Crispy and Delicious, the Best Frozen Chicken Tenders Will Make You Miss Being a Kid

Chicken tenders are a food loved by kids and adults of all ages. One of the best parts of chicken tenders is the signature crispy breading on the outside of the meat. While there are plenty of fast-food restaurants to get your fried chicken fix, we decided to find the best frozen chicken tenders. Before we get that far, though, we need to figure out the difference between a chicken tender, a chicken nugget, and a chicken strip.

The Difference Between Chicken Nuggets and Chicken Tenders

All three share one thing in common. They are all made from boneless, white meat chicken, mainly the breast. A chicken tender is an actual cut of meat, located on the small muscle that runs directly beneath the chicken breast. The chicken tenderloin is more tender than the breast, making them so beloved. Chicken strips are thinly sliced pieces of the breast cut into strips. Chicken fingers are also strips of meat taken from the breast or the inner breast muscle.

To make this taste test as fair as possible, we cooked all the frozen chicken strips in an air fryer. It was pretty impressive that every frozen chicken tender brand had instructions for cooking in the air fryer. Of course, you can always cook the chicken in an oven on a baking sheet if you don't have an air fryer.

We also tried all the chicken without dipping sauce. We only did this to ensure we could taste the chicken tenders on their own. Normally, honey mustard, BBQ sauce, or ketchup is a must for devouring chicken tenders. Chicken tenders make a great game day appetizer, or quick weeknight meal, so read on to find our best picks.

The 5 Best Grocery Store Frozen Chicken Tenders

5. Perdue Lightly Breaded Chicken Breast Strips

Perdue Lightly Breaded Chicken Breast Strips
Sarah Abrams

These lightly breaded chicken tenders left a lot to be desired. The tenders tasted bland and dry. The strips had an initial crunch, but each bite became less crunchy. Chewing the tenders reminded us a bit of chewing sawdust. The tenders were the smallest of the bunch, closer in size to popcorn chicken.

A few redeeming qualities are that their chicken breast tenders are certified organic, made with non-GMO ingredients, and real white meat chicken. Perdue also claims their chicken has no fillers or preservatives. If you're willing to sacrifice crunch and flavor for slightly healthier ingredients, this is a good option.

4. Tyson Air-Fried Perfectly Crispy Chicken Breast Strips 

Tyson Air-Fried Perfectly Crispy Chicken Breast Strips 
Sarah Abrams

Tyson wins points for making a chicken strip that claims to have 75% less fat than other brands. The first ingredient is real chicken with rib meat. Tyson achieves this "lower fat" chicken strip by using a lighter breading.

We were surprised that even with the lighter breading, the chicken was still crispy. The chicken was very juicy, almost to the point of being watery. The tenders were seasoned lightly with a hint of sweetness. However, those who prefer a stronger flavor profile might find them a tad bland.

3. Good and Gather Crispy Chicken Breast Strips

Good and Gather Crispy Chicken Breast Strips
Sarah Abrams

Target's brand of crispy chicken strips surprised us in the best way possible. We had our doubts, considering they look like chicken patties and not tenders. Definitely don't judge a book by its cover on these.

These tenders were hefty and had the perfect ratio of meat to breading. The seasoning was on point and had a strong black pepper flavor. They reminded us of homestyle fried chicken begging for a side of gravy.

2. Tyson 100% All-Natural Crispy Chicken Strips

Tyson 100% All-Natural Crispy Chicken Strips
Sarah Abrams

It's no surprise that the largest chicken producer came in tied for first place. Their crispy chicken strips are exactly what you might envision when you think of classic chicken strips. It was honestly hard for us to believe this was frozen food and not a fast-food chicken tender.

It was heavily seasoned with salt, pepper, and paprika, giving it a nice kick. The chicken was moist and juicy, and the breading stayed crunchy. These tenders also looked the most like a chicken tender and were the perfect size.

1. Tyson Buffalo Style Chicken Strips

Tyson Buffalo Style Chicken Strips
Sarah Abrams

This is the overall winner simply for the delicious coating. Tyson again nailed the tender with the crispiest coating and most tender chicken.

What took this over the top was the spicy buffalo flavor. The tenders had just enough heat to make them spicy, without blowing out your tastebuds. The chicken was perfectly sauced without it being too wet. The tender stayed as crispy as its regular counterpart. These tenders are begging to be dipped in a ranch or blue cheese sauce.

Other Frozen Chicken Tender Options

If you live near Trader Joes, the store makes its own brand of chicken tenders that may be worth trying. If you are gluten-free, consider trying Applegate's gluten-free chicken breast tenders. They can be found at Walmart or Amazon, and shipped to you direct.

For those adventurous home cooks, you can easily make your own chicken tenders. For a super crunchy coating, we suggest using panko bread crumbs and deep-frying.

Happy frozen chicken tender hunting!

READ: What's the Difference Between Chicken Tenders vs Chicken Strips?

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