If you are not a professional butcher or an experienced cook that has cut up a whole chicken many times, you may not even know that tenderloin is a muscle located behind the breast and is the most delicate part of the chicken.
But what is the difference between chicken breast and tenderloin? The first obvious difference between chicken breast and tenderloin is the size. Tenderloins are almost twice as small as the chicken breasts. They also differ in shape, tenderloin being narrow and slim. Tenderloin is also slightly higher in protein and calories.
We have taken a deep dive into chicken breast and tenderloin to see what makes these two chicken parts similar and different at the same time.
Chicken Tenderloin Vs Chicken Breast
The basic and not-so-basic information you need to know.
What Is Chicken Tenderloin?
Chicken tenderloins, otherwise known as chicken tenders, are parts of the chicken located underside of the breast. Thus, every chicken has two tenderloins.
As tenderloins are quite small, they are very easy to miss. In fact, if you are new at cooking, you may not even know that there is such part of a chicken.
Tenderloins are hidden behind the breasts. You can see them only when the bone is separated from the breast. Chicken tenderloins are two small muscles called pectoralis minor.
What Is Chicken Breast?
Chicken breast is a well-loved ingredient due to its versatility and nutritious value. Being a rich source of protein, it is especially popular among athletes.
Boneless chicken breast is the least affordable part of the chicken. It can be cooked in a plethora of ways, from grilling to frying, and from boiling to baking in the oven.
There are multiple reasons why you should eat chicken breast.
Firstly, it is low-fat, which makes it perfect for those who are struggling to control their weight.
Secondly, aside from being an irreplaceable source of protein, chicken breast also serves as a source for vitamins (D, B-6) and minerals, such as zinc, calcium, magnesium, and potassium.
Chicken breast also contains cobalamin, an essential vitamin that contributes to the formation of red blood cells.
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The Difference Between Chicken Breast and Tenderloin
If you are making a dish where you need uniform chicken pieces, you can easily cut the chicken breasts in strips to make them the same size and shape as tenderloins.
Because of its location, chicken tenderloin is much more tender. It is a minor muscle hidden behind pectoralis major, the bigger breast muscle, and is rarely used.
Thus, while it is easier to dry out chicken breast, it is much easier to ruin delicate chicken tenders. While both chicken breast and tenderloins are easy to cook, tenders need a little more love when being cooked.
As far as the taste goes, chicken tenderloins taste the same as chicken breast.
One factor that makes chicken tenderloin ‘special’ is the price at which it is sold in supermarkets. Chicken tenders are more expensive than chicken breasts.
However, it is recommended to buy a whole chicken breast rather than separate tenderloins. Some ‘chicken tenders’ you may find in stores are simply breasts cut into long and narrow pieces.
Chicken Breast Vs Tenderloin: Nutrition Facts
Many people consider chicken tenderloins to be one with the breast. Thus, they assume that tenderloins have the same nutritional value as chicken breast.
However, tenderloins do differ in the calorie count and the number of other nutrients.
Chicken tenders are considered to be the highest-calorie part of the chicken. If you are on a diet trying to lose weight, it is better to add more chicken breast to your daily menu rather than tenderloins.
Tenderloin is also higher in sodium. Excess sodium may lead to blood pressure increase and other health problems. If you are experiencing any issues with your heart, kidney, or blood pressure, choose chicken breast over chicken tenderloin.
Overall, the chicken breast is more nutritious. However, if you want to try the most tender chicken meat, then tenderloin is the ultimate candidate.
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Can You Substitute Chicken Tenderloins for Breasts?
Tenderloins are smaller in size than chicken breasts. This means that they take less time to marinate and cook.
You are free to substitute chicken tenderloins for chicken breast but make sure to pay attention to marinating and cooking time.
How to Remove Tenderloins from Chicken Breast?
Tenderloin is a very delicious white piece of meat that certainly needs attention. Some people miss it when cutting up a chicken as it is in a quite hidden place.
To remove tenderloin from the chicken breast, you need to put the breast on the cutting board so that you see the tenderloin running across the breastbone.
Tenderloin is attached to the breast by a tendon.
To remove the tenderloin, you need to make a cut across the breastbone and cut off the tendon. After making these cuts, you will be able to easily separate chicken tenderloin from the breast.
The Healthiest Ways to Cook Chicken Breast and Tenderloin
Chicken tenderloins are lean pieces of white meat that are very versatile when it comes to cooking methods. However, as simple as chicken is, it is fairly easy to mess it up. It is a matter of second to dry out chicken breast or tenderloins.
So, how should you cook them to be both delicious and healthy?
How to Cook Healthy Chicken Tenderloin
Before you do anything to the chicken tenders, it is important to prepare them properly. As it is a very tender piece of meat, it is important to marinate it properly before cooking so that the moisture remains in the meat and does not get easily dried out.
To prepare chicken tenderloin marinate it with it in some lemon or lime juice and do not forget about the seasonings. For the marinate to soak well into the meat, make a few cuts on the tenderloin.
The healthiest ways of cooking chicken tenderloin are steaming, poaching, and baking in a parchment paper.
Steaming chicken tenderloin is the easiest way to keep the meat moist inside and not add unhealthy ingredients.
Poaching is another method of cooking chicken tenderloin without adding oil or any other ingredient that would add more calories. You simply need to put the meat into salted simmering water. The tender meat will not take too long to cook.
If you want a baked chicken tenderloin but don’t want to use any oil, then parchment paper it is.
Not only will the tenderloins cook beautifully on the parchment paper but you will also get a delicious sauce from the natural juices collected in the parchment bag.
How to Cook Healthy Chicken Breast
Chicken breast is a healthy ingredient and a good source of protein. In can be cooked in a variety of ways.
In fact, chicken breast is a blank canvas when it comes to cooking. You can make it bland or you can make it flavorful.
Chicken breast is a favorite meal for many health enthusiasts. However, you should keep in mind that it is only healthy when the skin is off, as the latter contains lots of fat.
The healthiest ways of cooking chicken breast are grilling and baking.
Grilling is a good way to cook chicken breasts without adding such unhealthy ingredients as oil or sauces. Nonetheless, the grilled chicken breast turns out very flavorful.
Just like tenderloins in the parchment bag, chicken in the oven is a healthy, easy, and quick way to cook chicken in its own juices. You can marinate the breasts before putting them in the oven to keep the meat tender and moist.
What Goes Well with Chicken Breast and Tenderloin?
As chicken breast and tenderloins taste exactly the same, you can pair the same side dishes with both pieces of chicken.
Some of the best options to serve as a side dish for chicken breast or tenderloin are:
- Mashed potatoes or a potato salad
- Green salad
- Grilled or roasted vegetables
What Is the Difference Between Chicken Strips and Chicken Tenderloin?
While chicken tenders are also called chicken strips, the latter may be used to refer to any part of chicken cut in the form of strips. Chicken breast is usually the most suitable part to make ‘chicken strips’.
Thus, the difference between chicken strips and tenderloins is that the latter is a specific muscle, located along the breastbone while the former is simply chicken meat cut in strips.