Frozen Chicken Tenders & Why You Should Buy Them

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Frozen chicken tenders from Trader Joe’s look like they’d be nothing special. But, they get my nomination for best ingredient of the year. Here’s why.

Frozen Chicken Tenders & Why You Should Buy Them | Good Cheap Eats

I was once a skeptic. My sister suggested that I buy frozen chicken tenders from Trader Joe’s. I thought she was nuts. Until I tried them. Then I was hooked.

Now at $7.49 for 2.5 pounds, these are certainly not the cheapest chicken you can buy. However, once I started buying these truly tender tenders, I realized we couldn’t go back.

This simple ingredient gets my nomination for Grocery of the Year. Here’s why:

Frozen Chicken Tenders & Why You Should Buy Them

1. Frozen chicken tenders are convenient.

These chicken tenders (they sell thighs and breasts this way too) are ice-glazed, meaning they don’t stick to each other, and they come in resealable freezer bags. You only pull out the number that you want, one or ten.

Did I mention there’s no need to thaw? Awesome.

Frozen Chicken Tenders & Why You Should Buy Them | Good Cheap Eats

2. These frozen chicken tenders are never tough.

We really love this chicken at our house. I’ve been cooking with them almost exclusively since I started recipe testing for Good Cheap Eats Dinner in 30 Minutes or Less! It was an easy way to have chicken on hand without worrying about thawing. My family loves them!

I wondered if it was worth the extra money to be buying them from Trader Joe’s instead of getting sale chicken at the grocery store. I bought a few packages at the next good sale I saw. I cooked one and ended up taking the others back! These are so good, they’re worth their $2.99/pound. Promise.

I don’t know what those other stores treat their chicken with; TJ’s says the same thing about up to 3% solution, but there is a difference. These frozen chicken tenders are never tough. No matter how long I forget them.

3. Frozen chicken tenders cook quickly — from frozen.

Since you don’t need to thaw these, they are perfect for spur of the moment meals. I heat some oil in a pan, add the frozen chicken tenders, season generously, and in fifteen minutes I’ve got a great meal.

Not sure? Just try one of these quick chicken recipes!

I was a skeptic, but I’m now a believer. My kid sis knows a thing or two. I better keep listening to her!

Have YOU tried frozen chicken tenders?

Don’t miss the rest of the series: Quick Dinner Ideas

Quick Dinner Ideas

About Jessica Fisher

I believe great meals don't have to be complicated or expensive. There's a better way, and it won't take all afternoon.

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Comments

  1. Rebekah says:

    Has anyone ever tried (and compared) the same product from Aldi’s? We don’t have a TJ’s near us, so I bought the frozen tenderloins from Aldi’s, instead. The ingredient list is small, they’re cheaper, and they cook up easily. I’m hooked, as well, but admittedly, I’ve never tried the TJ’s version.

    • tina says:

      Just an fyi, the same company that owns aldi’s is also the largest “top secret” foreign owner of ti’s. You are probably buying the exact same product!

      • Actually, that’s not exactly true. Aldi and Trader Joe’s do not have the same owner. The original Aldi split into two companies about 50 years ago. One side (Aldi Nord) owns TJ’s, but the other side (Aldi Sud) owns the Aldi stores in the US. So, there’s a connection and lots of common names, but they do not technically own the same stores. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aldi

    • I wouldn’t worry about how they compare if you love what you’re buying. 😉

    • Eric says:

      If you have a save-alot in your area try theirs, 12.99 for a 5 lbs bag and they are good size!!!

  2. Anna says:

    I haven’t tried Trader Joe’s, but we do use chicken tenders frequently. Sometimes it is worth spending a little more for something you are going to use instead of eating out for a quick meal. 🙂

  3. Jenni says:

    I’ve used other bagged chicken. They always seem to shrink as o cooked them. Do these do that?

    • Sally says:

      I don’t think they shrink much, but doesn’t all meat shrink some when cooked?

      • Jenni says:

        Yeah-just seems that the bagged kind shrank tons for me. ?

    • You have to remember that things expand when frozen, so yes there will appear to be a little shrinkage when they cook, though I wouldn’t call it a ton with these. That would depend on the brand and how much solution they’re adding to the product.

  4. Kirstin says:

    I tried TJ’s frozen chicken tenders after reading about them here, and now I try to keep a bag in my freezer at all times. I mainly use them for chicken salad, but I plan to try your cashew chicken recipe soon.

    • Sally says:

      I could have written that EXCEPT I’m a single and use them for everything. Two or three of them, depending on the size, are just right for me. I have some chicken breasts in the freezer but now use them only when I want to have a lot of cooked chicken on hand.

      • Yes. My son cooks for himself to take lunch to school and that is another reason I love these. He can pull out only the ones he needs.

    • Yay! Glad you’re enjoying them!

  5. Felicia says:

    I have not tried frozen, bagged chicken tenders because when I see a sale on whole chickens, I will buy several and then make my own tenders from the deboned chicken breasts. The ALDI and TJ info is great to know, if I’m low on tenders tho! Thanks for the tip!

    • It used to be that I would buy bone-in chicken breast on sale, but I don’t see that very often these days. So, I alternate between these bags and whole chickens because I love to make my own stock.

  6. Ann says:

    I don’t tend to shop at Trader Joe’s but I get the same kind of frozen chicken breast at Costco and it’s SO handy! I’m making chicken enchiladas for dinner and I can grab the needed number of chicken breast (which runs about $2.15 a lb right now I believe) and toss them into a pot to boil. Like your tenders, I’ve NEVER had a tough chicken breast from Costco that was frozen like this (these are Perdue). I don’t know what it is but the chicken breast from the grocery store is always tough!! Even my dad who lives alone gets these big 10 lb. bags because of the convenience of pulling one or two out for himself without having to chisel out the meat! LOL

    • I will have to check our Costco and see how it prices out. Thanks for pointing that out.

  7. Micha says:

    I buy the same chicken as Ann above me does. It’s slightly more than the fresh chicken I used to buy but saves money in the long run because I don’t have to purchase foil or freezer bags. The chicken always turns out great and it’s more portion sized so it saves a step.

    • Shaunta says:

      I have found that when I buy the big bags of tenders, breasts, or thighs from Costco, the meat gets freezer-burned. Do you know how that could be happening? I try to get all the air out of the bag, but it still happens. This time, I bought the chicken in the packets that have about 5 pieces in each section (making 5 at a time should work for my family). However, they were a bit more expensive and the meat will have to be defrosted before using, because the pieces are frozen together. I’d love any tips on this. Thanks!

      • That sounds like your freezer might not be keeping a constant temperature. Is it being opened often? Also, perhaps store it in the deeper section of the freezer if that’s the case.

    • If the convenience helps you eat at home, I’m all in.

  8. Jennifer says:

    Are the tendons still in the ones at TJ’s? That is the reason I never buy tenders!

    • There is sometimes a little stringy bit, but not usually the big chunk of whatever that is. 😉

  9. Danielle says:

    Thanks so much for this email. I tend to have an aversion to cooking raw chicken and a fear of not cooking it enough. I bought some of these tonight and baking them according to the package directions. Halfway through I sprinkled with your FishMama spice on some and just kosher salt on some (in case picky eaters didn’t like the spice mix.) They were great and so easy. I totally left them in way longer than I should’ve (above mentioned fear of under-cooked chicken) and they were still pretty good, probably better had I taken them out sooner. Even my picky 7 year old who will usually only eat chicken with some type of breading ate them and loved the spice mix! Thanks for helping me find an easy and healthy dinner everyone will eat. Will definitely try pan frying them sometime, but I have to say baking them from frozen was so easy and didn’t gross me out the way raw chicken typically does.

  10. Carla says:

    The TJ’s frozen chicken tenders are definitely better than Sprouts Farmers Market fresh these days. I mean – every 3rd or so fresh cutlet is unbearably tough and chewy. The cooking is the same (and I know this has been a recent development in the past year or so with Sprouts.)

    I am TJ’s from now on until …. well, something better comes along.

    • I am SO GLAD to know I’m not the only one who thinks so! I used to have great success with Sprouts, but it’s been disgusting.

      • Carla says:

        “Disgusting” was actually the word I said after I ate the last Sprouts scallopini cut last night. I could barely get my teeth into it. And trust me – it’s not my cooking methods… this is happening a lot now with their chicken cuts.

        Thanks for posting this article, Jessica. I love the TJ’s frozen tenders and each time – they are actually TENDER! (As the name would imply.) 😀

        • I accidentally bought the TJ’s chicken breasts recently and they were really good, too. Weird shapes, but good.

  11. Shana says:

    How many tenders are in the bag?

  12. Kim says:

    I have always bought the CostCo brand of these. I have not tried cooking without defrosting though. I can see the baking turning out ok, but what about frying? Do they spatter?

    • They cook up fine. However, we’ve found both with Trader Joe’s and with Costco that the quality seems to have gone down. Not sure if that’s just location specific, but we don’t love them as much as we used to. 🙁

      • Lee says:

        I just tried these tonight and they aren’t great at all. Have you found a better source by any chance?

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