Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard Sauce

4.5 stars based on 3 votes

Pecan-Crusted-Chicken-Tenders-with-Honey-Mustard

The dinner recipes that I get the most excited to share are the ones that appeal to my kids as much as they appeal to me. (And let’s face it: that’s not frequently the case!) This gourmet twist on chicken tenders is one of them. The chicken is breaded in a mixture of pecans and panko, then pan-fried until crispy and golden and served with a creamy whole grain honey mustard sauce. Since the pecans are finely chopped, even kids who think they don’t like nuts will try them, ask for seconds, and even sneak thirds when you’re not looking (you know who you are!).

ingredients

Begin by placing the pecans in a food processor.

pecans

Pulse until the nuts are finely ground. If they’re too big, they won’t adhere to the chicken. Just be careful not to over-mix — you don’t want a nut paste.

chopped-pecans

Add the panko, sugar, salt and cayenne pepper to the nuts.

pecans-and-panko

Process until the mixture is well combined and the panko is broken down into slightly smaller flakes.

pecans-and-panko-mixed

Set up a breading station with flour, beaten eggs and the pecan/panko mixture.

breading

Season the chicken with salt. Working with one or two tenders at a time, dredge first in the flour, shaking off any excess.

dredging-in-flour

Then dip in the eggs.

dipping-in-egg

Then finally dredge in the pecan/panko mixture, turning and pressing on the chicken several times so that the mixture adheres. Try to use one hand for the dry breading (the flour and pecan/panko mixture) and one hand for the wet (the eggs) — otherwise, your hands will end up a gloppy mess.

dredging-in-bread-crumbs

Place the breaded tenders on a baking sheet.

ready-to-cook

Meanwhile, in a large sauté pan, heat about 1/8-inch vegetable oil over medium heat.  When the oil is hot, add the chicken tenders and cook on the first side until golden brown. Watch carefully and adjust the heat if necessary. Because there are nuts in the breading, the tenders can burn if the heat setting is too high.

cooking-chicken

Flip the tenders and cook for another few minutes until done.

cooking-chicken-second-side

Place cooked tenders on a baking sheet lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.

ready-to-serve

Meanwhile, make the honey mustard sauce by mixing the mayonnaise, whole grain mustard and honey in a small bowl. Easy!

honey-mustard-sauce

Serve the pecan crusted tenders with the honey mustard sauce on the side. The recipe makes a fair amount but you’ll be glad to have extra; they go quickly and leftovers are delicious the next day served warm and crispy over a salad. Enjoy!

Pecan-Crusted-Chicken-Tenders-with-Honey-Mustard

Note: I definitely prefer to pan-fry these chicken tenders but you can also bake them for a healthier option. They don’t get quite as crispy and juicy, but they’re still good.

Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard Sauce

Servings: 4-6
Total Time: 40 Minutes

Ingredients

For Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders

  • 1-1/4 cups pecans
  • 1-1/4 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 2-1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Heaping 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds chicken tenderloins
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil, for cooking

For Honey Mustard Sauce

  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's
  • 1/2 cup whole grain mustard
  • 1/4 cup honey

Instructions

  1. Place the pecans in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely chopped (go easy -- you don't want a paste). Add the panko, 1-1/4 teaspoon salt, sugar and cayenne pepper and pulse a few more times to combine. The panko should be broken down slightly but not finely ground.
  2. Set up three large shallow dishes in an assembly line. Place the flour in the first dish; beat the eggs in the second dish; and place the pecan/panko mixture in the third dish. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil to hold the breaded tenders, and place at the end of the assembly line.
  3. Season the chicken tenders with the remaining teaspoon salt. Working with one tender at a time: dredge first in the flour, shaking off any excess; dip in the egg to coat evenly; and then dredge in the pecan/panko mixture, pressing down to make the coating adhere. Try to use one hand for the dry breading (the flour and pecan/panko mixture) and one hand for the wet (the eggs) -- otherwise, your hands will end up a mess. Place the breaded tender on the prepared baking sheet and repeat with remaining tenders.
  4. Heat about 1/8-inch of oil in a large skillet over medium heat. While the oil heats up, line another baking sheet with paper towels (this is for the finished tenders — the paper towels will absorb any excess oil).
  5. When the oil starts to shimmer, add half of the chicken tenders and cook for a few minutes on the first side until golden brown. Using tongs, flip the tenders and cook until the second side is also golden, 1-2 minutes Adjust the heat as necessary so the tenders don't burn. Transfer the cooked tenders to the prepared baking sheet. Discard the oil, wipe the skillet clean with a paper towel, and then repeat with the remaining tenders.
  6. Make the sauce by combining the mayonnaise, mustard and honey in a small bowl. Serve alongside chicken tenders.

Reviews & Comments

  • 5 stars

    A sophisticated chicken tender! As always, your recipe was a hit with my family. Loved the sauce, too.

    - Christian on December 15, 2014 Reply
  • 3 stars

    I wasn’t totally thrilled with these to be honest. It may have been the lower heat needed to cook the pecan without burning; it may have been the panko with it’s porous texture, or it may have been the natural oiliness of nuts, but the finished product seemed a tad too oily for my liking. The sauce with it’s heavy component of mayo amped the experience. The flavor of the pecan didn’t really shine through as I though it would, though that may have been the fault of the nuts. I bought them from a good grocer, so not sure. This isn’t one I would recommend :/

    - Al Fabrizio on November 7, 2014 Reply
  • 5 stars

    I made these delicious tenders last night. My whole family loved them, including two very picky tweens. I will be adding this one to the rotation for sure. Thanks, Jenn!

    - Kelly on November 1, 2014 Reply
  • thank you for sharing this recipe with us. Just looking at the pictures makes me hungry! I was wondering if i could bake the tenders instead of pan frying it.

    - fardusa on January 24, 2014 Reply
    • Hi Fardusa, Yes, that would work…they won’t be quite as crispy but they will still be delicious.

      - Jenn on January 24, 2014 Reply
  • If I use breast how thick or thin should they be?

    - Judy on November 27, 2013 Reply
    • Judy, If you are using boneless skinless chicken breasts, I would first pound them to a 1/2″ thickness, then cut them in 1-1/2″ strips.

      - Jenn on November 28, 2013 Reply
  • I made these last night–baked, not fried. Awesome! Made a half batch from 2 chicken breasts (to feed 2 people). They came out crisp on the outside, juicy on the inside. I don’t have a food processor, so I just whacked some pecans in a ziplock bag with my rolling pin until they crumbled a bit. Baked for 12 minutes at 375, was prepared to turn them but didn’t have to. Yummy!

    - Emilie on November 27, 2013 Reply
  • I just made these delicious tenders with your butternut squash soup and biscuits. My family raved….thx for all the wonderful recipes.

    - Crystal on November 21, 2013 Reply
  • I followed recipe exactly, but my crust came off on some of the tenders. I’m making it again tonight because, truly, my 2 teens loved it! Please let me know what I can do to prevent nuts from coming off. Also, could you give general times to cook on each side? They were not done the first time I flipped.

    - Cathy Arrington on November 21, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Cathy, Hmmm…You’ve stumped me! I have not had that happen. As long as you’re doing the three step breading method, the breading should adhere. I’d suggest trying to grind the nuts up a little finer. Also, when you’re coating the tenders in the bread crumb/panko mixture, press down firmly on the tenders and flatten them a bit. This will help the coating adhere and also help the tenders to cook faster. And I’d say it’s about 2 minutes per side. Hope that helps…please come back and let me know how they come out. Thanks!

      - Jenn on November 21, 2013 Reply
  • Hi Jennifer!

    I made these chicken tenders last night for my husband and daughter – they loved them along with the honey mustard sauce!! My 10 year old daughter doesn’t like nuts but she never knew I used pecans in the breading. My husband made himself a sandwich today for lunch with the leftovers. Your recipes are so easy to follow and come out perfect every time.

    Jennifer

    - Jennifer on November 14, 2013 Reply
  • What are chicken ‘tenders’?

    - Judy on November 6, 2013 Reply
    • Chicken tenders are made from chicken tenderloins, which is the most tender part of the breast. They are usually sold separately. If you can’t find them, you can always use regular chicken breasts and slice them in strips.

      - Jenn on November 6, 2013 Reply
  • I have 2 questions:
    1. Will this work with another type of nut (such as almonds)?
    2. How would you recommend baking these instead of frying?

    Thanks! They look great!

    - Eliana G on October 30, 2013 Reply
    • Hi Eliana, I have never tried them with another type of nut but I think it will work best with pecans. To bake them, just put them on a foil lined baking sheet in a 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes.

      - Jenn on October 30, 2013 Reply

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