Are Chicken Tenders Healthy? Health Benefits, Side Effects, And Best Sides Ideas

You should know the real reason why chicken tenders are considered junk food. These small pieces of chicken meat are very tasty and can be highly indulging, but they do not get the best recommendations and it is surprising. For some, it is disheartening.

Chicken tenders are not healthy, and you should watch how much of them you eat. They are irresistible but your health is more important.

While there is so much protein to gain (since they are chicken), you do not want to saddle your body with unneeded fats and sodium.

Continue reading to fully understand the pros and cons of eating chicken tenders.

What are chicken tenders?

chicken tenders - millenora

Chicken tenders or chicken tenderloins are thin strips of muscle attached to the underside of chicken breasts, along the breastbone. Because they are cut from the breasts part, they taste a lot like chicken breasts.

As the name implies, they are tender pieces of chicken meat sold separately from the breasts. They are cut off and sold in packs in fresh forms and sold in fried or grilled forms in restaurants.

One chicken has two tenderloins, one from one breast. Each is about two inches long and six inches wide. Yes, they are that small, but very tasty. The size of a tenderloin also varies with the size of the chicken.

Chicken tenders are boneless, which makes them look like boneless wings sometimes. However, they are not. If you have tasted both of them, you will agree with this.

For their size, chicken tenders can be pricey. This is because they are lean meat. Also, they are less abundant. You will need many chickens to get a lot of chicken tenders.

Furthermore, getting chicken tenders from chickens is labor-intensive and time-consuming. If you find a good restaurant that serves chicken tenders, you are in for a treat.

You should know that some chicken tenders are not exactly chicken tenders. They could be chicken breasts that have been cut to look like chicken tenders. Some chicken tenders sold in restaurants are pulverized chicken meat.

Are chicken tenders healthy?

After knowing what chicken tenders are, you should know if those small, juicy pieces of chicken meat are good for your health.

Chicken tenders are lean meat cuts. They have more protein and less fat. However, the nutritional value may drop, depending on the cooking method you use.

Chicken tenders are usually battered, breaded, and fried to make them crunchy. They could also be deep-fried or grilled. They are mostly served with a dipping sauce. Either of these cooking method has its pros and cons.

Every method of frying loads chicken tenders with calories and sodium, which is unhealthy. Grilling seems healthier because it cooks the meat without any extra fat while draining it of its fat. However, the accompaniments of chicken tenders are usually high in calories and sodium.

Chicken tenders are delicious; however, they should not be an everyday meal. Eat chicken tenders in moderation to keep healthy.

Know your daily calorie and sodium allowance and stay within the range. You will be better off with six ounces of chicken tenders a day, which is roughly one serving.

According to the USDA, an eight-piece serving of chicken tenders provides:

  • 368 calories
  • 20 grams of carbs
  • 22 grams of fats
  • 22 grams of protein
  • 1.6 grams of fiber
  • 0.1 grams of sugar
  • 920 milligrams of sodium
  • 57.8 milligrams of cholesterol

These values vary with brands and methods of cooking. This should be the range for battered, breaded, and fried chicken tenders.

Are there health benefits of eating chicken tenders?

Yes, there are. If you eat in moderation, you can enjoy the following benefits from the nutrients in chicken tenders:

Improved bone health

Chicken tenders are also rich in calcium, which is an essential nutrient for bone health. Calcium and protein make a good combination for improved bone health and density.

Increased muscle mass

Chicken tenders contain more protein than fat. This protein can help improve and maintain muscle mass. As protein digests, it breaks down into amino acids which helps in the repair and building of muscle during strength training.

Moreover, the high amount of protein chicken tenders provide can help to prevent protein deficiency in people who do not consume enough protein-rich foods and those at risk of protein deficiency.

Supports wound healing

Another benefit to enjoy from the high protein content is quick wound healing and recovery. Amino acids such as methionine and glutamine are found in chicken tenders and are essential to the wound-healing process.

Chicken tenders may be good for weight loss

This benefit can only be enjoyed by people who eat chicken tenders in moderation. The high protein content can help keep you feeling full for longer, thereby reducing hunger pangs and reducing your food portions.

However, chicken tenders can be highly indulging. Moreover, the calorie content from a portion may not well support your weight loss journey if you eat other high-calorie foods. To enjoy this benefit, you must also eat your chicken tenders with low-calorie accompaniments.

Are there side effects of eating chicken tenders?

Eating chicken every day is not advisable, and neither is eating chicken tenders. Chicken tenders contain high amounts of protein and healthy fats.

However, there could be side effects when you do not eat chicken tenders in moderation. The high sodium and calorie content is not good for the health.

Common side effects of eating chicken every day are excessive weight gain, high cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, digestive issues, urinary tract infections, and increased risk of type 2 diabetes and cancer.

These side effects are caused by cholesterol, carcinogens, pathogens, and sometimes feces which are present in chicken, even after cooking.

Are chicken tenders gluten-free?

Chicken tenders breaded with breadcrumbs most likely contain gluten. But you can make healthy gluten-free chicken tenders with almond flour instead.

Almond flour will make them lighter with a very different texture but the nutty flavor of the flour makes the chicken more delicious.

What is the white string in chicken tenders?

The white string in chicken tenders is the tendon. The tendon is what attaches the muscles to the bones.

It tends to be rubbery or tough after cooking, which some people find unpleasant. If you are one of such people, you can have the butcher remove it or remove it yourself if you are cutting chicken tenders at home.

However, if you are eating chicken tenders at a restaurant, you may find the tendon in it or not. If you find it distasteful, you can remove it with the tines of your fork before eating your meat.

Best sides for chicken tenders

  • French fries
  • Sauces (BBQ sauce, honey mustard, hot sauce, pesto sauce, buffalo sauce, sweet & sour sauce, and cream gravy)
  • Air fryer roasted potatoes
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Mac and cheese
  • Air fryer or pan-fried green beans
  • Corn casserole
  • Coleslaw
  • Seasoned rice
  • Corn fritters
  • Bread
  • Buttermilk biscuits
  • Carrot dishes (shredded, instant pot, or honey-glazed carrots)
  • Roasted zucchini
  • Buttermilk cheesy cornbread
  • Zucchini pasta
  • Baked beans
  • Fried pickles
  • Fried apples
  • Air fryer squash or asparagus
  • Creamed peas  


Are chicken tenders the same as cutlets?

Chicken tenders and cutlets tend to look like the same meat cuts, but they are different. Both chicken cuts come from the breast but are of different sizes and thickness. The cutlets are chicken breasts that have been cut horizontally into two thin slices of meat.

On the other hand, chicken tenders are thin muscles found loosely attached to the underside of the breasts.

How many chicken tenders should you eat a day?

It is recommended that each person eats 6 ounces of chicken or less per day. Eating chicken tenders every day is not a healthy choice.

As you eat chicken tenders, also consider the number of calories in the other food items on your plate. Remember to keep your calorie intake within the recommended daily allowance (RDA).

Are KFC chicken tenders healthy?

KFC chicken tenders are high in calories, fats, and sodium, which is an unhealthy combo for your health. They also contain protein but there isn’t anything else to their nutritional value.


So, there you have it. That box of chicken tenders you cannot get enough of isn’t healthy for you. This is not to mean that you should not enjoy chicken tenders on your diet. You can have a few pieces alongside a healthy meal. The most important thing is to eat in moderation.

To get the best of the protein in chicken tenders, bake them instead of frying them. Baking uses less fat to cook and will reduce the number of calories present in your meal. Protect your heart and other organs with healthy eating.

If you also love to eat chicken wings, you should learn about the health benefits and risks before you get another serving.

Thanks for reading.