For the best bacon-wrapped chicken tenders, this recipe is a must-try. The seasoned chicken is wrapped in bacon for a juicy, savory, & salty combination that is a meat lover's dream. When oven baking lean chicken breast meat, such as tenders, they really benefit from this bacon wrapping step. After one bite you will be wondering what else can I wrap in bacon?!
The crisp bacon not only adds flavor and texture, but it helps keep the chicken moist and succulent. Wrapping fat, such as bacon, around lean meat is also referred to as barding. Barding is a classic French technique that protects the meat from drying out. This also makes this recipe ideal for those on a keto, low-carb, diabetic, gluten-free, paleo, or Whole30 diet.
Everyone at my house loves these and they are great for dipping in my recipe for keto ranch, blue cheese dressing, or wing sauce. Perfect for dinner with a favorite side dish like sweet potato fries. These bacon-wrapped chicken tenders are also wonderful for game day or appetizers for any party.
Every kid loves tenders and mine also love bacon so there was no chance this was not going to be a winning chicken dinner. So if you want a recipe for chicken tenders without any coating, breading, or frying, this is the one.
The main ingredients for this recipe are obviously the chicken tenders and the bacon. Beyond that, 4-5 spices are needed for the spice blend to season the poultry. If you want a spicy kick on these bacon-wrapped chicken, add the optional cayenne pepper. If you can handle some heat, I recommend it. It adds more flavor that even my kids love.
Best Bacon to Use
Because you are wrapping the slices of bacon around a piece of chicken, you will want to be sure to use the correct type of bacon. This recipe calls for thin or regular sliced bacon. Use your favorite brand whether it is smoked, uncured, or low-sodium. I use uncured bacon from ButcherBox. It is not advisable to use thick-cut or short slab bacon. Neither of these cuts will be easy to wrap around the tenders.
- Chicken Tenders
- Black Pepper
- Garlic Powder
- Cayenne Pepper - optional
See the recipe card for quantities.
Begin by placing the boneless skinless chicken tenders in a large rimmed dish. Make sure the dish has high enough sides to ensure the chicken juices do not overflow or leak out. Also, try and use a dish big enough so the pieces of chicken are not crowded.
Never wash raw chicken, it only spreads the germs to more surfaces in your kitchen. It is best to open your packages of chicken and place them in a rimmed dish so you can contain the juices while you season them.
In a small bowl add the 4-5 spices you will be using for this recipe. Combine the salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika. If you want a spicy version, add the optional cayenne pepper. Stir to combine. Finally, sprinkle the spice blend on both sides of the chicken tenders to coat thoroughly.
How to Wrap Bacon Around Chicken
As mentioned above, this step is called barding. Wrapping chicken with fatty bacon is the step that makes this recipe what it is - juicy, savory, & crispy. It is an easy step that should be in your regular repertoire in the kitchen.
Wrapping bacon around chicken is easy. One of the easiest cuts of poultry to do this with is chicken tenders. The size of the tenders and bacon is the ideal ratio for this main dish or appetizer recipe.
Begin by placing a piece of bacon on a cutting board or large plate. Stretch it out slightly so it is as long as it can be without it tearing or ripping.
Next place a seasoned chicken tender near one end of the slice of bacon. Pull the short end over the chicken and gently pull and twist the bacon slice around the tender as you roll it over the bacon. Finally, tuck the bacon end under the bacon slice.
Wrap one tender at a time on a plate and wrap & roll the bacon to cover all surfaces of the tenders.
Place wrapped tenders on a rack over a baking sheet.
Hint: if the bacon is not staying wrapped around your chicken, use toothpicks to hold it in place. This happens when you have large-sized tenders or small bacon pieces. Simply fix the toothpicks on the ends where the bacon is falling short to tuck under itself. REMEMBER to REMOVE the toothpicks before serving!
How Long to Bake Chicken Tenders
These bacon-wrapped tenders cook up fast in the oven. Place the baking sheet of prepped tenders in an oven that's been preheated to 450°. Cook until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°.
Depending on the size of the chicken pieces, they should be done baking between 20-30 minutes. Halfway through cooking, use a set of tongs and flip the chicken pieces over to help the bottom crisp up.
Do you love extra crispy bacon? To ensure the bacon is well-done on all sides, use the broiler. Set the broiler to High and on a rack just below the broiling coils, place the chicken under them. Broil for 1-2 minutes on each side, until your desired crispness is reached.
Once the chicken is ready, remove pieces from the baking rack with a set of tongs. Plate and enjoy with sides and dipping sauces.
This quick & easy recipe is fantastic as is. The few simple ingredients make a wonderful recipe but sometimes an ingredient alternative is warranted. Whether you have a special diet or you are out of an ingredient, here are some substitutions when making these oven-baked chicken tenders wrapped in pork bacon.
- Bacon - instead of regular bacon, use turkey bacon if you don't want pork, or use pancetta/prosciutto if you want an Italian twist on this recipe
- Garlic Powder - use onion powder instead if you are allergic or out of garlic powder
- Salt - for a low-sodium version (especially with salty bacon already involved) use ½ the salt or your favorite salt substitute like Mrs. Dash.
Hopefully, the above substitutions help you make these bacon-wrapped tenders. If you do not eat pork products for allergy, religious, or dietary restrictions, turkey bacon is a wonderful alternative. They will not add much fat to the recipe but it will add flavor and texture. Keep in mind turkey bacon tends to be wider and shorter in size so the coverage you will get on the chicken tenders will be a bit different. And if you are allergic or do not care for garlic, use onion powder instead or omit it.
To ensure you get an even cook and crispy bacon, a cooling rack over a baking sheet is important for this recipe. It helps the heat circulate around all sides of the bacon. Here are the items I recommend for making chicken tenders wrapped in bacon.
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Rotating the chicken to ensure both sides of the bacon are crisp is key here. Unless you like chewy bacon, do not skip this step. If you like extra crispy bacon (like we do!) do the additional step of broiling. Just a few minutes under the broiler on each side makes the bacon perfectly crispy. It is worth the extra effort.
Bacon-wrapped chicken is best eaten when fresh. However, if you have leftovers cook them ahead of time for meal planning, they store easily. Place them in an air-tight container and refrigerate for up to 4 days. To reheat, heat in a preheated oven or toaster oven at 350° for 10 minutes or until the chicken is warm in the middle.
These can be frozen easily too. Precooked chicken tenders can freeze well. Place them in an air-tight container and store them in the freezer for up to a month. Thaw in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before reheating in the oven.
What to Serve with Bacon-Wrapped Chicken
This salty & savory dish deserves some wonderful sides and dips to enjoy with it. Here are the best side dishes and other ideas that go well with this recipe. This includes keto, low-carb, gluten-free, and other healthy recipes.
Bacon-Wrapped Chicken Tenders
- cooling rack
- baking sheet
- 2 pounds chicken tenders
- 1 pound bacon about 12-16 slices
- 1 ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper OPTIONAL
- Preheat the oven to 450°.Prepare a baking sheet by placing a cooling rack that fits snuggly on it.
- Add the chicken tenders to a large rimmed dish.
- In a small bowl add all the spices. Stir them to combine.
- Sprinkle the spice blend evenly over all sides of the chicken tenders.
- Begin wrapping the bacon around each chicken tender. Begin by placing a piece of bacon on a cutting board or plate. Stretch it out slightly so it is as long as it can be without it tearing or ripping.Next place a seasoned chicken tender near one end of the slice of bacon. Pull the short end over the chicken and gently pull and twist the bacon slice around the tender as you roll it over the bacon. Finally, tuck the bacon end under the bacon slice.
- Repeat the above step until all pieces of chicken are complete. Use toothpicks on any pieces where the bacon is not staying in place.
- Place the chicken in the oven and cook for 20-30 minutes. Use a set of tongs to flip each piece over halfway through cooking.It will depend on how small or large each piece is. The key is to make sure the internal temperature reaches 165° and the bacon is crispy.
- EXTRA CRISPY BACON - for well-done bacon, use the broiler. Set the broiler to High and on a rack just below the broiling coils, place the chicken under them. Broil for 1-2 minutes on each side, until your desired crispness is reached.
- Once they are ready, remove them from the baking rack using tongs. Plate and serve with sides and dips. Enjoy!
|Amount per serving|
|% Daily Value*|
|Total Fat 27.2g||35%|
|Saturated Fat 8.3g||42%|
|Total Carbohydrate 1.7g||1%|
|Dietary Fiber 0.4g||1%|
|Total Sugars 0.2g|
|Vitamin D 0mcg||0%|
|*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.|
As with any raw chicken or meat products, take care in your kitchen habits and ensure safe handling and cooking.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 165 °F (74 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods