Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenders

by KetoFocus.com

Minimalism and flavor come together to make an effortless meal in minutes and with less than five ingredients. Encased in crispy bacon and smothered in BBQ sauce, these bacon wrapped chicken tenders are the perfect blend of smoky, juicy, tangy flavor in every bite.

This no-fuss recipe for bacon wrapped chicken tenders is what you on a busy weeknight when you don’t have a lot of time, energy or want to drag out a bunch of ingredients to make a meal. This four ingredient recipe uses only chicken tenders, bacon, smoked paprika and your favorite BBQ sauce (plus a little salt and pepper)!

 

Green tongs holding a chicken tender wrapped in crispy bacon. Juice is dripping from the chicken.

It takes almost no time to put together and the result is an outstanding blend of smoky, tangy flavor that is even kid-friendly!

To get the juiciest chicken and crispiest bacon, cook the BBQ chicken tenders in the air fryer. If you don’t have an air fryer, no worries – an oven will work just fine and those instructions are included in the recipe card.

This easy air fryer meal is ready in less than 20 minutes! All you need is a little bit of sauce to dip the bacon wrapped chicken in. Try some extra BBQ sauce or maybe a bit of ranch. And serve by themselves or on top of your favorite salad.

How to cook bacon wrapped chicken tenders

  1. Prep the chicken tenderloins – Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Coat each tenderloin with a mixture of smoked paprika, salt and pepper.
  2. Wrap the bacon – Wrap each seasoned chicken tender with a slice of thick cut bacon.
  3. Brush on the sauce – Using a silicone brush, paint each bacon wrapped tender with BBQ sauce.
  4. Bake or air fry – Cook the chicken tenders in the oven or air fryer.

 

How long to bake bacon wrapped chicken tenders

How long it takes to bake chicken tenders depends on what type of cooking method is used. Generally, an air fryer will cook food faster, however, limited space is an issue resulting in having to cook multiple batches of baked chicken tenders.

  • Air fryer chicken tenders – Add chicken tenders in a single layer in the air fryer basket or tray. Air fry at 400 °F for 10-15 minutes.
  • Oven baked chicken tenders – To bake in the oven, place chicken in a single layer on a foil lined baking tray and bake at 425 °F for 25-30 minutes.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenders Recipe Video

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Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenders Ingredients

  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound thick-cut bacon
  • 1/3 cup BBQ sauce

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenders Directions

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Crispy bacon is wrapped around baked chicken strips on a plate.

How to remove the tendon from the chicken tenderloin

Ever bite into a chicken tender, only to pull out a chewy, tough white tube? That’s the tendon of the chicken strip! Luckily, they aren’t too difficult to remove. You just need a pair of kitchen scissors.

  1.  Place the chicken tender on a cutting board with the white tendon facing up and towards you.
  2.  Grab the tendon with one hand, while the other hand slides kitchen scissors up the length of the tendon away from you. The tendon should slide right off.

This method is easier than using a fork and doesn’t waste chicken meat, which is what happens when you cut the tendon off using a knife.

Variations

Besides the basic ingredients of using salt, pepper and smoked paprika, try some of these other variations to bacon wrapped tenders.

  • Spicy – Add cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes to add a kick to your bacon wrapped chicken.
  • Savory – Instead of using smoked paprika, try using regular paprika or just a basic seasoning of salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and herbs.
  • Sweet – Instead of using BBQ sauce or in addition to the BBQ sauce, add some sugar free brown sugar to the seasoning to give a hint of sweetness and caramelization to the tenders. Sugar free maple syrup can be used in place of BBQ sauce too.
A bacon wrapped tender dipped in ranch dressing.

Dipping sauces

This chicken tender recipe is perfect on it’s own, but they are fantastic dipped in you favorite sauce. Try these delicious options:

Storage information & meal prep tips

Chicken tenders make the perfect meal prep dish. Not only can they be made in bulk but they store easily in the refrigerator and can be reheated.

Store in the refrigerator

Any leftover bacon wrapped tenders can be stored in an air tight container or ziploc bag in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.

Store in the freezer

You can freeze the wrapped chicken tenders before or after cooking. Store in a freezer safe container or freezer bag for 2-3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator the night before cooking then follow the cooking or reheating instructions.

To reheat

Place in the air fryer basket and air fry for 3-4 minutes at 350 °F.

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenders: FAQS

Can I use regular bacon if I don't have thick-cut bacon?

Yes, regular bacon or thin cut bacon can be used instead of thick cut bacon. To keep the bacon from getting too crispy or brunt, lower the cooking temperature to 375 degrees (air fryer) or 350 degrees (oven) and cook for a little longer (30-35 minutes).

Can I use chicken breast instead of chicken tenders?

If you can't find chicken tenders at the grocery store, you can substitute with chicken breasts or chicken thighs. Chicken breasts is preferred over chicken thighs since you can cut them neatly into thin strips to resemble a chicken tenderloin.

Can I use different seasonings if I don't have smoked paprika?

Yes, you don't have to use smoked paprika in this recipe. Instead try using regular paprika. You could even add more seasoning like garlic powder, onion powder and Italian seasoning.

Nutritional information & Macros

Nutrition Information

Bacon Wrapped Chicken Tenders

Servings: 4

Amount Per Serving
Calories 297
Fat 14.8g
Protein 34.3g
Total Carbs 1.6g
Net Carbs 1.4g

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