Many of us still hold a special place in our hearts for that childhood favorite: chicken nuggets. It’s hard to grow out of something so delicious. Unfortunately, pre-made chicken fingers are usually made with lower quality cuts of chicken and are deep-fried and packed with fat. This healthier breaded chicken fingers recipe is the grown-up version of chicken nuggets. We think you’ll like them even better than the fried and frozen variety.
These succulent baked chicken tenders are breaded with panko, a Japanese-style breadcrumb, which helps the exterior get crisp in the oven as though it were fried and keeps the chicken moist and tender. The crunchy crust gets extra flavor from Parmesan cheese, lemon juice, and spices you probably already have in your pantry. Don’t be intimidated by the long(ish) list of ingredients. Most are used to add flavor to the breadcrumbs; if you don’t have one of them, you can skip it or swap for something else you do have, like oregano, paprika, or cayenne.
We made these breaded chicken tenders into an easy weeknight meal by turning the recipe into a sheet pan dinner. That means everything cooks together on a single baking sheet, so cleanup is a cinch. Simply coat the chicken in breadcrumbs, bake it for about 10 minutes, add broccolini or broccoli florets to the pan and cook about 10 minutes more–and voila–dinner is served!
Breaded Chicken Tenders with Lemon and Broccolini
This recipe for breaded chicken tenders with lemon is the grown-up version of chicken nuggets. We think you'll like them even better than the fried and frozen variety.
- Parchment paper
- ¼ cup whole wheat flour
- ½ cup whole-grain Panko bread crumbs
- 8 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese divided use
- 1 tsp. dried parsley
- ½ tsp. garlic powder
- 1 dash sea salt or Himalayan salt
- ½ tsp. ground black pepper
- ½ cup fresh lemon juice
- 1 tsp. finely grated lemon peel (lemon zest)
- 4 cloves finely chopped garlic
- ¼ cup butter (preferably grass-fed), melted
- 1 lb. raw chicken breast tenders
- 1 Tbsp. lemon pepper seasoning salt-free
- 12 oz. broccolini
- 1 medium lemon sliced (optional)
Preheat oven to 400º F.
Line large sheet pan with parchment paper. Set aside.
Place flour on a medium plate. Set aside.
Combine bread crumbs, 6 Tbsp. cheese, dried parsley, garlic powder, salt, and pepper powder in a small bowl; mix well. Transfer to a plate. Set aside.
Combine lemon juice, lemon peel, garlic, and butter in a medium bowl; mix well. Put aside ¼ cup of lemon juice mixture.
Dip each chicken tender in flour, completely coating, then lemon juice mixture, then bread crumbs; coating each evenly on all sides. Place chicken on prepared baking sheet. (Discard any lemon juice mixture that has been used with raw chicken.)
Sprinkle with lemon pepper.
Bake for 10 minutes, turn chicken tenders.
Place broccolini on the side of the pan. Drizzle broccolini with 2 Tbsp. reserved lemon juice mixture and sprinkle with remaining 2 Tbsp. cheese. Top chicken with lemon slices if desired. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the middle, and broccolini is tender-crisp.
Drizzle chicken with remaining 2 Tbsp. lemon juice mixture right before serving.
You can substitute broccoli for broccolini.
Make sure you sprinkle chicken with lemon juice mixture right before serving, or lemon juice will make the chicken soggy.
The Nutrition Facts box below provides estimated nutritional information for this recipe.