It's time to leave those fried chicken nuggets in the dust! This crispy and healthy baked panko chicken strips recipe will be a hit with both kids and adults. They're just as tasty, but without the added calories from frying.
Panko chicken strips are the ultimate kid-friendly meal! Who doesn't love crispy, golden chicken strips? But let's face it, the traditional deep-fried version isn't exactly the healthiest option out there.
That's where baked Parmesan chicken tenders come in! These crispy strips are coated in Japanese-style breadcrumbs that give them a crunch without all the excess oil. Try my Teriyaki Baked Chicken Tenders, too.
But the best part? Panko chicken tenders are incredibly easy to make. All you need are a few simple ingredients and about 30 minutes of your time. Plus, they're a hit with both kids and adults alike, making them a perfect weeknight dinner option.
Why are panko breadcrumbs better?
To make the perfect baked chicken strips, it's all about the coating. Panko breadcrumbs are lighter and larger than traditional breadcrumbs, which gives them their signature texture.
Be sure to coat the chicken evenly in the breadcrumbs and use a wire rack on top of a baking sheet to ensure even cooking and maximum crispiness.
But don't be afraid to get creative with your coatings! Add spices like paprika or garlic powder to the panko breadcrumb mixture for extra flavor. Or mix in some grated Parmesan cheese for a cheesy twist.
Ingredients for baked panko chicken tenders
- CHICKEN: Look for chicken tenders in most grocery stores. If you find them on sale, stock up your freezer. They’re great to have on hand for quick meals!
- BREADCRUMBS: Whole wheat panko breadcrumbs can be found in some well-stocked grocery stores, in health food stores or online. Regular panko breadcrumbs can be substituted.
- EGGS: Use one egg and one egg white.
- CHEESE: Use finely grated Parmesan cheese. I highly recommend buying a block of cheese and grating it as you need it. It’s far superior to pre-grated cheese and doesn’t include any fillers. Asiago cheese or pecorino romano can be substituted.
- FLOUR: Whole wheat flour for dredging the chicken. Substitute with all-purpose flour if you prefer.
- MUSTARD: Use Dijon mustard to flavor the egg mixture. It’s also great as a dipping sauce for the baked chicken.
- SEASONING: Season the paprika, kosher salt and pepper.
See recipe card below for full ingredients list & recipe directions.
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Substitutions and Additions
▪️ CHICKEN: Chicken breasts can be substituted for the chicken tenders. I recommend cutting them into strips so they cook quickly and evenly.
▪️ GLUTEN-FREE: For a gluten-free version of these parmesan crusted chicken tenders, use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs or make your own by crushing gluten-free crackers or rice cereal. Replace the whole wheat flour with a gluten-free flour.
▪️ SPICES AND HERBS: Customize the seasoning of the chicken strips by adding spices like paprika, garlic powder, or chili powder, or fresh herbs like thyme or parsley.
▪️ DAIRY-FREE: Swap out the Parmesan with nutritional yeast.
How to make panko chicken strips
OVEN AND RACK: Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top of the foil. Coat the rack with cooking spray. Cooking the chicken on a rack helps to crisp up both sides of the coating.
PREP THE COATING: You need three separate containers. One for the flour. Another for the whisked eggs, Dijon mustard and paprika. A third for the panko breadcrumbs, cheese, salt and pepper.
COAT THE CHICKEN: First, pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Start by dredging the chicken in the flour. Shake off the excess. Next, dip it into the the egg mixture. Last, dredge both sides of the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture. Press down lightly to make sure the breadcrumbs adhere to the chicken.
Place each coated chicken tender on the prepared wire rack.
BAKE THE CHICKEN: Light coat the chicken tenders with olive oil spray. Regular cooking spray can be used in a pinch. Bake until the chicken is just cooked through and the breadcrumbs are starting to brown, about 5 to 6 minutes per side.
Make them in the air fryer
Yes, you can make panko chicken strips in an air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 375°F and spray the basket with cooking spray. Place the chicken strips in a single layer in the basket and spray the tops with cooking spray. Cook for 8-10 minutes, flipping halfway through, or until the chicken is cooked through and the coating is crispy.
Make-Ahead and Storage
Panko chicken strips can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, place them on a baking sheet and bake in a preheated oven at 350°F for 10-12 minutes, or until heated through. Or pop them into an air fryer for a few minutes.
For longer storage, they can be frozen for up to 3 months in an airtight freezer container or resealable bag.
What to serve with chicken strips
Panko chicken strips are versatile and pair well with a variety of sides. Here are some options:
- Steamed or roasted vegetables, such as roasted paprika potatoes
- Oven-baked fries or baked zucchini fries
- Slaw or a side salad
- Roasted potatoes or potato salad
And don't forget the dipping sauces! Ranch, honey mustard, BBQ sauce or pesto dipping sauce all pair perfectly with panko chicken strips.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can freeze panko chicken strips. Let them cool completely, then store them in an airtight container or freezer bag. They can be frozen for up to 3 months. To reheat, bake them in the oven at 350°F for 10-12 minutes or until heated through.
Yes, you can use chicken breasts instead of chicken tenders, but you'll need to cut them into strips first. To make the process easier, try partially freezing the chicken breasts for about 30 minutes before cutting them.
Absolutely! The beauty of panko chicken strips is that you can season them however you like. Try using different herbs and spices, like paprika, cumin, or thyme, or adding grated Parmesan cheese or lemon zest to the breadcrumb mixture.
Make sure to pat the chicken dry with paper towels before coating it with the breadcrumb mixture. Dipping the chicken in flour and beaten eggs before dredging it in the breadcrumbs helps the coating adhere better. Finally, make sure your oven is preheated and hot before baking the chicken, which will help the coating become crispy.
If you need to make panko chicken strips gluten-free, you can use gluten-free panko breadcrumbs, which are available at many health food stores. Alternatively, you can make your own gluten-free breadcrumbs by toasting gluten-free bread and then pulsing it in a food processor until it's the texture of breadcrumbs. You can also try using crushed rice cereal, cornmeal, or almond flour as a coating for your chicken strips.
Other Kid-Friendly Meals
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Baked Panko Chicken Strips
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Place a wire rack on a baking sheet lined with foil. Coat with cooking spray.
- Place the whole wheat flour in a medium bowl. In a shallow container, whisk together the egg, egg white, Dijon mustard and paprika. In a separate shallow container, combine the panko breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese, salt and pepper.
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
- Working with one chicken tender at a time, dredge the chicken in the flour, shaking off the excess. Next, dip in the egg mixture until the chicken is coated. Last, roll the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture, completely coating the outside.
- Transfer the chicken tenders to the prepared wire rack.
- Lightly coat the chicken tenders with olive oil spray or cooking spray. Bake until the chicken is just cooked through and the breadcrumbs are starting to brown, 5 to 6 minutes per side.
- Serve with Dijon or honey mustard, or your favorite dipping sauce.
This post was originally published on February 5, 2014 and updated on April 25, 2023.
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