Pickle Brined Chicken Tenders can be made in the air fryer or the oven. They’re a nice, lightened-up way to make chicken fingers!
You can always spot chicken tenders on a happy hour menu… and kids beg to eat the frozen variety of chicken tenders at home, too. But they’re so much better when you make them homemade. And this recipe seriously couldn’t be much easier. These chicken tenders turn out completely moist and tender, just the way good chicken should be! They can either be made in the air fryer or the oven. Instructions for both are included in the recipe.
The recipe comes from a new book by my friend Gina Holmolka (founder of Skinnytaste.com): The Skinnytaste Air Fryer Cookbook. Using an air fryer means that you’ll use hardly any oil in the recipes, and the food will cook more quickly than on the stovetop or in the oven. This was my first time trying an air fryer recipe. And now I want to air fry everything!
The book is packed with 75 healthy recipes for all meals of the day. Almost every single recipe is accompanied by a photo. Here are some recipes that are definitely on my MUST-TRY list: Cinnamon Rolls with Cream Cheese Icing, Petite Spiced Pumpkin Bread, Baked Clam Dip, Loaded Zucchini Skins, Asian Turkey Meatballs with Hoisin Sauce, Carne Asada Salad, Meat-Lover’s Pizza Stuffed Peppers, Crab Cake Sandwiches with Cajun Mayo, Buffalo Cauliflower Nuggets and Crispy Sweet Potato Fries.
How to make Pickle Brined Chicken Tenders
The complete, printable recipe is at the end of this post.
The first thing you have to do is brine the chicken tenders in pickle juice for 8 hours (I only brined for 4 hours, and the tenders turned out perfect). We always have pickles on hand, so it was easy for me to save the juice for the brining. You can plan to do the same. The brining is an important step. It’s the pickle juice that will help that chicken take on its tenderness and remain nice and juicy after cooking.
If you’re not a huge fan of pickles, don’t worry… they really will not taste much like pickles at all. My son absolutely despises pickles. I did not share how these were made, and he ate them and enjoyed them without noticing any pickle flavor.
After brining, the brine is drained and discarded, and the tenders are patted dry with paper towels. Then they’re dipped in egg and then into a mixture of seasoned regular and seasoned panko breadcrumbs. After that, they’re set into the pre-heated air fryer and cooked for 10 minutes. Halfway through cooking, you’ll open the air fryer and turn each tender over. You’ll do this twice to make room for all twelve chicken tenders.
How to make Pickle Brined Chicken Tenders in the Oven:
You can most definitely make these in the oven too. In fact, in Gina’s book… she shares instructions for an oven option for most of the recipes in the book! For the chicken tenders, you’ll bake them at 425 degrees in the lower third of the oven for 8 to 10 minutes. Then you’ll turn them over and bake for an additional 6 minutes.
Serve with ketchup or ranch dressing or just on their own. They’re delicious!
Recipes for Chicken Tenders:
- Chicken Fingers with Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce
- Thai Chicken Tenders with Broiled Pineapple Slaw
- Baked Parmesan Chicken Tenders
- Hoisin Orange Chicken Tenders
If you happen to be following the Weight Watchers WW plan, you will find a link to the WW Points on the recipe card below.
Pickle Brined Chicken Tenders
- 12 chicken tenders (1.25 pounds total)
- 1¼ cups dill pickle juice, plus more- if needed
- 1 large eggs
- 1 large egg white
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- freshly ground black pepper
- ½ cup seasoned bread crumbs (regular or gluten-free)
- ½ cup seasoned panko bread crumbs (regular or gluten-free)
- olive oil spray
BRINE THE CHICKEN:
- Place the chicken in a shallow bowl and cover with the pickle juice (enough to cover completely). Cover and marinate for 8 hours in the refrigerator.
- Drain the chicken and pat completely dry with paper towels (discard the marinade).
COAT THE CHICKEN:
- In a medium bowl, beat together the whole egg, egg white, salt and pepper to taste. In a shallow bowl, combine both kinds of bread crumbs.
- Working with one piece at a time, dip the chicken in the egg mixture, then into the bread crumbs, gently pressing to adhere. Shake off any excess bread crumbs and place on a work surface. Generously spray both sides of the chicken with the olive oil spray.
- Preheat your air fryer to 400°F.
- Working in batches, arrange a single layer of the chicken in the air fryer basket. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes, flipping halfway, until cooked through, crispy and golden. (For a toaster oven style air fryer, the temperature remains the same; cook for about 10 minutes). Serve immediately.
- ALTERNATELY, IF YOU ARE COOKING THIS IN THE OVEN: Bake at 425° F. in the lower third of the oven for 8 to 10 minutes, flip then 6 minutes more.