For The Best Copycat Chili's Crispers, Use Tenderloin, Not Chicken Breast

Chicken tenders are pretty ubiquitous fare these days, everywhere from childcare centers to sports venues. But Mashed recipe developer Angela Latimer feels that Chili's does do a pretty outstanding job with this dish. She refers to these "crispers," as they're called, as "delightfully crispy on the outside and super juicy and tender on the inside."

Latimer has come up with a homemade version that she feels is a close approximation of the tenders — er, crispers — dished up at the chain restaurant (the plain ones, that is, not the Nashville hot or honey-chipotle variants). The key to a successful copycat Chili's chicken crisper, in Latimer's opinion, is to make them using chicken tenderloins, which she calls "a big plus." Of course, we're not talking about the frozen chicken tenders that come pre-breaded, but rather the naked ones that are cut from the underside of a chicken breast. If you've never worked with these before, they do require a bit of prep in that you'll probably need to remove the "string" (this is the tendon that attaches them to the breast), but you can easily pull these off using a fork.

If you can't find tenders, though, you needn't pass up this recipe

As chicken tenders may sometimes be in short supply (only two small ones per bird and you need way more than a chicken's worth to make up a package of them), it;'s always possible you won't be able to find them where you shop, or at least not at a price you're willing to pay. In that case, you can always make mock tenders by pounding a chicken breast with a mallet, then cutting the flattened meat into strips about ½ inch thick. Because the breast meat has been tenderized by the pounding it's taken, it shouldn't be any tougher than a true tender.

Of course, you can go even further afield with these chicken crispers and make them using thin-sliced boneless, skinless thighs if you prefer the flavor of dark meat to light. Yet another option is to use a plant-based substitute such as Beyond Meat chicken tenders for a vegan version. In neither case will your chicken (or "chicken") crispers be identical to the Chili's version, but the beauty of making a homemade version of a restaurant dish is that it gives you the leeway to change things up to better suit your preferences.