These Sesame Chicken Tenders bring the best of Chinese restaurants right to your kitchen. With a crispy breaded exterior, a juicy, soft interior, and a ridiculously good sauce topped with sesame seeds, this recipe is the best quick and easy weekday meal recipe you’ve ever come across.
Fact: you can never go wrong with Sesame Chicken! This super simple dinner is a great option to help expand your young ones’ palettes or to make a quick and easy meal at any time of the day.
Sesame chicken is a popular Chinese-American recipe that combines deep-fried chicken with a sweet and savory sauce and garnished with sesame seeds. It is a common menu item in many Chinese restaurants in the United States and it happens to be one of my all-time favorites!
Chinese food in general has always been one of my favorite cuisines to order takeout, especially sesame chicken. It is such a versatile dish since it can be served as an appetizer or as a main course, and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
I wanted to create a recipe at home that was just as delicious and a little healthier! I did this mainly by switching to baking chicken tenders instead of frying the chicken. Baking is so much healthier than frying because it uses less fat and produces fewer byproducts.
You could also make these in an air fryer as an alternative.
What’s great about this Sesame Chicken Tenders recipe is that it’s so easy to make but it’s protein-rich and can be used in just about anything. For instance, you could serve it on a bed of plain white or brown rice for a meal that makes the sesame chicken stand out.
You could also choose to pair it with a vegetable lo mein or Asian-style noodle to round out your meal with some vegetables. I also recommend my Quick & Easy Garden Cucumber Salad for a side of greens.
Best of all, you can use your leftovers throughout the week in rice bowls or sliced for salads. Since the chicken itself is so flavorful and has such as interesting texture with its crispy, crunchy exterior and rich sauce, trust me, you will want to have these tenders all week long – and I wouldn’t blame you!
How to Make the Best Sesame Chicken Tenders
As delicious as this recipe is, many people are not always thrilled with the breading process, which is completely understandable. Not only is it pretty much the most important process in a recipe like this, but it can also get extremely messy!
To minimize the mess, I would recommend using gloves, washing hands in between every few strips of chicken, or using one hand for the wet ingredients and one for the dry. All of these will prevent your hands from sticking with an egg wash and panko crumb goop.
I create my own breading station with three shallow bowls or plates. You’ll want one with 2 large eggs cracked in, one with all-purpose flour, and one with panko breadcrumbs.
One of the most common brands you’ll find in grocery stores is the 4C pre-seasoned panko breadcrumbs, which are seasoned with a blend of herbs, spices, and pecorino romano cheese.
Another option is to use a plain breadcrumb mix and add in seasonings of your choice! Salt, pepper, and paprika are great options for this recipe.
In addition to the breading process, you’ll want to mix the sesame chicken sauce really well to get that rich sauce to coat the crunchy chicken. The sauce is arguably the most delicious part of these Sesame Chicken Tenders.
The key is to do this in two parts. First, whisk your cornstarch and water together and set aside. This is called a slurry; it helps prevent clumping and ensures even distribution of the cornstarch in the sauce when you add it later.
Then, all you have to do is mix together some soy sauce, rice vinegar, and brown sugar in a pan over low to medium heat. Once these ingredients are mixed well together, add the cornstarch-water mixture to help thicken up the sauce.
As the sauce reaches a boiling temperature, you’ll start to see it get thicker. What’s happening is the starch granules are absorbing the liquids and swelling. While this is happening, you should keep stirring the sauce lightly.
Finally, once you feel that the sauce is thick enough, you can remove the pan from the heat and let it cool. The thickening effect of the cornstarch will continue as the sauce cools, so you’ll be left with a really beautiful and addicting sauce to coat your chicken tenders in.
Once you mix your baked chicken tenders in this sauce, you can garnish with as many sesame seeds as your heart desires! And voila – you have a mouthwatering plate of Sesame Chicken Tenders to devour.
Grab 3 large shallow bowls for the dipping process. Bring the chicken tender to the egg, flour, and then panko – repeat with the rest of the chicken.
Transfer the chicken tenders to a baking sheet lined with foil and rack. Bake for 20 minutes.
While waiting mix sauce ingredients won’t be cornstarch and water mixed separately and set aside. Add the sauce to the stovetop over medium heat – now add the cornstarch + water mix to thicken the sauce. Remove from heat once thick.
Remove chicken tenders from the oven and toss in the sauce! Pair with rice or whatever you like.
Garnish with more sesame seeds if desired and enjoy!