REVIEW: Carl’s Jr. Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders

Carl's Jr. Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders

Doesn’t seem like chicken tenders would be such a big deal. Lots of fast food places have them. I’m actually surprised Carl’s Jr. has waited so long to introduce them to the menu.

You’d think such an addition would go gentle into that good night, but no. According to Carl’s, these are not just any chicken tenders. These are hand-breaded chicken tenders, and that is a big deal. There have been an onslaught of commercials: one going the fear route, with nothing but video of “Box 1457 B partially cooked frozen chicken strips” slowly panning out while the ominous voice-over informs you that they’ve been sitting there for 12 days, trying to convince you that even though you’ve been eating these crappy chicken strips for years, if you do it just one more time YOU WILL DIE. Okay, maybe not that bad, but close.

Another takes quite a different spin. Two receptionists stuff their faces with the hand-breaded chicken tenders; one asks the other why she stopped working at Carl’s, and she says it was too much work, with all the dipping and the hand-breading and the frying and the hey lady! Then the phone rings, and the first girl says, “That phone is soooo annoying.” Continue with face-stuffing.

As a female and a former career receptionist/secretary/office bitch, I should be offended, if I was the type of person to be offended by such things. But hey, if it gets the point across and Carl’s Jr.’s marketing department doesn’t mind being accosted by angry feminists and secretaries for portraying all of them as completely vapid bitches, have at it.

The Spanish-speaking contingent gets the best commercial. Isn’t that always the way? Obviously meant as a parody of telenovelas, some dude ogles the hot Latina maid dressed up in a “Sexy French Maid” Halloween outfit. Another hot Latina chick, presumably his wife, catches him in the act and starts screaming, wiping the table clean with a dramatic sweep of her arm and the breakage of several pieces of delicate flatware. The maid then sexily brings the man a tray of chicken tenders, the wife and the man sexily eat the chicken tenders, and the maid looks at them both sexily. I have no idea what is going on, but it is obviously the best of the bunch.

Carl's Jr. Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders Inside

Carl’s description of the chicken tenders is “Freshly prepared hand-breaded chicken tenders. Premium, all-white meat chicken hand dipped in buttermilk, lightly breaded and fried to a golden brown. Served with a choice of honey mustard, buttermilk ranch or sweet & bold BBQ dipping sauces.”

Some of these things are true. Some of them are indeterminate. I have to say, I thought the chicken definitely tasted fresher, or perhaps more chicken-like, than I’ve experienced with other fast food chicken strips. It both looks and tastes like an authentic piece of chicken breast. The meat is juicy and fairly tender.

As for the breading, I wouldn’t call it “lightly breaded,” but I also wouldn’t call it “smothered in two inches of crunchy breading,” which is how I would describe KFC’s chicken. Not that that’s a bad thing. Unfortunately, my tenders were fried to a little more than golden brown. I might go so far as to say they were over-fried. They didn’t taste burnt, but they could have been a little more on the golden side. That’s just the vagaries of fast food though; the next order could have been fried perfectly. The breading was crunchy and a little greasy, and didn’t really seem to contain any special spices.

I enjoyed Carl’s Jr.’s Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders, but they didn’t exactly blow my mind. Yeah, the chicken tastes fresh, and the breading is pretty good, but to be honest, if I hadn’t been beaten over the head by Carl’s with the idea that these were “freshly prepared” and “hand-breaded,” I wouldn’t have known the difference. The breading is a little bit of a different texture, but doesn’t scream groundbreaking. The Chicken Tenders came with some buttermilk ranch dip, but it too didn’t blow my mind. It would really help if a hot Latina served them to me in a French Maid outfit, though.

(Nutrition Facts – 5 chicken tenders (246 grams) – 560 calories, 280 calories from fat, 31 grams of total fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, 120 milligrams of cholesterol, 1,930 milligrams of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates, 2 grams of dietary fiber, 1 gram of sugars and 47 grams of protein.)

Other Carl’s Jr. Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders reviews:
An Immovable Feast
Grub Grade

Item: Carl’s Jr. Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders

Price: $4.69

Size: 5 tenders (246 grams)

Purchased at: Carl’s Jr.

Rating: 6 out of 10

Pros: Chicken was juicy. Hot Latina chicks. Meat seemed like real breast meat. Breading had a good texture. “Box 1457 B.”

Cons: Tenders were over-fried, but that could just be bad luck. Stereotypes that receptionists are dumb and lazy. Breading had no spices or special flavoring. Fear of ever eating pre-breaded chicken strips again. Couldn’t tell if they were hand-breaded or not anyway.

15 thoughts to “REVIEW: Carl’s Jr. Hand-Breaded Chicken Tenders”

  1. That’s about how I felt about them: better than most? Yeah, but that’s not saying much. And the whole “hand-breaded” thing confuses me.

    1. Yes Justin…so very confusing, I would have rather they used the phrase: “personally hand-jobbed by a young girl”…that might have made it more appealing and understandable.

  2. There was one night I was hungry and decided to seek out the best chicken tenders in town. I ended up at this place calle Raising Cane’s ( and while the tenders there were OK, I didn’t think they were much better than what I could find at Jack In The Box which is two blocks away from my apartment. Since then I don’t go out of the way for fast food, with the exception of Five Guys hamburgers.

  3. I’ve tried these and love them. I’m a fan of the chicken mcnugget when I’m seeking the taste, but no other fast food chicken nugget/strip has been worth my time until these. I used to love KFC’s until they redid them to taste like their fried chicken which I don’t care for.

    On a side note, Carl’s Jr. did have chicken tenders before these, but they were meh at best. The new style is obviously much better.

    1. Natalie: Your knowledge of the fried chicken tender world seems vast. Thanks for your analysis.

      Did you know, however, that Chicken Nuggets are just formed and bleached chicken parts? ergo, the “spongy” texture of the mostly fatty chunk of love. I’m going to guess you probably weigh at least 250 pounds. If I’m wrong, you get a free 20-piece order of those Nuggets you love.

  4. I haven’t tried these, and am only mildly motivated to do so. But the version of the commercial where the girl says: “is this like the olden days?” just kills me. She delivers that line so perfectly, with a blank look we all know so well of those completely clueless, high school dropout idiots that sit at the receptionist desk of many companies.

  5. they were fresh alright, but I don’t think they are real chicken breast pieces – mine tasted a little spongy – if they were real, they would probably put it in the ad.

  6. I was very excited to have these. Hand-breading and real batter is a HUGE DIFFERENCE. If you’ve ever had a hand-dipped onion ring, over a nasty frozen one, you’ll know whereof I speak.

    But, desite these being hand-dipped, I was somewhat underwhelmed. Can’t figure it out. The crust was a little too salty, but it just didn’t feel like it was as hand-dipped as I thought it would.

    Hmmmm ….

  7. Just tried the 3-piece for $2.00 using a $1.00 off coupon at Carl’s Jr., Ca. Verdict is in… and these are very good! The batter is very similar to Chick-Fil-A batter (likely attempt by Carl’s to recreate it’s own version of CFA batter), but the tenders surprisingly taste better than CFA’s tenders and more akin to CFA’s chicken nuggets, in that the batter is more flavorful. CFA’s tenders just didn’t have that zing like the fillet in the sandwich or the nuggets. The Carl’s Jr ones do though. They can even be eaten without sauce; they are that good. Best tenders by a fast food chain at the moment.

    The batter could be a little bit more thick.

  8. Can you PLEASE provide me the link to the video of the receptionist ad? It is hilarious and I can’t find it anywhere and it says it’s private when I click the link here! Thank you!

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