These tenders and fries are really good. My husband and I enjoyed them just as much as the boys did. Why do kids (and adults) LOVE fast food fries and chicken so much??? Because they taste good, that’s why!
Kids like traditional fast food chicken and potatoes for the flavor. While some parents tend to cook bland food for their children, the meat and potatoes in any fast food chain are always well seasoned with salt, and deep-fried for extra flavor. Kids love (and crave) these flavorful meals. The problem is that all fast food is pretty much poor quality food, fried in rancid oils and seasoned with inferior salt. Well guess what?? You can (and should) try making healthier versions of your child’s favorite foods at home. Preparing these popular fast food menu items in your own kitchen will keep you from feeding your children “mystery” meat and ingredients that their body’s just don’t need. Even “healthier” fast food restaurants like Chick Fillet add MSG and other undesired “seasonings” to their menu.
One of my favorite “Fast Food” Kitchen Appliances
Yes, I like my Slow Cooker but I LOVE my Countertop Oven! We had a New Wave oven for years (my husband had it before we married), but after the plastic dome cracked, I then got this Sharper Image version. This oven has been a life saver! Not only can it cook bacon in 12 minutes without splattering oil all over the place, but it can also roast a whole chicken, reheat leftovers, broil my grain-free toast, prepare just about any meat or veggy in a matter of minutes. It has really saved me time in the kitchen, and when you are chasing after two kids, shipping cookbooks across the world and creating new recipes ALL THE TIME, anytime I can save a minute or two, I’ll take it. It allows me to cook meals, quickly and without having to dirty up lots of pans (and the stove from splattered grease). (Yes, I admit that I sound like an infomercial but I have really enjoyed the oven.)
Most of my existing recipes can be cooked in this oven so it’s not like you need a whole new set of recipes to use it. Using this counter top oven, I was able to cook these tenders in about 12 minutes. It would have taken even less time if I cut them into smaller nuggets.
Another Fast Food cooking method…. Frying
Yes, I fry food. I don’t do it often because it gets a bit messy (or at least I am messy when I fry), but for certain recipes like my “Corn” Dogs and Fried Cheese, frying is essential. Frying these chicken tenders & fries also allowed me to cook this meal really fast!
What oil should you use to fry?? This is a common question. I use expeller pressed coconut oil for all of my frying. Another option would be REAL lard. (Usually the stuff in the grocery store is NOT real lard.) Yes, frying foods in lard or other saturated fats is healthier than frying foods in oils like vegetable or peanut oil.
Seed oils such as Canola oil are extremely high in monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs) and are prone to oxidation in the body which is why these types of oil should be avoided, and especially not used at high temperatures. For more information about healthy (and not so healthy) fats, check out this great article.
Ok, one word…. EASY! The key to making these Fast Food Chicken Tenders & fries is how you cook them. Frying or using a counter top oven is the way to go. You can bake these in a regular oven but it will take longer, which defeats the purpose of fast food! You can also sear them in a pan with a little bit of butter.
Also, consider cutting up the meat and seasoning them a day (or two) before your going to make them. Also, cut out the sweet potato fries ahead of time. Plan ahead! Another suggestion would be to make first the honey mustard, and then prepare the chicken tenders, followed by the fries. I always feed my boys their meat and protein first. If you give your children the fries first, they probably will not want to eat their meat at the end of the meal. Just my 2 cents.
Want a healthier chip to give your kids?? Consider making sweet potato chips. Slice the sweet potatoes thin (using a mandoline) and carefully add to fryer. It will only take a few minutes for the chips to get crisp.
I used a small pot to fry and a thermometer to keep the temperature around 350 degrees. You could also use a Fry Daddy made especially for frying and that has a built-in thermometer.
Don’t want honey mustard dressing?? Try dipping these tenders and fries in my yummy Ranch Dressing!
Should you have to fry all of your child’s food for your kids to eat it?? No. Is frying foods in the right oil and with good ingredients at home a better alternative to fast food?? Most definitely Yes! Eating healthy doesn’t have to be all or nothing. A great way to help everyone in your family adjust to a cleaner way of eating is by preparing their favorite meals at home. In a perfect world you can roast a chicken and steam some broccoli and your children will dive in head first! But, just as some of our food habits have been hard to break, breaking a child’s poor food choices can be even harder. This recipe is a happy medium. I hope you and your kids enjoy!
This is the first recipe in a series of Fast Food posts. The next recipe will be Fast Food Fajitas! YUM! What other Fast Food recipes would you like to see??
- 1/4 cup mayonnaise
- 2 tbsp. prepared mustard
- Sweetener to taste (1/2 tbsp. honey, or 1 serving KAL Stevia, etc.)
- 2 lbs. chicken breast (cut into strips or nuggets)
- Cajun Seasoning
- 2 tbsp. prepared mustard
- Heaping 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese (or almond flour for dairy-free)
- Dry Ranch Seasoning
Sweet Potato Fries
Blend all ingredients in a small bowl. Taste for sweetness and adjust if needed. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Generously season chicken strips with Cajun Seasoning. Place meat in gallon bag and add mustard. Seal bag and toss meat in mustard until evenly covered. Add Parmesan cheese (or almond flour) to chicken tenders. Seal bag and toss chicken with cheese (or almond flour) until evenly coated. (Add more if necessary.)
For Deep Frying: Pre-heat oil to 350 degrees (and not any hotter). Prepare plate with paper towels (or paper bag to catch excess oil). Carefully place prepared chicken tenders in hot oil using slotted spoon. (Be sure not to crowd pan). Allow chicken tenders to cook for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Using slotted spoon, carefully remove and allow to cool on towels (or bag). While warm, sprinkle with Ranch seasoning.
For counter top oven: Arrange prepared tenders on the high cooking rack in one layer. Place top on and cook at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until chicken tenders are slightly brown. While warm, sprinkle with Ranch seasoning.
Sweet Potato Fries
For Deep Frying: Pre-heat oil to 350 degrees (and not any hotter). Prepare plate with paper towels (or paper bag to catch excess oil). Carefully place cut fries in pre-heated oil using slotted spoon. (Be sure not to crowd pan or put too many in oil at the time. The moisture from the sweet potatoes will cause the oil in the pot to boil out). Allow fries to cook for 4-5 minutes or until golden brown. Using slotted spoon, carefully remove and allow the oil to drain on towels (or bag). Immediately season with salt.
For counter top oven: Place cut sweet potatoes in medium bowl and pour melted butter over fries. Stir with spoon until sweet potatoes are coated with butter. Arrange prepared sweet potatoes on the high cooking rack in one layer. Place top on and cook at 400 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until fries are slightly brown. Immediately season with salt and serve.
Serve fries and tenders with Honey Mustard or Ranch Dressing.
Nutrition Disclaimer: The nutrition information for this recipe is going to be dependent on how you prepare the tenders, fried vs. baked.
For the sweet potatoes, 2 oz. (by weight) contains 50 Calories, 0 Fat, 10 NET carbs and 1 gram Protein.