Healthier than deep-fried with delicious sourdough flavor, these juicy and crispy baked sourdough chicken tenders are sure to become a family favorite. There are so many ways to use up an excess of sourdough discard. If you’re tired of making sourdough discard crackers, flatbreads, and pancakes try these savory sourdough encrusted chicken strips.
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Juicy chicken strips are dipped in seasoned sourdough batter and coated with toasted crispy panko breadcrumbs. They have just a slight tang from the sourdough discard and a crispy crunch crust while skipping the mess and calories of deep frying.
Toasting the breadcrumbs and baking at a high temperature is the secret to a crispy crust and tender juicy meat.
What is sourdough discard?
Sourdough discard is what is left over when you feed a sourdough starter. There are several tutorials online that teach you how to create and care for sourdough starter. Some of my favorites can be found at King Arthur Flour or Feasting at Home.
As you get to know your starter you can adjust your process to suit your routine. Because I wanted to reduce the amount of discard I generate I have actually converted my starter to a micro starter which you can read more about at Cooks Illustrated.
How to cut chicken for chicken strips
For tender juicy chicken it is important to cut chicken strips across the grain. This makes the chicken fibers shorter so that the chicken tears easier and seems more tender.
TIP: Freeze the chicken breasts for 15-20 minutes to make slicing easier.
Why you should dry brine your chicken?
Dry brining also known as salting is a great way to ensure moist meat with a little extra flavor without the extra mess associated with wet brining. Dry brining seasons the meat and changes the structure of the proteins to allow them to retain more of their moisture.
When chicken is dry brined the salt draws the juices inside the meat to the surface. The juices dissolve the salt and are then are pulled, along with the dissolved salt, back into the meat seasoning the chicken throughout.
Once absorbed the salt breaks down or denatures the tough muscle proteins, like myosin, which allows the chicken to retain more moisture as it cooks.
How to dry brine
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.
- Sprinkle the chicken evenly on both sides with about 1.5 tablespoons of kosher salt.
- Place the chicken on a cooling rack placed inside of a sheet pan and refrigerate the chicken uncovered for 6 to 8 hours.
- Remove the chicken from the refrigerator 20 minutes before frying. This will allow the chicken to come to room temperature. Room temperature chicken will cook more evenly and prevents the oil from cooling too much as more chicken is added.
How do you get the batter to stick to the chicken?
Batter sticks best when the exterior of the chicken is really dry. Which is why we first pat the chicken dry with paper towels and refrigerate it uncovered for several hours. The dry air inside the refrigerator will help dry the exterior of the chicken.
- Melt butter in a frying pan over medium heat. Add breadcrumbs and cook for 5 minutes until the breadcrumbs turn a light golden brown color.
- Transfer to a shallow bowl like a pie plate and stir in the parmesan cheese.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place a cooling rack on a half sheet pan. Placing the breaded chicken tenders on a cooling rack to bake, allows the air to circulate evenly around the chicken, allowing the breading to get crispy on all sides without flipping. If you don’t have a cooling rack for your sheet pan you can buy one on Amazon. You can also buy a cooling rack and sheet pan set.
- Whisk together the sourdough discard, cornstarch, brown sugar, baking powder, kosher salt, parsley, sage, thyme, garlic powder, paprika, and black pepper in a shallow dish. I like to use a pie plate.
- Dip the chicken into the batter.
- Transfer chicken to the breadcrumbs and toss to coat. Pressing down lightly to help the breadcrumbs adhere.
- Place chicken on the baking sheet and spray lightly with oil. Flip and spray the second side with oil. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes until the internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
How do you know when the chicken is fully cooked?
The most accurate way to ensure the chicken is fully cooked is to check it with an instant-read probe thermometer. This one from Thermoworks is my favorite. Fully cooked chicken should have an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for 3-4 days.
To reheat the chicken tenders place them in a 350 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15-20 minutes.
How to make your own frozen chicken tenders
Cool cooked chicken tenders to room temperature and then freeze in a single layer on a baking sheet. Transfer to a zip-top bag, label with the date and contents, and store for up to three months.
To reheat frozen chicken strips: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit and bake on a baking sheet for 15 minutes.
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