Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Copycat Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenderloins

Simple copycat Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenders (without the grill). Just 4 ingredients, chicken tenderloins, lime juice, Italian Dressing and honey. 
It 's been awhile since I posted a dinner recipe here at Mommy's Kitchen. Seems like lately it has been all about back to school ideas or scrumptious desserts. I can't help it! I'm a sucker when it comes to sweets.

Today I wanted to share a recipe from one of my favorite restaurants, Cracker Barrel. When I get a chance to eat at Cracker Barrel it's always such a treat for me. Their menu has so many of my favorite country dishes that it's really hard for me to decide on what to order.

One of my favorite dishes is their Grilled Chicken Tenderloins. Oh my these things are finger licking good. One thing I didn't know was just how easy they were to prepare at home.

I found a Copy Kat recipe and I couldn't wait to try it. I was a bit skeptical when I stared the recipe. I added the tenderloins to the skillet and there was so much liquid. I really didn't think it would cook down.

No worries though all of the liquid did reduce and it transformed into a ooey gooey glaze that was just to die for. The only thing I did differently from the original recipe was increase the amounts of the dressing, lime and honey.

The 1/2 cup of dressing stated just didn't seem like enough for the amount of chicken. And the honey, well I just love honey!!!

This recipe was such a big hit that I am adding it to my menu again for next month. I served these yummy grilled tenders with mashed potatoes, but rice would be just as good. lets get started and I will show you how simple these are to make.

Cut each chicken breast into strips or just use tenderloins pieces. If using tenderloins cut and remove the white tendon off each end. in a large  Ziploc bag add the dressing, lime juice and honey; mix to combine. Add the chicken and mix to coat all the pieces. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour

Remove chicken from the refrigerator and add the chicken and liquid to a large non-stick skillet. Simmer the tenderloins over med-high heat until golden brown in color and the liquid has reduced and turns into a yummy sticky glaze. 

At first it will look like there's a lot of liquid in the pan and there is, but don't worry because it will all cook down and reduce.  Trust me on this one, so just be patient. You can see from the photos above how the liquid slowly starts to cook down and then poof it's gone. From start to finish it's about 30 - 40 minutes cooking time.

Yum don't these look tasty? And all that liquid turned into a delicious, finger licking yummy glaze.

Yield: 4 - 6
Author: Tina Butler | Mommy's Kitchen
Copycat Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenderloins

Copycat Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenderloins

Simple copycat Cracker Barrel Grilled Chicken Tenders (without the grill). Just 4 ingredients, chicken tenderloins, lime juice, Italian Dressing and honey.
Prep time: 1 HourCook time: 40 MinTotal time: 1 H & 40 M


  • 4 - 5 chicken breasts, cut into pieces or 12 chicken tenderloins
  • 1  8 oz bottle Italian Dressing (I prefer zesty Italian)
  • 2 teaspoons fresh or bottled lime juice
  • 4 teaspoons honey


  1. Cut each chicken breast into strips or use tenderloins pieces. If using tenderloins cut and remove the white tendon off each end.
  2. In a large Ziploc bag add the dressing, lime juice and honey; mix to combine.
  3. Add the chicken and mix to coat all the pieces. Marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour.
  4. Add the chicken and the liquid to a large non-stick skillet. Cook the tenderloins over med-high heat (uncovered) until golden brown in color and the liquid has reduced.
  5. You just want them to simmer until all the liquid has reduced down (this can take 30 - 40 minutes).
  6. You still want a bit of glaze left in the pan. When chicken is done remove to a serving platter.
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Anonymous said... #

I voted on Good luck!

charleesmommy said... #

I found this recipe a few years ago and secretly think it's even better than the "original" at Cracker Barrel (hard to imagine, as that's my favorite meal there!). It's really good paired with the Pasta Roni angel hair pasta!!!

Victoria said... #

I originally found this on Southern Plate. Its sooo good, and I have used lemon juice. :)

Rosita Vargas said... #

Delicious grilled chicken, looks absolutely beautiful, I love, hugs. ROSITA

4*KowBoys said... #

These look fantastic! I always worry about all that liquid, so your pictures helped me out! I think I might actaully make this! It's definetely getting printed out!

Donna~One Simple Country Girl said... #

Saving this one to my favs! Yummo!!! Hope you are doing well!

toni said... #

i just made this last week. they are delicious!

Nanna said... #

this does look good there's never any glaze when I order the grilled tenders but they are soooo good & with this recipe you can actualy use tenders big enough to taste lol

Tina @ Mommy's Kitchen said... #

Charleesmommy, I think these are better than the original myself. There is so much more glaze and they really take on a pretty color. Victoria I saw them on Southern Plate as well. Christy loves CB just as much as I do.

Anonymous said... #

what temperature do you cook these at? You say "braise" but that is what you do to a roast, or tough cut of meat before finishing the cooking in liquid, so I'm confused. Please help, ASAP!

Sheila said... #

I found this recipe several years ago, it's my go to chicken recipe. So good and easy, we love it.

Tina Butler said... #

The original recipe did not state the stove temperature so I added it to the recipe. You want to start at medium high until everything comes to a boil. Then reduce the temperature to low-med and continue cooking. You just want them to simmer the whole time. Keep and eye on them every so often so you can turn them and mix a bit.

Anonymous said... #

Oh yum! I love Cracker Barrel but we don't have any in Canada so whenever we visit the States we make sure we hit as many Cracker Barrels as possible, lol. These look terrific and I can't believe how easy. Thanks!

Unknown said... #

this look so yummy i think im trying it tmrw, i love cooking and try new thing and this sounds amazing i hope u can follow me back

Anonymous said... #

Ok, I just want to be clear. You only add the chicken to the pan to cook, right? Or do you include the marinade too?

Ellen Zames said... #

I just made this and it was really delicous. I had to tweak it a bit because I didn't have the exact ingredients but it still came out great. I used balsamic viniagrette and agave in place of the italian dressing and honey. My whole family loved it. I will be posting it on my blog this week fpr my readers to enjoy too and of course linking back to your blog. Thank you for the recipe!


Liz said... #

I'm glad you added temperatures and pictures for cooking novices. I'm making them right now and was worried that mine don't look anything like they should. Then I took a look at the picture again and am right on track. I can't wait to see how they turn out.

Anonymous said... #

I made these a few weeks ago and I LOVED them. I'm a busy college student so easy recipes are always a plus. I'm making it again tonight. I did add a little more honey than called for, but it still turned out great.

Anonymous said... #

Do you pour the marinate in the skillet,or just get the chicken out. Help

Tina @ Mommy's Kitchen said... #

You add the marinade and the chicken because the marinade cooks down. I added a note to the recipe to make it more clear.

Havarti said... #

Hi! This recipe looks great. I am wondering what brand of italian dressing you used?

Tina @ Mommy's Kitchen said... #

I use Kraft Zesty Italian Dressing. Wish Bone is good too, but dont use store brand because I did and they didn't turn out as good. In fact they were kind of dry.

Anonymous said... #

I have absolutely try to cook that!!!! thank you for this recipe!!!from Italy!!!

Anonymous said... #

YUMMY! Made this tonight for dinner. Didn't have Italian dressing, so I had to improvise and use Balsamic Vinegar dressing instead. Worked great! My family loved it.

Anonymous said... #

I worked at CB as a teen. They actually marinade the chicken in apple cider vinegar. I had to memorize ingredients to earn stars on my apron. :)

Anonymous said... #

I'm glad you said to cut that icky part off the tenderloins. Somebody needs to tell Cracker Barrell!!!!

Tina Butler said... #

Eww is right. I can't stand those White parts that stick out of the tendersoins. Yuck!

Anonymous said... #

Hi Tina, I follow your blog all of the time and love, love, love all of your recipes. My tenders turned out a little bit dry after letting them cook for 45 min. Is there a trick to juicier tenders after such a long cooking time? The glaze was delish, just didn't like how dry the chicken turned out. Thanks and I love your blog!

Tina Butler said... #

Everyones stove is different, so just don't cook them as long. If you see that the chicken is fully cooked and there is a good amount of glaze in the pan then stop at that point.

Cheerful Homemaker said... #

This recipe looks delicious! I have it marinating in the fridge right now. I'm looking forward to trying it. :)

Erica said... #

well i did something wrong, I got no caramelization or browning. What did I do wrong? Tasted pretty good, but it just didn't end up how I thought.

Anonymous said... #

I am going to try this soon it sounds and looks delicious. My only question is why do you call them grilled tenders when you aren't using a grill?

Tina Butler said... #

Anonymous, for two reasons. One because they looked grilled without the use of a grill. And two because it is the Copy Cat Recipe for Crackers Barrels Grilled Chicken Tenderloins. Hope this answers your question.

jakesma1999 said... #

YUMMI!! Am so glad I found his site. You have been so helpful! I made this for dinner the other night, and due to just plain ole' laziness, didn't feel like cutting into tenderloins, so after marinating all day, I placed my chicken breasts into my skillet and followed directions, just cooking slightly longer. Can't wit to try more recipes. My mom taught me to use recipes as a "base" then, get creative. My boys are enjoying being my "test subjects"!!! Since becoming a stay at home mom (I prefer domestic goddess hee, hee!) experimenting with recipes has given me something to be proud of and that I was able to accomplish; that is, when they turn out LOL! I love reading other peoples suggestions as well!!

Rebecca said... #

I made this tonight and my kiddos raved about it. Thanks for another wonderful recipe.

Anonymous said... #

I made this tonight and my chicken was dry and I didn't get a glaze...what did I do wrong? :(

Lorna Lee said... #

This recipe looks wonderful, and I'm going to give it a whirl tonight! Also thinking that I'll reduce the marinade by simmering it for awhile, then add the tenderloins to finish the cooking. This should take care of some comments about them being a bit dry.

Anonymous said... #

I'm confused... Am I cooking this on top of the stove or in the oven?

Michele said... #

I just made this tonight. It was Amazing. The step by step and the Pictures were very helpful.

Found it on Pinterest.

Anonymous said... #

I have my chicken marinating right now. However, I am going to actually grill mine and baste with the dressing/honey/lime mixture as they cook. I'm sure they will glaze just fine doing them that way as well.

Anonymous said... #

I made these 1x before and they had great taste but were too dry. I'm trying again today and will cook them on lower heat...think that was the problem :)

Anonymous said... #

Can u cook these on the grill?

Anonymous said... #

Consider using Newman's Lite Lime Vinaigrette versus Italian w/ lime juice. I've used it in a similar manner and it works well with chicken.

Anonymous said... #

I made these last night and mine did not look anything like the ones you have pictured! They did not brown nor caramelize. I have an electric stove, as opposed to gas....does that make a difference? I followed the directions exactly. Please advise!

Sheri said... #

The same thing happened to me, I followed the directions completely and it never went from step 2 to step 3. After an hour on the stove top I gave up and just fished them out of the soupy mixture and served them with rice. They were quite dry from being cooked so long. Too bad, I was so excited to try this recipe. :-(

Tina Butler said... #

I actually just made these again tonight and they turned out perfect. It's kind of hard to tell where you went wrong as I am not in your kitchen to really see. The photos above were taken of the whole cooking process from start to finish, so this recipe does work. In no way should it be soupy because the dressing cooks down. I am sorry they did not turn out, but there are several people that did not have any problems, so the recipe is correct.

Joanna said... #

I made this last week and they were perfect! It was hard to wait through the process but it paid off in the end! Thank you for the recipe!

Unknown said... #
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said... #

Love your site keep up the good work!

Anonymous said... #

Could I hve ur website where u post ur other recipes

Anonymous said... #

Oh my god yes!! I just pulled these off the pan. So glad I found this recipe.

Unknown said... #

What do you paired this with? Rice? Pasta or Noodle? Thanks! :)

Anonymous said... #

Do you have the pan covered or uncovered while the chicken is cooking?

Tina Butler said... #

The skillet is uncovered for the whole cooking process.

Anonymous said... #

Has anyone ever used this recipe for turkey tenderloin?

Unknown said... #

im wondering if this will turn out in the crockpot? this has become a staple dish in our family however ill be out for most of the day and would love to have this ready for when hubby gets home from work?

Anonymous said... #

As she said, start at medium - high & once the liquid starts to boil turn it down to medium - low. Don't let the term fool/bother you.

Anonymous said... #

All of it, marinade and chicken.

Deana Abbate said... #

The copycat recipe is almost spot on. Worked for CB for 9 years. I do know that they use T-marzetti italian dressing and they are marinated overnight normally for the restaurant. They are cooked on a flat griddle. I have made these for years and it is by far my favorite item on the CB menu. I cook them on the BBQ and they are so yummy. The longer you let them marinate the less time it takes to cook them because the acid in the lime juice. Takes about 25-30 if you are cooking them on the stove-top. Remove the chicken and leave the marinade to thicken on the stove, then pour over chicken.

Anonymous said... #

The term "braise" means to seer and then cook in liquid. It isn't specific go a certain type of meat. As a culinary professional, I'm going to ask that you please don't criticize correct cooking terms just because you don't understand them or spread incorrect information online that might be confusing to others. Thank you.

Heidi said... #

Be patient...I thought I would have to quick broil to get them to brown, but sure enough, they browned nicely (like the photo) as the marinade carmelized. (Cleaning the pan is a challenge, though! Any tips?)

Mel said... #

Anyone know how to figure out calories? I'm not sure how to since the liquid evaporates