Chicken tenderloin strips, also known as chicken tenders, are strips of meat cut from the tenderloin portion of a chicken breast. Chicken tenderloins are a popular and versatile ingredient used in many chicken dishes and entrees. When grilled, chicken tenderloin strips can make for a lean, protein-packed meal. But how many calories are actually in grilled chicken tenderloin strips?
Calories in chicken tenderloin strips
The number of calories in grilled chicken tenderloin strips depends on the size and weight of the strips, as well as any coatings or seasonings added during cooking. Plain, uncooked chicken tenderloin strips contain the following calories per 100 grams (3.5 oz):
- Chicken tenderloin strips, boneless and skinless: 120 calories
So a 6 ounce serving of plain, boneless, skinless chicken tenderloin strips would contain about 210 calories before cooking. The calorie content increases slightly when the chicken is grilled:
- Grilled chicken tenderloin strips, boneless and skinless (6 oz): Approximately 230 calories
Chicken tenderloins are very lean, with nearly all of their calories coming from protein. There is very little fat in an uncooked chicken tenderloin.
Factors that affect calorie content
Several factors can affect the calorie content of grilled chicken tenderloin strips:
The bigger the portion of chicken strips, the more calories they will contain. A 3 ounce portion will have around 115 calories, while a 12 ounce portion can have over 460 calories.
With skin or without
Chicken tenderloins are typically boneless and skinless. But some recipes do leave the skin on while grilling, which significantly increases the fat and calorie content. Chicken skin contains about 3 times as many calories per ounce compared to lean chicken breast meat.
Grilling, baking, sauteing and broiling are lower calorie cooking methods for chicken tenderloins. Deep frying adds a significant amount of calories from the oil. Grilled chicken has slightly more calories than baked or boiled due to compounds formed during the grilling process.
Breading and coatings
Breadcrumbs, batter and seasoned flour coatings add extra calories to chicken strips from the carbohydrates and any oils used. Seasoned breadcrumb coatings can add 50-100 extra calories per serving.
Sauces and seasonings
The calories in sauces, marinades and seasoning blends applied to chicken strips before or after cooking should be accounted for. A 2 tablespoon serving of barbecue sauce can add 50-70 calories, for example.
Nutritional profile of grilled chicken tenderloin strips
A 6 ounce serving of grilled chicken tenderloin strips without skin contains approximately:
- 230 calories
- 48 g protein
- 3 g fat
- 0 g carbs
As a very lean source of protein, chicken tenderloins contain no carbohydrates. The only macronutrients they provide are protein and a small amount of fat.
Grilled chicken tenderloins are also an excellent source of the following micronutrients:
- Niacin – 43% DV
- Vitamin B6 – 40% DV
- Phosphorus – 30% DV
- Zinc – 25% DV
- Selenium – 24% DV
DV stands for the daily value, or the percentage of the recommended daily intake for each nutrient. So grilled chicken provides almost half of the recommended daily intake for niacin and vitamin B6.
Ways to reduce calories in grilled chicken strips
There are a few simple ways to reduce the calories in grilled chicken tenderloin strips:
Remove the skin
Chicken skin contains about 3 times more fat and calories than lean chicken breast. Removing the skin prior to cooking saves around 50-70 calories per serving.
Use healthier cooking methods
Opt for grilling, broiling, baking or poaching chicken instead of frying in oil. Brush strips lightly with oil instead of soaking to reduce total fat.
Avoid breading or batter
Breading and batter adds extra calories and carbs. Use seasoning blends or herbs to add flavor instead.
Limit high-calorie sauces
Use lighter sauces and dressings or limit the portion size of richer sauces to control calories.
Stick to reasonable portion sizes of 4-6 ounces of chicken per serving to keep calories in check.
Health benefits of grilled chicken tenderloin strips
Eating grilled chicken tenderloin strips offers the following health benefits:
High in protein
Chicken is an excellent source of lean protein. Protein promotes muscle growth and maintenance, keeps you feeling full, and helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
Low in fat
Chicken tenderloins are very low in fat when served without skin, making them healthier than many red meats and processed meats.
Provides B vitamins
Chicken contains high levels of metabolism-supporting B vitamins like niacin and vitamin B6.
A mineral that plays an important role in thyroid hormone metabolism and immune system function.
May support weight loss
As part of a reduced-calorie diet, grilled chicken can help promote safe weight loss due to its high protein and low fat content.
Quick answer summary
For a quick overview of how many calories are in grilled chicken tenderloin strips:
- A 6 ounce serving has about 230 calories
- Calories come mostly from protein, with minimal fat
- Grilled chicken provides B vitamins, selenium, and over 45g of protein
- Calories can be reduced by removing skin, limiting breading and sauces, and controlling portions
- Grilled chicken strips are a nutritious, lean protein source that promotes weight loss
How to grill chicken tenderloin strips
Here is a simple recipe and method for grilling juicy, flavorful chicken tenderloin strips:
- 1 lb chicken tenderloins, trimmed of excess fat
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp garlic powder
- 1 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- Cut chicken tenderloins lengthwise into 1-inch wide strips.
- In a bowl, combine olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt and pepper. Add chicken and toss to coat evenly.
- Heat grill or grill pan to medium-high heat. Oil grates lightly.
- Cook chicken strips for 3-5 minutes per side until browned and cooked through. Check for doneness by cutting into thickest part of strips.
- Serve chicken immediately, or use for meal prep throughout the week.
This simple spice rub adds tons of flavor. Grilling the tenderloins hot and fast ensures they stay juicy and tender. Store leftovers in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Comparison to other protein sources
Here’s how grilled chicken tenderloin strips compare calorie-wise to some other lean protein sources:
|Calories (6oz cooked)
|Chicken tenderloin strips
|Ground turkey (93% lean)
Chicken and pork tenderloin provide comparable calories and protein in a 6 ounce portion. Fish and seafood like salmon are higher in healthy fats, resulting in more calories. Ground poultry and vegetarian proteins like tofu are the lowest calorie options.
Air fryer chicken tenderloin strips
Chicken tenderloin strips can also be cooked in an air fryer. Air frying provides a crunchy texture and rich flavor using little to no oil. Here is a simple air fryer recipe:
- 1 lb chicken tenderloins
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tsp Cajun seasoning
- Cut tenderloins into 1-inch strips and pat dry.
- Toss chicken strips with olive oil and Cajun seasoning in a bowl until evenly coated.
- Cook at 400F for 8-10 minutes, flipping strips halfway.
- Serve immediately.
The hot air circulating in the air fryer crisps up the exterior of the chicken strips while keeping the inside moist. This gives a similar texture to fried chicken but is much lower in calories and fat.
Grilled chicken tenderloin meal ideas
Grilled chicken strips make the perfect addition to various meals and recipes. Here are some delicious ways to use grilled chicken tenderloin strips:
Dice grilled chicken and add it to salad greens, vegetables and your favorite dressing or vinaigrette for extra protein.
In wraps and sandwiches
Slice grilled chicken strips and combine with veggies, cheese, hummus or avocado for a nutritious wrap or sandwich filling.
In grain bowls
Pile grilled chicken over roasted vegetables, whole grains like quinoa or brown rice, and fresh greens for a balanced bowl.
In stir fries
Quickly sauté cut up chicken strips with your favorite stir fry vegetables and serve over rice noodles or brown rice.
Top homemade or store-bought pizza crusts with grilled chicken strips, vegetables and reduced-fat cheese for a high protein pizza.
In tacos or fajitas
Warm up grilled chicken strips and serve in tortillas with peppers, onions, tomatoes, avocado and salsa for flavorful tacos or fajitas.
On top of greens
Serve grilled chicken strips over a bed of your favorite salad greens or roasted vegetables for an easy, healthy dinner.
In pasta dishes
Toss grilled chicken strips with whole wheat pasta, pesto, sun-dried tomatoes, bell peppers and Parmesan cheese for extra protein.
Grilled chicken tenderloin strips are an incredibly versatile, lean protein that can be incorporated into all types of healthy recipes and menus. A 6 ounce serving of grilled chicken strips contains about 230 calories, packed mostly with protein, B vitamins and other important nutrients. Choosing boneless, skinless strips and grilling, baking or air frying them results in an extra lean protein option. Grilled chicken strips make an excellent high protein addition to salads, sandwiches, grain bowls, pizzas, pastas and more.