What the heck is achicken tender? Is it a real yet mysterious part of the chicken, or does it only refer to that battered and deep-fried dish kids and adults love? Is it the creation of ballpark concession stands and bar menus, or an actual part of an actual chicken?
Where Chicken Tenders Come From
Chicken tenders are actually parts of a chicken. They are the little strips of meat that are tenuously attached to the underside of each breast (and thus sometimes called "hanging tenders"), so every chicken has two tenders. In fact, you can gently pull the tenders, which are about 1 1/2 inches wide and 5 inches long, off with just your hands! This cut of chicken is similar in location to beef and pork tenderloins.
Chicken tenders are white meat and besides being smaller than the breast, taste exactly the same as breast meat and are tender and moist when cooked properly. Sometimes chicken tenders can be separately sold from the breasts, making them great candidates for stir-fries and skewers, where the chicken meat needs to be cut up anyway.
So What Are the Fried Chicken Tenders?
Chicken tenders the dish, sometimes also called chicken fingers or chicken strips, are chicken tenders that are breaded and deep fried, which explains why the two are synonymously named.
Make Your Own Chicken Tenders
If your grocery store or butcher doesn't sell chicken tenders separately, it's quite easy to cut your own. Just take a boneless, skinless chicken breast and cut it lengthwise into pieces about 1/2 inch thick and you're left with essentially chicken-tender sized pieces of white meat.
Chicken Tender Recipes
(Image credits: Christine Gallary; koss13/Shutterstock; Coco Morante)