Chicken Tenderloin
Resources > Food > Meat > Chicken > Chicken Tenderloin

Are you a Smart Kitchen™ Chef?

Try it FREE or take a TOUR to explore Smart Kitchen!
+ -



Chicken Tenders, properly known as Chicken Tenderloins but also called “Breast Filets,” are often thought to be a highly trimmed form of Chicken Breast meat.  They are actually a sub-cut of the breast, the inner pectoral muscles which lie beneath and behind the breasts. They are a tubular, lean but rich tasting White Chicken Meat and are considered the “Crown Jewel” of chicken portion cuts.


Chicken Tenderloin is available all year long.


Poultry is generally purchased Fresh, Frozen or Live. Very few of us handle the live birds, so we will limit ourselves here to the discussion of Fresh Chicken Tenderloin and Frozen Chicken Tenderloin.

Once you have settled upon the type of Chicken you wish, you should determine how much Chicken you need for the meal (or meals) contemplated. If you are Meal Planning, the following rule of thumb regarding serving size will come in handy. Buy 1 pound (450 g) of Bone-In Chicken per person. Buy 6 to 8 ounces (170 g to 225 g) of Boneless Chicken per person for a standard meal.

Calculate your needs and then purchase a chicken (or chickens) appropriate to your needs. For example, don’t buy a larger 12 Pack (unless you are planning on leftovers or multiple meals) when a 6 Pack may be better suited to your group of diners. Fresher will be better.

Next, with the type and quantity determined, consider quality to ensure that the specific Chicken Cutlet is the best possible product. Start by sourcing your Chicken at a Butcher or Grocer that appears to do a lot of business and is likely to have a high turnover of product. You want to shop for perishables, like Raw Chicken, at a store that has volume and a good reputation. You don’t want to feed your family or guests the last of the slow-moving chickens from an unsavory vendor. Keep an eye on their food handling practices. If they start to slip, consider shopping elsewhere.

It is a good idea to shop for refrigerated or frozen items as you are wrapping up your shopping trip. Once you take them out of the display case, they are in The Food Danger Zone and the clock is ticking. 

The Chicken Tenderloin should be moist, plump and healthy looking with unblemished skin (if any).The Chicken Tenderloin should be fully formed and meaty. The Chicken should not have any defects, cuts or broken bones. It should not have any lingering feathers either.

With a selection in mind, look it over. Are there bits of frost or ice formations on, or around, your intended purchase? Ice and frost can indicate a Frozen Chicken being passed off as a Fresh Chicken. While you are looking, check the “Sell-By Date,” which is 7 to 10 days after the Chicken was slaughtered. If the bird is out of date or even approaching its Sell By Date, look for another bird. Properly refrigerated Chicken will only last a few days past the Sell By Date once you get it home.

Even with a good date on the package, you may want to ask the butcher how long that particular Chicken Tenderloin has been sitting in the case. Avoid spending your money on something that has been sitting there a few days. The longer they are out in the store, the shorter time they will last in your refrigerator.  

Finally, complete your purchase decision with a “Smell Test.” Does your Chicken that has passed all the other tests smell neutral or does it smell off?  Oxygen and light can cause fats to go rancid. Chicken Fat is mostly composed of Unsaturated Fat, which breaks down more easily and quickly than Saturated Fat (the predominant fat in Beef and Pork). This means that Chicken keeps less well, even in the modern refrigerated distribution system. There isn’t likely to be a problem, but there could be, and your nose is a good first line of defense. While all bad Poultry won’t smell, all smelly poultry is bad.

With the perfect specimen selected, place the Chicken Tenderloin in its own plastic bag. Most stores provide them hanging from a wall near the Poultry case or you can probably find some in the produce section or grab some from the checkout stand on your way in.

We advise separately bagging the Chicken to try and prevent Cross-Contamination. Place the bagged Chicken by itself in a corner of your cart. It should not be sitting on top of, or over, anything else. You don’t want any raw chicken juices dripping onto and contaminating anything else, especially ready-to-eat foods.

Get the raw or frozen Chicken Tenderloin home as quickly as reasonably possible. In high heat (90°F or higher), it may only last an hour in a hot car before starting to spoil. If you live far from the store, consider investing in a cooler to protect your purchases.

Once home, it is best to use your raw meat as soon as possible. If you cannot use it immediately, you will want to store it safely out of The Food Danger Zone, either frozen or refrigerated.

This may seem like a lengthy purchasing process at first, but soon it will become second nature, and your family, and your budget, will thank you.


With your poultry purchase unpacked at home, if you are planning to store it, you should do a little preparation to ensure the best outcome for a longer chill or freeze.

If you plan to use your Chicken shortly and are going to refrigerate it, just place it in your refrigerator in the lowest of the meat drawers in the coldest part of your refrigerator. It should be in its original packaging, and optimally be inside a plastic bag. Placing it in a plastic bag will help prevent any raw juices from inadvertently dripping out and Cross-Contaminating other foods.

If the package won’t fit in your lowest meat drawer, place it as low as possible and don’t store any ready-to-eat or previously cooked food below it. If nothing is below it, escaping juices, if any, won’t spoil other food. If you want to learn more about safely handling Raw product visit Smart Kitchen’s Food Handling Exercises, and the Refrigerated Storage Resource Page.  

Stored this way, you should be able to refrigerate Chicken Portion Cuts safely (below 40°F) for 1 to 2 days before using it but since fresher is better, we recommend cooking it as soon as practicable.

If you plan to Hold your Chicken frozen the following will apply.

Optimally, remove the Chicken Tenderloin from the original packaging and rinse them under cold running water. Dry them with paper towels, and store them in a Freezer Bag, labeled with the contents and the date they were frozen. Using this method, the Chicken Tenderloin should last frozen (at or below 0°F) for 3-4 months but will still begin losing flavor after about 2 months. If you plan to freeze your Chicken for an extended time, see the Smart Kitchen resource on Avoiding Freezer Burn.

The best way to Thaw (the link has more on thawing) Chicken is in the refrigerator over a day or so. To thaw in a hurry, frozen Chicken can be removed from its packaging and thawed in an hour or so by placing it in a container with perforated sides (like a Colander) and continuously running cool water over it in the sink until it is thawed. If using this quick thawing method, keep an eye on the clock and be mindful of how long your product has been in The Food Danger Zone. 

Do Not Re-Freeze Previously Thawed Chicken. Also be aware that since you were thawing Raw you will need to Sanitize your sink and equipment accordingly.

For chicken leftovers or extra pieces, separate them into smaller portions for fast, safe cooling, then store them in a storage container or labeled zip-lock bag. Move them out of The Food Danger Zone as quickly as possible to the freezer or refrigerator.

Cooked Chicken or Chicken Parts can be held refrigerated up to 4 days.

Culinary Uses

Chicken Tenderloin is composed primarily of White Chicken Meat which is generally more tender, and faster cooking than Dark Chicken Meat. On Smart Kitchen’s Home Plate Chicken Tenderloin would be considered: Cooked, Tender, [1.Thin, 2. Thick or 3. Thin or Thick (depending on how it is butchered and prepped), Moist, & Lean. In the Home Plate shorthand it would be (C,T1, [T3 or T4], M, L).

Since White Chicken Meat has very little Fat, and is almost 70% water (raw with skin on), White Chicken Meat can be cooked “fast and hot.”

White Meat also cooks more quickly than Dark Meat, making it appropriate for some quicker Dry Heat Methods such as SautéingGrillingBroilingPan FryingRoastingDeep Fat Frying, etc.

White Chicken Meat can also be cooked with Moist Heat Methods such as PoachingStewingBraisingFricassée, etc.

Remember Chicken Tenderloin is a Boneless item. It will cook more quickly than a Bone-In item (potentially half the time) because there is no bone to shield the surrounding meat from the cooking heat.

Still all of the boneless Chicken Meat has to be cooked to a safe Final Cooking Temperature of 160-165° F (71-74° C). Because there is Carry Over Cooking involved, the Pull Temperature™ for Chicken Tenderloin should be 150-155° (65–68° C). Using a Meat Thermometer is the best way to check that all of the food has reached a safe Internal Temperature for consumption.

Choosing a Boneless product also means missing a flavoring opportunity and that the finished product may not retain its shape as well as a Bone-In product. 

Portion Size

Allow 6-8 oz of Chicken Tenderloin per person.


Dried Herbs & Spices - AniseAllspiceCardamomCayenne PepperCelery SeedsClovesCorianderCuminCurrantsCurry LeavesCurry PowderMustard SeedsNutmegPaprikaRed Pepper FlakesSaffronSaltSea SaltKosher SaltSesame SeedsStar AniseWhite SugarBrown SugarBlack PepperWhite PepperPink PepperTurmericChili PowderBay LeafCinnamonTarragonParsleyOreganoBasilGarlic PowderRosemaryDillMintSavory

Fresh Herbs OreganoChivesParsleyCilantroBasilSageTarragonMarjoramThymeRosemaryChervilDillCorianderMintSavory

Dairy MilkButtermilkButterYogurtCrème FraicheSour Cream

Wet Ingredients Beer, Coconut MilkOilsCreamFish SauceSoy Sauce, Grand Marnier, Sherry, Stocks, Wine, Vermouth, Vinegars, Whisky, Brandy, Cider

Thick Ingredients Hoisin Sauce, Honey, Maple Syrup, MayonnaiseMolassesMustardsTomato Paste

Vegetables Artichokes, Bell Peppers, CapersCarrotsCauliflowerCeleryCelery Root, Chile Peppers, GarlicOnionsGingerKaleLemongrass, Mushrooms, PotatoesSpinachTomatoes, Turnips, Turnip Greens, Chard, DaikonEndiveEscaroleParsnipsLeeks

Fruits Apples, OlivesAvocados, Bananas, Figs, Raisins, Cranberries, Dates, Guava, Grapefruits, Grapes, LimesLemons, Oranges, PeachesPomegranates, Pears, Apricots

Nuts AlmondsCashewsHazelnutsWalnutsPeanutsPine Nuts

Meats Bacon, Ham, ProsciuttoPancetta, Sausages, Turkey

Gluten Free


Low Fat


Low Calorie