika, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Mix until well combined. Coat the chicken tenders with the seasoning on all sides. One way to do this is to place the tenders in a bag or a container with the seasoning and shake until all the tenders are evenly coated.
Step 2: Heat a cast iron skillet with oil over medium to medium high heat. There should be enough oil to cover the bottom of the skillet. You may need to add more depending on the size of your skiilet. Once the oil is fully heated add the chicken tenders making sure they do not touch. Let the chicken cook on this side for about 4-5 minutes or until the chicken tenders have started to blacken and the sides have started to cook.
Step 3: Flip the chicken and let the other side blacken. This will take about 3-4 minutes. Once done, remove from heat and let the chicken tenders cool on a wire rack. Serve warm with your favorite condiment.
Can Blackened Chicken Tenders Be Made In The Oven?
Yes, these blackened chicken tenders can be cooked in the oven but the texture may be a little different. They may not have the blackened crust that’s produced when it’s pan fried. Your tenders should still get blackened from the seasoning.
If baking in the oven, be sure to bake at a high temperature like 425. Bake the chicken for about 5-10 minutes or until the chicken tenders have cooked through. This will not take a lot of time since chicken tenders are quite small.
The Best Condiments for Blackened Chicken Tenders
Blackened chicken tenders are full of flavor and they are great to eat on their own but they’re even better when paired with your favorite condiment. Below are our favorite ways to eat the blackened chicken tenders. Let me know if you end up trying any!
- Honey Mustard
- Buffalo sauce with Blue Cheese
- Barbecue Sauce
- Carolina Barbecue Sauce
What to Serve with Blackened Chicken Tenders
Why Are My Blackened Chicken Tenders Dry?
So you’ve made the blackened tenders but they’re dry. The most probably reason for this is that they were overcooked. When chicken becomes overcooked it gets dry and chewy. Try cooking your next batch for less time by a minute or two.
Storing Blackened Chicken Tenders
To store the chicken tenders, place in an air tight container and keep in a refrigerator for up to a week. Reheat by placing in the microwave for 20-30 seconds at a time, repeat until the chicken is warmed through.
You can also freeze the chicken tenders by laying them out on a baking sheet then placing in the freezer until frozen. This takes about 1-2 hours. Once frozen, store in freezer bags or an air tight container for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before reheating.
The Best Blackened Chicken Tenders
- 1 lb chicken tenders
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder or regular chili powder
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- In a small bowl combine the paprika, smoked paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, and salt. Mix until well combined. Coat the chicken tenders with the seasoning blend and set aside.
- Heat a skillet with oil over medium heat. Once the oil is heated, add the chicken tenders and cook for 3-4 minutes then flip and cook for a remaining 2 minutes or until the chicken is fully cooked. Serve with ranch.