Cooking Tips
Want Flavorful, Crisp Chicken Tenders? Marinate Them in Duck Sauce.
Duck sauce isn’t just for dipping.
Danielle Lapierre

I love chicken tenders. I was one of those kids who would sit down at a restaurant and immediately scan the menu for any mention of them. 

As I’ve grown up, I’ve branched out and don’t order them as often, but I always have some sitting in my freezer or fridge just in case. 

With all my experience eating this famous finger food, I’ve learned that their quality can range from underwhelming to spectacular. So what separates the mediocre tenders from the great ones? 

Of course, they have to be juicy and moist. But it’s all about the crunch. There should be a crunch so loud that it reverberates through your mouth into your eardrums. Cook’s Country’s Puritan Backroom–Style Chicken Tenders have all of the above, thanks to an unexpected ingredient: duck sauce.

Duck sauce works for dipping, but it’s even better for marinating. That’s right: The key to making the perfect tenders is letting them sit in a bowl of duck sauce before breading and frying. Here’s why.

After whisking together ½ cup of duck sauce, 1 cup of water, and a tablespoon of salt, add your chicken, cover it, and refrigerate it for at least 1 hour or overnight. The marinade will help deeply season the chicken and add subtle sweetness to the meat.

Once you add the chicken to the breading, you’ll start to see why the duck sauce was important. The viscous marinade combines with the breading, creating craggy bits on the outside of the chicken. Once fried, these will turn into extra-crunchy morsels. The duck sauce also aids in beautiful browning and helps keep the breading on the chicken.

Next time you want to skip the freezer version of chicken tenders and make your own, add duck sauce for the best ones you’ll ever eat.