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Quick and Easy Lemon Pesto Chicken Tenders

Chef Danielle Miele , On February 11, 2023


One of our favorite quick meals at home in a pinch are lemon pesto chicken tenders. (Also known as lemon pepper chicken fingers if we’re being really playful). These lemon pepper chicken tenders cook relatively quickly and can be served on their own with a dipping sauce of your choice, whatever you fancy. When you order chicken fingers at a restaurant or purchase frozen ones from the store, the breading is often heavy and loaded with extra fats and calories, as they’ve most likely been cooked in a deep fat fryer. In this lemon pesto chicken tenders recipe we are cooking the chicken fingers from scratch. Once again, as always, taking the extra time to cook such a delicious recipe from scratch allows you to take control, as we’ve done here, to use healthier fats such as olive oil. Tossing these lemon pepper chicken tender pieces in a light dusting of arrowroot, corn starch or flour cuts back on carbs and calories that would be present in bread crumbs, but provides just enough starch to crisp the outside of the chicken so that the sauce adheres to it better. Using fresh pesto sauce as the base to coat the chicken in this recipe elevates it from the usual ‘dunk in ketchup status’. You’ll definitely need a napkin to eat these succulent chicken pieces, and the tanginess of the coating of this lemon pesto chicken tender recipe will draw you back for more.

Equipment Needed to Make this Lemon Pesto Chicken Tenders Recipe:

  • Medium sized bowl

  • Small bowl

  • Sauté pan

  • Tongs

  • Arrowroot

  • Salt

  • Pepper

Ingredients For These Lemon Pesto Chicken Tenders Recipe:

Lemon Pesto Chicken Tender Recipe

Pesto Chicken Tender Recipe Ingredients.

  • Chicken Tenders

  • Pesto

  • Lemon juice

  • Cheese

  • Arrowroot

Cooking Instructions For These Lemon Pesto Chicken Tenders

  1. In a medium sized bowl, stir together the pesto, lemon juice and cheese. Set aside.

  2. In another small bowl, season the arrowroot with salt and pepper and mix well. Add the chicken and toss in this mixture to coat. Set aside.

    Lemon Pesto Chicken Tender Recipe

    Light Coating to Make Chicken Tenders Crisp.

  3. Heat the olive oil in your saucepan until it becomes shiny. Add the tenders and sauté till browned, about 5-7 minutes each side.

    Pan Fry Lemon Pesto Chicken Tender Recipe

    Pan Fry the Pesto Chicken Tenders.

  4. When the tenders are cooked through (165 internal temperature) transfer them to the bowl with the pesto mixture and toss to coat.

  5. Serve this lemon pepper chicken tenders recipe immediately. These tenders are full flavored enough to be eaten alone, over rice, or with a simple low calorie mixed greens salad on the side.

Chef Danielle Miele

Chef Miele started in the industry as a chef's assistant back in the early 1990s at a New England style seafood shack. After several stints in the industry she earned a formal chef's degree with honors from Le Cordon Bleu. When she is not cooking for her husband and teenage son, she enjoys researching techniques and ingredients from different cultures, with a focus on enhanced flavor and nutrition.