We first published this recipe in August 2019 and updated it in June 2020 with a video and more tips.
Marinated Baked Chicken Tenderloins
Marinated Baked Chicken Tenderloins are super easy to make, so tender and are one of those recipes that kids and adults love. This healthier version is baked in the oven and it’s so incredibly delicious. The chicken marinade ingredients are simple with the minimal prep. Serve these with your choice of Rice, Mashed Potatoes, noodles, salad, steamed veggies and more to turn this simple recipe into a fancy meal!
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Chicken tenderloins need minimal prep before cooking since they have little to no fat to trim off. I like to purchase these at Trader Joe’s. They come in smaller packs and fit nicely into freezer. I make sure I always have different types of chicken in the freezer at all times. No one really has all that extra time to go grocery shopping every day.
Just like all meat before baking or grilling, I like to toss these tenderloins into simple marinade and marinate for few hours or usually overnight before baking. You can also marinate these 2 days in advance before baking, making this easy recipe the perfect meat dish for big parties that need days of prepping.
For this chicken tenders recipe, I like to purchase the actual chicken tenderloins. They are slightly pricier than other chicken meat, but so worth it. You can also use boneless skinless chicken breasts and slice them into similar size to chicken tenderloins. Although, I never do that since the actual tenderloins always turn out more tender and moist. Just the way we like these!
Do I Need to Marinate Chicken Tenderloins?
I pretty much always marinate all meat before baking or grilling and highly recommend it! Meats that had been marinated before baking provide better results. I really dislike when I can smell that chicken aroma in dishes.
Marinating the meat will remove the excess chicken smell. It will also make the chicken more flavorful as it absorbs the marinade flavors and the meat will turn out moist and tender.
You can use this exact same recipe and marinate to grill the chicken tenderloins OR even chicken thighs. We do it all the time and they turn out just as satisfying. It’s our staple marinade for chicken.
Ingredients for Marinated Baked Chicken Tenderloins:
- Chicken tenderloins – will turn out moist and tender. Chicken thighs can also be used with adjusted cooking time.
- Coffee rub – gives color and flavor. I like to use Trader Joe’s but other brands like this Traeger coffee rub work just as fine.
- Real mayonnaise – will make chicken tender. If using other flavor or version, make sure to adjust the salt amount.
- McCormick Montreal steak seasoning – our staple meat seasoning that makes all the difference. Give so much flavor!
- Fine salt – adds flavor; a little bit of salt goes a long way!
How to Make Baked Chicken Tenders:
A great cooked and tender chicken starts with a well-seasoned marinade. The combination of mayonnaise and the generous amount of seasoning adds flavor.
- Make Chicken Marinade: In a medium bowl combine the marinade ingredients: coffee rub, real mayonnaise, Montreal steak seasoning and fine salt.
- Marinate the Chicken: Add chicken tenderloins into the large bowl with marinade, give a nice stir or toss to evenly coat the chicken. Cover with plastic food wrap and refrigerate to marinate for 4-6 hours or overnight.
- Bake Chicken Tenderloins: Preheat the oven to 400°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Thread chicken tenderloins onto bamboo skewers and transfer onto baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 30 minutes, until chicken tenders are fully cooked and are golden.
How Long to Bake Chicken Tenderloins:
Chicken tenderloins are very easy to bake. However, keep an eye on them since they are so gentle. It is very easy to overcook them and the meat will become dry.
To be sure the chicken is fully cooked, cook until the internal temperature reaches 165°F on an instant-read thermometer or about 25-30 minutes, as directed in the recipe.
How to Serve Baked Chicken Tenders?
My kids love these and I make them very often, so they are definitely kid-friendly. I like to thread these onto bamboo skewers making it fun for kids.
They like to enjoy these with a simple rice dish or homemade mashed potatoes – such a delicious combo. Let’s not forget about a salad on a side, like our favorites – Cabbage Carrot Pepper Salad or Cucumber Radish Salad! These chicken tenderloins will turn this simple recipe into a fancy meal.
Seasoning for Chicken Recipe:
Every late spring and during summer, these coffee rub spices appear on the shelves of Trader Joe’s. As soon as autumn kicks in, they no longer sell them until next year. I purchase 6-8 bottles to last until next year and they don’t expire at least for a year. We use it on most chicken meats, whether it’s for baking or grilling.
You can purchase Montreal steak seasoning either in Costco or a smaller bottle at any grocery store. I add a slight amount of salt into the marinade, but keep in mind that the coffee rub, the Montreal seasoning and mayo all contain salt in their ingredients as well.
More Summer Recipes We Love:
- Quick Oven Roasted Potatoes – these are super easy and can be baked or grilled
- Strawberries and Cream Dessert – the ‘must’ dessert for summer
- Slow Cooker BBQ Pulled Chicken – fall-apart tender, juicy and slightly sweet
- Sweet BBQ Pork Ribs in Slow Cooker – fall-apart, tender on the inside, crispy on the outside; family favorite of all time
- All-Veggie Salad – it’s summer in a bowl; so much flavor
Marinated Baked Chicken Tenderloins
- Rinse chicken in cold water and paper towel pat dry. Trim off any excess skin or fat.
- In a medium bowl, combine all of the marinade ingredients: 1/2 cup real mayonnaise, 1/2 tbsp Montreal steak seasoning, 1 tsp coffee rub seasoning and 1/4 tsp fine salt. Stir to combine.
- Transfer chicken into bowl with marinade and toss or give a nice stir to evenly coat the chicken. Cover with plastic food wrap and marinate 4-6 hours or overnight.
- Prep: soak bamboo skewers for 15-20 minutes in cold water to keep them from burning in the oven.
- Preheat the oven to a 400° F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Thread chicken tenderloins onto wet skewers (1 tenderloin per skewer), then transfer onto prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 30 minutes in the center of the oven or until chicken is cooked through (at least 165°F) and golden. You don’t need to turn these halfway – I don’t do it.
- Chicken: This recipe works great with either chicken tenderloins or chicken thighs. Adjust cooking time for chicken thighs.
- Marinate: Chicken tenderloins can be marinated as far as 2 days in advance before cooking.
- Grilling: This recipe for chicken marinade can also be used to grill chicken tenderloins or thighs.