Baked Chicken Tenders - Cooking Up Clean

Baked Chicken Tenders

 baked chicken tenders

Sheesh. This eating a more strict healthy diet for the month of January has me craving some wicked bar food. Or it could be that I don’t exactly get to head out for happy hours anymore since having kids and staying home with them.  I occasionally have a bit of nostalgia for my days of working downtown and being able to scoot out for a lunch date or ditching out of work a smidge early for happy hour with friends. Then I remember that I was in a cubicle, and well, that’s just not as great as having a whole house as my office.  But I do still long for the occasional happy hour and bar food…. so why not create my own happy hour?  Sure thing!  Baked Chicken Tenders it is with a yummy honey mustardy bbq mayo sauce to go with them! 

First things first, these little guys need a good marinade.  Feel free to use buttermilk or if you’re dairy free, use coconut milk kefir or coconut milk with a  tablespoon of lemon juice to accomplish the same effect which is moist and tenderlicious chicken.  I used coconut milk kefir and added some spices to it.  Place the chicken strips in a shallow dish or bowl and cover with the buttermilk/coconut milk kefir and let marinate for at least 4 hours or up to 24. 

baked chicken fingers

Next, we crush up a bag of plain pork rinds to use as the coating. I know! Weird, but oh so good!!!  So crush ’em up by just smashing them right in their bag until they’re pretty fine. Then dump them into a clean bowl with a hit of spice once again.  Take each chicken tender out of their marinade and let the excess drip off.  Then dredge them in the pork rinds until they are fully covered and place on a baking sheet.  I lined my baking sheet with aluminum foil and placed a cooling rack over top to bake them so the oven air could circulate around the chicken and get them a bit crispier. 

chicken fingers

So what’s this crazy sounding sauce?  It’s a lot like the sauce that Chick-fil-a makes that’s super addictively delicious with chicken.  It’s essentially a homemade mayo but with a few added ingredients like honey and barbeque sauce.  Now THAT is some seriously good sauce!

baked chicken fingers


Baked Chicken Tenders
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Appetizers
Cuisine: paleo, gluten-free, dairy-free
Serves: 10
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken tenders
  • 1 cup coconut milk kefir (or coconut milk with 1 Tbsp lemon juice, or buttermilk)
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3½ cups crushed plain pork rinds
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Cajun seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (or 1 teaspoon if the pork rinds are unsalted)
  • Sauce ingredients:
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon barbeque sauce
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  1. Place chicken tenders in a shallow dish.
  2. Mix coconut milk kefir with garlic, cayenne and salt and then pour over chicken tenders.
  3. Refrigerate and let marinate 4-24 hours.
  4. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  5. Crush pork rinds and place in a bowl with pepper, onion powder, paprika, Cajun seasoning and salt. Mix to combine.
  6. Lift each chicken tender out of the marinade and let the excess drip off.
  7. Dredge chicken tender in pork rind mixture until fully coated.
  8. Place on a wire rack and place wire rack on foil lined baking sheet.
  9. Bake 20 minutes.
  10. For the sauce:
  11. Place all ingredients in a jar just wide enough for a stick blender to fit into.
  12. Blend with stick blender until blended.




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