Quinoa Crusted Chicken Tenders

There’s probably not a more popular fast food than chicken “nuggets”, “fingers” or “tenders”. There’s something about that crispy, crunchy coating that makes them irresistible to all eaters – both young and old alike.

Problem is that chicken tenders certainly do NOT fall under the category of healthy eating. Between the breaded coating and the deep fry, this is a dish that should be consumed on very rare occasions – if at all.

Which is why these quinoa-crusted tenders are your new best friend. And they’re easy to make too.

Simply cut up some boneless, skinless chicken breasts into “tender”-sized pieces. But instead of finishing up the flour-egg coating with empty-calorie breadcrumbs, these tenders are rolled in protein-rich quinoa.

The tenders are then baked instead of fried, in a high-heat oven, and get nicely crisped and golden brown. Placing the tenders on a cooling rack set atop a baking sheet means that they get crunchy – not mushy – on the undersides too.

A junk food makeover is just a few minutes away – all you need to do is decide if you want to dip them in barbecue sauce or ketchup!


1 ½ pounds boneless chicken breasts, butterflied and cut into “tenders”
1 cup flour, seasoned with salt and pepper
3 eggs, beaten
2 cups cooked quinoa (see notes, below, for how to cook)


Pre-heat oven to 425. Line a baking sheet with foil; grease a wire cooling rack and place on top.
Working with one tender at a time, dredge in the seasoned flour, followed by the eggs, and then coat on all sides with the quinoa. Place on your wire rack and continue with remaining pieces.
Bake for 45 minutes or till golden brown and cooked through.
Serve hot or at room temperature with your favorite dipping sauces.

Cook quinoa as follows: Place ½ cup quinoa in a fine mesh strainer and rinse thoroughly. This removes quinoa’s natural coating – called “saponin” – which can make it taste bitter or soapy (do this even if the package says “pre-rinsed”). Place in a small saucepan with 1 cup of water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork and set aside till ready to use.

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