Grilled chicken tenders are marinated in a blend of balsamic vinegar, oil, and herbs, then tossed on the grill for a quick summer meal. These chicken tenders turn out juicy and perfectly seasoned. Easy to pair with your favorite dipping sauce!
The whole family is sure to love these grilled chicken tenders. They're easy to prepare, inexpensive, and have a mild flavor that everyone will enjoy.
Chicken breasts are sliced into strips, marinated in an easy homemade marinade, then grilled to perfection. I love to pair these chicken tenders with a spicy aioli (shown above), ranch dressing, or even fry sauce.
Serve grilled chicken tenders with some grilled vegetable skewers, grilled garlic bread, and your favorite dipping sauce for a complete meal on the grill. Or, slice and serve over a salad (leftover tenders are great for this!).
Ingredients and substitutions
- Chicken - For this recipe, you'll need boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips. I used two large chicken breasts that, in total, weighed one pound. Chicken tenderloins, or chicken breast tenders (they may be labeled differently at your local grocer), also work.
- Oil - I recommend using an oil with a high smoke point, since the chicken is going on the grill. Vegetable oil, avocado oil, or peanut oil are great choices.
- Balsamic vinegar - Can be substituted with red wine vinegar, but will have a more acidic flavor. Balsamic vinegar is more mellow and sweet.
- Dijon mustard - Can be substituted with yellow mustard.
- Seasoning - Thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper add flavor to your tenders. Thyme could be substituted with oregano or an Italian seasoning blend.
Tips for grilling chicken
- Use oil with a high smoke point - this means an oil can stand up to higher heat (like a grill) without burning.
- Oil the grill grates before placing food on the grill. This ensures your food doesn't stick.
- Place your chicken tenders perpendicular to the grill grates to ensure they don't accidentally fall through.
- Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness. Chicken needs to be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Cooking for longer will result in dry, tough chicken. Using a meat thermometer guarantees juicy, perfectly cooked chicken.
- Move your chicken as little as possible for nice grill marks. Gently lift up one corner to check the progress of your chicken, then lay it back down in the same spot if it's not ready yet.
I recommend marinating your chicken tenders for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours for this recipe. If you don't have time, allowing your tenders to marinate for at least 30 minutes (while the grill is preheating) will still add some flavor to your chicken.
Chicken can technically sit in the marinade for up to 24 hours (in the refrigerator) before it starts to break down and get mushy.
How to prevent chicken from drying out
Want to know how to grill juicy, perfectly cooked chicken every time? It may seem obvious, but all you need is a meat thermometer. Dry chicken is caused by overcooking, which can be prevented by checking the internal temperature of your chicken while it's still on the grill.
Chicken is perfectly cooked through at 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Once your chicken reaches 165 degrees in the center, quickly remove it from the grill.
Allow your chicken tenders to rest for 5 minutes before slicing into them. This allows the juices to redistribute into the meat, keeping your chicken juicy. Your chicken will still be at a warm serving temperature, and you won't burn yourself.
What to serve with grilled chicken tenders
Dipping sauces: Spicy aioli (shown in photos), ranch dressing, barbecue sauce, fry sauce, or honey mustard are popular choices.
Side dishes: Grilled vegetable skewers, grilled garlic bread, and pineapple shrimp skewers make great additions to an all-grilled menu. Or, pair your tenders with some oven roasted potatoes and a strawberry spinach salad.
Grilled Chicken Tenders
- 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into thin strips
- ⅓ cup vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- In a bowl (or a sealable plastic bag), add chicken strips. Set aside. In a bowl, whisk together oil, vinegar, mustard, thyme, salt, garlic powder, and pepper. Pour over chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, up to 8 hours.
- Preheat grill to medium-high heat, about 375 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. If needed, clean grill grates.
- Wipe grill grates lightly with oil, then place marinated tenders perpendicular across the grill grate. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes before flipping. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, or until chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Rely less on time and more on the temperature and look of your tenders to determine when they're done. Grill temperatures and conditions can vary greatly.
- Remove from grill and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Chicken should not sit in marinade for more than 24 hours - acidity of the marinade will begin to break down the chicken, causing it to become mushy.
- Leftover chicken tenders will keep for about 3 to 4 days in a sealed container in the refrigerator.
- I highly recommend using a meat thermometer to check your chicken for doneness and to prevent overcooked/dry chicken.
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