This recipe for oven-fried pretzel chicken tenders is a great option for healthy baked chicken that is crispy, juicy, and extra flavorful! The chicken is brined in buttermilk and then dipped in an egg-free breading of pretzels and toasted pecans for a golden, crisp crust.
About the recipe
This oven-fried pretzel chicken tender recipe is one of my go-to options when I want to meal prep chicken to enjoy on wraps and salads for lunch during the week.
Whether it be a chicken Caesar salad, strawberry pretzel chicken wrap, or some simple chicken tenders served with kale chips and mac n' cheese, there are so many delicious meal options I can make with them. The chicken reheats beautifully in the oven once baked, so I just reheat the tenders as needed. It could not be more simple!
Whenever I make chicken that will be baked or roasted in the oven, I always brine it in some buttermilk to ensure it is flavorful and juicy. My favorite oven-fried chicken breading does not use flour and is egg-free. Instead, the chicken is coated in a fine-crumb mixture of salty pretzels and toasted pecans. I think you're going to LOVE these!
- Boneless, skinless chicken breast
- Salted pretzel twists
- Pecan halves, lightly toasted
- Coarse Kosher salt
- Spices: black pepper, smoked paprika, ground mustard, garlic powder, cayenne
- Brine the chicken in the buttermilk and Kosher salt for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to overnight.
- Lightly coat the chicken in the pretzel pecan crumb coating.
- Place the chicken tenders on a lined baking sheet, leaving enough room between each one for even browning and optimal crispness.
- Spray the tops of unbaked chicken with cooking spray.
- Bake the chicken until cooked through and golden brown.
- Enjoy while hot with your favorite dipping sauce!
Soak the chicken in a buttermilk brine for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to overnight. Doing this will ensure that your oven-fried chicken tenders are extra juicy and flavorful.
Buy whole chicken breasts and cut them into strips to save money and make this chicken tender recipe more budget-friendly.
Make sure the pretzels and pecans are very finely chopped - this will ensure that they coat the chicken evenly and stick to it. Larger chunks tend to fall off and not stick.
Spray the coated tenders with a fine mist of cooking oil before baking. This will help them brown evenly to crisp perfection!
Use a meat thermometer to check the chicken tenders for doneness and to help avoid overcooking or drying them out. Stack a few tenders on top of each other and insert the thermometer probe, being careful not to let the probe touch the hot pan. The chicken is done when the thermometer reaches 165°F/74°C.
- Use a gluten-free pretzel, if needed, to make this recipe gluten-free.
- Use a seasoned pretzel blend, such as honey mustard or buffalo, to make an extra-flavored version of this recipe. Omit the salt in the pretzel topping, as flavored pretzels are often high in sodium.
- Replace the chopped pecans with Panko breadcrumbs for a nut-free oven-fried chicken tender.
- Replace the buttermilk with Greek yogurt.
- Make this recipe dairy-free by replacing the buttermilk brine with a brine of 4 cups of water and 1 tablespoon of salt.
- Serve the tenders on a nice platter with a side of this healthy, mayo-free Honey Mustard Dressing
- Wrap the tenders up in a whole grain tortilla with a little bit of cheese, lettuce, and this Creamy Avocado Ranch Dressing
- Serve as a hearty topping on a favorite salad, like this Chopped Mexican Kale Salad
- Pair with my easy Baked Mac and Cheese and Crispy Kale Chips for a fun, kid-friendly dinner
Are you ready to make these Oven-Fried Pretzel Chicken Tenders? I’m so excited for you to try this recipe. Once you get the chance to make it, please let me know how it turns out for you!
Leave a comment and rate the recipe below. This will help me with the creation of future recipes!
Oven-Fried Pretzel Chicken Tenders
- 1.25 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
- 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- ¾ cup toasted pecans, finely chopped
- 4 cups salted pretzels, finale chopped (this will make 2 cups of chopped pretzels)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon ground mustard
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon ground cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
- Cooking spray
- Place the chicken pieces in a gallon-size plastic bag. Pour the buttermilk on top, then add the salt. Close the bag tightly and massage with your hands to combine. Place in the refrigerator and brine for a minimum of 30 minutes and up to overnight.
- Preheat oven to 400°F. Line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper.
- In a medium shallow dish, combine the finely chopped pecans, pretzels, and all the seasonings (through the salt). Stir to thoroughly mix.
- Drain the chicken from the butter milk and pat dry. Use a fork to transfer a piece of chicken to the pretzel mixture. Spoon the pretzel coating on top and all sides to thoroughly coat the chicken. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat, until all the chicken is coated, being sure to leave 1-2 inches between each piece of chicken so it will crisp up nicely.
- Spray the tops of the chicken tenders with cooking spray. Bake for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the internal temperature is 165°F. Serve while hot.
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