Best Ever Copycat Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenders

Enjoy one of Cracker Barrel’s most popular menu items with our version of their grilled chicken tenders recipe. Cracker Barrel is known for making delicious home-cooked food. Your family will love these chicken tenders on the first bite. You are going to love this easy copycat recipe for Cracker Barrel Chicken Tenders, it is simple to make and has very easy-to-find ingredients. You can get restaurant taste at home.

Overhead view of copycat Cracker Barrel grilled chicken tenders on a plate.

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What makes this chicken tenderloins recipe so good?

Who captures home cooking better than Cracker Barrel? To make this recipe all you need is some chicken tenderloins, Italian dressing, lime juice, a touch of honey, and a few minutes, and you can prepare a delicious homecooked dinner in no time at all. You will not need to hunt down these simple ingredients in your grocery store.

Why You Should Try This Recipe for Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenders

This recipe is tried and true. Sure there are a lot of copycat Cracker Barrel recipes out there, but this recipe has been around for over 20 years, and literally, thousands of people have made this recipe. I think this recipe is very versatile, you can use this as a main dish just as they are, and you can also use these grilled tenderloin pieces in your favorite salad. Take one bite, and I know this will become a favorite dish around your home.

Recipe Ingredients

This recipe is made with a simple 3-ingredient marinade.

  • Chicken Tenders
  • Honey
  • Italian Dressing
  • Fresh Lime Juice
Copycat Cracker Barrel grilled chicken tenders ingredients on a marble surface.

How to Make Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenders

This recipe is super easy to make. The marinade is easy and well-balanced for chicken.

  1. Mix dressing, lime juice, and honey together.
  2. Pour the marinade over the chicken tenders, making sure all tenders are covered. (Want to do this step ahead of time? Pour the marinade and chicken tenderloins into a ziplock bag and toss this bag in the fridge for a few hours.)
  3. Cover the chicken and place it in the fridge to marinate for 1 hour.
Collage of making marinade and marinating chicken tenders for copycat Cracker Barrel grilled tenders.
  1. Discard marinade after the tenders are ready to be cooked.
  2. Cook the tenders in a large skillet or grill in a grill pan until they are golden brown and done but not dry.
  3. Serve with lime wedges and fresh parsley if desired.
Collage of cooking copycat Cracker Barrel grilled chicken tenders.

Why is a Chicken Breast Isn’t the Same as a Chicken Tenderloin

A chicken tenderloin is that part of the muscle that runs along the inside of each chicken breast half and is closest to the bone. Because it’s not a working muscle, it’s more tender than the breast and cooks more quickly.

If a recipe calls for marinating your chicken tenders, you are marinating for flavor, not tenderness, because they are already extremely tender.

If you want to substitute chicken tenders for boneless, skinless breast halves, allow two or three tenders per serving, depending on their size.

For dishes that require you to pound the meat flat, tenders are easier to work with than breasts. Since chicken tenders are stickier than breast meat, coatings stick to them well. This makes tenders perfect for breading or wrapping with prosciutto.

Tips for How to Cook Chicken Tenderloins

  • Before proceeding with your recipe, cut off the small gristly white tendon that you will see protruding from the top end of the tenderloin.
  • Cook whole chicken tenders for approximately half the time as chicken breast halves.
  • Chicken tenders are more porous than chicken breasts, so over-marinating will cause them to take on too much liquid. If the marinade is salty (like many Asian marinades), don’t marinate for more than fifteen minutes or the salt will draw moisture out of the chicken.
  • For stir-fry recipes, cut the tenders into one-inch pieces rather than thin slices, so that the meat doesn’t dry out.
  • Add bite-size pieces (1 inch) of raw chicken tenders to soups close to the very end of cooking time. If you boil the tenders, they will toughen up. Gently simmer them until they are just cooked through – about three minutes.
  • If baking whole tenders of different sizes, place the smaller ones at the front of your baking sheet. This makes it easier to remove the smaller ones from the oven a minute or so earlier than the larger ones.

What You Can Serve With This Taste-alike Recipe

Of course, you may want to serve this with some green beans or carrots. I have more favorite recipes to share with you for possible side dishes: cooked cabbage, a huge garden salad or arugula salad, or even some seasoned rice.

Copycat Cracker Barrel grilled chicken tenders, a salad, and bread on a plate.

How to Store and Reheat

Allow the leftover chicken to cool to room temperature. Place them in an airtight container or plastic zip-top bag. Store them in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

For longer storage, place the chicken tenders on a baking sheet with room between them. Freeze them for 1 to 2 hours or until frozen solid. Transfer the frozen tenders to a plastic freezer bag or wrap them with a layer of plastic wrap and then a layer of aluminum foil. Freeze them for up to 3 months. Thaw them in the fridge overnight.

To reheat grilled chicken tenderloins, place them on a baking sheet and warm them in the oven at 375°F for 10 to 15 minutes or until heated through. You can also microwave them at 50% (medium) power for 1 to 2 minutes.

Copycat Cracker Barrel grilled chicken tenders and a salad on a plate.

Love Cracker Barrel? Try these copycat recipes

More Easy Chicken Recipes

Be sure to check out more copycat restaurant favorites and easy chicken recipes.

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Overhead view of copycat Cracker Barrel grilled chicken tenders on a plate.

Cracker Barrel Old Country Store Grilled Chicken Tenders

It’s easy to make these tasty Cracker Barrel chicken tenders at home with this copykat chicken tenderloin recipe.
4.90 from 37 votes
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Chicken Recipes, Cracker Barrel Recipes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 201kcal


  • 1 pound chicken breast tenders
  • 1/2 cup Italian Dressing
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon honey


  • Mix dressing, lime juice, and honey together. Pour over chicken tenders, making sure all tenders are covered; marinate for 1 hour. 
  • Discard marinade after the chicken tenders are ready to be cooked. Braise tenders in a non-stick pan or grill to lightly golden in color but not dry.



Calories: 201kcal | Carbohydrates: 3g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 423mg | Potassium: 444mg | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 35IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 9mg | Iron: 0.5mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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Reader Interactions


  1. Laura

    5 stars
    I found this recipe years ago, and I made it quite a bit when my kids were younger (12 and 15 now). I never had lime juice, so I used orange. It was really good, but never quite the same as Cracker Barrell.
    I just made it for the first time in years, and I did use lime juice. I made 1.6 pounds of chicken. It was exactly like Cracker Barrel and so extra delicious! My 15yo told me that he remembers I used to make it a lot and that this time was way better. I dont think my 12yo remembered it, but he was freaking out all through dinner because it was so great.
    I made 4 sides to go with them, and we still managed to eat all of the chicken besides 2 little tenders! They just kept going back for more! Total win. So easy. Definitely need to make these a lot more often!! <3 Thank you SO MUCH!!

  2. Cindy.

    These are really delicious with Olive Garden Italian dressing. Also, if you flatten your chicken tenders a little they’re better.

    This is a very easy recipe that my family loves, never any leftovers!

  3. sandra mcpherson

    I worked for C.B. and I have made all of their recipes. All you need is chicken and italian dressing. Cover the tenders with the italian dressing, place in a covered container and merinade overnight. It is that easy.

  4. GB

    4 stars
    the video and written recipe is different? in the video you say one half of a 16 ounce bottle – that 8 oz/1 cup – not 1/2 cup? as to the honey, in the video you say 1 tablespoon but the written recipe says 1.5 teaspoon; and same with lime, 1 tsp vs a whole lime?
    new cook – so I’m confused! but will try anyway.
    thank you – as I LOVE CB’s grilled chicken tenders! yum …

  5. Candice - the non-cook

    Please provide a brand of Italian Dressing – I’m assuming you mean the “clearish” version.

  6. Dianne Champagne

    My daughter~in~law said this is very good. I can’t wait to try it for young guests next week!

  7. Ann

    Hi Stephanie,
    Cracker Barrel had for a short time fried chicken tenders with a delicious honey pepper dipping sauce, it was so good…but they no longer have it on the menu. Have you by any chance eaten it and know how it
    was made. It was sweet & sour tasting with a bit of heat from the pepper. Thanking you in advance for
    your help. I so enjoy the recipes you share with all of us. As of now I have not been disappointed in a
    single recipe that I have tried. Keep up the delicious work.

    • SouthernGirl55

      I am also looking for the honey/black pepper dipping sauce. I had it with the buttermilk fried chicken. It was a perfect blend. I noticed yesterday the buttermilk chicken is back but not the sauce. I would love to have the recipe!

  8. fantasy01

    At my age I have used a number of stoves. The problem I have with recipes is that they will tell you to cook at medium or medium hight heat yet I have never seen a stove with those particular settings.

    • stephaniemanley

      I have seen some really old cookbooks, and perhaps stoves that specified the heat for the stove top portion.

  9. fantasy01

    You didn’t mention what the internal temp has to be for chicken which should be 160 – 165 F. I know you can remove it from the hear source at 155 F as it will continue to cook as it rests .

    • stephaniemanley

      Great point. I will see what I can do to mention in the recipe what temperature to cook the chicken too. I appreciate your comments!

  10. Meg B.

    Going to try this tonight. I have never seen a recipe where u drained the seasoning from dressing so I made my own dressing and just didn’t add the seasonings. We’ll see how it turns out…..

  11. Sara Wright

    Hello, I just made the Cracker Barrel chicken and it is GREAT! I am going to try a little more honey next time but other than that it was right on! I think this is going to be a family favorite! Thank you so much for this recipie and for all of the others. I can’t wait to try more! I have told everyone about your site! THANKS AGAIN!

  12. JJ

    I LOVE LOVE LOVE their Grilled Chicken Tenderloin Sandwich- I will make these and recreate the sandwich from memory. We have no CB in CA, so I miss it!

  13. sunnidayrain

    I didnt have time to marinate so I just put all the ingredients in the pan and sauteed it with it and it turned out awesome!! Put green chilies and montrey jack cheese on it for their green chili chicken made with these strips! Yummmy!

  14. SELENE


  15. Sarah M. White

    My hubby and I made this today and it is GREAT! The only things we did differently then the recipie says is…We used lemon juice instead of lime (but we plan to buy some lime and try it next time). And we did NOT drain the Italian dressing. The kids loved it too!!

4.90 from 37 votes (28 ratings without comment)

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