How much does an average chicken tenderloin weigh?

The average weight of a chicken tenderloin can vary depending on a few factors, but typically ranges from around 1-3 ounces per tenderloin. Chicken tenderloins are cut from the pectoralis minor muscle on the chicken breast. This is a tender, mild white meat that is easy to cook quickly and serve as finger food.

Quick Answer

On average, a single chicken tenderloin weighs approximately 1.5-2 ounces. So for an order of 4 chicken tenderloins at a restaurant, you can expect around 6-8 ounces total. The exact weight can vary based on the size and breed of the chicken.

Average Chicken Tenderloin Weight

To estimate the average weight of a chicken tenderloin, we need to look at the data on the typical size range:

  • Small chicken tenderloins: 1-1.5 oz
  • Medium chicken tenderloins: 1.5-2 oz
  • Large chicken tenderloins: 2-3 oz

Based on this range, most chicken tenderloins fall in the medium 1.5-2 oz size. So if you take the midpoint of medium tenderloins, the average is around 1.75 ounces per tenderloin.

This estimated average matches up well with basic data on chicken weights. According to the USDA, the average weight of a broiler chicken (for meat) is around 6 pounds. For a 6-pound whole chicken, the breast meat is around 1.5 pounds total. If we assume 2-3 tenderloins per breast, that puts the average tenderloin in the 1.5-2 ounce range.

So in summary, the typical weight of one chicken tenderloin ordered at a restaurant or prepared at home is approximately 1.5-2 ounces on average.

Range of Chicken Tenderloin Sizes

While 1.5-2 ounces is the average, chicken tenderloin weights can vary more broadly depending on a few factors:

  • Chicken size and breed – Chicken tenderloins from large chicken breeds and roasters can be upwards of 3 ounces. Tenderloins from smaller chickens like Cornish hens may be closer to 1 ounce.
  • Butchery – The precise location and portion of the breast meat impacts size. Experienced butchers can cut larger tenderloins.
  • Cooking method – Raw weights are greater than cooked. Fried or grilled tenderloins may lose 10-15% of raw weight.
  • Uniformity of cuts – Weights vary more when tenderloins are hand cut vs machine trimmed for uniformity.

So while the 1.5-2 ounce average is a good rule of thumb, don’t be surprised to see a range of tenderloin sizes from 1-3 ounces at grocery stores, butcher shops, and restaurants.

Typical Serving Size

What constitutes a single serving size of chicken tenderloins? Here are some general chicken tenderloin serving size guidelines:

  • 1 individual tenderloin (1.5-2oz) = snack or appetizer size
  • 2 tenderloins (~3-4oz) = single serving entree size
  • 3-4 tenderloins (~5-8oz) = typical restaurant entree order
  • 10-12 pieces or 30-40oz = order for family meal

These serving sizes vary based on individual appetite and the side dishes included in the meal. But in general, plan on 1-2 whole chicken tenderloins per person when preparing a tenderloin meal.

Chicken Tenderloin Weight vs Chicken Breast

How does the weight of chicken tenderloins compare to standard chicken breasts? On average:

  • Whole chicken breast: 6-8 oz
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breast: 4-6 oz
  • Chicken tenderloin: 1.5-2 oz

So a single chicken breast contains around 3-4 times the meat of an individual tenderloin. Chicken tenderloins are smaller cuts that allow for quicker cooking, easy dipping sauces, and lower calories in a single serving. But for recipes needing more meat per serving, chicken breasts may be a better option.

Chicken Tenderloin vs Tenderloin fillets

Chicken tenderloins are sometimes confused with tenderloin fillets or inner fillets – what are the differences?

  • Tenderloins: Cut from the pectoralis minor muscle of the breast
  • Fillets: Cut from the pectoralis major muscle of the breast

So tenderloins are the smaller, narrower pieces, while fillets make up the bulk of the chicken breast. Tenderloins are more tender, while fillets are leaner with a bit more chew.

Factors Affecting Chicken Tenderloin Weight

Why do some chicken tenderloins weigh more than others? Here are some of the main factors affecting the weight:

Chicken Type and Feed

The breed, diet, and lifestyle of the chicken impacts the size. Free-range chickens that get more exercise and enhanced feed can produce larger tenderloins. Broilers raised primarily for meat tend to be larger than egg-laying chickens.

Chicken Growth Duration

The longer a chicken can grow before processing, the larger the tenderloins. Chicken raised for fast food is slaughtered quite young. Premium chicken brands give the birds more time to reach maturity and full muscle development.

Butchery and Preparation

Hand butchery produces less uniformity in size compared to machine processing. Trimming away tendons and connective tissues also reduces weight compared to untouched tenderloins.

Cooking Method

The cooking method impacts final cooked weight. Frying in oil can add absorbed oil, increasing the overall size. Grilling, broiling, poaching, and other methods will reduce moisture, decreasing the weight.

Typical Weight Ranges

Here is a table summarizing the typical weight ranges for chicken tenderloins from various sources:

Tenderloin Size Typical Weight Range
Small 1-1.5 ounces
Medium 1.5-2 ounces
Large 2-3 ounces
Jumbo 3-4 ounces
Colossal 4+ ounces

This table gives a full range of expected tenderloin sizes. The medium 1.5-2 ounce size represents the average restaurant or grocery store tenderloin. Jumbo, colossal, and chicken strip sizes may come from premium chicken brands or very large roaster chickens.

Typical Weight for Recipe Planning

When planning recipes, here are some simple rules of thumb to estimate chicken tenderloin weights:

  • 2 tenderloins per serving
  • ~1 pound tenderloins = 6 medium tenderloins
  • ~1.5 pounds = 1 pound raw chicken breast

If your recipe calls for 1 pound of chicken breast, you can substitute around 15-18 medium tenderloins instead. These simple conversions make it easy to design recipes using chicken tenderloins.

Weight Control Methods

When trying to control the weight of chicken tenderloins, here are some methods used by poultry processors:

Selective Breeding

Chickens bred specifically for large tenderloin size. This allows naturally larger, faster growing breast muscles.

Growth Hormones

Feed can be supplemented with natural or synthetic hormones to boost muscle growth. This increases the overall meat yield.

Feed Management

Tailoring feed nutrition to include more protein and amino acids that specifically support muscle growth and development.

Harvesting Age

Growing the chickens to target harvest weights to maximize the tenderloin size at processing.


Advanced butcher machines perform optimal trimming and portioning to produce uniform, maximum weight tenderloins.

Average Weight in Recipes

When developing recipes, it helps to have a target tenderloin weight for planning serving sizes and nutrient info. Here are some common uses and assumed tenderloin weights:

Recipe Type Assumed Tenderloin Weight
Appetizers 1 oz
Snacks 1.5 oz
Sandwiches 2 oz
Entrees 2 oz
Salads 1.5 oz

This provides a general guideline when developing recipes for menus, cookbooks, or food product labels. The standard 1.5-2 ounce medium tenderloin weight works for most main dish recipes.

Weight Ranges for Meal Planning

When meal planning around chicken tenderloins for your family, use these recommended serving size ranges as a guideline:

  • Kids ages 2-6: 1-2 tenderloins
  • Older kids ages 7-12: 2-3 tenderloins
  • Teens and adults: 3-5 tenderloins

Factor in any side dishes and the overall appetite of your diners. But in general, plan around 2-4 whole tenderloins per person for a tenderloin-focused meal.

Comparing Chicken Tenderloin Sizes

To visually compare chicken tenderloin sizes, here is a simple table outlining the weight in ounces and relative size differences:

Tenderloin Size Weight (ounces) Relative Size*
Petite 1 S
Small 1.5 S
Medium 2 M
Large 2.5 M
Jumbo 3 L
Colossal 4 XL

*S = Small, M = Medium, L = Large, XL = Extra Large

This table gives a relative scale of how much bigger jumbo and colossal tenderloins are compared to the average medium 2 ounce size most people are familiar with.

Weight Conversions

When cooking with chicken tenderloins, these conversions can help in adapting recipes:

  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins = ~15 small tenderloins
  • 1 pound chicken breast = 12-15 ounces tenderloins
  • 10 chicken wings = 8-12 ounces tenderloins
  • 1 whole chicken = 0.5-1 pound tenderloins

Use these handy weight conversion ratios to substitute tenderloins for other chicken cuts when cooking.

Effect of Cooking on Weight

Raw chicken loses moisture and shrinks during cooking – this impacts the final cooked weight. Here is how much chicken tenderloins reduce:

  • Grilling: 10-15% loss
  • Poaching: 5-10% loss
  • Baking: 10-15% loss
  • Frying: 5-10% gain (from oil)

For food labeling, use the raw weight. But expect cooked serving sizes to be smaller than the raw amount. The cooking method greatly affects moisture loss and weight change.

Estimating Quantity to Purchase

It’s tricky to estimate how many pounds of chicken tenderloins to purchase for planned recipes or meals. Here are some tips for buying the right quantity:

  • Specify weight needed rather than package count
  • Assume 10-15 tenderloins per pound
  • Weigh a sample tenderloin to estimate batch size
  • Order 10-20% extra for losses

Let the unit weight guide your quantity needs rather than package size. And remember to account for losses during prep and cooking when purchasing.

Accuracy of Labels and Weights

When purchasing chicken tenderloins, check the accuracy of weight labels for proper pricing and meal planning:

  • Weigh 5-10 individual tenderloins
  • Calculate the average weight
  • Compare to labeled weight

Allow 5-10% leeway for normal weight fluctuations. But if average weights are consistently and significantly lower than the labeled weight, choose another brand for accuracy.


The typical chicken tenderloin averages around 1.5-2 ounces in weight. However, many factors can cause the weight to range from 1 ounce on the small side up to 4 ounces for extremely large tenderloins. The chicken’s breed, diet, butcher technique, and cooking method all impact final weight. While tenderloin weight varies, you can use the 1.5-2 ounce medium size as a general rule of thumb for recipe planning and meal serving estimates. Weighing sample tenderloins and using weight conversions can help in adjusting recipes and purchasing the proper tenderloin quantity.

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