Chicken Tenderloin vs Breast: What Is The Difference?

Chicken Tenderloin Vs Breast

You have most probably heard about chicken breast. However, have you heard about chicken tenderloin? You might not know it but that is correct — there’s a thing called chicken tenderloin.

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LodgeLodge Cast Iron Grill Pan, Square, 10.5 InchCheck Price on Amazon
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Whether this is the first time you heard about chicken tenderloin or you simply want to learn more, this is the right place for you.

In this post, let us go through the difference between chicken tenderloin and breast. It’s time to know the real deal about the chicken tenderloin vs breast debate and discover how you can bring your culinary skills to a whole new level!

Chicken Tenderloin Vs Chicken Breast

Chicken Tenderloin Vs Breast

The Main Difference Between Chicken Tenderloin And Breast

The chicken tenderloin and breast differ from each other based on the following:


Chicken breasts are bigger than chicken tenderloin. Looking at their sizes, chicken breasts are about twice as big as the chicken tenderloin. 


A chicken tenderloin is narrower and slimmer compared to chicken breasts. Moreover, it is worth noting that chicken breasts are tougher to chew compared to tenderloins.


The tenderloin of a chicken is packed with more protein. However, the breast comes with more vitamins.


Between the two, chicken tenderloin is more expensive. One reason is that tenderloin is more difficult to cut from chicken. Furthermore, there’s a greater supply of chicken breasts. With more supply, the price is lower.

These are just the main differences between whole chicken breast and tenderloin. Now, let’s go deeper and discuss each of them.

Similarities Of Chicken Tenderloin And Breast

The main similarity between tenderloin and breast is that they are both made of muscles. They are a good source of protein and help people to stay healthy.

Moreover, because tenderloin and breast are almost the same in structure, they can be used interchangeably. Of course, there are a few modifications you need to do if you’re going to replace one for the other.

Chicken Breast

What Is Chicken Breast?

When you say breast in chicken, it refers to the cut of meat from the pectoral muscle, which is found on its underside. The chicken breast is lean and is a good source of protein. It comes with little to no fat.

In the market, the chicken breast is divided into two halves, which are then sold as individual cuts of meat. Because it is lean, big, boneless, and rich in protein, the chicken breast is more expensive compared to other cuts of chicken such as the wings, drumsticks, and thighs.

Nutrition Facts Of Chicken Breast

Chicken breast is nutritious and a good choice to support a healthy lifestyle. Here are some of the things you might want to know about this specific cut of chicken.


If you are going to remove the skin from the chicken breast, you’re looking at a slice of meat cut with a tiny amount of fat. Fat can be as small as less than 3 grams. 


Chicken breasts come with no starch or sugar. So, it should not have any carbohydrates. Even the glycemic load of chicken breast is believed to be zero. 

Of course, if you cook your chicken breast with other ingredients such as seasonings and breading, then that would add carbs to your food.

Minerals and vitamins

The chicken breast is not just rich in protein, but it also comes with vitamins and minerals. These include the following:

  • Phosphorus
  • Niacin
  • Vitamin B6
  • Selenium

How Is Chicken Breast Cooked?

The chicken breast is quite versatile in how it is cooked. You can do almost anything with it, whatever the recipe calls for. For example, you can fry, grill, bake, boil, and barbecue.


If you look into recipe books and the Internet, there are a lot of ways for you to cook chicken breasts. Here are some of the best ones

  • Honey chicken stir-fry
  • Puff pastry chicken pot pie
  • Chicken piccata
  • Chicken burrito skillet
  • Barbecued chicken salad sandwiches
  • Cheesy chicken parmigiana
  • Rosemary lime chicken
  • Baked chimichangas
  • Breaded ranch chicken
  • Mongolian chicken
  • Chicken fillets

How to prepare chicken breast

Chicken meat, in general, is bland and does not taste much if it is only served by itself. This gives you a great opportunity to be creative.

Chicken breasts are like a blank canvas that you can cook any way you want.

If you’re trying to cook fried and breaded chicken breast, remember that it can easily get soaked with a lot of oil and of course, fat. So, it’s not a healthy choice.

As an alternative, you can choose to grill, steam, or bake your chicken.

Just remember that cooking your chicken breast for too long can make your meat dry and boring. So, pay close attention to your chicken breast when baking or grilling. Cook it in such a way that its juiciness is still present.

Chicken Tenderloin

What Is Chicken Tenderloin?

The chicken tenderloin is a specific part of the chicken breast. It is attached to the breast bone through a tendon. 

You can easily separate the tenderloin from the breast once you cut the tendon. Even if the tenderloin is separated from the breast, it still retains its shape.

What is chicken tender?

Now, you might have heard about the chicken tender and you wonder, “Is it different from the chicken tenderloin?”

The answer is yes. 

The tender can be a tenderloin, but it can also be any part of the chicken breast. By the way, it is considered white meat.

So, the main difference is that the tenderloin is a specific cut of meat from the chicken breast, but the tender can be any cut of meat from the chicken breast.

Buying from supermarkets

When you go to the supermarket and find chicken meat with the label, chicken tenders, don’t automatically think it is the tenderloin. 

Yes, it can be. However, check the shape and size. This should confirm whether it is tenderloin or simply just chicken tenders.

Why Is A Tenderloin Called Tenderloin?

Generally speaking, “loin” is a term used to refer to muscles that run along the backbone of an animal. However, the tenderloin is justifiably called a loin because the term loin can also refer to the cut of meat found in the breast bone’s lowest part.

On the other hand, the term tender, when used in relation to meat, means soft and easy to chew and cut.

However, is tenderloin really tender? The answer is yes. The reason is that the tenderloin is a type of muscle that is rarely used by the chicken. Because it is buried deep down the breast, it is not a muscle that is as developed as others.

With this in mind, we can see why tenderloin is called the tenderloin.

How to cook chicken tenderloin?

As for the chicken breast, there are different ways to cook the chicken tenderloin. It can be boiled, fried, and toasted.

To give you an idea, here are some of the best chicken tenderloin recipes:

  • Pan-seared chicken tenderloin
  • Baked chicken tenderloin
  • Garlic butter chicken tenderloin
  • Oven-fried chicken tenderloin
  • Crispy fried chicken tenderloin
  • Buttermilk fried chicken tenderloin
  • Naked chicken tenderloin
  • Grilled chicken tenderloin
  • Marinated baked chicken tenderloin
  • Honey garlic chicken tenderloin
  • crispy chicken strips

As you can see, there are so many ways to cook chicken tenderloin. Simply see what the possibilities are and you should find the right recipe for you.

How to prepare the chicken tenderloin

The most common way of preparing chicken tenderloin is through marinating.

To marinate, you can add lemon juice, olive oil, rosemary, and other seasonings that you prefer. Rub your marinating solution on the tenderloins and then place them into the marinade. Leave for 30 minutes to one hour.

When marinating, don’t add too much salt or pre-packaged and commercialized sauces. This may dramatically increase the sodium and calorie content of your cooked food. Of course, this would also add more flavor. You just have to weigh the pros and cons of adding other ingredients.

Baking And Steaming

Again, the healthier way to cook your tenderloin is through baking or steaming. When you bake, you don’t use unnecessary cooking oil. Steaming can also prevent moisture from leaking out from your meat, leading to a juicier result.

You will also observe that when you steam or bake, flavorful juices would come out from the meat. You can harvest those juices and use them in your chicken stock or turn them into a tasty gravy.

Health Benefits Of Chicken Tenderloin And Breast

While we have already mentioned the nutritional value of both chicken tenderloins and breasts, we want to give you a deeper look at their benefits to your health.

Muscle Development

Chicken meat is known as a great source of protein. To make things even more appealing, chicken tenderloins and breasts come with little to no fat. This means that you get maximum protein to help you build muscles and strengthen your body.

Weight Loss

If you are trying to lose weight, you can use protein as a way to replace carbohydrates. Protein would even help you feel full for a longer time and thus, reducing your cravings for food and suppressing overeating.

Bone Strengthening

Proteins are known to indirectly strengthen the bone. In your body’s musculoskeletal system, both the muscles and bones work together to give the body its form and the ability to move.

With stronger muscles, the bones could work better. Thus, people who have a good muscular system, reduce their risk of having broken bones.

With the high level of protein, chicken tenderloins and breasts could help strengthen your bones and reduce injuries.

Chicken Varieties

When you see chicken meat in the market, it is most likely you don’t know how it is produced and prepared. Not all chickens are made equal. There are chicken varieties you need to know as it will affect the quality of chicken tenderloin and breast that you choose.

Free-range Chickens

If you get your chicken breasts and tenderloins from free-range chickens, you’ll get much healthier food. Free-range chickens are known to be healthy because they are allowed to roam outside of their cage. 

They are not simply in the cage all day. They get the necessary exercise to improve their meat quality.

Natural Or Organic Chickens

This term may sound weird, but natural chickens simply mean that they underwent minimal processing. They also didn’t receive any artificial ingredients or alterations.

No Hormones

Because of commercialization, some chicken farms use hormones to make their chicken fatter and heavier. Not only that but hormones are also used to hasten the growth process of chicken.

As much as possible, choose chickens that are not hormonally treated or altered.

Safety Tips

When it comes to cooking chicken breasts and tenderloins, be sure to follow safety guidelines.

For example, you need to properly store raw chicken. If left in a dirty environment, raw chicken tenderloins and breasts can harbor harmful bacteria such as salmonella and campylobacter. These bacteria can cause diarrhea, headache, and even food poisoning.

You also need to cook your chicken meat to at least 165 degrees F. This heat level should be enough to kill bacteria.

Cleanliness and sanitation play a major role in keeping your chicken healthy, fresh, and safe to consume.

If you have cooked and uncooked chicken, you need to store them in the refrigerator. 

Using Chicken Tenderloin And Breast Interchangeably

The chicken meat is highly versatile. You can use it to cook a wide range of food. Not only that but any of its parts can be used interchangeably.

That’s why you can also use tenderloin and breast and substitute them with each other.

Nevertheless, there are a few things you need to consider if you choose to do so. Here are some of them:

  • Make sure you correctly identify which one is the tenderloin chicken strips and which one is the breast. While you may not be able to tell the difference in taste, some experienced chefs and food critics can still determine whether you have served tenderloin or breast.
  • Between the two, the breast is tougher than the tenderloin. You need to keep this in mind especially when marinating. Don’t think that you need the same amount of time to marinate tenderloins as you do with breasts. If you spend too much time marinating tenderloin, it can easily fall apart and become mushy.
  • Remember that tenderloins cook faster. If you’re used to cooking chicken breasts, you need to be conscious about how long you’re cooking the tenderloin.
  • If the recipe calls for tenderloins, but you only have chicken breasts, you can use a meat tenderizer to achieve the same softness of the tenderloins. Just make sure to use the tenderizer gently and don’t overdo the pounding.

Cooking Tools For Chicken Tenderloin And Breasts

Yes, you can cook with the most primitive tools. However, if you wish to make cooking tenderloin and breasts a lot easier, then you will definitely be glad to have the following cookware.

Lodge Cast Iron Grill Pan

Cooking chicken tenderloin and breast is made easy with this grill pan by Lodge. As you can imagine, one of the best ways to cook chicken tenderloin and breast is through baking and grilling, which this grill is designed to do.

Since this grill pan is foundry seasoned, it is ready to use. The cooking pan is perfect for outdoor as well as indoor use. Whether you are cooking breasts or tenderloins in your home or in a camp, this should serve you well.

If you are interested in this product, click on Amazon

Navaris Breading Tray

If you want to quickly and easily coat your chicken tenderloin or breast, you will love this breading tray. It is spacious and comes with three breading pans that interlock with each other.

Aside from breading food, this tray is perfect for marinating, roasting, heating, storing, and serving food. The tray is made with 100% stainless steel with no harmful or toxic materials.

Buy this product now on Amazon

Gotham Nonstick Fry Pan

This fry pan is slick, beautiful, and durable. This pan is not just for frying but also for boiling, simmering, and so much more.

Whether you are frying your chicken or boiling it for a delicious soup, you can use this nonstick fry pan. Aside from being nonstick, the pan is lightweight, dishwasher safe, and scratch-resistant.

To top it all up, this pan comes with a 10-year limited guarantee from its manufacturer.

If you want to buy this product, simply click on Amazon

Smith Chu Viking Knife

You might think that knives are all equal, but choosing a knife now can be complicated. With so many types of knives, you can easily get overwhelmed with the choices.

Thankfully, when it comes to cutting breasts and tenderloin, there’s a highly specialized knife for you — Smith Chu’s Viking knife.

This knife received a lot of great and positive reviews. It is made with high carbon and manganese steel. This knife is handmade by the skilled craftsmen of Japan.

Because of its special design, you can easily grip the knife, run the blade through the chicken meat, and carve out the perfect chicken breast and tenderloin.

You can purchase this product on Amazon

Lodge Dutch Oven (EC6D33)

A dutch oven is a great choice for a wide range of recipes. It’s deep enough to handle a lot of liquid and big enough to cook multiple chicken breasts and tenderloins.

When it comes to Lodge Dutch oven, it is made with cast iron but finished with porcelain enamel. The side handles are shaped like a loop for easy handling.

If you wish to cook, refrigerate, marinate, and serve chicken tenderloins and breasts, this Dutch oven can do all those things. You can also use this Dutch oven to boil, bake, braise, and roast your desired chicken cut. Simmer, saute, and fry — all these can be done on any stovetop, too.

If you want to buy this product, click on Amazon

Which One Should You Choose?

Now that you have a better idea of what chicken tenderloin and breast meat are, you should be more knowledgeable in choosing which is the right one for you.

In this case, there’s really no quick answer to which one is better, tenderloin or breast. The answer would always depend on your needs, preference, and of course, budget. 

Most importantly, try to consider the recipe you’re cooking. It should give you an idea of whether you should go for the chicken tenderloin or the chicken breast.

LodgeLodge 6 Quart Enameled Cast Iron Dutch Oven. Blue Enamel Dutch Oven (Blue)Check Price on Amazon
NavarisNavaris Breading Trays Set - 3 Stainless Steel PansCheck Price on Amazon
GOTHAM STEELGotham Steel 12” Nonstick Fry Pan with LidCheck Price on Amazon
LodgeLodge Cast Iron Grill Pan, Square, 10.5 InchCheck Price on Amazon
Smith ChuForged Viking Knives, Husk Chef Knife Butcher KnivesCheck Price on Amazon

* If you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. For more details, please visit our Privacy policy page.

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