Spicy Gochujang Chicken Tenders made from chicken breasts or tenderloins, seasoned in two layers (both base + coating), coated with cornflakes and breadcrumbs for an extra crunch, and drench in a deliciously spicy sauce makes for the perfect meal addition. You won’t believe how flavor-packed these chicken tenders are! Gluten-free option available.
Spicy Gochujang sauce has been one of my faves these days and while I eat it more rarely, I must admit that I've such a fan. That's why these Spicy Gochujang Chicken Tenders are on my top list and they definitely pack the perfect amount of punch, while creating such a umami flavor profile.
Plus, chicken tenders are super easy to make regardless of whether you use chicken breasts or tenderloins, and I've learned the trick of adding cornflakes in with your coating ingredients for a nice extra crunch. Thank me later.
Besides the crunch factor, I really love that you can use this Spicy Gochujang sauce for different types of meats and meat alternatives like chicken wings, shrimp, salmon, cauliflower bites, tofu, and the list goes on. It tastes great on everything!
What is Gochujang?
While I rarely adapt foods outside of my Southern or Jamaican roots, I truly love Spicy Gochujang sauce (along with a few other cultural foods), therefore, I wanted to highlight this special sauce which is a part of the Korean culture.
According to an article via Bon Appetit, Gochujang is fermented over years in a pot kept outdoors, which causes the starches in the glutinous rice (one of the ingredients it's made from) to convert into sugar, which gives this paste it's sweetness. Using Gochujang is best done when applying it to rich meats as a marinade or along with other ingredients to create a nice sauce. It's highly recommended not to be eaten on it's own since it's taste can be pretty aggressive.
How to Make Spicy Gochujang Chicken Tenders
Making these crispy chicken tenders is a simple matter of seasoning your chicken pieces, adding a wet marinade of some kind, and breading them in a cornflake-breadcrumb crust before a roasting for crispness. Finish everything off with a sticky-sweet Gochujang coating and serve them up!
Here’s what you need to prepare these crispy chicken tenders today:
Chicken breasts or tenderloins. Choose organic whenever possible. If you don’t have chicken tenderloins, you can always use 2-3 medium chicken breasts. Simply slice the chicken breasts the long way into medium-thick strips.
Gochujang. You can find this at Asian markets (or via Amazon) and well-stocked grocery stores. It’s Korean fermented chili paste.
Garlic powder. This adds a nice savory note to the buffalo sauce without having to mince any garlic cloves.
Onion powder. This adds additional flavor along with the other herbs.
Smoked paprika. For a hint of smokiness to compliment the spicy buffalo sauce.
Dried parsley. This is a classic herb to pair with buffalo, it adds a nice note of freshness to the sauce.
Japanese BBQ sauce. I recommend using a BBQ sauce that has a sweeter profile. I like using this type of BBQ sauce because of the spicy-sweet factor that goes well with Gochujang.
Corn flakes. Crush your cornflakes by placing them in a zip-top bag and crushing them with something heavy until you have a fine texture, but not a powder.
Breadcrumbs. You can buy store-bought breadcrumbs or panko. Or see the notes below the recipe to easily make your own breadcrumbs.
All-purpose flour. I use Bob’s Red Mill organic flour. You can use gluten-free all-purpose flour to keep this recipe gluten-free.
Honey. You can substitute the honey with agave or maple syrup if that’s what you have on hand.
Butter. I recommend unsalted.
Rice vinegar. Apple cider vinegar also works.
Brown sugar. I use organic. light brown. In a pinch, dark will also work.
Soy sauce. I use low-sodium. For gluten-free, use tamari.
Stock. Use chicken or vegetable stock. If you’re buying it, use low-sodium.
Tips + Tricks to The Crispiest Chicken Tenders
To make sure your chicken tenders get as crispy as possible with the use of a “coating”, follow these simple tips:
Make sure each chicken tender has plenty of space on the baking sheet. The airflow helps things crisp up.
When using a baking sheet, add a wire rack atop the parchment paper so that chicken tenders can crisp up nicely on all sides.
Cook chicken tenders until crisp prior to adding sauce so that they have minimal liquid.
After rinsing your chicken strips, be sure to pat dry completely until they are as dry as possible before adding seasoning and marinade.
Make-Ahead Chicken Tenders
All ingredients can be made and individually stored as meal prep (up to 2 days prior) and assembled when ready to serve. Be sure to store crushed corn flakes + seasoning mixture in a nicely sealed zip loc bag, kept at room temp.
Are Spicy Gochujang Chicken Tenders Gluten-Free?
Yes! To ensure that these chicken tenders are GF-friendly, ensure that you use GF breadcrumbs as well as GF-friendly BBQ sauce, soy sauce, etc.
How to Make Homemade Breadcrumbs
To make your own breadcrumbs, simply grind 1-2 cups of cubed bread into a food processor until finely chopped. Place crumbs onto a parchment lined baking sheet and spread out evenly.
Bake for 5-6 minutes in the oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally. Once brown + crisp, remove from oven and let cool. Continue recipe steps and store remaining breadcrumbs in a tightly sealed container.
How to Store Leftovers
These spicy chicken tenders are best the day they’re made, since they’re so crispy. However, you can store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. Reheat them in the oven or in an oven or air fryer to crisp them back up when you’re ready to serve.
Baked Chicken Tenders versus Air-Fried
Of course, both methods of making these Spicy Gochujang Chicken Tenders is effective. However, if you’re wondering whether you’d be able to also make these chicken tenders in an air-fryer—-then yes! Absolutely!
Simply do all steps the same and cook them in your air-fryer for the amount of time needed (somewhere between 10-15 minutes I believe). Once crisp, just toss them in the Gochujang sauce mixture and wallah.
As you know, this recipe is for baked chicken tenders and honestly, they’re just as crispy as using them in the airy-fryer (especially when you use a wire rack), so the choice is yours!
How to Serve Spicy Gochujang Chicken Tenders
You can eat these Spicy Gochujang Chicken Tenders hot out of the oven dipped in your favorite creamy sauce. I like ranch, dairy-free creamy lime dressing, or my creamy avocado dressing.
You can also top a fresh salad with crispy Spicy Gochujang Chicken Tenders or wrap them into a tortilla for a sandwich, stuff them into a taco shell or even chop them up and make a cheesy Spicy Gochujang Chicken pizza. Whatever the decision----you'll love it!
Of course, as I’ve stated before, these spicy chicken tenders can be incorporated in the following foods:
with Rice or noodles
with Fries or wedges
Atop mashed potatoes
and so much more.
More Chicken Recipes to Try
If you’re into these Spicy Gochujang Chicken Tenders, you’ll love these other popular chicken recipes:
Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and prep a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper and a wire rack (this helps both sides to crisp up nicely).
In a large bowl, add the chicken strips and 1 teaspoon of EACH: sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, and dried parsley, along with BBQ sauce, tossing everything together until well coated. Let it sit for 5-10 minutes so that everything marinates.
In the bowl of the beaten egg, add the honey and whisk together until combined.
TO MAKE THE BREADED COATING:
In ziplock bag, add the crushed corn flakes, breadcrumbs, flour, and 1 teaspoon of salt, black pepper, garlic powder, smoked paprika, onion powder, and dried parsley and shake them together until combined and blended.
Now, dip each chicken strip (tender) into egg mixture (shaking off any excess) and then add it into the coating mixture within the ziplock bag, shaking everything together until strip is well coated. Then lay each chicken strip (tender) side by side onto the baking sheet (about an inch apart). Repeat until all chicken tenders are coated.
Lightly brush or spray tops of chicken with olive oil or cooking spray and bake them for 30-25 minutes or until chicken has fully cooked through.
TO MAKE THE SAUCE:
In a large 12-inch skillet over medium-high heat, add the butter and let it melt. Next, add the brown sugar, rice vinegar, soy sauce, Gochujang paste, and chicken stock, stirring everything together until combined and the sauce thickens. Add in the baked chicken tenders and toss until fully coated. Remove from heat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, if desired.
To serve, enjoy chicken tenders with your favorite condiment or dipping sauce. Tenders can also be served atop a salad, sandwich, taco, pizza, etc.
Tips & Tricks
STORAGE: Place any leftover ingredients in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
MAKE AHEAD: All ingredients can be made and individually stored as meal prep (up to 2 days prior) and assembled when ready to serve. Be sure to store crushed corn flakes + seasoning mixture in a nicely sealed zip loc bag, kept at room temp.
CHICKEN: If you don’t have chicken breasts, you can always use chicken tenderloins which are already pre-cut into strips.
HONEY: You can always substitute honey with maple syrup or Agave.
HOMEMADE BREADCRUMBS: To make your own breadcrumbs, simply grind 1-2 cups of cubed bread into a food processor until finely chopped. Place crumbs onto a parchment lined baking sheet and spread out evenly. Bake for 5-6 minutes in the oven set at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, stirring occasionally. Once brown + crisp, remove from oven and let cool. Continue recipe steps and store remaining breadcrumbs in a tightly sealed container.
GLUTEN-FREE OPTION: To ensure that these chicken tenders are GF-friendly, ensure that you use GF breadcrumbs as well as GF-friendly BBQ sauce, soy sauce, etc.