Whether you’re 13 or 35, it’s an undeniable truth that chicken tenders are delicious. They’re salty, savory, juicy, crisp, dippable and easy to eat with your hands, plus they go with everything. Wait, you’re saying you’re not sure what to make with chicken tenders? You’re trying to break out of a frozen French fry rut? We’re happy to help: Presenting 27 tasty ideas for sides—from refreshing green salads to creamy mac and cheese.

RELATED: The 101 Best Chicken Recipes for When You’re in a Dinner Rut

Katherine Gillen

1. Smashed Brussels Sprouts

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, low carb, gluten free
We’re totally fine with borrowing one of our favorite potato treatments for this twist on a vegetable side dish. They’re crispy, cheesy and bound to be a new regular.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

2. Baked Sweet Potato Fries

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser, sheet pan recipe
French fry connoisseurs know you don’t need a bubbling vat of oil to get your fix. These guys are baked on a sheet pan with a little olive oil, so they’re crisp but not greasy (and just as great for dipping as the originals).

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Robert Bredvad/The Secret Ingredient Cookbook

3. Caesar Pasta Salad

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Ready in <30 minutes, crowd-pleaser
The dressing works beautifully on the crisp greens and toothsome pasta, but it’s also an excellent dip for crudités, pita chips and—you guessed it—chicken tenders.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

4. Buttermilk Skillet Cornbread with Tomatoes and Scallions

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Crowd-pleaser, one pan
Fork and knife cornbread: It’s a thing. Feel free to swap in another vegetable, like zucchini or bell pepper, if you please.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

5. Light and Tangy Coleslaw

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Low carb, crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients
Made with a tangy vinegar base instead of mayo, this side is especially tasty with crispy chicken (its acidity balances out the extra carbs).

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Photo: Nico Schinco/Styling: Erin McDowell

6. Mac and Cheese with Crispy Parmesan-Phyllo Crust

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy
Breadcrumb-topped mac and cheese is already superior, so imagine how Parmesan phyllo rosettes will change the game.

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Ana Cuba/The Modern Cook’s Year

7. Kale and Brussels Sprout Caesar Slaw

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Ready in <30 minutes, no cook, low carb
It’s hard to believe by taste alone, but the dressing for this light, crunchy slaw is totally plant-based—it gets its creaminess from soaked nuts and seeds instead of dairy.

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Eva Kolenko/Bread Toast Crumbs

8. Spicy Broccoli Sauté

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Ready in <30 minutes, <10 ingredients
Remember what we said about breadcrumbs and macaroni? The same is true for most vegetables, TBH. They’re an easy way to give this broccoli side the fancy treatment.

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Linda Pugliese/Help Yourself

9. Melted Onions

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 5 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, low carb, gluten free
Onion rings won’t know what’s coming when these deeply caramelized cuties hit the dinner table. Plus, they take just five minutes of prep and the rest happens in the oven.

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Quentin Bacon/Modern Comfort Food

10. Ina Garten’s Roasted Broccolini and Cheddar

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, sheet pan recipe, gluten free, ready in <30 minutes
Ina Garten is no stranger to new renditions of classic, comforting recipes, like this modern version of broccoli with cheese sauce. It’s delightfully fuss free, thanks to your trusty sheet pan.

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Photo: Tyler Mauk/Styling: Anne Mauk

11. Corn and Tomato Salad with Feta and Lime

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Ready in <30 minutes, <10 ingredients
Want to swap the feta for another salty cheese, add some jalapeño or use chives instead of cilantro? Be our guest.

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Amanda Frederickson/Simple Beautiful Food

12. Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Sriracha and Lime

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Sheet pan recipe, <10 ingredients, crowd-pleaser
Sweet potatoes are versatile, healthy and as close as we’ll get to eating candy for dinner—all great news, since we’re pairing them with crispity-crunchity chicken tenders.

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Photo: Mark Weinberg/Styling: Erin McDowell

13. Easy Pretzel Buns

  • Time Commitment: 3 hours, 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Crowd-pleaser, special occasion­–worthy
We have an ingenious idea: Make a batch of these buns and transform your tenders into the best chicken Parm sandwiches you’ve ever had. They’re worth the effort—promise.

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David Loftus/Ultimate Veg

14. Greens Mac and Cheese

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: High protein, kid friendly, crowd-pleaser
Balance is the name of the game, so make this spinach and broccolini-laced mac for your health. It’s just decadent enough.

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Katherine Gillen

15. Instant Pot Carrot Ginger Soup

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Dairy free, Instant Pot recipe, <10 ingredients
Carrot-ginger soup and chicken tenders: It’s the best combination since tomato soup and grilled cheese.

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Laura Edwards/From the Oven to the Table

16. Roasted Indian-Spiced Vegetables with Lime-Cilantro Butter

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: High fiber, special occasion–worthy
Oven-roasted vegetables are a standby for good reason (they’re foolproof and tasty), but they can get a little stale after the billionth time. A blend of herbs and spices (like cumin, coriander and cilantro) will bring the side dish back to life.

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Photo: Mark Weinberg/Styling: Erin McDowell

17. Mini Peach Tarts with Goat Cheese and Honey

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Crowd-pleaser, special occasion–worthy, <10 ingredients
These tartlets look fancy, but they’re shockingly easy to make. (Thanks, frozen puff pastry.) Look who just took their chicken tender dinner from rags to riches.

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Let’s Stay In

18. Salt and Vinegar Roasted Potatoes with Feta and Dill

  • Time Commitment: 55 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients, gluten free
They’re crispy like French fries on the outside but creamy on the inside, and taste even better dipped in a little ketchup or ranch dressing.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

19. Savory Cheese Waffles

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: Kid friendly, crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients
The easiest way to make chicken and waffles without the hassle of whipping up fried chicken? Pair your tenders with these waffles. Pass the maple syrup, please.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

20. Cacio e Pepe Brussels Sprouts

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Crowd-pleaser, low carb, <10 ingredients
The simple combo of black pepper and cheese instantly elevates not only pasta but also pretty much every veggie under the sun.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

21. Grilled Peach and Halloumi Salad with Lemon-Pesto Dressing

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Special occasion–worthy, vegetarian
Most salads feel like an afterthought; this one is both simple to make and impressive to serve. (Don’t get us started on the homemade lemon-pesto dressing.)

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Aubrie Pick/Great Tastes

22. Tomato Salad with Grilled Halloumi and Herbs

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Ready in <15 minutes, <10 ingredients, low carb
This plus chicken tenders eaten on the patio in July? Summer dinners don’t get any better.

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Emily Dorio/The Saltwater Table

23. Crispy Smashed Potatoes with Horseradish and Sea Salt

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Under 500 calories, special occasion­–worthy
Good news: The horseradish cream sauce makes an excellent dip for your entrée, too.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

24. Pesto Zoodles

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Gluten free, ready in <30 minutes
Keep your side dishes light and you’ll have room for even more tenders. (Or at least that’s our motto.)

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

25. Cauliflower “Tater” Tots

  • Time Commitment: 45 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Kid friendly, low sugar, under 500 calories, crowd-pleaser
Honestly, we didn’t think you could improve upon regular ol’ tots…but these are pretty magical. They're crispy, satisfying, great for dipping and secretly kinda healthy.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

26. Cacio e Pepe Cauliflower

  • Time Commitment: 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: Low carb, under 500 calories, ready in <30 minutes
It’s creamy and cheesy—minus the extra carbs and cals that come with pasta.

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Photo: Liz Andrew/Styling: Erin McDowell

27. Turnip Fries

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: Low carb, <10 ingredients
Not today, frozen fries. We have better plans.

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