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Blackened Chicken Tenders

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Bring some excitement to your healthy weeknight dinner routine with this blackened chicken strips recipe! Similar to the classic Popeyes menu favorite, these low carb blackened chicken tenders have bold flavors in every bite. But, are easy to make at home with simple pantry staples. Lean chicken tenderloins are quickly pan-seared with Cajun seasonings for a tasty (keto-friendly!) dish. They’re ready to serve with your favorite comfort side dishes in less than 30 minutes. You’ll surely love this recipe!

platter of cajun chicken

Easy Blackened Chicken Strips

Truly, you just can’t beat chicken tenders recipes for easy and healthy meals!

Lean strips of poultry are great for jazzing up with spices. And, they are easy to prep with endless cooking methods.

Pan searing is one of my favorite ways to quickly make chicken tenderloins on a busy weeknight.

First, this chicken recipe is lightly coated with oil and spices. Then, it’s cooked over medium-high heat for a few minutes on each side.

In less than 15 minutes the tenders are ready to plate! Serve them with yummy sides and dipping sauces!

a skillet of blackened chicken tenderloins

We love these Cajun blackened chicken strips for a simple dinner that is low carb but still has serious pep.

The spicy seasoning is like what Popeyes uses for their blackened tenders. It includes a pinch of cayenne pepper for a bit of heat.

Although I wouldn’t say they are necessarily child-friendly, older kids and adults who like some spiciness will love the bold taste.

If you have children you are cooking for, I suggest leaving off the cayenne for theirs and cooking them first.

And, not only are they flavorful but blackened chicken tenders are low carb, low fat, and keto-friendly! I call that a win-win.

Chicken Tenderloin vs Breast

What is the difference between chicken breasts and tenderloins?

Although they are from the same area of the bird, the breasts and tenderloin are different cuts of meat.

The chicken breasts are on top of the breastbone, while the tenderloin is a thin strip under the breast. It is in fact a muscle but does not actually get much exercise. So, the tenderloin is very, well, tender!

How To Make Chicken Tenders From Breast

Make chicken tenderloin recipes quickly and easily from whole boneless chicken breasts. If using bone-in chicken, remove the breast from the bones first.

  1. First, take the whole boneless chicken breast and find the piece that hangs off the side and pull it from the breast. That is the tenderloin! 
  2. Then, slice the rest of the chicken breast from top to bottom vertically with a sharp knife into 2-inch strips. If the breasts are very large, slice them in half horizontally first.
cutting chicken breasts into chicken strips

Now you can make chicken strips from the entire breast without waste.

Ingredients For Low Carb Blackened Tenders

For this low carb chicken tender recipe, you will need:

  • chicken breast tenderloins – also called chicken tenders and chicken strips. You can make them from chicken breasts (see below).
  • cooking oil – is used to coat the chicken strips for a lightly crispy exterior
  • unsalted butter – to saute the chicken. You can use salted butter, but please do not substitute with margarine. Instead, use cooking oil in the pan.
  • Cajun seasoning – how to make your own Cajun seasoning is below.

There’s no need for another store bought pre-made packaged spice blend! Make your own Cajun seasoning with these spice rack staples:

  • Paprika
  • Kosher salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Ground black pepper
  • Onion powder
  • Dried oregano
  • Cayenne or red chile pepper
  • Dried thyme

Mix all of these in a small bowl and it’s good to go!

ingredients for cajun spice chicken strips

How to make this Spicy Chicken Tender Recipe

Make spicy chicken tenders quick and easy with these simple steps:

Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat until the skillet is hot and the butter is foamy and bubbly.

Mix the chicken and seasonings together while the skillet is heating. (You can also use a cast iron skillet)

blackened chicken tenders being dipped into spices

Use a basting brush to coat the chicken tenderloins with olive oil on both sides.

Then, mix together the Cajun seasoning. Generously sprinkle the blackened seasoning over both sides of the chicken tenders. Or, dip the chicken into the seasoning.

Add the chicken breast tenders to the skillet. Avoid overcrowding. If your skillet is small, cook them in two batches.

pan frying chicken tenders

Let the chicken cook (without moving it) for 3-4 minutes. A lightly browned crust will form on the chicken.

Then, turn the chicken strips and the cooking time is another 3-4 minutes.

Check the temperature of the chicken with an instant-read thermometer. If it’s 165º F, then it is ready.

pan fried chicken tenderloins

If cooking in batches, cover the cooked chicken tenderloin with foil until they are ready to serve.

Serve these delicious, crispy chicken strips with a creamy dipping sauce after you finished cooking. Think ranch dressing or blue cheese dip. For a lighter dipping sauce, try our Mango Sweet Chili Sauce.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make my own chicken tenders from breasts?

Yes, you can make chicken tenderloins quickly and easily from whole boneless chicken breasts. Simply slice the chicken breast from top to bottom vertically with a sharp knife into 2-inch strips. For full instructions,
see my notes above on how to turn chicken breasts into chicken tenders.

What makes blackened chicken?

This blackened chicken recipe is made with chicken breast tenderloins that are tossed in cajun style seasoning and pan fried without any breading.

a plate of blackened chicken tenders

Full Cajun Blackened Chicken Tenderloins Recipe

a plate of chicken tenders ready to serve
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5 from 1 vote

Blackened Chicken Tenders

Bring some excitement to your healthy weeknight dinner routine with this blackened chicken strips recipe! Cajun blackened chicken tenders have big, bold flavor in every bite – but are easy to make in under 30 minutes.
Course Main Course, Lunch, Appetizer
Cuisine Southern, American
Keyword chicken breasts, pan seared chicken breasts, chicken tenders, chicken tenderloins, gluten free chicken tenders, chicken strips, cajun chicken tenders, Chicken
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 236kcal

Equipment

  • 10" – 12" skillet

Ingredients

Chicken Tenders

  • pounds (24 ounces) chicken breast tenderloins (see notes below for using whole chicken breasts)
  • 2 tablespoon butter, unsalted
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil

Cajun Seasoning

  • 1 tablespoon paprika (I prefer smoked paprika)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon cayenne or red chile pepper (use less seasoning for a mild level of spice)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

Instructions

  • Melt the butter in a skillet over medium heat until the skillet is hot and the butter is bubbly. Prepare the chicken and seasonings while the butter and skillet are heating.
  • Using a basting brush, coat the chicken tenderloins with olive oil on both sides or spray with oil. Mix together the Cajun seasoning. Generously sprinkle the blackened seasoning over both sides of the chicken tenders or dip the chicken tenders into the seasonings.
  • Add the chicken breast tenders to the skillet, avoiding overcrowding. If your skillet is smaller, you may need to cook it in two batches.
  • Let the chicken cook (without moving the chicken) for 3-4 minutes, until a browned crust forms on the chicken. Turn the chicken strips and cook another 3-4 minutes. Check the temperature of the chicken with an instant-read thermometer – 165º means it is done.

Notes

How to make chicken tenders from breasts:
Slice the breast from top to bottom with a sharp knife into 2-inch strips. If the breasts are very large, slice them in half by placing your hand flat against the top of the chicken and carefully slicing horizontally through the chicken.

Nutrition

Serving: 4ounces | Calories: 236kcal | Carbohydrates: 2g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 12g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 7g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 83mg | Sodium: 942mg | Potassium: 479mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 878IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 23mg | Iron: 1mg

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