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Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard Sauce

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A gourmet twist on chicken tenders that appeals to kids and adults alike.

chicken tenders

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. 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!).

What you’ll need to make chicken tenders

chicken tenders

Step-by-Step Instructions

Begin by placing the pecans in a food processor.


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.


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


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


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


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


Then dip in the eggs.


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.


Place the breaded tenders on a baking sheet.


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.


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


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


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


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!


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.

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Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders with Honey Mustard Sauce

A gourmet twist on chicken tenders that appeals to kids and adults alike.

Servings: 4-6
Total Time: 40 Minutes


For Pecan Crusted Chicken Tenders

  • 1¼ cups pecans
  • 1¼ cups panko bread crumbs
  • 2¼ teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • Heaping ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 pounds chicken tenderloins
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup all purpose flour
  • Vegetable oil, for cooking

For Honey Mustard Sauce

  • ½ cup mayonnaise, best quality such as Hellmann's
  • ½ cup whole grain mustard
  • ¼ cup honey


  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, 1¼ 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 ⅛-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.
  7. Note: Nutritional information was calculated assuming that approximately 2 tablespoons of oil is absorbed into the chicken tenders when frying.
  8. Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The cooked chicken tenders can be frozen for up to 3 months. No need to defrost; put the chicken tenders on a wire rack on top of a rimmed baking sheet and bake in a 350°F oven until heated through and crisp, about 25 minutes. (Flip the chicken halfway through baking.)

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • Per serving (6 servings)
  • Calories: 880
  • Fat: 61 g
  • Saturated fat: 9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 57 g
  • Sugar: 16 g
  • Fiber: 5 g
  • Protein: 29 g
  • Sodium: 1,061 mg
  • Cholesterol: 123 mg

This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.

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  • These were delicious and loved by all. An upgrade on the the usual chicken tender.

    • — Laura C on April 4, 2023
    • Reply
  • Hey Jenn! I hate when I write a long review on here and it totally disappears! Wish I’d somehow saved it! Anyway, this recipe isn’t as Good as your Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders, I had explained why but I’m not going back there again!! ? Secondly, for my Xmas Eve Birthday, I bought myself BOTH of your cookbooks!! YAY!!! Love’m!!! Thirdly, I’d read somewhere that you were originally from Buffalo, NY!? I thought of you, and any of your family and friends that may still reside in Buffalo. I pray that they all made it though safely that major snowstorm and below freezing temperatures they had in Buffalo, NY over the past holidays. That was sooo scary and tragic. Global warming is real. Wishing YOU and YOURS All the best!! KeepCookin Sis ❤️we LOVE IT!!

    • — Gigi B. on January 20, 2023
    • Reply
    • Hi Gigi, I’m sorry your review disappeared – I haven’t heard that from other readers, but that’s got to be incredibly frustrating after you’ve taken the time to write it up! Good for you for buying yourself the cookbooks – I hope they become often used tools in your kitchen! And thanks for your nice thoughts about my family in Buffalo – everyone is safe, but what a scary turn of events!

      • — Jenn on January 20, 2023
      • Reply
  • These were so good!! Some other comments mentioned too much salt, so I reduced the salt a bit in the panko/nut mix. That was a mistake. Then there wasn’t enough salt so I sprinkled some on at the end lol. My advice: stick with the recipe! It’s a brilliant take on tenders.

    • — Heather on December 4, 2022
    • Reply
  • I’m so surprised this recipe isn’t listed under Most Popular recipe! My husband loves when I cook recipes from this blog but this one is his favorite! We made the honey mustard recipe with Mike’s Hot Honey, amazing. Thanks for the great recipe

    • — MeliB on January 14, 2022
    • Reply
  • How would one adapt this recipe to make coconut chicken?

    • Hi Holly, I think you could use the breading/method from this coconut shrimp recipe. You may need to increase the amount of breading but not 100% sure. Please LMK how it turns out if you try it!

  • Would a gluten free flour like almond flour work with this recipe?

    • Sure, that should be fine. Hope you enjoy!

    • Wow these were delicious! Just made for dinner tonight and everyone in the family was a fan. The pecans add a unique and yummy flavor. Don’t skip the mustard dipping sauce – such a good compliment to the tenders.

  • This is my go to chicken tender recipe. I leave out the sugar and pepper and reduce the salt by leaving out the step where the chicken tenders are seasoned with salt.

  • I have made these a couple times. They are super simple to put together. The coating of pecan mixture really keeps them moist. This time I tried cooking them in our air fryer thinking I had nothing to loose. They turned out really well! Super moist yet cooked to perfection. We did not miss the “fried” aspect at all and will make them this way from here on out. We cooked them at 375 degrees for about 15 minutes in the air fryer.

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