What’s the difference between chicken nuggets and chicken tenders?

Welcome to Burning Questions, The Takeout’s video series in which we answer all your culinary quandaries and ponderings.

Chicken is the great shapeshifter of the freezer aisle. Chicken patties, chicken strips, chicken nuggets, chicken tenders, Chicken in a Biskit... it’s all the same bird (okay, except for Chicken in a Biskit), but how do these products differ from one another? It might surprise you to learn that the terms “nugget” and “tender” actually have fairly rigid definitions, and they comprise two distinct categories of products. We spoke with the experts to get the big poultry picture. For the full investigation, head here.


Tenders are the more refined brethren of the beloved nugget. A tender is, yes, a nugget. But one with a certain Jen a seis quoi. A breaded chicken piece with that sprezzatura. Difficult to pin down, yet impossible not to recognize when you see it.