Crushed pork rinds make a wonderfully flavorful and crunchy coating for chicken tenders. The chicken strips come out crispy, juicy and delicious.
These chicken tenders are so good! They are wonderfully crispy and flavorful. My kids love them and always ask for seconds when I make them. They are quite close in texture to tenders breaded with panko breadcrumbs. Nice and crunchy.
The main advantage of coating chicken tenders with crushed pork rinds is that the pork rinds themselves are very flavorful – more so than breadcrumbs. So while they don’t crisp up as well as breadcrumbs, they compensate for that with their wonderful flavor.
Do we really need these keto substitutes?
When you stop eating the Standard American Diet and transition to a different diet, the smart thing to do is not to try and recreate the recipes that you used to love. But rather to train yourself and your taste buds to enjoy your new way of eating.
My husband and I are fond of saying that we haven’t given up tasty foods (ahh, those huge platefuls of spaghetti that we used to eat in our twenties!). Rather, we’ve replaced those with different, but just as delicious food (intensely flavorful, fatty ribeye steaks come to mind).
The perfect keto substitute for breaded chicken strips
Having said that, there are dishes that I do miss. One of them is schnitzel or chicken tenders. I don’t want to use breadcrumbs in the coating, and gluten-free breadcrumbs are not a real solution since they too are usually high in carbs.
So I have experimented over the years. And I have found that almond flour makes a nice coating.
Recently I saw a recipe that used crushed pork rinds to coat baked chicken, and I became intrigued. Why not use those to coat chicken tenders? Indeed, we loved the result, and I’ve made this recipe several times since.
The ingredients you’ll need
You’ll only need a few simple ingredients to make pork rind chicken tenders. The exact measurements are included in the recipe card below. Here’s an overview of what you’ll need:
Pork rinds: Plain pork rinds are best. I don’t like the additives used in the flavored ones. It’s been my experience that it’s better to crush pork rinds by myself with a rolling pin, as shown in the video. I tried making the same recipe with pre-crushed pork rinds (“pork panko”) and they were not as crispy, especially on the bottom.
Chicken tenders: About 12 pieces.
Dijon mustard: It’s creamier and less vinegary than yellow mustard, although any mustard will probably work. You can also use mayonnaise instead of the mustard.
Spices: Garlic powder and Cayenne pepper. Make sure they are fresh! A stale spice can easily ruin a dish.
Olive oil: For frying the chicken pieces. This is such a delicious oil. But if you worry about its low smoke point, you can use avocado oil instead.
Note that I don’t use salt, as the pork rinds are very salty. But you can add a pinch of salt to the spices if you’d like.
How to make pork rind chicken tenders
It’s easy! Scroll down to the recipe card for the detailed instructions. Here are the basic steps:
1. Place the pork rinds in a large resealable bag. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Use a meat pounder or a rolling pin to crush the pork rinds into crumbs, similar to Panko. Place the crumbs in a shallow bowl.
2. Pound the chicken tenders with a meat pounder, as shown in the video. Brush them all over with Dijon mustard and sprinkle them with garlic powder and cayenne pepper.
3. Dredge each chicken piece in the crushed pork rinds, pressing on both sides to help the crumbs adhere.
4. Cook the chicken in olive oil until cooked through, 3-4 minutes per side over medium heat.
Are pork rind chicken tenders as good as breaded ones?
Yes and no. They’re not as crispy. But unlike breadcrumbs, the pork rinds themselves are very flavorful.
So I find that these tenders, while not as crispy as breadcrumb coated tenders, are even more delicious. My teenage testers loved them too – what more can you ask for?
What about leftovers?
You can keep leftovers in the fridge, in a sealed container, for 3-4 days. Reheat them in the microwave on 50% power or in a 300°F oven.
Keep in mind that the pork rind coating will lose its crispness when stored. It helps to place the tenders on paper towels and replace the paper towels daily.
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Pork Rind Chicken Tenders
- 2 oz plain pork rinds
- 1 1/2 lb. chicken tenders (about 12 pieces)
- 3 tablespoons Dijon mustard You can sub mayonnaise
- 1 teaspoon Diamond Crystal kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil (half of it will likely remain in the skillet, but you need all of it to fry properly)
- Place the pork rinds in a large Ziploc bag. Seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Use a meat pounder or a rolling pin to crush the pork rinds into crumbs, similar to Panko. Place the crumbs in a shallow bowl.
- Pound the chicken tenders with a meat pounder, as shown in the video below. Brush them all over with the mustard (or mayonnaise) and sprinkle them with garlic powder and cayenne pepper.
- Dredge each chicken tender in the crushed pork rinds, pressing on both sides to help the crumbs adhere.
- Heat a nonstick double-burner griddle (or two large nonstick skillets) over medium-high heat, about 2 minutes. Add the oil.
- Add the coated chicken tenders. Reduce the heat to medium. Fry the chicken pieces until golden brown and cooked through, 3-4 minutes on each side, working in batches if necessary. If working in batches, keep the cooked chicken tenders in a pan fitted with a cooling rack in a 200F oven while you cook more batches.