Grilled Chicken Tenders

5 from 25 votes

Grilled Chicken Tenders are made with a simple lemony marinade and cooked on a grill or grill pan. They're juicy, flavorful and very easy to batch meal prep

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Grilled Chicken Tenders make for a delicious protein to serve up for a weeknight dinner. And you don’t have to wait until summer to enjoy the delicious grilled flavor. I marinate the chicken with lemon, olive oil and thyme, which gives it a tangy and bright flavor and then cook it on a grill pan until it’s golden brown on the outside but juicy on the inside!

Final grilled chicken tenders served with lemon slices and garnished with parsley

This is one of my favorite ways to prepare chicken for an easy weeknight meal, whether it’s on the grill outside or using a grill pan during colder months. The marinade is pretty flexible and flavorful. It’s an easy recipe to set up in the morning and have it ready for grilling at dinner time. And it pairs well with many vegetables and grains, with salads or with pastas.

What are chicken tenders?

Chicken tenders are found just underneath of the breast meat of the chicken, they are very similar in taste to breast meat, but they are smaller and more tender, since this muscle isn’t used as much. You will often find recipes for fried chicken tenders, but grilling them is so easy and a healthier way of preparing this cut of meat.

How do you grill chicken tenders?

Marinate the chicken first. Add all the marinade ingredients to a large bowl with the chicken and make sure to toss to coat generously with the spices. Then place the chicken in the fridge until ready to use – I would say 30 minutes is good enough but up to 8 hours is great!

Chicken tenderloins marinating in the lemon, olive oil and herbs

When you are ready to grill the chicken, pre heat your grill.  An outdoor grill is not necessary, you can use a grill pan to get that charred flavor and those grill lines.

Cook the chicken for 3 – 4 minutes on each side. But when they’re done cooking, definitely give them time to rest before serving.

Cooking the chicken on an indoor grill pan

Tips for grilling chicken tenders

  1. Allow time to marinate the chicken. You want to marinade for at least 30 minutes, but up to 8 hours even. That will help tenderize the chicken, make it more juicy and absorb the maximum flavor.
  2. Don’t overcrowd the pan or the grill. You want the chicken tenders to grill evenly and brown well. Otherwise, the juices from the nearby chicken tenders may create steam which will affect the searing process.
  3. Don’t move around while it’s cooking, if you do, you won’t achieve those beautiful sear marks and the food will stick to the grill if you try and move it too early. When ready to turn the tenders, they should be easy to move, if they stick, leave them a little longer.
  4. Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before cutting. This allows the chicken a chance to absorb the juices to become more juicy.

Frequently asked questions

Why is grilling a good way to cook chicken tenders?

Grilling is a great way of cooking the tenders. It’s easy, quick and the result is wonderfully juicy chicken. It’s also a much healthier way of cooking compared to deep or shallow frying and it takes less than 10 minutes to cook them. Cooking them in the oven takes longer, and it’s also much more likely that the meat will dry out that way.

What does the chicken marinade taste like?

This simple marinade is a mixture of fresh lemon juice and dried herbs and spices. It has a bright and fresh zing to it without being so overpowering. This combination of spices including thyme, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper, is my favorite for chicken. It’s a simple marinade but it really packs a punch!

What goes well with these chicken tenders?

Pair them with a side of Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries or a hearty Mediterranean Couscous Salad for a full and well balanced meal.

Should I keep the grill lid open or closed when grilling chicken?

Since these tenders are small and only need to be grilled for 3-4 minutes per side, there’s no need to close the lid. You’ll want to close the lid for thicker cuts of chicken which need more cooking time and need the heat to penetrate through the thick cuts.

Juicy chicken after it's been grilled

For more healthy chicken recipes:

These grilled chicken tenders are so delicious and so quick to cook, so they’re perfect for an easy weeknight meal. They are also great cold, sliced up on a fresh salad. Yum!

If you’ve tried this healthy-ish feel good Grilled Chicken Tenders recipe or any other recipe on FeelGoodFoodie, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about your experience making it. And if you snapped some shots of it, share it with me on Instagram so I can repost on my stories!

Grilled Chicken Tenders

Grilled Chicken Tenders are made with a simple lemony marinade and cooked on a grill or grill pan. They're juicy, flavorful and very easy to batch meal prep
5 from 25 votes
Servings 4 servings
Course Dinner, Entree
Calories 228
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 8 mins
Total Time 48 mins


  • 1 pound chicken breast tenders
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons thyme
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme for serving


  • Pat the chicken tenders dry to remove any excess liquid. Place the chicken in a large bowl. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, thyme, paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper and stir to combine evenly. Marinate for 30 minutes or up to 8 hours.
  • When ready to grill, preheat the grill or grill pan to medium heat. Place the chicken tenders on the grill, being careful not to overlap them. Cook for 3-4 minutes on each side, until the juices run clear.
  • Remove the chicken tenders from the grill and allow the chicken to rest for a couple minutes before serving.


Storage: Store any leftovers in an airtight container. They will last up to 4 days.
Nutrition: Please note that the nutrition label provided is an estimate based on an online nutrition calculator. It will vary based on the specific ingredients you use.


Calories: 228kcal, Carbohydrates: 1g, Protein: 24g, Fat: 14g, Saturated Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 73mg, Sodium: 423mg, Potassium: 430mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 1g, Vitamin A: 288IU, Vitamin C: 7mg, Calcium: 17mg, Iron: 1mg

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Final grilled chicken tenders served with lemon slices and garnished with parsley

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  1. Hi, This looks great and I’m going to try it. Did you pound the tenderloins a little before you marinated them?

  2. I am so frustrated…. none of the grill recipes tell me if I close the grill lid or leave it open?

    1. You don’t need the grill lid closed for this since the pieces are small. In general, you want to close the lid on larger cuts to keep the temperature even and allow them cook thoroughly. Hope that helps!

  3. Don’t move around while cooking. Good tip in order to achieve the sear marks. Early marinating with your
    3 suggested ingredients: lemon, olive oil and thyme did help both the cooking process and the flavor.