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.
1.25poundsboneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
¾cuptoasted pecans, finely chopped
4cupssalted pretzels, finale chopped (this will make 2 cups of chopped pretzels)
⅛teaspoonground cayenne pepper, plus more to taste
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.
Enjoy chicken within 5 days of cooking. Reheat chicken tenders at 375°F for 8-10 minutes. Freeze any leftovers within 5 days between layers of wax paper in a freezer-safe container. Thaw in the fridge overnight and heat/enjoy the next day at 375°F for 8-10 minutes.