Shallow-fried chicken tenders tossed in sweet Thai chili sauce top this fresh green salad drizzled with homemade blue cheese ranch dressing.

A plate of salad topped with pan-fried chicken tenders, sweet Thai chili sauce, and blue cheese ranch dressing.

Buttermilk ranch dressing with chunks of creamy blue cheese and shallow-fried chicken tenders smothered in melted butter and sweet Thai chili sauce top this deliciously satisfying main dish salad. You might not think to use Thai chili sauce outside of Asian cuisine, but the light coating on the chicken is the perfect complement for the tangy dressing and crisp salad ingredients.

Tips for Making Breaded Chicken Tenders

Here are a few tips on how to make perfect pan-fried chicken tenders.

  • Prepare the chicken: Using kitchen shears, trim the white tendons from the ends of the chicken tenderloins and discard them.
  • Prepare the egg dip: Whisk egg and milk together in a pie plate or other shallow dish. The ratio is 1 tablespoon milk to 1 large egg.
  • Prepare the crumb coating: Combine the breadcrumbs with garlic powder, onion powder, 1 teaspoon salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Spread the mixture on a dinner plate or sheet of wax paper.
  • Coat the chicken in crumbs: Working with one tenderloin at a time, dip in the egg mixture and turn once or twice to coat. Allow the excess egg to drip off, then lay the chicken on the bed of crumbs and use your fingers to press gently into the mixture to be sure the crumbs adhere. Repeat on the other side.
  • Fry the chicken: Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with about 1/8-inch of vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add a pinch of bread crumbs to the pan and as soon as they begin to sizzle, the pan is pre-heated. Add the chicken in a single layer and fry until the crumb coating is golden brown and the interior of the chicken is no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes per side. You may want to work in batches to avoid crowding the pan.
  • Watch the temperature: Every stove is different and you don’t want your crumb coating to burn while the chicken cooks all the way through. Check the bottom of each piece after 1 minute in the pan, and if the crumbs already browning, the heat is too high. Carefully turn the chicken over and reduce the heat.
  • Handle the chicken gently: Use a thin spatula to turn the chicken and be careful so as not to damage the crumb coating.
  • Check for doneness with a thermometer: Use an instant-read thermometer to check the chicken for doneness (165°F). This way you won’t need to cut it and let the juices run out.
  • Let the chicken stand before serving: Place cooked chicken on a paper towel-lined plate and gently blot to absorb the oil from frying. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.

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Sweet Chili Chicken Salad with Blue Cheese Ranch Dressing

Sweet Chili Chicken Salad

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Shallow-fried chicken tenders tossed in sweet Thai chili sauce top this fresh green salad drizzled with homemade blue cheese ranch dressing.

Ingredients

  • 12 chicken tenderloins, 1-1/4 to 1-1/2 lbs
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1-1/4 cups dry breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Vegetable oil
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup sweet Thai chili sauce
  • 12 ounces mixed greens, romaine, red leaf lettuce, baby spinach, etc.
  • 2 medium ripe or 12 Campari tomatoes, cut into wedges
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 medium red bell pepper, seeded and cut into this strips

For the Blue Cheese Ranch Dressing:

  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • 1/3 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 large clove garlic, very finely chopped
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/3 cup crumbled blue cheese, or more to taste

Instructions

  • Prepare the dressing by whisking the buttermilk, mayonnaise, vinegar, oil and garlic together in a small bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in the blue cheese.
  • Trim any small white tendons from the chicken tenderloins and set aside. In a shallow dish like a pie plate, whisk the egg and milk together until well blended. Combine the breadcrumbs, salt and pepper and spread on a dinner plate or sheet of wax paper.
  • Dip each piece of chicken first in the egg, then in the crumb mixture, pressing lightly to be sure the crumbs adhere well.
  • Add about 1/8-inch of vegetable oil to a large skillet and heat over medium-high heat. Add the tenderloins in a single layer and cook until the crumb coating is golden brown and their interior is no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Note: You may want to work in two batches to avoid overcrowding the pan.
  • Transfer the cooked tenderloins to a paper towel-lined plate to drain and wipe the excess oil from the pan.
  • Return the pan to the stove over medium heat and add the butter and sweet Thai chili sauce. Once the butter has melted, combine well, then return the chicken to the pan.
  • Carefully turn the tenderloins several times to coat them with chili sauce mixture. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
  • To serve, divide the greens between 4 plates and arrange the cucumber, red bell pepper and tomatoes around the edges. Place 3 pieces of chicken in the center of each plate and spoon about 2 tablespoons of dressing over the salad. Pass the remaining dressing at the table.

Tips for Making This Recipe

  • Preparing the chicken: Using kitchen shears, trim the white tendons from the ends of the chicken tenderloins and discard them. This step will ensure each piece of chicken is tender, not chewy.
  • Frying the chicken: Coat the bottom of a large frying pan with about 1/8-inch of vegetable oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add a pinch of bread crumbs to the pan and as soon as they begin to sizzle, the pan is pre-heated. Add the chicken in a single layer and fry until the crumb coating is golden brown and the interior of the chicken is no longer pink, 2 to 3 minutes per side. You may want to work in batches to avoid crowding the pan.
  • Watch the temperature: Every stove is different and you don’t want your crumb coating to burn while the chicken cooks all the way through. Check the bottom of each piece after 1 minute in the pan, and if the crumbs already browning, the heat is too high. Carefully turn the chicken over and reduce the heat.
  • Handle the chicken gently: Use a thin spatula to turn the chicken and be careful so as not to damage the crumb coating.
  • Check for doneness with a thermometer: Use an instant-read thermometer to check the chicken for doneness (165°F). This way you won’t need to cut it and let the juices run out.
  • Let the chicken stand before serving: Place cooked chicken on a paper towel-lined plate and gently blot to absorb the oil from frying. Let stand for 3 to 5 minutes before serving.
Calories: 728kcal, Carbohydrates: 25g, Protein: 40g, Fat: 53g, Saturated Fat: 28g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g, Monounsaturated Fat: 10g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 178mg, Sodium: 852mg, Fiber: 2g, Sugar: 15g, Iron: 2mg
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