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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 big, bold flavor in every bite – but are easy to make at home with only simple pantry staples. Lean chicken tenderloins are quickly pan seared with Cajun seasonings for a tasty (keto-friendly!) dish that’s ready to enjoy with your favorite comfort food sides in less than 30 minutes.

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 all kinds of spices and are remarkably easy to prep with seemingly endless cooking methods.

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

The chicken is lightly coated with oil and spices, then cooked over medium-high heat for only a few minutes on each side. In less than 15 minutes the tenders are ready to plate and serve with yummy sides!

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 seasoning is like what’s like the blackened tenders from Popeyes and includes a pinch of cayenne for a bit of heat. I wouldn’t say they are necessarily child-friendly, but older kids and adults who like some spiciness will really enjoy the bold taste.

And not only are they terrifically flavorful, but blackened chicken tenders are low carb, low fat, and keto-friendly!

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… Therefore the tenderloin is very, well, tender!

HOW TO MAKE CHICKEN TENDERS FROM BREASTS

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 tasty chicken strips from the entire breast without waste.

Ingredients Needed To Make Low Carb Blackened Tenders

For this recipe, you need chicken breast tenderloins, olive oil (or other preferred neutral flavored high-heat cooking oil), unsalted butter, and Cajun seasoning.

There’s no need to purchase another 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
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 bubbly. Mix the chicken and seasonings while the butter and skillet are heating.

blackened chicken tenders being dipped into spices

Using a basting brush, coat the chicken tenderloins with olive oil on both sides. 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 it in two batches.

pan frying chicken tenders

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.

pan fried chicken tenderloins

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

Here Is The Full Cajun Blackened Chicken Tenderloins Recipe:

a plate of chicken tenders ready to serve
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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 Appetizer, Main Course, Lunch
Cuisine American, Southern
Keyword Chicken, chicken breasts, pan seared chicken breasts, chicken tenders, chicken tenderloins, gluten free chicken tenders, chicken strips, cajun chicken tenders
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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