This healthy Mustard Baked Chicken Tenders recipe is super simple and deliciously flavorful. You can serve as-is, or dish it up over rice or a salad to soak up the tasty mustard sauce!
Did you know that chicken tenders are also referred to as chicken fingers or chicken strips? Whatever you call them, be sure to make them with a tangy, zesty mustard sauce.
This recipe for baked chicken tenderloins is one I return to when I want something easy, healthy, and delicious! And it will become your favorite too!
Why you should make this recipe
First, the flavor is just wonderful. Mustard and chicken pair so well together, add in a few other simple ingredients and you have amazingly delicious chicken tenders.
At first glance, you may be thinking to yourself, “That’s a lot of mustard. Isn’t this super spicy?” Well, it definitely has a little kick, but it’s not that strong. I have served it to many different people (kids included) and it has always been popular!
Second, boneless skinless chicken breasts (or chicken tenderloins) are a fantastic protein option for anyone focused on eating a healthy diet. They are lean, delicious, easy to cook, and full of protein.
Chicken tenderloins need minimal prep before cooking since they have little to no fat to trim off. You just toss them in an easy and healthy sauce or marinade and bake. This is exactly what we’ll do in this recipe!
These oven baked chicken tenderloins come together so quickly and need only 20 minutes of baking time. Dinner doesn’t get easier!
The simple 7- ingredient list makes this recipe really easy to make when you haven’t made any plans for dinner.
- chicken tenderloins: sometimes referred to as just chicken tenders; you can also use whole chicken breast and cut into tenders
- whole grain mustard: for the best flavor and texture but if you don’t have whole grain mustard, the next best option is Dijon mustard.
- fresh tarragon: if you don’t have fresh tarragon, use dried tarragon but keep in mind fresh always gives the best flavor (2 teaspoons dried tarragon equals 2 tablespoons fresh tarragon).
- lemon juice
- garlic: as with tarragon, freshly minced garlic is best but jarred minced garlic works too.
- paprika: sweet smoked paprika is ideal in this recipe but regular paprika will work too.
- salt and pepper
I love how simple this dish is to throw together! The mustard sauce is simple to prep, and chicken tenders are very easy to bake as long as you keep an eye on them.
Step 1: Preheat oven to 425˚F (220˚C).
Step 2: Combine the mustard, chopped tarragon, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and mix well.
Step 3: Pat dry the chicken and add to the mustard sauce. Toss to coat each piece of chicken with the mustard marinade.
Step 4: Transfer the chicken and sauce to a large baking sheet and cover with aluminum foil.
Step 5: Bake until chicken has cooked through, 15 to 20 minutes.
To check the doneness of the chicken tenders, cut one halfway through. If the juices are clear and the meat is white, it’s ready!
For this recipe, you can use either whole chicken breast that you cut into tenders or the smaller chicken tenderloins (often just called chicken tenders on the packaging). Chicken tenderloin is just as lean and nutritious as chicken breast, so it’s a great option if you can get it.
The exact baking time depends on the size of your chicken tenders so you should check a few times to see if they are fully cooked. You never want to eat undercooked chicken, but the tenders will get dry if you overcook them.
To tell if the tenderloins are done, cut into one at the halfway point (where the tenderloin is the thickest). If the juice runs clear and the meat is white, not pink, then your tenderloins are ready.
A foolproof way to check for doneness is by using an instant-read meat thermometer. The USDA recommends that chicken be cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165˚F at the thickest part of the meat.
This baked chicken tenders recipe has a very simple mustard-based sauce. Though the marinade is simple to make, the flavors are full and complex. Best of all, there is no need for added oil or sugar.
With these delicious and versatile flavors, you really can’t go wrong! But if you wanted to add more variety, check out these suggestions:
- add a tablespoon or two of sugar-free honey to make a honey mustard sauce
- toss with a little grated parmesan cheese for delicious parmesan chicken tenders
- swap out tarragon for other fresh herbs for different flavors like rosemary, thyme, or parsley
I love serving these chicken tenders over a bed of steamed low-carb vegetables and cauliflower rice so the rice can soak up more of the mustard sauce. I also enjoy tossing leftovers in some leafy greens and using the mustard sauce as a tasty salad dressing.
Other ways to enjoy baked chicken tenders are in a lettuce wrap or simply with a side of veggies for a quick and healthy meal.
Leftover baked chicken tenderloins can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
You can easily reheat in the microwave or enjoy chilled in a salad.
Oven baked chicken tenders are naturally gluten-free and dairy-free, making them a great easy dinner option for most people.
But what I love most about this recipe is that these tenders are a great source of protein. A 4-ounce serving of baked chicken tenders has a whopping 28.5 grams of protein and only 2.1 grams of net carbs.
Frequently asked questions
According to CDC and professional chefs across the world, you should not wash raw chicken before cooking it. Washing chicken can actually spread more germs and increase the risk of cross-contamination. Cooking chicken thoroughly will kill any bacteria, so washing it is not necessary.
Chicken tenders often have a tendon or what some refer to as a vein that runs all the way across the tenderloin. Though it’s a bit tough when cooked, the tendon is edible, so it’s up to you if you want to remove it.
Boneless and skinless chicken does not need a lot of time in the oven. At 425˚F, chicken tenders should take no longer than 15-20 minutes, especially covered with aluminum foil. The cooking time will depend on the thickness of the tenderloins. The best way to check for doneness is to insert instant read meat thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken and when it reads 165˚F, your chicken is done.
Other delicious and healthy chicken recipes
I love finding more and more tasty ways to incorporate chicken as a lean and healthy protein. If you do too, here are a few more recipes I know you’ll love:
- Healthy Stuffed Chicken Breast
- Prosciutto Wrapped Chicken Breast with Cream Cheese
- Smothered Creamy Skillet Chicken
For even more inspiration for delicious meals that include chicken, check out this roundup of the best diabetic chicken recipes.
When you’ve tried this dish, please don’t forget to let me know how you liked it and rate the recipe in the comments below!
Mustard Baked Chicken Tenders
- 1 lbs. chicken tenders
- ½ cup whole grain mustard
- 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 clove garlic (minced)
- ½ teaspoon paprika (sweet smoked if you have it)
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- extra tarragon to garnish (optional)
- Preheat oven to 425˚F (220˚C)
- Combine the mustard, tarragon, lemon juice, garlic, paprika, salt, and pepper in a large bowl and mix well.½ cup whole grain mustard, 2 tablespoons chopped fresh tarragon, 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 clove garlic, ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon pepper, ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- Pat dry the chicken tenders. Add the chicken to the bowl with mustard sauce and toss to coat each piece of chicken with the sauce.1 lbs. chicken tenders
- Transfer the chicken along with the sauce to a large baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil.
- Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked. Remove from oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes for juices to redistribute into the meat. Garnish with extra tarragon and serve.extra tarragon to garnish
How do the chicken tenders get brown if you cover the pan?
Tobias Oerum says
The chicken will still get a little color from the heat in a covered pan (it becomes more golden than brown). The mustard also adds some color.
Jennifer V says
What do you cover the baking dish with? Tinfoil?
Tobias Oerum says
Tinfoil works great or use a pan with a lid if you have one.
Donna Marshall says
I am a big chicken eater and always looking for new recipes. This is so delicious and easy to make. I even put it in a wrap with greens for lunch the next day. Was a great hit at work too. Love this recipe. I will definitely make this often and in huge amounts!!
This looks delicious! I don’t have whole grain mustard, but I do have Maille Dijon. Would that work instead? Do you think I’d need to adjust the amount of smooth mustard versus whole grain? Thanks!
Christel Oerum says
It is really good 🙂 Dijon mustard has a stronger flavour so if you use that I would reduce it substantially. I haven’t tried it myself so can’t tell you if it will come out well. What you could do is try it on a small batch (or just a piece) of chicken and see how it comes out. And please let us know
I think the nutrition facts is wrong regarding calories if the Fat, Carbohydrates and Protein are correct.
4.6g Fat x 9 = 41.4 Cal
3.5g Carb x 4 = 14 Cal
28.5g Protein x 4 = 114 Cal
Total Cal = 169.4 Cal
I haven’t tried the receipt yet, but looks good for a cutting meal plan.
Tobias Oerum says
Hi Michael, if you look at the labels of most food items, you will see that the macros and total calories actually seldom match completely. You can read more about why that is here. We try to use the USDA numbers where possible because they are the most accurate.
We enjoyed this chicken for dinner tonight. Nice and tender in 15 minutes. I used stone ground Dijon and it was a bit too much bite for me so I might use another mustard next time. I have to say that I always try to remove the white tough whatever it is on a tender and wind up with a bit altered pieces but still good!
This recipe was super easy and fast with just a few ingredients. I made this recipe using Inglehoffer stone ground mustard and the chicken came out of the oven tender and delicious. Thank you for the recipe!
Yummm.. This chicken looks so divine and tender. Its really mouth watery, cant control the cravings.
Lillian Cowen says
What is a serving? 4 oz etc? or is the nutrition specs for 1 piece? Important to know when you are counting calories and trying to stay within your diet. Thanks
Christel Oerum says
The recipe makes 4 servings. If you click the number of servings, you can actually adjust it to the number of servings you like.
Pretty sure since it says there are four servings in this one pound meal that would have to mean that a serving is 4 oz.
Wow! This was my first attempt at healthy cooking, and your recipe rocked the house! Thank you so very much.
Christel Oerum says
Awesome! I am glad you liked it.
Made it and loved it! I am eating this for dinner as part of one of your meal plans 🙂