It may only be Wednesday but these Chicken Tender Sliders have “weekend” written all over them. Inspired by the chicken nuggets I coveted in my youth, these sliders feature pita-crusted chicken tenders served on mini kaiser buns topped with sweet and sour slaw. The sweet and sour slaw is simply a bag of coleslaw mix dressed with a homemade sweet and sour sauce. This is, of course, a nod to the best nugget dipping sauce around. I know there are probably people who would disagree with that statement but BBQ has nothing on sweet and sour.
Raise your hand if you’re a child at heart. I’m going to assume everyone raised their hands because who among us can claim to be an adult 24/7? It’s funny, I find the older I get, the more I let my inner child out to play. I think it’s because I shed the self-consciousness that dogged me in my twenties. And while it’s not completely gone, I do find I have a lot more fun in my thirties. Case in point, today’s Chicken Tender Sliders. Back in the day when I first started writing recipes, I was so concerned about being taken seriously, that I wrote serious recipes. And now, I’m content to mine every craving or food whim for a recipe no matter how “trashy” or childish they may be. Good food is just good food, right?
But the difference between kid me and adult me, is adult me is a lot pickier. I know that sounds strange but have you ever revisited the snack foods of your youth? You might be disappointed. There are items I avoid on purpose because I don’t want to taint my perfect memory of them. I’m at an age where I can taste the crappy ingredients and know they’re crappy. I know when something has too much sugar or sodium or both. But while my palette may have grown up, my cravings haven’t. So I get a kick out of creating gourmet versions of the dishes, treats, and snacks I loved once upon a time. Last week it was this gourmet Viva Puff moment. And this week it’s these Chicken Tender Sliders.
So what are we looking at here? Well, these Chicken Tender Sliders feature three recipes in one – the buns, the tenders, and the slaw. You could just make the tenders and serve them with mashed potatoes. You could just make the slaw as a side salad to whatever else you’ve got going on on your dinner plate. Or you could try your hand at breadmaking and stuff your handcrafted kaiser rolls with a simple tuna or chicken salad. Basically, you can take all three components of these sliders with you and mix and match them to your heart’s content.
You can, however, make each of these recipes as easy or as difficult as you like. The buns are a prime example of this. I have included a mini Kaiser roll recipe below. But you could easily skip that and buy some of your favorite mini buns. That decision alone will transform this recipe from a kitchen project to a quick weeknight dinner. In other words, the buns are more or less an extra credit assignment. I do encourage you to try your hand at them because they are better than any bun I’ve grabbed from a bag. But I know we don’t always have two hours plus of rising time to spare. I also know not everyone gets a kick out of hand shaping 24 buns. I do, but I’m willing to bet I’m in the minority.
Next up, chicken tenders. These are quite a light lift. They do require some marinating time but other than that, they’re a snap to put together. They bake up in the oven, so you don’t have to deal with any excess frying oil. And they’re coated in crushed pita chips, which I encourage you to buy rather than make yourself. The sea salt coating on the bagged varieties only adds to the deliciousness of the finished tender. I used a food processor to crush my pita chips. But if you don’t have one, you can use a ziplock bag and a rolling pin. It will yield roughly the same result. Now, having said all that, you could swap homemade chicken fingers for the store-bought frozen variety but at that point, this recipe is serving more as inspiration rather than a recipe.
Now for the lightest lift of all, the slaw. I went with bagged coleslaw mix, but feel free to shred your own veg for this. I went with a broccoli slaw mix for anyone who is interested. So, at this point, this recipe requires little more than opening a bag. And honestly, if you wanted to you could follow that up with opening a jar and calling it a day. I made my sweet and sour sauce from scratch. And it was so easy, I don’t know why a jar of the stuff has ever seen the inside of my fridge. Most of the ingredients are common pantry and fridge fodder. And the sauce comes together in five minutes on the stovetop. Easy!
So that’s pretty much everything you need to know about these Chicken Tender Sliders. They’re fun, nostalgic, and tasty to boot. The perfect way to weekend.
Chicken Tender Sliders with Sweet and Sour Slaw
- 1 Stand mixer
- 1 bread hook
- 2 Large Baking Sheets
- 1 kitchen scale
Mini Kaiser Rolls
- ¾ cup lukewarm water
- 1½ tsp dry active yeast
- 1½ tsp granulated sugar
- 1¼ tsp kosher salt
- 2 large eggs divided
- 3 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter softened, cut into cubes
- 2 tbsp sesame seeds for sprinkling
Pita Chip Chicken Tenders
- 1 cup Greek yogurt
- 1 clove garlic minced
- 1 tbsp hot sauce
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 454g (1lb) chicken tenders
- 227g (8oz) pita chips
- 2 tbsp olive oil
Sweet and Sour Slaw
- 454g (1lb) bag coleslaw mix
- ⅔ cup pineapple juice
- ⅓ cup rice vinegar
- 3 tbsp ketchup
- 1 tbsp granulated sugar
- 1 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 dill pickles sliced
- ¼ pineapple thinly sliced
For the Buns
- Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water and let sit for 10 minutes or until foamy.¾ cup lukewarm water, 1½ tsp dry active yeast
- Pour the yeast mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Add the sugar, salt, and one of the eggs. Give everything a quick stir before adding 1 ½ cups of the flour.1½ tsp granulated sugar, 1¼ tsp kosher salt, 2 large eggs, 3 cups all-purpose flour
- Outfit the mixer with a dough hook and mix on low until a loose dough forms. Add the remaining flour in 1/2 cup increments, waiting for each addition to become fully integrated before adding more. Keep adding flour until the dough cleans the sides of the bowl and is slightly tacky to the touch. You might not need to use all the flour. **3 cups all-purpose flour
- Add the butter to the mixing bowl a couple of cubes at a time. Mix until the butter is fully integrated before adding more.2 tbsp unsalted butter
- Once all the butter is in, transfer the dough to a lightly floured surface and knead it for 5-7 minutes or until the dough is smooth, elastic, and silky to the touch. Transfer the dough to an oiled bowl, cover, and let rise for 1 ½ hours or until the dough has doubled in size.
- Punch the dough down and form it into a series of small buns, weighing about 30g each. Transfer the buns to a large baking sheet lined with a silicone mat. Make sure there is 2" of space on all sides of each bun. You may need to use two baking sheets for this.
- Cover the buns with a tea towel and let rise for an hour. When there is about 30 minutes of rising time left start preheating the oven to 425°F.
- Crack the remaining egg into a bowl and beat it well with a fork. Brush the egg on top of each bun and sprinkle with the sesame seeds. Bake the buns for 20-25 minutes or until golden. Transfer the buns to a cooling rack and let cool completely.2 large eggs, 2 tbsp sesame seeds
For the Chicken Tenders
- In a large bowl, whisk to combine the yogurt, hot sauce, garlic, honey, mustard, and salt. Add the chicken and toss to coat. Cover and transfer to the fridge. Let marinate for a minimum of 2 hours.1 cup Greek yogurt, 1 clove garlic, 1 tbsp hot sauce, 1 tbsp Dijon mustard, 1 tbsp honey, 1 tsp kosher salt, 454g (1lb) chicken tenders
- Using a food processor or a ziplock bag and a rolling pin, reduce the pita chips to crumbs. Pour them into a wide shallow vessel, like a pie plate, and set them aside.227g (8oz) pita chips
- When the chicken has about 30 minutes remaining in its marinating time, preheat the oven to 400°F.
- Working a tender at a time, roll the chicken in the pita chips and place them on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Drizzle the olive oil evenly over the chicken and sprinkle them with salt. Transfer the chicken to the oven and bake for 25 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through.2 tbsp olive oil
For the Slaw
- While the chicken is marinating and the buns are on their second rise, make the sweet and sour sauce. In a small saucepan, whisk to combine the pineapple juice, rice vinegar, ketchup, sugar, and soy sauce. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer.⅔ cup pineapple juice, ⅓ cup rice vinegar, 3 tbsp ketchup, 1 tbsp granulated sugar, 1 tbsp soy sauce
- In a small bowl, whisk to combine the water and the cornstarch. When the pineapple mixture reaches a rapid simmer, whisk in the cornstarch mixture. Continue to stir until the sauce thickens and becomes glossy. Transfer the sauce to a heatproof jar and set aside to cool completely.1 tbsp cornstarch, 1 tbsp water
- When you're nearly ready to serve, place the coleslaw mix into a large bowl and pour half of the sauce over top. Toss to coat.454g (1lb) bag coleslaw mix
- Split the kaiser buns and place two slices of pickle and pineapple on top of each bottom bun. Place the chicken tender on top and add roughly a tablespoon of the slaw. Place the top buns on top. Serve immediately with the remaining sweet and sour sauce on the side for dipping.2 dill pickles, ¼ pineapple