As someone who loves chicken tenders, I know firsthand that they are a family favorite and a go-to meal for many. However, deciding what to serve with chicken tenders can be a challenge.
While they are delicious on their own, pairing them with the right side dishes and sauces can take them to the next level.
Understanding Chicken Tenders Before we dive into the best sides and sauces for chicken tenders, it’s important to understand what they are.
Chicken tenders are strips of chicken breast that are breaded and fried until crispy. They are a popular fast-food item, but can also be made at home with ease.
Sauces to Serve with Chicken Tenders One of the best things about chicken tenders is the variety of sauces that can be served with them.
From classic ketchup and mustard to more unique options like honey mustard and buffalo sauce, the possibilities are endless.
Choosing the right sauce can elevate the flavor of the chicken tenders and make for a more enjoyable meal.
- Chicken tenders are a family favorite and a go-to meal for many.
- Pairing chicken tenders with the right sides and sauces can take them to the next level.
- The variety of sauces available for chicken tenders can elevate the flavor of the meal.
Understanding Chicken Tenders
As a food lover, I can confidently say that chicken tenders are one of the most popular and delicious dishes out there.
Whether you call them chicken tenders, chicken strips, chicken fingers, or chicken nuggets, they are a staple in many households and restaurants.
Chicken tenders are essentially small cuts of chicken breast that are breaded and fried until crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
They are a versatile main course that can be served in a variety of ways, from classic fried chicken tenders to buttermilk fried chicken fillets.
One of the best things about chicken tenders is their simplicity. They are easy to prepare and can be seasoned with a variety of spices and herbs to suit your taste.
Plus, they are a great option for picky eaters or kids who may not be adventurous eaters.
When it comes to serving chicken tenders, they can be paired with a variety of side dishes to make a complete meal.
Some popular options include creamy mac and cheese, oven-baked potato wedges, and loaded mashed potatoes.
In conclusion, chicken tenders are a beloved dish that can be enjoyed in many different ways. They are a versatile main course that can be paired with a variety of sides, making them a great option for any meal.
Sauces to Serve with Chicken Tenders
When it comes to serving chicken tenders, having the right sauce can make all the difference. Here are some of my favorite sauces to serve with chicken tenders:
- Honey Mustard Sauce: This classic dipping sauce is a perfect combination of sweet and tangy flavors. It’s easy to make by mixing mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, honey, and a hint of paprika.
- Barbecue Sauce: Barbecue sauce is a staple when it comes to serving chicken tenders. Its smoky, sweet, and tangy flavors complement the crispy chicken perfectly.
- Ranch Dressing: Ranch dressing is a versatile dipping sauce that goes well with almost anything, including chicken tenders. Its creamy and tangy flavors make it a popular choice.
- Buffalo Sauce: If you like your chicken tenders with a kick, buffalo sauce is the way to go. This spicy sauce is made with a combination of hot sauce, butter, and a few other ingredients.
- Pesto Sauce: Pesto sauce is a delicious and unexpected dipping sauce for chicken tenders. Its fresh and herbaceous flavors add a unique twist to this classic dish.
- Italian Sauce: Italian sauce is another unexpected but delicious dipping sauce for chicken tenders. Its rich tomato flavor and blend of herbs make it a tasty option.
- Blue Cheese Dressing: Blue cheese dressing is a bold and flavorful dipping sauce that pairs well with chicken tenders. Its tangy and creamy flavors are a perfect match for the crispy chicken.
- Ketchup: If you’re looking for a simple and classic dipping sauce, ketchup is always a good option. Its sweet and tangy flavors complement the chicken tenders well.
- Gochujang Sauce: Gochujang sauce is a Korean chili paste that adds a spicy and savory flavor to chicken tenders. It’s a great option for those who like their food with a little heat.
No matter what sauce you choose, make sure to serve it alongside some crispy and golden chicken tenders for a delicious meal.
Side Dishes for Chicken Tenders
When it comes to serving chicken tenders, it’s important to have some delicious side dishes to complement them. Here are some of my favorite side dishes for chicken tenders:
French fries are a classic side dish that pairs perfectly with chicken tenders. You can either make them at home or get them from your favorite fast-food restaurant.
Coleslaw is another classic side dish that goes well with chicken tenders. It’s a great way to add some veggies to your meal and the crunch of the cabbage complements the tenderness of the chicken.
Mashed potatoes are a comforting and filling side dish that pairs well with chicken tenders. You can add some garlic or cheese to make them even more flavorful.
Sweet Potato Fries
If you’re looking for a healthier alternative to French fries, sweet potato fries are a great option. They’re crispy and sweet, and they pair perfectly with chicken tenders.
Mac and Cheese
Mac and cheese is a delicious and indulgent side dish that pairs well with chicken tenders. You can either make it from scratch or get it from a box.
Baked beans are a classic barbecue side dish that pairs well with chicken tenders. They’re sweet and savory, and they add some protein to your meal.
Rice is a versatile and filling side dish that pairs well with chicken tenders. You can either make it plain or add some herbs and spices to make it more flavorful.
Pasta salad is a refreshing and flavorful side dish that pairs well with chicken tenders. You can add some veggies and dressing to make it even more delicious.
Roasted vegetables, such as asparagus or Brussels sprouts, are a healthy and flavorful side dish that pairs well with chicken tenders. You can season them with herbs and spices to make them even more delicious.
Overall, there are plenty of delicious side dishes that you can serve with chicken tenders.
Whether you’re in the mood for something indulgent or something healthy, there’s a side dish out there that will complement your chicken tenders perfectly.
Cooking Methods for Chicken Tenders
When it comes to cooking chicken tenders, there are many methods you can choose from.
Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s important to choose the one that works best for you and your kitchen.
Here are some of the most popular cooking methods for chicken tenders:
Cooking chicken tenders in a skillet is a classic method that is easy and quick. To cook chicken tenders in a skillet, heat some oil over medium-high heat.
Once the oil is hot, add the chicken tenders to the skillet and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side until they are golden brown and cooked through.
Make sure to use a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F.
Baking chicken tenders in the oven is a healthier option that requires less oil. Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Place the chicken tenders on the baking sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until they are golden brown and cooked through. You can also add some breadcrumbs or seasonings to the chicken tenders for extra flavor.
Using an air fryer to cook chicken tenders is a healthier option that still results in crispy and delicious chicken. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F and spray the basket with cooking spray.
Place the chicken tenders in the basket and cook for 10-12 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Make sure to check the internal temperature of the chicken to ensure that it reaches 165°F.
Cooking chicken tenders in an Instant Pot is a quick and easy option that results in tender and juicy chicken. To cook chicken tenders in an Instant Pot, add some chicken broth or water to the pot and place the chicken tenders on a trivet.
Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes, then release the pressure naturally for 5 minutes before opening the lid. Make sure to check the internal temperature of the chicken to ensure that it reaches 165°F.
Overall, there are many ways to cook chicken tenders, and each method has its own benefits.
Whether you prefer to use a skillet, oven, air fryer, or Instant Pot, you can create delicious and satisfying chicken tenders that are sure to please your taste buds.
Additional Toppings and Garnishes
When it comes to serving chicken tenders, there are a wide variety of toppings and garnishes that can take your dish to the next level. Here are a few of my favorite options:
- Parmesan cheese: Grated Parmesan cheese is a classic topping for chicken tenders. It adds a salty, nutty flavor that complements the chicken perfectly. Sprinkle it over the top of your tenders before serving.
- Biscuits: If you’re serving chicken tenders for breakfast or brunch, consider pairing them with biscuits. The buttery, flaky texture of the biscuits is a great contrast to the crispy tenders.
- Salt and pepper: Sometimes the simplest toppings are the best. A sprinkle of salt and pepper over your chicken tenders can enhance their flavor and bring out the natural taste of the chicken.
- Dill: Dill is a fresh, aromatic herb that pairs well with chicken tenders. You can sprinkle chopped fresh dill over the top of your tenders or mix it into a dipping sauce.
- Pesto: Pesto is a flavorful sauce made with fresh basil, pine nuts, Parmesan cheese, and garlic. It has a bright green color and a creamy texture that pairs well with chicken tenders. You can use it as a dipping sauce or drizzle it over the top of your tenders.
- Chives: Chives are a mild, onion-like herb that can add a pop of flavor to your chicken tenders. Sprinkle chopped fresh chives over the top of your tenders before serving.
- Pine nuts: Pine nuts are a crunchy, nutty topping that can add texture and flavor to your chicken tenders. Toast them in a dry pan before sprinkling them over the top of your tenders.
- Fresh basil: Fresh basil is a fragrant herb that can add a touch of sweetness to your chicken tenders. Chopped it up and sprinkle it over the top of your tenders before serving.
These are just a few of the many toppings and garnishes that can take your chicken tenders to the next level. Experiment with different flavors and textures to find the combination that works best for you.
Serving Chicken Tenders for Kids
As a parent, I know how challenging it can be to find meals that kids will actually eat.
Chicken tenders are a popular choice for kids, but it can be tough to come up with side dishes that complement them well. Here are some ideas for serving chicken tenders for kids:
When it comes to serving chicken tenders for kids, you can’t go wrong with classic pairings like french fries and ketchup.
Most kids love fries, and they pair perfectly with crispy chicken tenders. Ketchup is a must-have condiment for chicken tenders, so make sure you have plenty on hand.
Mac and Cheese
Another classic side dish that pairs well with chicken tenders is mac and cheese. Kids love the cheesy goodness of mac and cheese, and it’s an easy dish to make.
You can make it from scratch or use a boxed mix, depending on your preference.
If you’re looking for healthier options to serve with chicken tenders, there are plenty of veggie options that kids will enjoy.
Carrots and celery sticks are a classic choice, and they’re easy to prepare. You can also try roasted veggies like broccoli or sweet potato fries for a healthier twist on classic sides.
Make it Fun
Getting kids excited about mealtime can be a challenge, but there are ways to make it more fun. Try serving chicken tenders with a dipping sauce like honey mustard or BBQ sauce.
You can also make a DIY “dipping station” with small bowls of different sauces for kids to try.
Overall, serving chicken tenders for kids is easy and versatile. With the right side dishes and a little creativity, you can make mealtime fun and enjoyable for the whole family.
Chicken Tenders as Comfort Food
When I think of comfort food, crispy chicken tenders are always at the top of my list. There’s something about the combination of juicy chicken with a crispy coating that just hits the spot.
And when it comes to sides, there are so many options that pair perfectly with chicken tenders.
One classic comfort food pairing is mashed potatoes. Creamy, buttery mashed potatoes are the perfect complement to crispy chicken tenders.
You can even mix things up by adding some garlic or cheese to your mashed potatoes for an extra burst of flavor.
Another classic comfort food pairing is macaroni and cheese. Whether you opt for a classic stovetop version or a baked casserole, mac and cheese is always a hit with chicken tenders.
The creamy, cheesy pasta is the perfect contrast to the crispy chicken.
For a Southern twist on comfort food, try serving your chicken tenders with biscuits or cornbread. These buttery, flaky breads are the perfect vessel for sopping up any leftover sauce or gravy from your chicken tenders.
If you’re in the mood for something a little more indulgent, try pairing your chicken tenders with some fried pickles or waffles.
The tangy, crunchy pickles are a great contrast to the juicy chicken, while the sweet, fluffy waffles make for a delicious and unexpected pairing.
No matter what your comfort food preferences are, there’s no denying that chicken tenders are the perfect base for a delicious and satisfying meal.
Whether you’re in the mood for classic sides like mashed potatoes and mac and cheese, or something a little more unexpected like fried pickles or waffles, there’s no wrong way to enjoy this classic comfort food.
Serving Chicken Tenders for Guests
When it comes to serving chicken tenders for guests, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, consider the occasion.
Are you serving chicken tenders as a main course for dinner or as an appetizer for a party? This will help determine how many chicken tenders to make and what other dishes to serve alongside them.
If you’re serving chicken tenders as an appetizer, consider offering a variety of dipping sauces. Some popular options include honey mustard, ranch, and barbecue sauce.
You can also serve chicken tenders with a side of fries or onion rings for a classic pub-style appetizer.
For a dinner party, chicken tenders can be served as the main course alongside a variety of side dishes. Some popular options include macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and roasted vegetables.
You can also serve chicken tenders on a sandwich or as part of a bruschetta appetizer.
When it comes to salads, a simple green salad with a vinaigrette dressing can be a refreshing complement to the richness of chicken tenders.
Alternatively, you can serve a more substantial salad with ingredients like avocado, bacon, and hard-boiled eggs.
If you’re looking for a pro tip, consider making extra chicken tenders to use in sandwiches for leftovers. Simply slice the chicken tenders and serve them on a bun with your favorite toppings.
Overall, serving chicken tenders for guests can be a crowd-pleasing option for any occasion.
With a variety of side dishes, salads, and sauces to choose from, you can customize the meal to suit your guests’ preferences and dietary restrictions.
Unique Pairings with Chicken Tenders
When it comes to pairing chicken tenders with sides, there are some classic choices that come to mind like french fries, coleslaw, and potato wedges.
However, if you want to try something different, there are plenty of unique pairings that can elevate your chicken tender game.
One unexpected pairing that I love is chicken tenders and waffles. The combination of sweet and savory is irresistible.
You can make your own waffles or use frozen ones for convenience. Top the waffles with butter and syrup and serve the chicken tenders on the side for a delicious and unique meal.
Another fun option is to serve chicken tenders with fried pickles. The tangy and crunchy pickles complement the tender and juicy chicken perfectly.
You can make your own fried pickles or use store-bought ones. Serve them with a dipping sauce like ranch or honey mustard for a tasty snack or meal.
If you’re in the mood for a sandwich, try making a chicken tender sandwich with pickled jalapenos.
The spiciness of the jalapenos adds a kick to the sandwich, while the chicken tenders provide a satisfying crunch. You can also add cheese, lettuce, and tomato for a complete meal.
For a classic southern favorite, serve chicken tenders with cucumber salad. The cool and refreshing salad is a perfect contrast to the hot and crispy chicken tenders.
You can make your own cucumber salad with sliced cucumbers, onions, and vinegar, or use a store-bought version for convenience.
Overall, there are many unique pairings that can take your chicken tender game to the next level.
Whether you try chicken tenders and waffles, fried pickles, a sandwich with pickled jalapenos, or cucumber salad, you’re sure to enjoy these delicious and unexpected combinations.
In conclusion, chicken tenders are a versatile and delicious meal that can be served with a variety of sides.
From classic french fries to healthier options like roasted vegetables, there are plenty of options to choose from when deciding what to serve with chicken tenders.
As someone who loves to cook, I have found that experimenting with different side dishes is a great way to keep things interesting and ensure that my family never gets bored with our meals.
Some of my personal favorite side dishes to serve with chicken tenders include macaroni and cheese, coleslaw, and sweet potato fries.
When it comes to finding the best side dishes for chicken tenders, it’s important to consider factors like flavor, texture, and nutritional value.
While some side dishes may be more indulgent than others, it’s always possible to find a balance that works for you and your family.
Overall, I believe that chicken tenders are a family favorite for a reason. They’re easy to make, delicious, and can be paired with a wide variety of sides to create a meal that everyone will enjoy.
So whether you’re cooking for a crowd or just looking for a quick and easy weeknight dinner, chicken tenders are always a great choice.
Frequently Asked Questions
What are some tasty dipping sauces for chicken tenders?
There are many delicious dipping sauces that pair well with chicken tenders. Some popular options include honey mustard, ranch, BBQ sauce, and buffalo sauce.
For those looking for a healthier option, try hummus or tzatziki sauce. Additionally, you can experiment with making your own sauces using ingredients like sriracha, soy sauce, or garlic.
What are some healthy side dishes to serve with chicken tenders?
If you’re looking for healthy side dishes to serve with chicken tenders, consider options like roasted vegetables, sweet potato fries, or a side salad.
You can also try swapping out traditional French fries for baked sweet potato wedges or roasted carrots. For a lighter option, consider serving your chicken tenders with a side of fresh fruit.
What are some unique side dishes to serve with chicken tenders?
If you’re looking to mix things up, try serving your chicken tenders with unique side dishes like quinoa salad, roasted Brussels sprouts, or grilled asparagus.
You can also try serving your tenders with a side of mac and cheese, butternut squash soup, or garlic bread.
What are some popular sides to serve with buffalo chicken tenders?
Buffalo chicken tenders are a popular dish that pairs well with a variety of sides. Some popular options include celery and carrot sticks, blue cheese or ranch dressing, and French fries.
For a healthier option, consider serving your buffalo chicken tenders with a side of roasted sweet potatoes or a side salad.
What are some creative meal ideas using chicken tenders?
Chicken tenders are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of creative meal ideas. Try using them to make chicken parmesan, chicken skewers, or chicken wraps.
You can also try serving your tenders with a side of homemade mac and cheese, or using them as a topping for a salad.
What is the best way to cook chicken tenders to ensure they are fully cooked?
To ensure your chicken tenders are fully cooked, it’s important to cook them to an internal temperature of 165°F.
You can achieve this by baking them in the oven at 400°F for 15-20 minutes, or by frying them in oil at 350°F for 3-4 minutes.
Always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of your tenders before serving.
Tiffany McCauley is a celebrated food and travel journalist and cookbook author known for her engaging stories on culinary adventures and cultural insights. With a background featuring collaborations with notable brands and publications, Tiffany brings a wealth of experience and a fresh perspective to Fanatically Food, where she champions taste, sustainability, and the art of cooking. Read More Here