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Tangy Brown Sugar Chicken Tenderloins

Chicken is a staple in our household. It's such a versatile meat. We love it all- tenderloins, legs, thighs- you name it. One of my favorite cuts, however, is chicken breast tenderloins. You can do almost anything with them, and they cook quickly, which makes them ideal for quick and easy dinners.

I love using brown sugar in marinades. When paired with a saltier component, the depth of flavor is amazing. A little bit of lemon juice gives it just the right kick to balance it all out. You could alter the dry spices to suit your preferences, but the ones I chose are a requirement for most meals here in our house.

Minced garlic is another ingredient that shows up in almost everything we cook. Garlic is typically a love-it-or-hate-it flavor, though, so feel free to leave that out if you don't like it. You can use freshly minced garlic if you prefer, and about 2 cloves should equal the amount in the recipe.

What I love most about this recipe is that it only takes about five minutes of prep work. Once you've got the marinade put together, the chicken should soak for at least a couple of hours, but it can soak for up to 24 hours. This means you could prepare it in the morning to be ready to cook that night, or even mix it up the night before. It doesn't get much easier than that, right?!

Note: We are a family of 6, so we cook large portions. If you are a smaller family, please feel free to half this recipe.


So, what will you need?

  • Four pounds of chicken breast tenderloins

  • 1/4 cup of brown sugar

  • 1/4 cup of olive oil (I use the Pompeian mild, which is meant for higher heat cooking)

  • 1/4 cup Moore's marinade. This is similar to Dale's steak marinade.

  • 1 1/2 tablespoons of lemon juice, or the juice from half a lemon.

  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon of dried parsley

  • 1 teaspoon of paprika

  • 2 teaspoons of minced garlic

  • 1 tablespoon oil (optional-for cooking)

Chicken, garlic, lemon juice, and other ingredients.
The good stuff!

You will also need a zipper gallon bag to marinate the chicken in. You could also use a large bowl, but I feel like the zipper bag keeps the chicken coated in the marinade better. Plus, it makes cleanup a cinch. Who doesn't like a fast cleanup?

Steps to making it:

A zipper bag with marinade in it.
Ingredients in the bag.

Open your zipper bag and add all the ingredients except the chicken. Yes, it really is this easy. Simply put all the marinade ingredients into the bag, then close the bag and gently squeeze it to mix all the ingredients and dissolve the brown sugar. Open the bag, put in the chicken, then close the bag and seal it tightly. Carefully rotate the bag and ensure all the chicken is coated in the marinade. That's it. Place the bag in the refrigerator to sit till you're ready to cook.

A zipper bag full of marinating chicken.
Chicken ready to marinate.

This doesn't take long to cook. Ours took about 20 minutes, and I did it in two batches. You'll want to make sure whatever sides you'll be making will be done at the same time. I cook this in a large, open jumbo cooker skillet. Any open skillet should work fine. If you will be making the full recipe and cooking your chicken in two batches, I recommend pre-heating your oven to its lowest setting (ours is 170 degrees) and having a dish ready to keep your first batch warm while the second cooks.

Chicken cooking in a skillet.
Mmm... yummy goodness at work!

I use ceramic nonstick cookware, so I don't need to add any additional oil to the pan. The oil from the marinade is plenty for this cookware. If you would like to add a tablespoon of oil to your pan, do so now, then warm the skillet over medium-high heat. Once the oil is heated, add your chicken in a single layer to ensure even cooking.

Sear the chicken for about four minutes, then flip it with tongs. Sear the other side for another four minutes and check for doneness. The chicken should feel firm when pressed on with the tongs or a fork. If you're worried, simply cut into one. When it's done, remove the chicken from the skillet and place it in the warming pan in the oven. Follow the same steps to cook your next batch.

See? Quick and easy, like I promised. You now have a juicy, tender, and flavorful main course, without spending an hour standing over a hot stove. Who really enjoys that in July?

A platter of cooked chicken tenderloins.
Can't you just taste it?

What pairs well with these?

We served these with sweet corn, garlic butter orzo pasta, butter beans, and dinner rolls. Chicken is so versatile, though, you could really serve it with any sides and be fine. Some of our family's favorites are:

  • green beans

  • sweet peas

  • baby carrots- raw or steamed

  • Caesar salad

  • coleslaw

  • any pasta dish

  • rice

  • mashed potatoes and gravy

  • squash casserole

With four kids and a full schedule, we are always looking for ways to put a nutritious meal on the table without slaving in the kitchen all day. This is one recipe that fits the bill perfectly. It was a huge hit with our kids, and when all four agree on a food, it's a win and goes into the regular rotation.

A final thought: We don't count calories, so I don't have a breakdown of this recipe's nutritional content. I'm sure you could run it through an online nutrition website to get an idea, though.


Did you try this chicken? What do you think? Please let me know! If you change up the spices, I'd love to hear about it so we can give your ideas a shot, too!

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