RecipesChicken RecipesChicken Tenderloin vs Breast: What's The Difference?

Chicken Tenderloin vs Breast: What’s The Difference?

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David Larsenhttps://betony-nyc.com
I’m a husband, dad, food blogger, photographer, writer, social media boss, entrepreneur.

Sure, you have cut a lot of chicken meat in this lifetime but admit it or not, for unexperienced cooks or butchers like the most of us, we would not even mind knowing what chicken part we are cutting. The two of the most confusing chicken parts to identify would be chicken tenderloin and chicken breast. 

So, what is the difference between chicken breast and tenderloin? For starters, there is the difference in size, shape, and nutrition content. In this post, we will give a more descriptive discussion of these differences so read on. 

Chicken tenderloin vs chicken breast

There are significant yet subtle differences between chicken tenderloin and chicken breast. For a better view of these differences, here is a table of comparison for these two well-loved chicken parts: 

Chicken tenderloinChicken breast
ShapeElongated stripsLarge pendant shape
SizeHalf the size of chicken breastTwice the chicken of tenderloin
LocationPectoral minor (the inner muscle)Pectoral major (the outer muscle)
Protein contentHighHigh
Texture (when cooked)Tender and juicyDry and coarse
FlavorNutty and sweetBland
Flavor absorptionModerateHigh
Nutritional contentModerate (just vitamin traces)Highly packed
SodiumHighModerate to low
PriceMore expensiveRelatively expensive

At best, these are the most observable differences between these two chicken parts. A separate table for their differences in nutritional content is in the next sections. 

What is chicken breast?

Chicken breast is a staple because of its nutritional value. As a matter of fact, it is considered as the healthiest part of the chicken. It is high in protein and because of that, it is an important ingredient in athletes’ meals. Chicken breasts, unlike tenderloins are easy to spot. They are attached to the wings, separated by a bones and cartilages. 

It is very versatile as it could be fried, grilled, roasted, and baked. Its nutritional content includes a wide range of vitamins, minerals, and cobalim, which is an active agent in forming red blood cells in the body. 

What is chicken tenderloin?

Chicken tenderloin is that part of the chicken that you get to make chicken poppers or chicken tenders. It is a strip of muscle located underneath the chicken breast so it is understandable that it is confused with it. Chickens therefore have two tenderloins.

They are too small that you would miss it if you are not a seasoned cook. Tenderloins can only be visible once the bone separating the chicken breasts is cut. 

Related: 50 Leftover Rotisserie Chicken Recipes

Difference between chicken breast and tenderloin

Based on the two tables here, the main difference between chicken breast and chicken tenderloin would be the following: 

  • Chicken tenderloin is more tender while chicken breast is coarser and drier
  • Chicken tenderloin has lesser flavor absorption capacity compared to chicken breast
  • Chicken tenderloin is more flavorful while chicken breast is essentially bland
  • Chicken tenderloin is a bit oblong, but elongated and just a tiny part while the chicken breast is easily identified 
  • Both are high in protein, but chicken breast has more protein content
  • Chicken breast is more packed with vitamins and minerals while chicken tenderloin mostly have traces of the same vitamins and minerals found in chicken breast

Chicken breast vs tenderloin: nutrition information

The most significant difference between chicken breast and chicken tenderloin would be in terms of their nutritional information. Here is another table that shows how different these two chicken parts are when it comes to what they offer in our diets and nutrition. 

Chicken breastChicken tenderloin
Calories136332
Sodium51mg518.2mg
Protein25.5mg17.9mg
Total fat3g20.1g
Cholesterol82.8mg49.9mg
Potassium378.8mg247.2mg
Iron0.4mg1.3mg
Magnesium31.8mg27.2mg
Vitamin B60.9mg<0.5mg
Carbohydrates0%0%
Cobalamin5%3%

      *Based on 4oz portion

Which is healthier chicken breast or tenderloin?

As far as the nutritional content comparison of these two, chicken breast is healthier than tenderloin. Chicken breast is lower in fat, calorie, and higher in protein. It is also 2% higher in cobalamin content which we have already mentioned is vital in forming red blood cells for the body. RBCs are essential in carrying oxygen and in removing CO2 from the body. 

So, if you are into protein loading, building muscles, and just for the nutritional value of the leanest meat, opting for chicken breast is the best choice. 

What are chicken tenderloins used for?

Chicken tenderloins are perfect for light and deep frying, for chicken wraps, searing, and almost the same as how chicken breasts are used. If you are thinking of having chicken tenderloins more, here are some dishes that you can use it with: 

  • Burrito wraps
  • Grilled tenderloins in your choice of dipping sauce
  • Marinated chicken tenders
  • Sliders
  • Fried in corn flakes
  • Chicken roast
  • One pot chicken meals
  • Baked chicken tenderloins
  • Braised chicken tenderloins

Is chicken tenderloin good for you?

As we have said, chicken tenderloin is not as nutritionally packed as chicken breasts but since it is still contains the vitamin and mineral traces that can be found in chicken breasts, chicken tenderloin is good for you. 

What is the healthiest way to make chicken breast?

The healthiest way to make chicken breast would by baking it or stir-frying it. You can make it healthier by rubbing it olive oil, sets of herbs, and healthy spices. Do not go heavy on butter, and other fats. Just enough to keep the meat moist since it is coarser and drier than chicken tenderloin.

The good thing about chicken breasts is that they have high flavor absorption. Just drizzling it with light seasoning can elevate its taste and flavor. 

What is the healthiest way to make chicken tenderloin?

Baking, poaching, and steaming as well as light frying are the healthiest ways to make chicken tenderloin. Use healthy marinade or just dry-rub it with simple, low-sodium seasoning (as it already has more sodium than chicken breast). The healthy seasonings for chicken tenderloin would be basil, sage, thyme, peppers, garlic, and citrus juices. 

You can also ditch using oil with chicken tenderloin by just baking it using parchment paper. You can just also simmer it lightly with kosher salt and water. 

What to serve with chicken breast and tenderloin?

If you are looking for the best side dishes for chicken breast and tenderloin, here is a list of what you should serve these chicken parts with: 

Potato sides

Rice sides

Pasta

Salads

Fruits and vegetables

Keto sides

Bread and pastries

These two chicken parts deserve their fame and the many side dishes that you can serve them with are reflections of how just versatile they are. There are more to this list that you can imagine. But as far as classic side dishes are concerned, you should try one of these once. 

Related:

Is chicken tenderloin and chicken tenders the same? 

Yes. As a matter of fact, chicken tenderloin is called many things. Some of the other popular names of chicken tenderloin would be chicken fingers, chicken strips, chicken fillets, and chicken goujons. Chicken tenderloin is most often sold separately from chicken breasts. 

Can I use chicken tenderloins instead of breasts?

Yes. But you must pay attention to the marinating and cooking time of tenderloins. Because they are smaller and more tender compared to chicken breasts, they require less marinating and cooking time. Here are some other considerations to know: 

  • Overmarinated tenderloins turn mushy as they cook.
  • Remove the white cartilage of the tenderloin. 
  • Tenderloins can be cooked for 4mins max each side. Check inside the meat if it has gone opaque. If it has, it is done. 
  • When tenderizing the chicken tenderloin, make sure that there is a baking sheet in between the meat. 

When do I know if the chicken breast or tenderloin is cooked? 

To check if your chicken breast or tenderloin is cooked, you can use a thermometer. If the internal temperature is recorded at 165F, it is already done. If you do not have an available thermometer, you can lightly cut the meat while it is cooking and see if it is already opaque inside. If its white and tender through and through, it is done. 

Is chicken tenderloin white or dark meat?

Because chicken tenderloin is located just beneath the chicken breast, it is still considered white meat. Comparatively, dark meats are packed with more nutrients, but white meat are well-loved because they have lower calories and are way lower in fat content. 

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Conclusion

Without a doubt, there are significant differences between chicken tenderloin and chicken breast. But the fact that one can be substituted for the other is enough manifestation that in taste and gastronomic impact, they are not really that different. Of course, if you are very keen on flavor, nutritional value, and versatility, chicken breast gets more preference. 

Knowing the difference between these two chicken parts may not be as functional as you think but if you are on a strict diet, it is vital for you to understand how they are different. So, the next time you cut on a whole chicken, it might be fun to separate the two and see the differences for yourself.

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