10 Best Frozen Chicken Tenders: Our Updated Ranking

The best frozen chicken tenders are crispy, juicy, bursting with flavor, and, you guessed it, incredibly tender. The breading should be crunchy and well-seasoned, and the chicken (gasp) should taste like real chicken, and not over-processed mush. 

If you’re the type of person who says, “You know, sometimes I think I was born in the wrong century,” consider this: According to USA Today, at least one source claims that chicken tenders did not exist before 1974. I don’t know about you, but a world without chicken tenders is not a world for me. And before you judge me for having the palette of an eight year-old, just remember, I’m the professional food taste tester here. I make the rules. Chicken tenders are awesome, I don’t know how we functioned in society without them, and yes, I really did just spend a paragraph telling you something you probably already knew! I can’t help what I’m passionate about!

In two separate taste tests, the Sporked team sat down to determine the best chicken tenders from the grocery store, because frankly, we have the coolest jobs in the history of the universe. This time around, we wanted to add the best gluten free chicken tenders to the list, but ran into some trouble (the trouble being that a lot of gluten free chicken tenders taste very, very bad). Don’t worry. We found a solution for you GF folks, though. Now grab a ramekin of BBQ sauce or honey mustard, and let’s talk about the best frozen chicken strips. —Ariana Losch


Best Spice Blend

Simple Truth Organic Breaded Homestyle Chicken Tenders

These Simple Truth Organic Breaded Homestyle Chicken Tenders earn a spot among the best frozen chicken tenders thanks to their tasty seasoned breading. Oddly, despite being an organic brand, the meat tastes a little processed, but the blend of spices in the coating—celery, sea salt, and paprika—makes them taste great. These frozen chicken tenders use rice starch, too, which gives them a nice crunch. —Ariana Losch

Credit: Merc / Instacart

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Best Chicken Flavor

Applegate Organic Chicken Strips

Applegate’s frozen chicken strips have a pure chicken flavor that makes them seem way less processed than a lot of other products we tried in our taste test. The breading is light and thin, so the crunch factor is really low (3/10, virtually nonexistent). Still, unless you’re specifically looking for the best crispy chicken tenders,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. These could use some help in the crunch department, but they’re still among the best chicken tenders we tried. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Merc / Instacart

Rating:

7/10

Sporks

Best Buffalo

Best Buffalo: Simple Truth Mild Buffalo Style Breaded Chicken Tenders

So, here’s the deal with Simple Truth Buffalo Style Breaded Chicken Tenders. Like the homestyle version, they’re definitely a little processed and the crunch factor is dangerously low, but I still think they’re among the best frozen chicken tenders, even if they have that homogenous chicken goo thing going on. These aren’t the most natural or the most fresh tasting frozen chicken strips you can buy, but they’re really good for what they are. 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. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Merc / Instacart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best Sweet

Tyson Honey BBQ Chicken Strips

There’s definitely a market for Tyson Honey BBQ Chicken Strips, so listen up: If you’re the type of person who likes an incredibly sweet honey BBQ sauce, these are the best frozen chicken tenders for you. The predominant flavor here is sweet honey complemented by a mild BBQ heat, which divided our taste-testing team between those with the strongest and weakest sweet tooths. The one major downside: As a result of all that moisture and honey, the breading itself doesn’t have much of a crunch. Still, these make our list of the ten best frozen chicken tenders for memorable flavor alone. —Ariana Losch 

Credit: Merc / Walmart

Rating:

7.5/10

Sporks

Best Crispy

Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips

As advertised, Tyson Crispy Chicken Strips have a super crunchy coating, making them the best crispy chicken tenders we tried. The bonus is that the breading also tastes really good, thanks to a blend of dried garlic, dried onion, and paprika. Because of all that crispy coating, these tenders would pair well with some dipping sauce, like honey mustard or barbecue. Some moisture to go with all that crunch. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Merc / Instacart

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

Best Fatty

Foster Farms Crispy Chicken Strips

Foster Farms Crispy Chicken Strips are a good, reliable option. They have an excellent, salty flavor and the meat itself isn’t overly processed. It’s really fatty, too. All chicken tenders are white meat, but these have 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 these Foster Farms frozen chicken strips ultimately end up in the middle of the pack. But thanks to that savory dark meat flavor, they deserve a high spot among the best frozen chicken tenders.  —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Merc / Instacart

Rating:

8/10

Sporks

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 highly 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. If you’re looking for restaurant quality, these are the best chicken tenders to pick up. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Merc / Amazon

Rating:

9/10

Sporks

Best Spicy

Hot Ones Chicken Strips, Smoky Habanero

Hot Ones Smoky Habanero Chicken Strips are show-stoppingly great. These are very spicy, a little smoky, and juicy—the flavor and spices permeate the tender chicken, not just the thick, crunchy breading. The tenders taste and come apart like you just took them out of a deep fryer. Really, Hot Ones checks all the boxes here, and they really deliver on the heat they promise. These are the best of all the Hot Ones chicken tenders and they’re the best frozen chicken strips for people who really like it hot. —Ariana Losch

Credit: Merc / Ralphs

Rating:

9.5/10

Sporks

Best Gluten Free

Trader Joe’s Breaded Gluten Free Chicken Nuggets

If you’re thinking, “Ariana, hold on, that’s a nugget,” well, good on you for being so astute. These gluten-free chicken nuggets from Trader Joe’s are the best gluten free chicken tenders we tried, because, frankly, we didn’t try any actual chicken tenders yummy enough to earn a spot on this list. (We were pretty disappointed, to be honest—it was a dark day.) So consider this my PSA to all chicken tender brands trying to make products for our gluten free beaus and babes: do better. If you can’t match the heavenly, juicy, well-seasoned crunch of TJ’s gluten-free chicken nuggets—our frontrunner for the best frozen chicken nuggets, even among non-GF nuggets—you aren’t trying hard enough. —Ariana Losch

Credit: Merc / Trader Joe’s

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Best of the Best

Good & Gather Crispy Chicken Breast Strips

These are far and away the best frozen chicken tenders on this list. Good & Gather’s tenders—which you’ll find at Target stores—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, not some ungodly chicken paste. And it’s very, very juicy for something that comes frozen. The breading 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 level. Good & Gather scored an 8/10 on the crunch meter, and even higher overall. —Danny Palumbo

Credit: Merc / Target

Rating:

10/10

Sporks

Other Products We Tried: Perdue Chicken Tenders, Sprouts Gluten Free Chicken Tenders, Trader Joe’s Organic Chicken Tenders, Great Value Chicken Tenders, Perdue Gluten Free Breaded Chicken Tenders, Caulipower Chicken Tenders, Caulipower Chicken Tenders Spicy(Ish), Sprouts Gluten Free Chicken Tenders, Hot Ones Chicken Strips, Spicy Garlic, Yummy All Natural Chicken Breast Tenders


About the Author

Ariana Losch

Ariana Losch is a Sporked contributor, webcomic writer, java junkie, and bad TV enthusiast. She only ever feels at peace laying out on a beach like a kebab, roasting in the sun; sadly, she can never move back to Florida, her home state, because there simply isn’t enough good Mediterranean food. You can find her overstaying her welcome at just about every LA coffee shop, working on a screenplay and avoiding all eye contact. (She is embarrassed to be there, please leave her alone.)

Thoughts? Questions? Complete disagreement? Leave a comment!

Your thoughts.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • I feel like I can’t trust this list with Tyson tenders being so high. I used to buy them for years and on average two or three tenders per bag had some nasty gristle or woody meat. I eventually gave up and now I just buy raw chicken tender meat and bread & season them myself and cook them in an air fryer – well worth the effort. ~20 minutes of prep to pull the tendon and egg wash, bread, and season ~2LBs and then a 14 minute cook time in the air fryer at 380.

    Reply
  • You completely left off Just Bare, which are the best tenders, filets, and bites around from the frozen food aisle.

    Reply
  • My vote goes to Just Bare. Their strips and fillets are the best.

    Reply
  • Tyson maybe good, but refuse to by their porducts since opening came out and said they are close a plant and opening one where they will hire cheaper illegal aliens. That just my choice.

    Reply
  • I feel strongly that Tyson’s Southern Style Chicken Breast Tenderloins outweigh their Crispy Chicken Strip offering. I’ve had both side by side, the size and quality of Southern Style is flat superior. With a jalapeño ketchup, you can’t go wrong.

    Reply
  • The just bare spicy strips are the best ever

    Reply
    • This is the correct answer, but according to the list of ones they tried, Just Bare wasn’t one of them.

      Reply
  • Did you guys end up trying Applegate gluten free chicken tenders? I feel like they could be a contender.

    Reply
  • Pilgrim’s Crispy Chicken Breast Strips Are The Best!

    Reply
  • I’m surprised y’all didn’t try the Trader Joe chick tenders.
    They are tasty tasty!!

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

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

    Reply
  • 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