7 Fast-Food Chains That Serve Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders—and You Can Taste the Difference!
Before we talk hand-breading, let's talk tenders. In order to be a true chicken tender—not chicken nuggets, chicken strips, or something like Burger King Chicken Fries—the item needs to be made from the actual tender of the chicken breast. Per Koch Foods, it is the portion of muscle found under the breast proper and its technical name is the pectoralis minor. Because these muscles are used less rigorously during a chicken's life, the meat literally is more tender than other cuts.
So that's one thing to love about chicken tenders. Now, to the hand-breading, which means, rather obviously, that these tenders are breaded by hand there at the restaurant. But make no mistake, that's a critical detail when it comes to taste—you really can appreciate the hand-breaded difference, which is why so many chains take pains to advertise their tenders as being thusly prepared. Part of the reason is simply that the chicken had to have been fresh (or at least fully thawed) when it was breaded.
Another reason hand-breaded tenders from fast-food chains taste so good is that such restaurants have put a lot of work into developing unique flavor profiles for their breading—chicken alone is pretty devoid of flavor, after all.
Finally, fried chicken is always delicious, especially with a salty, savory breading added. And especially when it was added by a skilled set of hands. If you're craving the best-tasting fast-food chicken tenders, here are the spots to get them.
When a popular restaurant chain's bread and butter, so to speak, is chicken, it's little surprise that it takes things up a notch. Thus Chick-fil-A employees dutifully hand-bread chicken tenders each and every day. And they also hand-bread the chicken nuggets and the chicken for the sandwiches, too.
Hardee's has been making a big deal about its hand-breaded chicken tenders for well over a decade now. They even have meals with the qualification right there in the name. The three-piece and five-piece Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders Combo meals consist of "premium, all-white meat chicken, hand-dipped in buttermilk, lightly breaded and fried to a golden brown." You can also order 10-, 15, and 20-piece "Boxes" which are tenders alone, no sides or drink.
Sure, Popeye was a sailor, but it's the chicken, not the seafood, that keeps people coming back. Like, say, the "handcrafted marinated chicken tenders," as the chain so describes one of its mainstay menu items. Served with mashed potatoes, gravy, and a biscuit, that's a hard meal to beat.
KFC's freshly-prepared tenders are extra crispy (and actually, that's Extra Crispy™) and they come with multiple dipping sauces.
Raising Cane's has one type of protein on the menu, and that's chicken. No beef, no fish, no Impossible this or that, no pork—just chicken. So you'd better believe they work hard to make it great, which includes hand-battering their tenders and frying them up batch after batch, day after day.
The beloved chicken tenders from Church's Chicken are hand-crafted all day long, per this Texas-based chain's site. And so are the Honey-Butter Biscuits. And the Jalapeño Cheese Bombers. And the Fried Okra. And on it goes, but you get the picture.
Long John Silver's
OK, you got us: technically Long John Silver's does not offer hand-breaded chicken tenders, but rather hand-battered chicken tenders. Take a bite, and you won't care a bit for the semantic debate of it all, though; indeed the rich flaky batter is a welcome departure from the thicker, crunchy breading you find on most chicken tenders from other fast-food chains. Toss in some hush puppies and coleslaw and your meal is a win.