There’s a reason why this popular dish is on every kids’ menu that was ever created. Kids love the crunchy fried coating on these pieces of chicken, but the restaurant versions are usually full of saturated fat and sodium — definitely not healthy lunchbox fare. I created an oven-baked recipe that has all the flavor kids love, without excess breading. Feel free to experiment with the seasonings, like adding a little more spice for kids who like it.
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and arrange panko crumbs evenly on the sheet.2.
Bake panko for 4 to 5 minutes until golden; let cool. Turn oven temperature up to 425 degrees.2.
In a medium bowl, combine the panko, Parmesan, salt, thyme (if using), paprika and onion powder. Place the egg in a small, shallow bowl and whisk in water.3.
Pat the chicken tenders dry with paper towels. Dip each tender into the egg, then coat in the panko mixture (discard remaining coating). Place onto the baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Flip tenders and cook for an additional 5 minutes, until golden brown and cooked through. Use a meat thermometer to test that chicken has reached 165 degrees.6.
Remove from oven and cool. Serve with ketchup or honey-mustard dipping sauce. If packing for lunch, make sure to put a freezer pack in the lunch container.