Easy grilled chicken tenders, simply marinated and grilled in the pan or on a grill. They are perfect to serve as they are, sliced on a salad or in sandwiches.
These juicy and flavorful grilled chicken tenders are of my favorite things to cook in the grill pan or on a grill. Why? They are delicious and are so quick to cook. Either you marinade them for hours or just for 30 minutes; the grilled tenders will still be moist and wonderful.
You can serve them as they are with some baked potato slices, air fryer zucchini fries, bacon-wrapped asparagus, or German coleslaw on the side. You can slice and serve them on salad for a super-healthy, low-carb dinner. You can let the crispy chicken cool and then make sandwiches, take them on a picnic, or work the next day.
And when grilling outside is not an option, make these Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Tenderloins.
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- Chicken tenders: Chicken tenders, strips, or tenderloins are all the same thing: little strips of meat (muscle) attached to the underside of the chicken breast. They are about 1 ½ inches/ 3-4 cm wide and about 5 inches/ 12 cm long.
- They are removed from breasts and sold separately.
- Ingredients for the marinade: Lemon juice, honey, sweet and smoked paprika powder, fresh garlic, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Simple but delicious.
See the recipe card for full information on ingredients and quantities.
- You can marinate the chicken tenders before grilling any other way you like. You can make any other “wet” marinade recipe, or you can use your favorite dry rub; the tenderloins will taste great. Try our Dry Rub for Wings or the Peri Peri Seasoning. Or use some lemon pepper.
- What we also love: 1-2 tablespoons gochujang (super spicy) OR hoisin sauce (sweet and tangy), it really doesn’t get any faster than that. Or try the mixture we used for the Spicy Korean Gochujang Chicken Breast.
- You can add dried herbs like thyme, rosemary, or oregano, about 1 teaspoon. Or make this marinade we use for the Cast-Iron Chicken Breast; it's made with lemon, honey, and parsley.
- Or try the marinade we used for Nando's Butterfly Chicken.
🕛How long should you marinate chicken tenders?
- For at least 30 minutes.
- If you have 2-4 hours’ time to let it marinate, it is great, but it’s not mandatory; the grilled lemon chicken will still be delicious.
- I feel that if I leave them to marinate for more than 4 hours, the lemon flavor will be too strong. But that is just a matter of personal taste, I suppose.
- Also, consider that the acid in the lemon juice might affect the texture of the meat if you leave the meat in the marinade for too long. The outside layer of the meat will turn whitish, it will look like it had been slightly boiled or cooked already. So, don’t over-marinate the tenderloins.
Usually, I let them marinate for about 2-3 hours and turn them in the marinade halfway through.
👩🏻🍳How to grill the chicken breast tenders?
Step #1: Mix all the ingredients for the marinade.
Step #2: Marinate chicken tenders for 30 minutes and up to 4 hours., turning halfway through.
Tip: You can use a Ziplock bag to marinate the meat; this way, you will not need to turn it anymore. But I am not a fan of using and then discarding yet another plastic bag, so I would rather use a bowl or a small, shallow baking dish.
Step #3: Add the marinated chicken to the hot grill pan and cook them for about 3-4 minutes on each side.
Step #4: The internal temperature should be 165°F/ 74°C on a digital meat thermometer (the Amazon affiliate link opens in a new tab).
- Rest: Transfer to a (warm) plate and let rest for about 2 minutes before serving.
- Preheat the grill to about 375°F/ 190°C. Brush it lightly with oil.
- Grill the chicken tenders for about 3-4 minutes on each side until the juices run clear and the meat reaches the internal temperature mentioned above.
- Make more chicken on the grill: Grilled Chicken Halves or Grilled Peach Salad with Chicken.
The tenders are a part of the breast, and they are even tenderer than the breast itself. This, and the fact that they are much smaller, means that they need a shorter cooking time, but otherwise, the taste and texture are the same.
At least, I have never noticed any difference myself and I do cook a lot of breasts and tenders. You might want to have a look at our favorite recipe for Baked BBQ Chicken Breast.
Yes, you can. Cut the breasts into strips about as long and thick as the tenderloins are. Marinate and cook as instructed.
The grilled chicken tenders keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Perfect to make ahead and use for salads and sandwiches.
You can also freeze them for up to 3 months in good freezer bags or freezer containers. Let thaw slowly in the fridge and reheat well before serving.
Make a chicken salad, sandwiches, stuff buns, use them for making tacos, chicken sour cream enchiladas, burritos, and so on.
Use leftovers to top pizza, add to simple pasta dishes, or to a quick soup
🍽️How to serve the grilled tenderloins?
Easy Grilled Chicken Tenders
- 1 lb chicken tenders 450 g, Note 1
- juice of ½ lemon about 2 tablespoons
- 2 teaspoons honey
- 2 garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika powder
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika powder Note 2
- 3 tablespoons olive oil Note 3
- ½ teaspoon fine sea salt or Kosher
- ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper Note 4
- about 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley optional
- about 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds optional
- Marinade: Mix lemon juice, honey, grated garlic cloves, both kinds of paprika, olive oil, salt, and pepper in a large bowl or shallow baking dish (ceramic or glass).1 lb chicken tenders/ 450 g + juice of ½ lemon + 2 teaspoons honey + 2 garlic cloves + ½ teaspoon sweet paprika powder + ½ teaspoon smoked paprika powder + 3 tablespoons olive oil + ½ teaspoon fine sea salt + ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
- Marinate chicken: Add chicken tenders and turn several times to coat all over. Cover the bowl or dish. Let marinate in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and up to 4 hours. Turn in the marinade halfway through.
- Heat the pan very well on medium-high heat.
- Cook: Add the strips and cook for about 3-4 minutes on each side until the juices run clear and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 74 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit on a . (Amazon affiliate link)
- Transfer to a (warm) plate and rest for about 2 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and sesame seeds if desired.about 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley + about 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
- Preheat the grill to about 190 degrees Celsius/ 375 degrees Fahrenheit and brush it lightly with oil.
- Cook the chicken tenders for about 3-4 minutes on each side until the juices run clear and the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 74 degrees Celsius/ 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Rest for 2 minutes before serving. Sprinkle with chopped parsley and sesame seeds if desired.
- The nutrition is calculated considering only 2 tablespoons of oil, as a lot of the marinade will remain in the bowl.
- Paprika: My smoked paprika is sweet as well. You can use hot to taste.
- Oil: I prefer mild-tasting olive oil, something fruity, not too bitter. Neutral-tasting vegetable oil is fine as well.
- Herbs: Add about 1 teaspoon of dried herbs to the marinade. Rosemary, thyme, or oregano are great.