Learn how to pan fry chicken tenders in just a few minutes! This pan seared chicken tenderloins recipe is a great way to create healthy, juicy, and crisp tenders without breading and without eggs.
The timing and method worked perfectly for juicy, crispy-outside chicken of delight! I've already made chicken your way thrice and it's so easy and works every time. thank you! ~ Elizabeth
Pan fried chicken tenders no breading
Dinner can't get much easier than pan frying chicken tenders in a skillet. Seriously. Our recipe makes absolutely delicious and flavorful chicken using basic ingredients with fantastic results and without a mess like breaded chicken tenderloins can make.
Pan fried chicken tenders in a skillet are tasty enough to eat on their own with a side of potatoes and a fresh salad, plus they're light and healthy too. Much healthier than the fried chicken tenders in the freezer aisle or from deep frying chicken!
To make the chicken extra fancy or for a special occasion, we like to make them with a pan sauce as we did in our chicken with creamy mustard sauce recipe.
You can use the juicy pan fried chicken tenders in recipes that call for precooked chicken like our popular green chili chicken casserole, chicken salad, or our BBQ chicken bowls. They're also fantastic for lunch meal prep for the week!
Why You'll Love Pan Seared Chicken Tenders!
- It's super simple! With basic ingredients, sauteed chicken tenderloins give you a great base to build an amazing meal in no time. No dipping in flour or making an egg wash!
- They're healthy - these are made without flour or breading, which makes these gluten free and low carb too. These are made without eggs!
- Easy to customize- Depending on what your final meal will be, you can either make these the main dish or mix in seasonings that match your final meal
- Great for meal prep- Make up a large batch over the weekend and have chicken available all week or freezer some for later
- Super inexpensive compared to other chicken and protein options
What you'll need for sauteed chicken tenders
Our recipe is super simple and basic and the chicken just gets seasoned with salt and pepper. When they're perfectly cooked, this is all that's needed! To add an extra oomph to your chicken, you can swap out the salt and pepper with our popular chicken rub.
* The ingredient quantities and instructions are in the recipe card at the bottom! *
- chicken tenders, fresh (these are also called chicken tenderloins) - they're sold fresh or you can buy frozen chicken tenders and defrost them beforehand
- extra virgin olive oil - vegetable oil or your favorite high heat oil will work too, 50% butter mixed with olive oil, or ghee.
- finely ground sea salt
- course ground black pepper
- Optional seasonings- garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, curry powder, herbs de Provence, dried basil, dried rosemary, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, etc.
- Optional dips- Ranch dressing, mustard, ketchup, blue cheese dressing
If you are planning on using the sauteed chicken tenders as part of a dish, feel free to include extra herbs and spices that will help bring out the flavors. For example, if you're making a BBQ dish, add in some paprika and chili powder or your favorite spice rub. If you are planning on going Italian, consider either Italian seasoning or some basil and parsley. And if Mexican is your final destination, some cumin and cayenne will really add a flavor-punch to your dish!
- 12" cast iron skillet- We highly recommend using a cast iron skillet, they do the best job of getting the chicken crispy and golden brown.
How to cook chicken tenderloins on stove
Step 1: Pat the chicken dry on both sides with paper towels and cut off any extra fat if it's needed.
Step 2: Sprinkle one side of the chicken tenderloins with half of the seasoning.
Step 3: Heat your pan or cast iron skillet to medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Make sure you swirl the oil to distribute it evenly around the whole pan. Allow both the skillet and the oil to heat up. (this is crucial to your overall success, so don't rush this step!)
Step 4: Once the pan is hot, add the chicken tenders, seasoning side down. You'll cook the chicken for 3 minutes on one side or until the chicken starts to turn white on the edge and pulls away from the pan.
Sprinkle the remaining seasoning on the top of the chicken tenders while the chicken is cooking.
Step 5: Once your chicken is ready, flip it over. The chicken tenders should be golden brown on the side you just cooked. Cook for 3 more minutes or until the chicken is cooked through to an internal temperature is 165F.
We highly recommend you use an inexpensive meat thermometer to ensure that the chicken doesn't get overcooked.
Garnish with fresh chopped herbs like fresh chopped parsley for color. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce on the side.
- Be sure your pan is piping hot before you add the chicken tenders. This will make or break the crispiness of the final recipe.
- While we only used a couple of tablespoons of oil, feel free to add more oil to get more of that "fried" effect.
- As tempting as it may be to check on the progress, early flipping will cause them to lose the sear and the crispiness of this cooking method. Be patient!
- The drippings from the pan will be ridiculously flavorful! Take advantage of them by using a little chicken stock after cooking to scrape the bottom of the pan and make a pan sauce to serve over the chicken.
How to season pan seared chicken tenders
Here are a few of our favorite ways to season the sauteed chicken tenders, beyond salt and pepper.
- Taco seasoning- skip the salt and pepper and sprinkle the chicken with taco seasoning. Use the chicken in chicken salads or sandwich wraps.
- Chicken rub - you can use a store bought rub or use our favorite homemade version for chicken or turkey. Coating the chicken in BBQ sauce is a great option.
- Blackened chicken - we followed this same method using our blackening seasoning and made blackened chicken tenders
- Italian seasoning - this is perfect for Italian inspired dishes like pasta. If you don't have Italian seasoning, dried basil, oregano, or rosemary are also tasty.
Pan fried chicken tenderloins FAQ's
First things first, chicken tenders and chicken tenderloin refer to the same type of cut from the chicken breast. You can use the terms interchangeably whether we're talkin' pan-fried chicken tenderloins or pan-fried chicken tenders.
Some people think of tenders or chicken strips as the pre-frozen cooked and breaded pieces, but they can also refer to the uncooked unbreaded pieces too.
If you're sauteing raw chicken tenderloins, they'll take about 6 minutes in total over medium-high heat. If you're simmering chicken tenders in liquid, they'll take 2-3 minutes to cook in a pot of boiling water.
The best way to cook chicken tenderloins is in a skillet! By using high heat and a little seasoning, you can have perfect pan-seared chicken tenders in just 6 minutes. Crisp on the outside and moist on the inside. When you want to reduce the oil, air frying chicken tenders is another great option.
Cooking chicken tenderloins in a skillet is the FASTEST way to cook chicken when you need it to top pasta, add cooked chicken to a salad, or just need to quickly cook some chicken pieces. We love to cook with chicken tenders because they're cheap and cook up so quickly.
You can easily substitute boneless chicken breasts in place of chicken tenderloins. Simply just slice the chicken breasts against the grain at an angle into large strips.
More Chicken Tender Recipes
Looking for even more chicken tender recipes?
- Air fryer chicken tenderloins (no breading)
- Air fryer chicken tenders with flour
- Baked chicken tenderloins
- Instant Pot chicken tenders
- Boiled chicken tenderloin recipe
- Air fryer frozen chicken tender recipe
- Blackened chicken tenders
- BBQ chicken tenders in air fryer