Herby Chicken Tenders With Arrabbiata Dipping Sauce Recipe

Chicken tenders are a universally-loved food, and both kids and adults alike can get behind the crispy goodness. While a child might enjoy a simple basket of tenders with a side of ketchup or honey mustard, adults might look for something a little more refined, and these herby chicken tenders with arrabbiata dipping sauce will provide the perfect elevated touch. "These golden chicken tenders are crispy and herby on the outside and juicy on the inside," recipe developer Ashley Altan describes. "The most delicious part is dipping each tenderloin in the spicy but sweet and tangy arrabbiata dipping sauce. I strive for the caramelized onion bits while dipping."

In case you aren't familiar with arrabbiata, picture a tomato-based sauce that packs a kick with the help of Aleppo pepper. "Arrabbiata literally means 'angry' in Italian," Altan explains. "It is commonly referred to as a hot tomato sauce. Arrabbiata sauce can be served as a dip, over pasta, and in a variety of other ways." She also notes that the heat factor is largely up to you — you can go heavy on the Aleppo or add in just a dash. Either way, you'll have a sauce that knocks ketchup out of the park and right off of your chicken tender platter. 

Gather the ingredients for herby chicken tenders with arrabbiata dipping sauce

The ingredients list is pretty lengthy for this recipe, but considering that you're making from-scratch chicken tenders and sauce, it's well worth every last ingredient. For the sauce, you'll start out needing olive oil, a finely diced onion, chopped garlic, salt, black pepper, Aleppo pepper, tomato sauce, white vinegar, honey, lemon juice, dried oregano, and a fresh basil leaf. 

Meanwhile, for the herby chicken tenders, you'll need chicken tenderloins, breadcrumbs, a bit more of dried oregano, salt, and black pepper, fresh chopped rosemary, dried basil, paprika, eggs, water, and some vegetable oil for frying. 

Make the arrabbiata sauce

Place a saucepan over medium heat and add in the olive oil, followed by the diced onion, chopped garlic, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes, giving the onions a chance to soften up. Then, add in the Aleppo pepper, cooking just until fragrant, about 30 seconds more. 

Now, add in the tomato sauce, vinegar, honey, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano, then reduce the heat to low. Allow your sauce to simmer for about 10 minutes, during which time it should thicken up a bit. At that point, you can remove the sauce from the heat and stir in one torn-up basil leaf, then set the sauce aside. 

Season the breadcrumbs and chicken tenderloins

Pour the breadcrumbs into a large bowl and add in ½ teaspoon of chopped rosemary, ½ teaspoon of oregano, ½ teaspoon of dried basil, ½ teaspoon of paprika, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Give everything a good stir then set the mixture aside for a bit. You can also whisk the eggs and water together in a separate bowl, then set that aside as well.

Now, go ahead and season the chicken. Add the tenderloins to a large bowl along with the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil, ½ teaspoon of rosemary, ½ teaspoon of oregano, ½ teaspoon of dried basil, ½ teaspoon of paprika, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ½ teaspoon of black pepper. Use tongs to evenly coat the chicken in the seasoning, then decide if you want to allow the chicken to marinate or jump right into the coating and frying step. If you opt to marinate, Altan advises, "Allow the herbs and spices to marinate the chicken for 2 hours or overnight for extra flavor. You can do this before adding the breadcrumb coating."

Fry the chicken tenders

Dip each chicken tender into the egg/water mixture then into the breadcrumbs, ensuring that it is evenly coated. Repeat the process until each of the tenders are coated, then get a large pot of vegetable oil heating over medium heat. The exact amount of oil that you'll need will vary depending on the size of your pot, but you'll likely need around 4 cups — just make sure that the oil is a few inches high in your pot.

Once the oil reaches 375 F, add in a few of the tenders and cook them for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through and the tender is golden and crispy on the outside. You may have to work in batches, and if so, just make sure your oil stays put at 375 F. As you finish cooking the tenders, place them onto a paper towel-lined baking sheet to absorb excess oil.

Serve the herby tenders with the arrabbiata sauce

Once your tenders are all cooked up, plate them with the remaining fresh basil on top and the sauce on the side. "Serve these crispy chicken tenders as is with fresh chopped basil and a generous amount of arrabbiata dipping sauce," Altan suggests, though if you want to double-down on the fried goodness, you can't go wrong with the classic french fry pairing.

If you aren't able to finish all of the tenders in one sitting, don't sweat it — you've got a couple of options for keeping leftovers. You can freeze the tenders, and Altan advises to "Store cooled, fried chicken tenders in a freezer-safe bag for up to 3 months." If you want to hold on to the leftovers for a shorter period of time, she notes that you can keep them stored in a lidded container for up to three days. "Bake any leftover chicken tenders on a parchment-lined baking sheet for 5 to 7 minutes, or until heated through," Altan says, or for a quicker option: "Heat for 1 to 2 minutes in the microwave."

Herby Chicken Tenders With Arrabbiata Dipping Sauce Recipe
5 from 30 ratings
Elevate your classic chicken tenders with well-seasoned breading and a sweet and tangy arrabbiata sauce.
Prep Time
Cook Time
plate of chicken tenders with sauce
Total time: 35 minutes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • ½ cup finely diced onion
  • 2 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt, divided
  • 1 ¼ teaspoon black pepper, divided
  • ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
  • 1 ½ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano, divided
  • 4 large freshly chopped basil leaves, divided
  • 2 cups unseasoned breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon freshly chopped rosemary, divided
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, divided
  • 1 teaspoon paprika, divided
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  1. In a saucepan over medium heat, add 1 tablespoon of olive oil, the diced onion, and chopped garlic. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper. Sauté until the onions have softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add Aleppo pepper to the onions and stir fry just until fragrant, about 30 seconds.
  3. Add the tomato sauce, vinegar, honey, lemon juice, and 1 teaspoon of dried oregano. Reduce the heat to low and simmer until the sauce slightly thickens, stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.
  4. Stir in 1 torn basil leaf and remove the arrabbiata dipping sauce from the heat and place it aside.
  5. Season the unseasoned breadcrumbs with ½ teaspoon rosemary, ½ teaspoon oregano, ½ teaspoon dried basil, ½ teaspoon paprika, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon black pepper. Mix until well-combined, and place aside.
  6. Whisk the eggs along with the water in a bowl, and place aside.
  7. Add the chicken to a large mixing bowl. Season tenders with the remaining rosemary, oregano, dried basil, paprika, salt, pepper, and remaining olive oil. Flip and mix with tongs until each is completely coated in seasoning.
  8. Dip each tender into the eggs and then into the seasoned breadcrumbs. Repeat until each tender is coated.
  9. Heat a pot filled with a few inches of vegetable oil (about 4 cups) over medium heat. Once the oil reaches a temperature of 375 F, fry the tenders for 6 to 8 minutes or until golden brown. Fry in batches until all are cooked.
  10. Place fried tenders over a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain.
  11. Garnish with the remaining basil leaves, torn, and serve with spicy arrabbiata dipping sauce.
Calories per Serving 2,137
Total Fat 155.2 g
Saturated Fat 18.3 g
Trans Fat 0.7 g
Cholesterol 252.9 mg
Total Carbohydrates 133.1 g
Dietary Fiber 12.6 g
Total Sugars 19.3 g
Sodium 2,770.0 mg
Protein 56.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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