Chicken Breast vs. Chicken Tenderloin: Differences

Just like pork and beef, chicken has tenderloin. Although it may be difficult to identify it, when you carve your chicken, the tenderloin is located behind the breast just next to the bone usually the most delicate part just like the name suggests `tender’.

Chicken breast and chicken tenderloin have more similarities compared to differences which may be the reason as to why most people don’t know that tenderloin exists in chicken. This article shall look at those differences, including the chicken breast and tenderloin healthy preparation methods.

Is Chicken Breast the Same as Tenderloin? 

Chicken breast is completely different from chicken tenderloin once you are able to differentiate. The most noticeable difference between the two is their size. It takes two pieces of chicken tenderloin to make one full chicken breast. Another aspect is the shape, chicken tenderloin is relatively narrow and slim.

When it comes to nutrition value, Chicken tenderloin is high in calories compared to a chicken breast which is low in calories but higher in proteins, and vitamins.

What is Chicken Breast?

Chicken breast is the major pectoral muscle of chicken usually a good source of lean protein and low in fat.  Each chicken has two breasts which are usually separated during curving. This being the most nutritious part of the chicken it can also be dry and chewy especially when you overcook.

What is Chicken Tenderloin?

Also known as chicken tenders, chicken tenderloin is the minor pectoral muscle of chicken that lies alongside the chicken’s inner breast closest to the bone. Every chicken has two tenderloins that are high in calories. Tenderloins appear tapered with a white line running down them that require removal during preparation. 

The tenderloin is the most tender part of the chicken as it is the muscle that is rarely used and is hidden.

The Difference between Chicken Breast and Tenderloin

While chicken tenderloin and breast might resemble, both have significant differences.

 Chicken breastChicken tenderloin
Texture (when cooked)Chewy and dryTender and juicy
Nutritional valueLow in calories and high in vitamins and mineralsHigh in calories and sodium
SizeTwice the size of chicken tenderloinHalf the size of chicken breast
LocationIt’s the outer muscle (pectoral major)It’s the inner muscle (pectoral minor)

How Many Tenders Equal a Breast?

Two chicken tenders make a single chicken breast.

How do you cook Chicken Tenderloins?

Since chicken tenderloins are high in calories and sodium, you will need to avoid the use of extra oil and salt for health purposes.

Here are simple methods that require no extra oil and yet give you juicy and delicious tenders.

  1. Baking

Marinate the tenders with lemon juice and a mixture of herbs and spices for 30 minutes. Place the tenders on a baking tray lined with parchment paper to prevent sticking and bake at 400°F until it reaches 165°F.

2. Steaming

Steaming lives the tenders so flavorful and juicy as it absorbs in the steam-filled with fresh herbs and spices. Put water in a pot, add fresh rosemary, thyme, and oregano and bring to a boil. Align the tenders on the steaming basket, put it in the pot with boiling herbs, and cover to lock in the moisture. Steam for 10 minutes or until done.

3. Poaching

Just like the above methods, poaching requires no oil at all. Simply put water in a pot, add aromatic vegetables then bring it to boil. Add your chicken tenderloin and simmer on low heat for 30-45 minutes.

How to cook chicken breast

You should be careful on how you cook your chicken breast since you can easily turn it into unhealthy junk without noticing. Also, even when you are using the correct method, ensure not to overcook it as it can become really chewy and dry.

Here are two ways on how to make a juicy and tasty chicken breast:

  1. Grilling

I find grilling to be the healthiest way of cooking chicken breast since I use little (2 tsp)to no oil at all and it comes out so juicy and flavorful. So basically what I do, I use a meat tenderizer to pound the breast to even size then marinate and put it in the fridge for 30 minutes to 1 hour to soak up the marinade then finally grill on medium heat until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.

2. Baking

Baking too uses little oil giving you a healthy and juicy chicken breast. All you need to do is, put it in a brine for 15-30 minutes. Brush both sides with olive oil to give it a beautiful crust as it bakes. Bake at 400°F until it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F

Substituting Chicken Tenderloin for Chicken Breast and vice versa

Since chicken tenderloin is part of the chicken breast you can substitute one for the other. However, since the tenderloin is small and tender compared to chicken breast, be careful not to over-marinate or overcook it as it can easily mess with the taste and the texture.  

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