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Easy Panko Breaded Lemon Pepper Baked Chicken Tenders

The whole family will love these golden brown Lemon Pepper Baked Chicken Tenders, juicy strips of chicken breast coated in a golden brown panko breadcrumb and flavoured with fresh lemons and whole peppercorns in a simple homemade lemon pepper seasoning. I serve these lemon chicken goujons with a simple lemon pepper mayo on the side. 

A close up overhead image of a pile of lemon pepper chicken tenders on a yellow napkin. There are lemon slices in the photo and the lemon pepper mayo dip in the corner.

What Makes This Recipe Great!

  • Perfect for Sharing – Serving up a big bowl of chicken tenders allows family and friends to help themselves. It’s a kid-friendly recipe that’s great for family mealtimes and parties.
  • Simple Ingredients – We use ingredients that you will find in your local grocery store or supermarket.
  • Freezer Friendly – A crispy chicken tenders recipe that you can make ahead and serve up for those busy days or a mid-week meal.

About This Recipe – In More Detail

The flavourings of fresh lemon and chicken are a match made in heaven, just like this Lemon Chicken Tray Bake recipe. I wanted to make these oven-baked lemon chicken tenders full of lemon flavour and what better way to do that then to combine fresh lemon juice into a peppery mayonnaise dip on the side. 

You can serve these Lemon Pepper Baked Chicken tenders in lots of different ways. Try serving them up with your favourite sides as an easy weeknight dinner with a portion of Peri-Peri Fries, some baked sweet potatoes or these Tomato Potatoes. Make this Tortilla Wrap Recipe and serve your goujons in chicken wraps, like our Chicken Fajita Wraps with some salad and the lemon pepper mayo. or Go posh with these Crispy Cornflour Roasted Potatoes and a vegetable side of Italian Fried Broccoli. The list is endless for side dish pairings and ways to enjoy these succulent tenders. 

Getting that golden brown finish to a breadcrumb coating isn’t easily achievable when you are baking in the oven. However, I have a special secret weapon way to create the best results and give you that golden brown finish just like fried chicken. Our way guarantees the most crispy oven-baked chicken tenders imaginable. I simply toast the panko breadcrumbs separately first!

Another super useful step in this recipe is, rather than a traditional breading station with flour and egg, we are making a super sticky batter dredge with a secret ingredient that not only helps the toasted breadcrumbs stick fast, but also gives your breaded baked chicken tenders that golden-brown crunchiness all the way through. I have done something very similar for these Nacho Chicken Bites too!

Lemon Pepper Baked chicken is also freezer friendly too! Meaning that you can make them ahead and defrost them when you need them. 

A front view of a stack of lemon pepper chicken tenders with a lemon pepper mayonnaise in a yellow bowl next to them. There are decorative items in the photo also.

Equipment Needed

  • Baking Sheet/Sheet Pan: Used for toasting the breadcrumbs and baking the chicken tenders. Ensure it’s lightly greased before use to prevent sticking.
  • Pestle and Mortar: Necessary for crushing the peppercorns, aiding in the creation of the lemon pepper seasoning.
  • Mixing Bowls: Used for mixing the ingredients, including creating the batter, combining breadcrumbs with seasoning, and preparing the lemon pepper mayo. You can use shallow bowls that are large enough to dip the chicken tenders into. 
  • Whisk or Fork: For beating the egg, mayonnaise, and flour together to create the batter for coating the chicken.
  • Measuring Spoons: For accurate measurement of ingredients like lemon zest, lemon juice, and peppercorns.
  • Knife and Cutting Board: For slicing the chicken breasts into strips and chopping fresh parsley.
  • Tongs or Forks: To dip the chicken strips into the batter and transfer them to the breadcrumb mixture without making a mess.

Ingredients

A labelled photo with all the ingredients needed to make this recipe.
  • Chicken Breasts: I use boneless skinless chicken breast that are sliced into strips, and coated to make the chicken tenders.
  • Egg: Used in the batter to bind the flour and mayonnaise together, providing a coating for the chicken.
  • Plain Flour: I combine all-purpose flour with the egg and mayonnaise to form the batter that coats the chicken, creating a crispy texture when baked.
  • Mayonnaise (for batter): Adds moisture and richness to the batter, aiding in browning and enhancing the texture of the chicken coating.
  • Panko Breadcrumbs: Provides a crispy outer layer when baked, giving the chicken tenders their crunchy texture.
  • Black Peppercorns: Black Peppercorn is crushed and mixed with toasted breadcrumbs to create a peppery and aromatic coating for the chicken.
  • Lemon Zest: Combined with the peppercorns to make our own lemon pepper seasoning, It adds a bright and tangy flavour to the breadcrumb mixture, enhancing the overall zestiness of the chicken tenders.
  • Mayonnaise (for lemon pepper mayo): Forms the base of the lemon pepper mayo, adding creaminess and texture to the dipping sauce.
  • Lemon Juice: Provides a tangy and citrusy flavour to the mayo, complementing the chicken’s taste.
  • Fresh Parsley Leaves: Chopped finely and added to the lemon-pepper mayo for a fresh and herby element.

Additions and Substitutions

Substitutions:

  • Chicken: You can use chicken thigh meat for lemon pepper chicken thighs, or turkey breast strips or even tofu strips for a vegetarian option.
  • Panko Breadcrumbs: Regular breadcrumbs or crushed cornflakes can be used as alternatives.
  • Peppercorns: Ground black pepper can be used instead of whole peppercorns.

Additions:

  • Herbs: Adding dried herbs like thyme, oregano, or rosemary to the breadcrumb mixture for extra flavour.
  • Spices: Smoked paprika, garlic powder, or onion powder to enhance the seasoning.
  • Parmesan Cheese: Mixing grated Parmesan with breadcrumbs for a cheesy crust.
  • Dipping Sauces: Honey mustard, barbecue sauce, or ranch dressing alongside the lemon pepper mayo for variety.
  • Chili Flakes: For those who prefer a bit of heat, adding chili flakes or cayenne pepper to the breadcrumb mixture.

Step-By-Step Guide – How To Make Lemon Pepper Baked Chicken Tenders

Step 1: Oven Preheating

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).

Step 2: Preparing Coating Ingredients

  • Crush the peppercorns finely using a pestle and mortar.
  • Slice the chicken breasts into strips.
A hand is using a pestle and mortar to crush the peppercorns.
A hand is using a knife to slice the chicken breasts into strips on a wooden chopping board.

Step 3: Toasting Breadcrumbs

  • Spread Panko breadcrumbs on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes until they turn golden brown.
Two hands are holding a silver baking tray with a layer of panko breadcrumbs on it.
The panko breadcrumbs that have been toasted are spread out on a silver baking tray.

Step 4: Creating Breadcrumb Mixture

  • Combine the toasted breadcrumbs with crushed peppercorns and lemon zest in a bowl.
An overhead view of a glass bowl containing the toasted panko breadcrumbs, crushed peppercorns and lemon zest.
A hand is using a wooden spoon to mix the ingredients of the breadcrumb coating together.

Step 5: Making Batter

  • Whisk the egg and mix in the mayonnaise and flour to create a batter. Season it with sea salt and black pepper.
A hand is pouring mayonnaise into a glass bowl that contains whisked egg.
An overhead view of a glass bowl with the batter ingredients mixed together inside.

Step 6: Preparing Baking Tray

  • Lightly grease a baking tray with olive oil.

Step 7: Coating Chicken Strips

  • Dip each chicken strip into the batter, allowing excess batter to drip back into the bowl. Coat them evenly with the breadcrumb mixture.
A hand is using tongs to dip a strip of chicken into the batter.
A hand is covering the chicken with breadcrumbs.
A hand is pressing the lemon pepper breadcrumbs onto the chicken to help them stick.
A hand is holding up a prepared chicken tender that has been fully coating in breadcrumbs and batter.

Step 8: Arranging Chicken Strips

  • Place the breaded chicken strips in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, leaving space between each strip.
A hand is holding a silver baking tray with a layer of prepared chicken tenders on it.

Step 9: Baking Chicken Strips

  • Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes, flipping the strips once during baking to ensure even cooking. Remove once thoroughly cooked.

Step 10: Making Lemon Pepper Mayonnaise

  • Mix the mayonnaise with lemon juice until smooth.
  • Finely chop the parsley leaves and crush the rest of the peppercorns. Stir them into the mayonnaise mixture. Cover and refrigerate until serving.
A hand is using a spoon to mix lemon juice into mayonnaise in a white bowl.
A hand is using a spoon to mix the lemon pepper mayonnaise ingredients together in a white bowl.

Step 11: Serving

  • Serve the freshly cooked chicken tenders hot with the chilled lemon pepper mayonnaise.

FAQ

What’s the purpose of pre-toasting the breadcrumbs before using them for coating?

Pre-toasting the breadcrumbs enhances their crunchiness and helps them brown evenly during baking, providing a crispier texture to the lemon pepper chicken breast without the need to use excess oil.

Can I substitute Panko breadcrumbs with regular breadcrumbs?

Yes, regular breadcrumbs can be used, but Panko breadcrumbs typically result in a crispier texture due to their larger, flakier structure, guaranteeing you crispy tenders as a result

Can the lemon pepper mayo be made ahead of time?

Yes, the mayo can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for 1-2 days. Just cover with clingfilm or plastic wrap until you’re ready to use it.

How can I prevent the breaded chicken tenders from sticking to the baking tray?

Lightly greasing the baking tray with oil before placing the chicken tenders ensures they don’t stick during baking.

An overhead view of the baked chicken tenders in a pile on top of a yellow napkin. There are more chicken tenders on a baking tray in the corner of the picture and lemon slice, a pot of mayonnaise, fresh parsley and flowers in the picture.

Pro Tips and Guidance

  • Even Coating: Ensure an even coat of the batter and breadcrumbs on each chicken strip for uniform baking.
  • Pre-Toasted Breadcrumbs: Pre-toasting the breadcrumbs adds extra crunch and prevents sogginess. It allows the breadcrumbs to brown in the oven sufficiently without using excess oil.
  • Baking Tray Space: Allow space between chicken strips on the baking tray to ensure they crisp up evenly.
  • Flip for Evenness: Flip the chicken tenders halfway through baking to achieve an even golden-brown finish on both sides.
  • Chilled Mayo: Let the lemon pepper mayo chill in the fridge while the chicken bakes to let the flavours meld together.
  • Check for Doneness: To avoid overcooking or undercooking, ensure the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 74°C (165°F) using a meat thermometer.
  • Serve Fresh: Serve the chicken tenders immediately with the mayo for the best taste and texture.

A front view of a hand dipping a lemon pepper chicken tender into the lemon pepper mayonnaise in a yellow pot.

Storage

  • Refrigeration: Store any leftover lemon pepper baked chicken tenders in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3-4 days. Ensure they cool completely before storing.

Reheating:

  • Oven: To reheat, place the baked chicken tenders on a baking sheet and warm them in a preheated oven at 175°C (350°F) for about 10-12 minutes or until heated through.

Freezing:

  • Pre-Baked: You can freeze the uncooked, breaded chicken tenders on a baking sheet until solid. Once frozen, transfer them to a freezer bag or container with parchment paper between layers to prevent sticking. They can be stored for up to 3 months.
  • Baked: If you’ve already baked the tenders, let them cool completely, then freeze them in an airtight container or freezer bag with layers separated by parchment paper. They can be stored for up to 2 months.

Defrosting:

  • Pre-Baked: Thaw frozen uncooked tenders in the fridge overnight before baking according to the original instructions.
  • Baked: To reheat previously baked and frozen tenders, let them thaw overnight in the fridge, then reheat in the oven until warmed through.

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An overhead view of a pile of lemon pepper baked chicken tenders laid on a yellow napkin. They are surrounded by decorative items, like fresh parsley, lemon slices and extra breadcrumbs.

Lemon Pepper Baked Chicken Tenders

5 from 2 votes
Delicious panko-breaded chicken fingers that all the family will love. Perfect for dipping, these Lemon Pepper Chicken Tenders are baked in the oven and served with lemon pepper mayonnaise on the side. Great for sharing at mealtimes or made for parties.
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Course: Main Course, party
Cuisine: American, British
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 1007kcal

Ingredients
 
 

  • 4 Chicken Breasts
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 4 tbsp Flour
  • 4 tbsp Mayonnaise
  • 200 g Panko Breadcrumbs
  • 1 tbsp Peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Zest

For the Lemon Pepper Mayo

  • 1 Cup Mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp Peppercorns
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1 tbsp Fresh Parsley Leaves

Instructions

  • Preheat the oven to 180°C (350°F).
  • Use a pestle and mortar to crush the peppercorns until finely ground.
  • Slice the chicken breasts into strips and set them aside.
  • Spread the Panko breadcrumbs evenly on a baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes until they turn golden brown.
  • In a bowl, combine the toasted breadcrumbs with the crushed peppercorns and lemon zest.
  • Create the batter by whisking the egg and incorporating the mayonnaise and flour. Season the batter with sea salt and black pepper.
  • Lightly grease a baking tray with oil.
  • Dip each chicken strip into the batter, ensuring even coating. Using tongs, let the excess batter drip back into the bowl before transferring the strip to the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Coat the chicken strips evenly with breadcrumbs by spooning them over and gently pressing to stick.
  • Arrange the breaded chicken strips in a single layer on the prepared baking sheet, leaving a little space between each strip.
  • Bake in the oven for approximately 20 minutes. Flip the strips once during baking to ensure they cook evenly. Remove from the oven once the chicken is thoroughly cooked.
  • While the chicken tenders bake, prepare the lemon pepper mayonnaise. Combine the mayonnaise with the lemon juice, mixing until smooth.
  • Finely chop the parsley leaves and crush the peppercorns again. Stir them into the mayonnaise mixture. Cover and refrigerate until the chicken tenders are ready.
  • Serve the hot, freshly baked chicken tenders with the chilled lemon pepper mayonnaise.

Recipe Notes

  • Even Coating: Coat chicken evenly for uniform baking.
  • Pre-Toasted Breadcrumbs: Toast crumbs for crunch without excess oil.
  • Baking Tray Space: Space strips for even crisping.
  • Flip for Evenness: Turn halfway for golden-brown sides.
  • Chilled Mayo: Chill mayo to meld flavors while chicken bakes.
  • Check for Doneness: Ensure 74°C (165°F) internal temp.
  • Serve Fresh: Enjoy immediately with mayo for best taste.

Nutrition Estimate

Calories: 1007kcal | Carbohydrates: 46g | Protein: 60g | Fat: 63g | Saturated Fat: 11g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 34g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Trans Fat: 0.2g | Cholesterol: 267mg | Sodium: 1110mg | Potassium: 1057mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 354IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 145mg | Iron: 5mg

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