PREP: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C). Generously grease a large sheet pan with cooking spray. If available, add an oven-safe metal cooling rack on top of the sheet pan and generously grease that as well. (This is optional, but ensures more even baking/crispier chicken.) Prepare the chicken tenders: pat each tender very dry with a paper towel. Remove the tendons (cut them out with a sharp pairing knife).
BREADING: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once melted, add in panko and salt to taste. ( I add 1/4 teaspoon.) Stir constantly until lightly and evenly browned then transfer to a wide shallow dish.
BATTER: Add all the batter ingredients to a bowl and whisk until combined.
BREAD: Add chicken tenders to batter and generously coat, using all the mixture. Then press chicken pieces into the breading to generously coat. Add tenders, spaced apart, to the n sheet pan on top of cooling rack. Press any leftover crumbs on top of the chicken. Generously spray the side of the tenders facing you with cooking spray. (We'll spray the other side later.)
BAKE: Place entire sheet pan in the center of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and gently flip the tenders to the other side (careful to avoid losing the breading). Generously spray the side facing you with cooking spray and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until chicken registers 160 degrees F on a food thermometer (carryover heat will bring it up to 165 degrees F). Remove from the oven and taste test. Add a light sprinkle of salt on top of the tenders if needed to make the flavors come alive.
SAUCE: While the chicken bakes, melt the butter on the stovetop over medium heat. Once fully melted, add rest of sauce ingredients and whisk to combine until smooth. Season to taste with salt, I add 1/4 teaspoon. If you'd like the sauce to be sweeter, add additional brown sugar. Remove from heat.
ENJOY: Toss tenders in sauce (We like to coat half, eat, then coat the rest to keep things nice and crispy!) and enjoy dipped in ranch or blue cheese dressing. We love serving celery and carrot sticks on the side as well!
AIR FRYER INSTRUCTIONS: Set air fryer heat to 400 degrees F. Add the breaded tenders to the fryer basket in one even layer (you may need to do this in batches; don't overlap chicken).Cook for 5-8 minutes, flip the tenders, spray with cooking spray on the other side, and cook for another 5-8 minutes or until golden brown and cooked to 160 degrees F. (Carryover heat will take them to 165 degrees F.)