4 Different Ways to Grill a Chicken Tender

Timothy Woods
Published by Timothy Woods
Last Updated On: December 5, 2023

Chicken tenders are easy and quick to cook, and they are a super versatile ingredient.

Toss them into a salad, add them to a wrap or sandwich, or just eat them as-is with a yummy dip. Grilled chicken tenders are always a crowd pleaser, and kids love them.

You can choose between a few different methods for grilling tender, juicy chicken tenders – just find the one that works for you. Read our top tips from iconic chef Gordon Ramsay on how to grill the perfect chicken tenders every time.

Quick Summary

  • Grilling chicken tenders can be done on an outdoor grill, stovetop, air fryer, or dual contact grill.
  • The tenders should be cooked at 450°F for 3-5 minutes on each side, with brining beforehand for juiciness.
  • Flavor can be added through marinades like honey & mustard or lemon & herb, or by basting with barbecue sauce.
  • For a seamless supply of quality chicken tenders for your grilling adventures, consider exploring ButcherBox.

Different Methods To Grill Chicken Tenders

cooking meat

Chicken tenders can be grilled in a number of different ways:

  • On a charcoal or gas grill
  • On the stove using a skillet or grill pan
  • Using an air fryer
  • Dual contact grill

Decide how much time you want to spend in the kitchen and consider the appliances you have available.

Light up the charcoal grill outside if you have the time. If you have a gas grill, it is much quicker to light and heat to the right temperature.

The one downside of gas is that you will never get the same smokey flavor you get from a ‘real’ fire.

If it’s a weekday evening after a long day at the office, you are better off grilling them in the kitchen – much less of a hassle and just as flavorsome.

Use a cast-iron skillet or a heavy-based non-stick pan to grill the chicken tenders on the stovetop.

An even easier, quicker method is to pop the chicken tenders into the air fryer or to use a dual-contact grill, like a George Foreman.

Read More: Best George Foreman Grills

1. How To Grill Chicken Tenders On An Outdoor Grill

chicken tenders in grill

Whether you use charcoal or gas, the method is similar. Light the grill and let it get to around 450°.

Prepare your chicken tenders by rinsing them, patting dry, and trimming them with a sharp, clean pair of kitchen scissors.

Put them in a bowl and drizzle in about a tablespoon of olive oil, enough to lightly coat the tenders.

Season with 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder.

Lay the chicken tenders flat on the grill over direct heat. Depending on the size and thickness of the chicken tenders, they should cook for 3 to 5 minutes on each side.

Flip the tenders when you see them turning from pink to white around the edges [1].

When they are nicely seared on both sides and are cooked through, remove the chicken tenders from the grill. Let them rest for 10 minutes before you serve.

It is as easy as that to grill delicious chicken tenders on an outdoor grill.

2. Grill Chicken Tenders On The Stove

Use a heavy bottom non-stick pan or a seasoned cast iron skillet to grill chicken tenders on the stove. Don’t add oil to the pan. The oil coating the chicken tenders is sufficient.

Prepare the chicken tenders as described above and lay them flat in the hot pan. Avoid moving them around in the pan. Keeping them in one spot will help them sear and brown beautifully.

After 3 to 5 minutes, when you see the sides of the chicken tenders turning white, flip them and grill for another 3 to 5 minutes on the other side.

Remove them from the pan and let the grilled chicken tenders rest for a few minutes before you serve them.

3. Air Fryer Grilled Chicken Tenders

chicken in an air fryer

Air fryers have skyrocketed in popularity because they are just so easy to use, and they grill things perfectly. Chicken tenders are no exception!

Air fryers keep the chicken tender and juicy and do not dry it out.

The best part – it takes less than 15 minutes, and you do not need to stand in front of the stove.

Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Spray the air fryer basket with a non-stick spray.

Season your chicken tenders with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, or any spice mixture of your choosing.

Place the chicken tenders in the basket in a single layer. Let them grill for 5 minutes, flip them over and cook for another 5 minutes.

Voila! It is that quick and simple. The whole process is even faster if you prepare your chicken beforehand and keep it covered in the fridge.

4. Cook Chicken Tenders In A Dual Contact Grill

They are not as new and trendy as air fryers, but dual contact grills, like a George Foreman, are excellent for cooking perfectly grilled chicken tenders.

Prepare your chicken tenders as described above and lay them flat on the grill.

Because the tenders are directly heated on both sides at the same time, they grill even faster! 4 or 5 minutes is all it takes for them to grill.

This is a very useful and affordable appliance if you are a busy person without a lot of time to cook. It allows you to cook delicious, satisfying food in a flash.

Brining: The Secret To Juicy Chicken Tenders

Chicken tenders are super lean, and without any bones or skin, they can easily overcook and dry out in the grilling process.

To make sure your chicken tenders are juicy and flavorful, brine them for 30 minutes before grilling.

They will soak up enough moisture to keep them from drying out while they cook.

Prepare a simple brine solution of 1/4 cup kosher salt dissolved in 4 cups of water. If you only have table salt, you only need to use 1 1/2 tablespoons in 4 cups of water.

Grilled Barbecue Chicken Tenders

plate filled with grilled barbecue chicken tenders

If you are a barbecue lover, you’ll be pleased to know that it is really easy to make mouthwatering grilled barbecue chicken tenders.

Put the chicken tenders in a mixing bowl with ¼ cup of your favorite barbecue sauce, salt and pepper, and toss until the chicken is coated.

While they are grilling, brush on some more barbecue sauce to baste the chicken. In the 8 to 10 minutes it takes for the chicken tenders to cook, the sugars in the barbecue sauce will caramelize, creating that sweet, sticky exterior [2].

Season your chicken tenders with olive oil, salt, pepper, and garlic powder, or any spice mixture of your choosing.

Place the chicken tenders in the basket in a single layer. Let them grill for 5 minutes, flip them over and cook for another 5 minutes.

Voila! It is that quick and simple. The whole process is even faster if you prepare your chicken beforehand and keep it covered in the fridge.

Marinade For Grilled Chicken Tenders

marinating raw chicken meat

There is another way to bring major flavor to your chicken tenders, instead of brining – marinades!

Marinading chicken tenders for 4 to 12 hours will tenderize them and ensure they are anything but dry and bland.

Marinades typically consist of ingredients that are sour, salty, sweet, and spicy. There are so many different options, but according to Gordon Ramsay, these are some of the most delicious:

Honey & Mustard Marinade

Mix the following ingredients together, whisking well:

  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ¾ cup soy sauce
  • ¼ cup mustard
  • ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Lemon & Herb Marinade

For a Mediterranean flavor, whisk together the following:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Spicy Cilantro Marinade

This recipe is something a little different:

  • ¼ cup lime juice
  • ¼ cup reduced-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 cups or 1-2 bunches of fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds toasted

Other Chicken How-To Guides:

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About the author

Timothy Woods
CEO / Co-Founder
Timothy Woods holds a Kinesiology and Exercise Science degree from Jacksonville University and is CCC & GMU Certified. He's also the main man behind Carnivore Style. This food aficionado combines science and experience to spread the word about the carnivore lifestyle.
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