Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders

Story by Natalie
Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders
Tap any image to pin it.

This post is sponsored by the American Pecan Council

On the menu tonight is one of the most universally loved dinners of all time, but with a twist. These pecan crusted chicken tenders with buttermilk ranch come together in a flash and are loaded with an abundance of flavor and protein.

Not long ago, Holly and I (Natalie) spent some time reevaluating The Modern Proper’s mission. What we settled on was creating beautiful, flavor-packed, and simple meals for the modern family to enjoy together. We know that finding recipe inspiration is easy, but finding those meals that please everyone in the family and can realistically be made on any given weeknight is another story.

It’s no easy task, but it’s a challenge we’ve taken head on, and here we are with yet another meal tailor made for you and your busy lifestyle.

Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders

As Holly and I tested this dish last week, we had a friend drop in who sampled our handy work. On first bite she paused and then exclaimed “these are the best chicken tenders I’ve ever had!” That was proof enough for us that we were onto something great. So here you have it folks-the best chicken tender recipe ever! Just what makes these juicy chicken tenders so delicious? It has everything to do with that pecan crust!

Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders

Let’s Talk About Pecans

Christmas is over, so you’re likely done baking all those pecan pies and pecan bars and giving those stretchy pants a much needed break. So, what do you do with the leftover pecans still in the cupboard? We suggest putting those pecans to use in something savory for a change, and these chicken tenders are just the place to start.

We all know pecans are delicious, but did you know that they're also incredibly nutritious? Pecans help add protein, fiber, good fats and essential minerals to a wide range of foods, and (compared to other major tree nuts) they are among the lowest in carbs per serving. Unfortunately, due to tariffs and natural disasters, this year has been a tough one for the pecan industry, so we’ve been asked by the American Pecan Council to remind you all to eat even more pecans and support America’s pecan growers!

Check out AmericanPecan.com/PledgePlecans and you’re sure to find lots of new recipes (both savory and sweet) in which to put pecans to good use. You can also take the #PecanPledge along with us by clicking or downloading a recipe on the site, and even share it on social. 

Now, How Do You Make Homemade Chicken Tenders?

New year, new you, right? I’m all about cleaning up my act after the six week feast that is Thanksgiving through New Year’s, which is why this healthy version of chicken tenders skips the deep frying all together. But, if you take care and double egg dip your tenders before baking, you’ll still achieve a deliciously crunchy coating with our oven-baked method.

We tested this method last year when we made these baked coconut chicken tenders with honey mustard, and instantly fell in love with this no-fry method!

Here’s how it works:

  • Season chicken.
  • Dip chicken in egg.
  • Dip chicken in flour (can be gluten free, or substitute almond flour to be keto-friendly.)
  • Dip chicken in egg.
  • Dip chicken in pecan mixture.
  • Bake.
  • Eat.
  • Cry because it's so good.
Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders

What Temperature Should Chicken Tenders Be Baked At?

Go with a high temperature to give the crust the crispness it needs. After 20 minutes at 425°F, the pecans have enough time to get slightly browned and crispy, and your chicken will be thoroughly cooked and juicy.

Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders

How Do I Season These Chicken Tenders?

The majority of flavor in these chicken tenders is comes from the pecan crust. Chop your pecans until super fine (a food processor works great for this) and then mix them with a bit of panko (Japanese-style bread crumbs), garlic powder, salt, and just a pinch of cayenne. We also highly recommend salting the chicken before doing any dipping to maximize the flavor in every bite.

To finish off this delicious dish, whip up a classic buttermilk ranch dressing for dipping. Do yourself a favor and skip out on the bottled stuff—repeat after me “all dipping sauce is better homemade.” It’s just a fact, guys. If ranch is too heavy for you (as if!), try this honey mustard sauce instead. It’s slightly healthier, but equally creamy and satisfying.

We LOVE These Pecan Chicken Tenders Because:

  • They’re the perfect way to use up leftover pecans,
  • They’re done in 30 minutes.
  • They require minimal ingredients.
  • They are packed with protein.
  • They make great homemade comfort food.
  • They are SO family friendly.
  • ...and we think you’ll love them, too!
Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders

If you make these pecan crusted chicken tenders, we’d love to hear about it! Be sure to snap a photo, add it to your Instagram feed or stories and tag @themodernproper and #themodernproper. Also, feel free to leave a comment on the post and tell your friends where you discovered the recipe!

Baked Pecan Chicken Tenders

Serves 4

Ingredients

1.5-2 lbs chicken breast tenders or chicken strips
2 cups raw pecan halves or pieces
1 cup panko (or gluten free bread crumbs)
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp salt
1 cup all-purpose (or gluten free flour blend)
3 eggs

Buttermilk Ranch Dressing

1/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp dried dill
1/2 tsp salt

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 425°F.
  2. In a food processor, pulls pecans until fine as breadcrumbs. Mix pecans along with panko, garlic powder, cayenne and salt in a shallow bowl.
  3. In another shallow bowl, whisk eggs until smooth. And finally, in a third shallow bowl add flour.
  4. Lightly season chicken tenders with salt and pepper. Working with one chicken tender at a time, dip in eggs, flour, eggs and then pecan mixture. (be sure to press the pecan mixture onto the chicken to be sure it is completely coated.) Set chicken on a baking sheet lined with a cooling rack or parchment paper. Repeat with remaining chicken.
  5. Place chicken on center rack and bake for 20 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through.
  6. While chicken is baking prepare buttermilk ranch dressing by combining all ingredients in a small bowl and whisking until smooth.
    Serve pecan chicken tenders warm with buttermilk ranch. Enjoy!