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Lemon pepper chicken are breaded, pan fried chicken tenders with a tangy lemon sauce. Make this chicken strips recipe for a quick, easy meal.
This recipe is a tasty twist on one of my favorite dinners; lemon chicken. Just like that dish, lemon pepper chicken tenders have a wonderful crunchy breading, with perfectly tender, juicy chicken on the inside.
The chicken strips are fantastic all on their own, or with a dipping sauce like buttermilk ranch dressing or mustard bbq sauce . But I think what really brings this dish to the next level of delicious is the tart and creamy, fresh lemon sauce.
Whether you drizzle a little over the top, dip the chicken tenders into it, or cover them in a thick blanket of sauce is up to you!
Lemon pepper chicken tenders
This is one of my favorite quick chicken recipes because it’s perfect for a weeknight meal, but elevated enough to serve when you have friends over for dinner. It’s relatively inexpensive to make, too. Budget-friendly meals are always nice!
Ingredient notes and substitutions
- Chicken– You have a couple of options here. You can use chicken tenderloins, which are the short pectoral muscles attached on the underside of the breast meat.
Or, if you’re unable to find a package of chicken tenderloins, you can use chicken tenders, which are simply long strips of boneless skinless chicken breast. These are also known as chicken fingers.
How to cut tenders from chicken breasts
Look closely at a chicken breast and you’ll notice tiny white lines running in one direction through the meat. These are muscle fibers, and are referred to as the grain.
To cut chicken tenders, you want to make slices against the grain. In other words, run your knife in the opposite direction so that you’re slicing through those fibers.
- Seasonings– To season the chicken, you’ll use lemon pepper seasoning, and for the lemon sauce, you’ll use Italian seasoning, salt, and black pepper. Feel free to buy it, or make my recipe for lemon pepper seasoning; it’s simple to make and nice to have on hand.
Lemon pepper tastes fantastic on grilled cauliflower steaks, baked or grilled fish, and sprinkled onto blanched asparagus!
How to make lemon pepper chicken
- Set up a breading station.
You’ll need three shallow bowls or plates to set up a station for breading the chicken tenders. Empty pie pans work well for this, too. The first pan holds seasoned flour, the second holds beaten eggs, and the third pan holds seasoned breadcrumbs.
- Bread the chicken.
Add the breading is simple, but it can be a messy job! I suggest using using one hand to dredge the tenders through the flour mixture, and then through the beaten eggs. This way, the other hand stays clean to use for adding the breadcrumb coating.
For pan frying, I like to use a cast iron skillet. It retains heat well and it’s heavy, so it doesn’t slide around on the stove top. If you don’t have cast iron, any shallow, heavy-bottomed skillet will be fine.
- Pan fry the tenders.
To prevent the hot oil from splattering, don’t drop the chicken tenderloins into the pan. Instead, using a pair of tongs or your fingers, hold one end of the meat, and slowly lower the chicken into the skillet.
Depending on the size of your pan, you may need to fry the lemon pepper chicken in batches. To keep the chicken warm after frying, you can place it on a sheet pan in the oven. Set it to 200°F, or the lowest your oven will allow. If you have a “keep warm” setting, that’s even better!
- Make the lemon sauce.
The sauce takes just a few minutes to make, so it’s best to wait until all of the chicken is cooked before you start making it.
I like to spoon the lemon sauce over the chicken before serving it, but you could also serve the lemon pepper chicken tenders with individual dipping cups of sauce.
A sprinkle of fresh parsley adds a nice pop of color and extra flavor. It’s a nice finishing touch to this quick chicken recipe!
For sides, make some wild rice pilaf or smashed red potatoes. Some sauteed carrots or green beans would also be delicious with the lemon pepper chicken tenders.
This post, originally published on Kevin is Cooking Aug. 18, 2013, was last updated with new content on Nov. 5, 2021.
Lemon Pepper Chicken
- 3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley for garnish
- Slice and juice the lemons. Set juice aside. Season the chicken with the lemon pepper.
- Set up your breading station with 3 bowls. Add flour, bread crumbs and beaten eggs each into its own bowl.
- Holding a chicken tender in one hand, dredge it through the flour, then dip it in the eggs and shake off excess. Drop chicken in the bowl with the bread crumbs. Using your other hand, gently press bread crumbs to adhere. This keeps your hands from becoming gummed up with egg and crumbs. Repeat this twice for each tender.
- Add 1/4 cup butter and olive oil to a cast iron skillet or frying pan over medium-high heat. When butter has melted, sauté the breaded chicken tenders for 4-5 minutes per side, or until golden brown. Remove pan from heat and transfer tenders to serving platter and cover with foil to keep warm.
- Melt remaining 2 tbsp of butter in the pan and add 2 tablespoons of flour. Cook for 2 minutes over medium high heat, scraping up the bits left from cooking the chicken. Whisk in the chicken stock and lemon juice to form a nice sauce. Add the Italian seasoning and simmer on low heat for 2 minutes. Taste, then season with salt and pepper if necessary.
- Plate the chicken, spoon sauce over top, and serve.
- Chicken tenderloins are the short pectoral muscles located underneath the breasts. If you’re unable to find fresh chicken tenderloins, you can use tenders. Tenders are simply long strips of boneless skinless chicken breast.
The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.