Chickenless Crispy Tenders

Chicken tenders are one of my favorite lunch items. Crispy crunchy breaded chicken? Yum! But I try to keep my meat consumption low, so I was happy to try these Trader Joe’s chickenless crispy tenders and see how they match up to the real thing. How did they turn out?

The details

Price: $3.79

Size: 8.1 ox (230g)

Serving size: 3 pieces (about 3 servings per container)

Calories per serving: 170

Cooking instructions:

The chickenless crispy tenders are meant to be cooked from frozen.

Conventional Oven:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Place tenders in a single layer on a lined baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes; flip and bake an additional 5 or 6 minutes.

Stove Top:

Remove all packaging. Preheat 1 tsp. cooking oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add tenders, cover with lid and cook about 5 to 6 minutes until browned and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F in center; flip frequently.

I decided to cook these in the toaster oven because it’s faster than heating the conventional oven and easy to clean too. I often have to change the temperature in the toaster oven so items don’t burn. 

This time, I preheated the oven to 425 degrees F and cooked the tenders at that temperature for a few minutes before turning it down to 390 degrees for 15 minutes. The tenders got really nicely crisped and brown on the outside. 

What are the ingredients in Trader Joe’s chickenless crispy tenders?

Water, breading (unbleached enriched flour [white flour, niacin, reduced iron, thiamine, mononitrate, riboflavin, folic acid], whole grain flour blend [amaranth, quinoa, millet, sorghum, teff], leavening [cream of tartar, sodium bicarbonate], salt, rice flour, sugar, whole grain rolled oats, oat bran, dextrose, spices, yeast, paprika extract [for color]), soy flour, textured wheat protein (wheat gluten, wheat starch, sodium carbonate, mixed tocopherols), wheat gluten, expeller pressed canola oil, methyl cellulose, natural flavors, soy protein isolate.

How do Trader Joe’s chickenless crispy tenders taste?

The chickenless crispy tenders taste like grains, soy, and wheat protein. They taste similar to several other brands of fake chicken items that are soy-based or grain-based. 

The tenders don’t have much taste or a strong flavor on their own. You’re not going to mistake them for real chicken. 

They don’t feel or taste like those delicious large crispy chicken tenders you get at restaurants or the hot food section of the grocery store either. Those have meat that shreds when you tear or bite them.

These have the texture of chicken nugget meat. They’re softer and lighter on the inside.  

I think they’re a good imitation of McDonald’s chicken nuggets. Neither of them tastes like real chicken to me.

Now you might think the fake chicken tenders are not very good, but the outer breading crisps up so nicely in the toaster oven. That crunch when biting into them is the best part of eating them.

Because these tenders are unremarkable in flavor, they’re best eaten with something that gives them more flavor and moisture. 

I love putting salt and pepper on them and topping them with some kind of sauce. My favorite lately has been Trader Joe’s chunky garlic and jalapeno hot sauce because of its deliciously sweet and spiced flavor.

You could eat them much like traditional chicken nuggets with ketchup, BBQ sauce, ranch dressing, honey mustard sauce, sriracha, or some other sauce. 

What do you eat with Trader Joe’s chickenless crispy tenders?

The odd thing about these tenders is that they usually come in packs of 8 pieces. That’s a little too many pieces for 1 meal but too few for 2 completely separate meals. I usually opt to split them into two meals paired with a side dish.

Some popular side dishes:

  • Salad
  • Veggies
  • French fries
  • Onion rings
  • Sweet potato fries
  • Tater tots
  • Macaroni and cheese
  • Corn
  • Beans

The tenders aren’t the healthiest food so eating them with a salad is probably the way to go if you’re trying to eat well.

Final thoughts

Trader Joe’s chickenless crispy tenders won’t leave you believing you might be eating real chicken, but they crisp up well when baked and make a decent meal with a flavorful sauce and some sides. They’re a regular staple in my house for those days when I want an easy meat-free lunch. What do you think of them?

Rating: 4/5

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