Finger Lickin’ Good: The 9 Best Frozen Chicken Tenders

I love chicken tenders. End of intro. That’s the opening paragraph for this one, gang. Not some flowery preface waxing romantic or a penned manifesto about finger food. Simply, I love chicken tenders. You love chicken tenders. So, let’s get into it. 

Chicken tenders are best when they’re meaty, juicy, clean-tasting, and have a seasoned, crunchy breading. Read: Quality of meat is paramount. I like for the chicken to have some organic character—it should shred when it pulls apart, unlike tenders made of indistinguishably processed meat goo. A lot of companies use chicken breast and rib meat, which is fine, but the pure breast meat makes a beautifully clean and tasty tender that’s hard to beat. Ideally, when you bite into a chicken tender, you should be able to hear a distinctive crunch, too. All in all, chicken tenders are really one of the easiest things to nail down and serve properly, and yet, so many fast food joints and grocery store brands get it wrong. Who gets it right? Peep the list to find out.

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good & gather chicken tenders

Best of the Best

Good & Gather Crispy Chicken Breast Strips

These are far and away the best chicken tenders on this list, and I believe this is the first time Target house brand Good & Gather has taken the top spot in a ranking. Good & Gather’s tenders aren’t spicy, but they have some nice spice in the breading that offers a welcome burst of flavor. The meat, which is fresh and clean, actually tastes like chicken breast too, not some ungodly chicken paste. And it’s very, very juicy for something that comes frozen. The breading here is made with cracker meal so the crunch factor is also strong. It was actually really fun for me to sit back and listen to everybody take turns eating chicken tenders and then rating the crunch sound. Good & Gather scored an 8/10 on the crunch meter, and even higher overall.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Target

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

bell & evans chicken tenders

Best Juicy

Bell & Evans Chicken Breast Tenders

Bell & Evans’ tenders scored only a 6/10 for crunch factor, but everything else about them rules. The meat is really clean-tasting and juicy, and they have the perfect amount of breading. A lot of chicken tenders go too far with the breading, and you can’t taste the meat as a result. With Bell & Evans, you get a perfect chemistry of both. Structurally, these are wonderful. Plus, they’re flavorful, tender, and just crunchy enough. A good product.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Amazon

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

foster farms crispy strips

Best Fatty

Foster Farms Crispy Chicken Strips

Foster Farms Crispy Chicken Strips are a good, reliable option. That is, if you see these out in the wild, buy ‘em and you won’t be disappointed. They have an excellent, salty flavor and the meat itself isn’t overly processed. It’s really fatty, too, giving it a dark meat quality that’s rich and delicious. It could just be more rib meat than breast meat, but I’m not complaining.There’s a bit too much breeding here, which is why Foster Farms ultimately ranks third.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

tyson crispy chicken strips

Best with Sauce

Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips

The flavor here is really nice, as the breading contains a good blend of dried garlic, dried onion, and paprika. The coating is also super crunchy—scoring an 8/10 on Danny Palumbo’s Trademarked Crunch Meter—but it’s almost too much. Hey, at least these tenders are crunchy and flavorful, which is more than we can say for others we tried. Because of the abundance of breading, these tenders  could really use some dipping sauce, like honey mustard or barbecue. As far as I’m concerned, there’s a  noticeable difference in quality from the higher-ranking tenders.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

simple truth organic breaded chicken tenders

Best Buffalo

Simple Truth Mild Buffalo Style Breaded Chicken Tenders

So, here’s the deal with Simple Truth Buffalo Style Breaded Chicken Tenders. They’re definitely a little processed and the crunch factor is dangerously low, but I still think they’re  delicious tenders, even if they have that homogenous chicken goo feel. It’s not the most natural, or the most fresh tasting, but It’s really good for what it is. Flavor is king here at Sporked, so Simple Truth’s Buffalo tenders have to make this list by that standard. They have chicken nugget vibes, yes, but they bring the flavor.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

applegate organic chicken strips

Best Chicken Flavor

Applegate Organic Chicken Strips

The pure chicken flavor here is really nice, and they’re definitely less processed than a lot of other products. The breading is light and thin, so the crunch factor is really low (3/10, virtually nonexistent). Still, I think these have the best chicken taste of the bunch. Applegate’s tenders have that super lean, fresh and clean chicken breast flavor that I love, and a really savory, umami-rich taste. Could use some help in the crunch department, though.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Target

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

simple truth organic homestyle chicken tenders

Best Spice Blend

Simple Truth Organic Breaded Homestyle Chicken Tenders

Okay, so, same thing here as the Mild Buffalo Style tenders above: The meat in these tenders is a little processed, but the flavor is great. It’s weird—Simple Truth is an organic brand, but these feel a lot less natural than the top options on this list. Still, Simple Truth provides a great spice blend of celery, sea salt, and paprika. They use rice starch, too, which helps the crunchiness.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

6.5/10

Sporks

yummy chicken tenders

Best Breading

Yummy All Natural Chicken Breast Tenders

We all really loved the panko breading on these, which provided an excellent crunch factor (8/10! On par with Good & Gather!). Yummy has a great taste, but even though the breading is really crunchy, it overwhelms the chicken a bit. You don’t really get to enjoy that meaty, clean chicken breast as much. They’re kind of shaped like fish sticks, too. I much prefer the rough-looking, craggy terrain of freshly breaded chicken tenders to these. Still, if you love panko breading, you’ll like Yummy.

Credit: Sarah Demonteverde / Instacart

Rating:

6.5/10

Sporks

Other Products We Tried: Perdue Chicken Tenders, Sprouts Gluten Free Chicken Tenders, Trader Joe’s Organic Chicken Tenders, Great Value Chicken Tenders

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About the Author

Danny Palumbo

Danny is a comedian, cook, and food writer living in Los Angeles. He loves gas station eggs, canned sardines, and Easter candy. He also passionately believes that all the best chips come from Pennsylvania (Herr's!). If you can't understand Danny when he talks, it's because he's from Pittsburgh.

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  • You need to tell people to sit down before reading that Good and Gather actually delivered the goods.

    Reply
    • first time it’s happened and on chicken tenders no less. Huge.

      Reply
  • I was so genuinely excited to see the good & gather tenders. Those suckers are GOOD. Like offensively so.

    Reply
  • How were these prepared? Oven? Air fryer? Skillet? Deep fried?

    Also, the problem with sporked lists is that we never know all of the products compared. If I go into the grocery store and skip over Brand X’s chicken strips in favor of your number 1 spot, how do I even know if brand x was in the running? Could be that you didn’t try that one and it’s actually the best.

    Could you please provide just a simple list of all of the brands and products compared? Even if its a simple text file.

    Reply
    • Whoops! I just now noticed down at the very bottom you have that list. Thanks!

      Reply
  • How was great value not on this list? They are by far the best of the best. Top tier chicken strips

    Reply