Allergy Free Chicken Tenders



I’ve often said “you can work without eggs if you have wheat, you can work without wheat if you have eggs, but what do you do if you can’t have either?”.  I spend my days finding ways to bake and cook without wheat (gluten) AND eggs.  (and also without dairy, soy, tree nuts, peanuts, fish, and shellfish, but that’s not really relevant here!).  I’ve gotten pretty adept at baking without these two mainstays of western baking, and actually delight in baking allergy-free, and vegan.  But what about breading for our favorite entree comfort foods?  Again, reliant on the wheat/egg duo of binding, and breading for the resultant crunchiness.  Well, many years ago, when I was writing my first cookbook, The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook, I discovered that I could make a “mock egg” for breading purposes, by emulsifying olive oil and rice milk.  It worked like a charm, and I’ve been doing it ever since.  Read on to find out how to make homemade allergy free, gluten-free chicken tenders, the ultimate in kid-friendly finger food.  Enjoy!

Allergy Free Chicken Tenders

Makes 4 Servings

A go-to-recipe that is always a favorite with my kids. I return to this one over and over again.

  • 1 lb chicken tenders
  • 1 ½ cups rice milk
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup cornstarch or tapioca starch
  • 3 Tablespoons rice milk
  • 6 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup Gluten-Free bread crumbs, w/ extra ½ cup as necessary
  • salt and pepper
  • 3 cups canola oil
  • 1 lemon


  1. Combine chicken tenders with 1 ½ cups rice milk and lemon juice, being sure tenders are completely submerged. Refrigerate for two hours.
  2. Pour out cornstarch onto a plate or wide shallow dish.
  3. Pour the 3 Tablespoons rice milk into a second wide shallow dish. Add the olive oil, 1 tablespoon at a time, whisking well after each addition, until creamy and beginning to thicken.
  4. Pour out breadcrumbs onto a third plate or wide shallow dish.  Add salt and pepper and toss well.
  5. Working quickly, remove a tender from the rice milk, roll in the cornstarch, turn in the rice milk/olive oil mixture, then coat with the bread crumbs.  Se on a clean plate or platter.
  6. Repeat with remaining tenders. You may have to wash your hands a couple times during this process if the starch clumps up on them.  Do the dipping assembly line style, with left hand for wet, right for dry.
  7. Heat canola oil in a medium-sized deep sauté pan, or dutch oven, over medium-high heat, until really hot, but not smoking. It should be rippling.  Drop a tiny piece of breading in to see if it sizzles.
  8. Cook tenders, in two or three batches, being sure not to overcrowd the pan, until deeply golden, about 3 minutes per side, 6-7 minutes total.  Remove from pan with tongs, and place on serving platter lined with paper towel.  Squeeze with a little lemon juice (and sprinkle with a little sea salt) Serve hot, with ketchup and fries! Yum!

Allergy-Free Chicken Tenders
© 2010 by Cybele Pascal

(Please note that all my recipes are completely free of all top allergens (wheat, dairy, soy, eggs, peanuts, tree nuts, sesame, fish, shellfish, and gluten), so as many people as possible can enjoy them. Additionally, all the ingredients are available at Whole Foods, and online at If you have trouble finding something, let me know and I’ll help you find it.)

SAFETY NOTE: Because each person’s food sensitivity and reaction is unique, ranging from mild intolerance to life-threatening and severe food allergies, it is up to the consumer to monitor ingredients and manufacturing conditions. If manufacturing conditions, potential cross contact between foods, and ingredient derivatives pose a risk for you, please re-read all food labels and call the manufacturer to confirm potential allergen concerns before consumption. Ingredients and manufacturing practices can change overnight and without warning.

For more allergy-friendly chicken recipes you might like, try:

Gluten Free Chicken and Rice Casserole from The Gluten-Free Homemaker

Zucchini Noodle Chicken Salad from Heart of Cooking

Dairy Free Chicken Pot Pie from Go Dairy Free

12 Responses

  1. Margie says:

    You read my mind! Just the other day, I was thinking of asking you for a egg substitute for breading. Thanks for coming to the rescue once again!

  2. What a great idea! As you said, it shouldn’t be hard to work gluten AND egg-free, I love baking gluten/dairy/egg-free and now you’ve shown me a great breading/crumbing idea I can share with the gluten-free customers I see everyday at Thankyou!

  3. Cybele says:

    Hi Margie. Happy I could oblige!


  4. Cybele says:

    Thanks, Ally. Hope it’s helpful to your customers.


  5. These look so simple…as if even I could make them work. I can’t wait to try them.

  6. Cybele says:

    Pat, i do hope you enjoy them!


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  10. Emir says:

    Annette, I understand elctaxy what you meant. Most of us who have children in the preschool grades have experienced this in one form or another. I have always tried for inclusion in the classroom, which I am sure you are very familiar with as a teacher. It is hard; sometimes the teacher gets it, sometimes they just need gentle prodding. I\’ve found that the easier I have made it for the teacher, ie writing the class letter myself with the approved list of snacks parents can send in, the better response I had. It will get easier, preschool is a very difficult time for parents who have children with food allergies because snacks are such an important part of their day. Keep me posted on your year and good luck!

  11. Jennie says:

    In addition to the allergens you eliminate, we cannot do yeast, so the GF bread crumbs are out. Could I substitute GF flour?

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