Chicken Breast Vs. Tenderloin | Are They The Same?

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Chicken is one of the most commonly eaten types of meat and is also really versatile, just like its various cuts. Two such cuts that are very popular but also confusing are chicken breast and tenderloin. So, in this article, let us explore all about chicken breast vs tenderloin!  

Chicken breast vs tenderloin

Some of the chicken cuts are easier to recognize, that is for sure. Everyone can tell apart a chicken leg from a breast! But, some cuts are more specific and from around the same area. It can get a little confusing, and two such cuts that people often get confused with are chicken breasts and tenderloin. They are, however, pretty different! 

Chicken breasts and tenderloins come from around the same area of the chicken. However, there are still many differences between the two, the most obvious ones being their size and how tender they are. Tenderloins are much smaller as compared to chicken breasts. 

If you aren’t a regular at cooking, it can be difficult to pick out a tenderloin. It isn’t difficult to tell a breast apart from a tenderloin. However, the way a tenderloin is located near the breast makes it easy to miss. 

This is why many people are completely unaware of this cut existing in the first place. If tenderloins are a new concept for you, you have landed at the right place! In this article, you will learn about each of these chicken cuts, their differences, and a lot more! So, let’s begin exploring! 

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Chicken Breast Vs. Tenderloin | The Difference Table

Later in this article, we will look at the differences between a chicken breast and a tenderloin in a lot of detail. However, before we do that, here is a temporary difference table for the two cuts that will give you an idea of the basic differences. 

Basis Of DifferenceChicken BreastTenderloin
Location on the chestOuter muscleInner muscle
ShapeOblongLong and narrow
TextureA little toughTender and juicy
Flavor AbsorptionGreat flavor absorptionNot as great flavor absorption
Cooking TimeLongShort
Best Cooking MethodsBaking and grillingBaking, frying and poaching
Nutritional ContentHigh in proteinHigh in sodium

What Is A Chicken Breast? 

What is a chicken breast?

Chicken is one of the most commonly eaten forms of poultry worldwide. Moreover, some cuts of chicken are indeed really common, regardless of what the cuisine may be. One such cut that is popular is chicken breast. 

All of us who eat poultry must have eaten chicken breast in some form. So, I am sure that almost everyone must be aware of what a chicken breast is, as an overview. However, is there anything more that goes into it? 

Chicken breast is a large piece of meat attached to the chicken’s ribs in the front. This meat is usually sold in two halves and is considered one of the most versatile types of meat. Bone-in and boneless chicken breasts are two available variations. 

Chicken breast is also very nutritionally dense. It is a very high source of protein and has a small amount of fat. So, most people who prefer eating healthy love chicken breast! Another thing to remember is that boneless chicken breast is one of the most expensive cuts of chicken. 

What Is A Tenderloin? 

What is a tenderloin?

All of us know what a tenderloin is when it comes to cuts of beef. However, although you may have heard this term before, a chicken tenderloin is not just as common. But there is also the fact that those who know about this cut love it! 

There is something about a tenderloin that makes it stand out from the rest of the cuts. This is one of the main reasons why people go crazy over it. What qualifies as a tenderloin? Also, where is this cut from? Let’s find out! 

A tenderloin is a strip of muscle distinct from the breast and lies on the rib cage. It is long, thin, and very tender compared to chicken breast. They also have a white line that runs through them, which should be removed before the meat is cooked. 

Chicken tenderloin lies under the breast and can be very easy to miss. The meat is even more tender than a chicken breast; every chicken has two tenderloins. As these cuts aren’t plenty, they are pricey at times. 

Chicken Breast Vs. Tenderloin | Differences Between The Two

Earlier in the table, we discussed the basic differences between a chicken breast and a tenderloin. Now, let us take a detailed look at each of these differences and what they are like. 

1. Location

The first and most obvious difference between these two cuts of chicken is their location. They are both located over the rib cage. However, there is still a minor difference in their locations, which makes these two different cuts. 

Chicken breast is located in the front part of the chest. The large mass of meat you find in the front is the chicken breast, often sold in two halves. The tenderloins are located on the underside of the breast; hence, they are easy to miss. 

2. Shape 

Although the cuts of meat come from the same area, there are many differences even in their basic compositions, like their shapes. Chicken breast usually has a large and oblong shape and is considered a whole. 

Even if sold in halves, chicken breast pieces are generally oblong. Compared to that, chicken tenderloins are long and skinny. They look like strips of meat if you compare them with chicken breast. 

3. Size

The third obvious difference between these two cuts of chicken is their size. Chicken breast, as I mentioned earlier, is generally sold in halves. But even half of a chicken breast is much larger than a tenderloin! 

Comparing the two cuts, a chicken tenderloin looks small and skinny. At the same time, a chicken breast is large and plump. 

4. Texture

Here, I will be telling you about both their textures when they are raw and also once they are cooked. When raw, the textures of these two cuts do differ from each other. Chicken breasts tend to be plump, whereas tenderloins are much flatter. 

Once cooked, then both end up getting a tender and juicy texture. However, tenderloin is always much more tender than chicken breast. Hence the name completely justifies this cut! 

5. Flavor Absorption

The next difference between these two cuts of meat lies in their flavor absorption abilities. Most types of meat are usually cooked with spices, herbs, and other flavorings. 

Chicken breast has a larger surface area and also great absorption abilities. So, if cooked properly, it tends to soak up all the flavors around it. Chicken tenderloin does not soak flavors just as well as chicken breast does. 

6. Cooking Time

The next difference between these two cuts of meat lies in their cooking times. This is another obvious difference between the two, just because they have varying sizes. 

Chicken breasts mostly take longer to cook compared to tenderloin. But, the fact is that as they are located quite close to each other, their cooking times are less different.

7. Best Cooking Method

With both these chicken cuts, there are many cooking methods that can be used. Some of them are also common between the two. However, for both these cuts, some methods work better than others. 

Some of the best ways to cook chicken breast are by baking or grilling it to get all the flavors and textures right. Baking and poaching work well with tenderloin, but frying is also a common cooking method. 

8. Nutritional Content

There is less of a difference in the distribution of nutrients in each of these cuts. They are rich protein sources, just like the rest of chicken meat. 

However, chicken breast tends to be richer in protein and more nutritionally dense. Chicken tenderloins have a higher sodium content as compared to chicken breast. 

9. Price

Finally, the last difference between these two cuts of meat is the difference in their price. The chicken breast does tend to be costlier than various other parts. But it also depends on whether the cut is bone-in or boneless. 

Tenderloin is always boneless and isn’t as abundant as chicken breast. So, in most cases, chicken tenderloin is more expensive than chicken breast. 

Chicken Breast Vs. Tenderloin | Similarities Between The Two

Similarities between chicken breast and tenderloin

By now, we have seen that there are way too many differences between chicken breast and tenderloin. However, there is always the chance of there being similarities as well!

Now, there are barely any similarities between these two cuts of chicken. But let’s take a look at the few that are there. 

1. They Are Both A Cut Of Chicken

The first and probably the main similarity between these two cuts of chicken is that they both come from the same bird. Another similarity that could be pointed out is that they both come from the same area of the bird. 

2. They Can Look Similar

One of the reasons a tenderloin is really easy to miss is that it can, in many instances, look like a chicken breast. Rather, if packed and sold in the supermarket, tenderloin looks like strips of chicken breast that have been packed together. 

3. They Have Similar Flavors

The last similarity that can be pointed out between the two cuts is that they have similar flavors. Yes, tenderloin is comparatively more tender than chicken breast. However, all in all, when tasted together, it can be difficult to tell them apart. 

Top Chicken Breast Recipes To Try

Chicken breast is versatile and can easily be incorporated into almost every cuisine possible. Here are some recipes you could try with great chicken breasts! 

1. Stuffed Chicken Breast

An easy way to amp up the full flavor of your chicken breast is by stuffing it up. Stuffing a chicken breast instantly adds a lot of flavor to the whole meal. There are various ways to stuff a chicken breast and several recipes that can be followed. 

But, one of the simplest ways I have discovered is to slice the chicken breast in half and stuff it with your favorite cheese, some pesto, and finally, a bunch of sundried tomatoes. Together, they create a lovely symphony of flavors. 

2. Lemon Chicken Piccata

Chicken breast is surely a favorite for the Italians as there are so many different recipes that could be tried out with this simple cut! One more Italian classic where you could use a lovely piece of chicken breast is lemon chicken piccata. 

For this recipe, chicken is first drenched in flour and then browned. This chicken is topped on a bed of pasta with a creamy sauce base. The flavors in this recipe all come in from butter, capers, lemon juice, and white wine. 

3. One Pot Chicken Burrito Bowl

Burritos turn out to be way more delicious when made with chicken breast rather than other cuts of the bird. If you are short on time, you can make yourself a burrito bowl at home with just some simple ingredients. 

Moreover, the best part about this burrito bowl is that it can all be made in a single pot! Just cook your rice, beans, and chicken together, then finish this magnificent bowl with queso, sour cream, guacamole, salsa, and some veggies too! 

4. Oven-Baked Chicken Breast

A whole roasted chicken is common everywhere. But if you don’t want to go through the trouble of roasting a whole chicken, you can simplify the process by using the same recipe for a chicken breast instead! 

Making an oven-baked chicken breast is very simple and similar to that of a whole chicken. Just brine, rub with oil, season, and bake your chicken! Remember to serve this with some gravy or your favorite sauces. 

5. Chicken Breast With Mushroom Gravy

Lastly, a classic and my favorite recipe is chicken breast with mushroom gravy. Chicken and gravy are a great combination. We all know that. But there is indeed something about the combination of chicken and mushrooms. 

The umami flavor of the mushrooms works well with the mild flavor of chicken in this case. Here, you’d have to sear the chicken breast separately and make the gravy separate. Then finally, the two can be brought together for the chicken breast to absorb all the umami flavor. 

Top Chicken Tenderloin Recipes To Try

Chicken tenderloins are, well, comparatively tender. So, it is really easy to overcook them. Hence, this chicken cut is only suitable for some recipes.

However, various recipes specialize in a crispy tenderloin with varying flavor profiles. Here are some great flavors that work well with a tenderloin. 

1. Bacon-Wrapped Tenderloin

I’m sure you must have heard of pigs in a blanket before. But, ever heard of tenderloins in a blanket? This combination is indeed an amazing version of the classic pigs in blankets. 

To bring this recipe together, you will need to cook your chicken tenderloins separately, either fried or baked. Then, wrap them up with bacon and sear them in a skillet until the bacon is crispy. Just like that, your overindulgent treat is ready! 

2. Garlic Parmesan Chicken Tenders

A favorite for many when it comes to fried chicken is the garlic and parmesan flavor. This flavor combination is a match made in heaven as they go together well! You can buy a fried or baked version of the tenderloins for this recipe. 

Like any other recipe for chicken tenders, you’ll have to roll the chicken in flour and eggs. Finally, roll the chicken tenderloins in breadcrumbs that have added parmesan and some garlic powder. 

3. Grilled Chicken Tenders

Although not as popular a way to cook chicken tenders as chicken breast, grilling is surely a great way to bring a lot of flavor to this chicken cut. You’d have to marinate the tenders as you would with a chicken breast or a whole chicken. 

However, with chicken tenders, you will have to be careful about time and temperature. They do cook much faster than even a chicken breast and can also dry out. So, make sure you follow the temperature and times given in the recipe precisely. 

4. Sriracha Chicken Tenders

For people who love some heat along with their food, simple fried or baked chicken tenders will not do the trick. You can easily bring in all the heat you want by adding some sriracha to your chicken tenders! 

Here, you will have to combine sriracha with some vinegar, garlic, and oil and let the chicken tenderloins marinate for about an hour. Then, fry them up and enjoy them with some ranch dressing! 

5. Chicken Tender Wraps

Last but not least are some classic wraps made with chicken tenders. I have found that while making wraps with chicken, especially fried chicken, tenderloin works much better than any other chicken cut ever would! 

One of the easiest ways to make one of these wraps is by first frying your chicken tenders the way you would like. Then, spread some sauce on the wrap, and top it with your favorite veggies, chicken tenders, and some cheese! Enjoy it with a hot plate of french fries! 

Chicken Breast Vs. Tenderloin | Which One Is Healthier? 

When it comes to meat, chicken, all in all, is one of the best options out there. In many cases, chicken is also considered one of the healthiest cuts of meat or poultry, which is why many people prefer it over other sorts. 

It is indeed especially true for people who like a good source of protein in their diet, like athletes. However, the fat composition in different cuts can be different. That may make you wonder if one of these cuts is healthier. Is that the case, though? 

Technically, by all means, chicken breast is a much healthier cut as compared to a tenderloin. Chicken breast has dense muscles and a very less amount of fat, which results in a lot of protein and also an abundance of various other nutrients. 

Chicken tenderloin is also a great source of protein, no doubt about that. However, it is much smaller in comparison to chicken breast and hence, has a much lower amount of protein, making it the less healthy option of the two. 

Chicken Breast Vs. Tenderloin | Which One Is More Versatile? 

When it comes to food of any kind, versatility is something that we all look for. It is only sometimes the case with some individuals out there. However, most of us would want to avoid buying or investing in an ingredient that can be used only in certain ways! 

So, whether it comes to spices or even cuts of chicken, versatility can be a really important factor. Here, as they are both cuts of the same bird, one may be more versatile. It is, however, very much possible! 

In most cases, chicken breast tends to be much more versatile than chicken tenders. The reason behind this is that chicken breasts can be cooked in multiple ways without destroying the texture of the meat. 

Chicken tenderloins, on the other hand, are tender and lean. So, certain cooking methods might work better than you would expect them to and dry them out. So, most people prefer chicken breast over tenderloin when it comes down to versatility. 

Chicken Breast Vs. Tenderloin | Which One Is More Expensive? 

Can two cuts belonging to the same meat be priced differently? Yes, it is indeed very much possible! It eventually comes down to the overall demand for meat and how abundantly it is available. 

So, chicken breast, as you may know, is much larger as compared to tenderloin. A whole chicken breast can give you two large portions. However, in the case of tenderloins, each chicken has only two strips of the same. 

Keeping the above points in mind, chicken tenderloin is more expensive than chicken breast. It is because of the limited amount of tenderloin compared to chicken breast and because of this cut’s basic characteristics. 

Chicken Breast Vs. Tenderloin | Which One Is Better? 

It is very difficult to pick one ingredient over another regarding flavors. It is simply because food is a very subjective matter. Everyone has grown up in different ways, with different eating habits. 

So, flavor preferences can vary for people from two different cultures. Hence, that does make it hard to pick if one of them is better than the other. However, suppose you keep regular usage of the two in mind. In that case, chicken breast is usually the better cut of meat simply because it is more versatile and easily available. 

Can One Of These Be Used As A Substitute For The Other? 

While cooking, you often only get some ingredients you want for a recipe. Well, the easiest way to get out of a situation like that is to skip the ingredient altogether or use a substitute instead! 

Using substitutes is a very common practice; some of them work exceptionally well, just like the main ingredient. So, you may wonder if chicken breasts and tenderloin are interchangeable ingredients. 

In some cases, they can be used as substitutes for each other. However, they do have different compositions. So, in most cases, you will have to tweak the temperature and timings of recipes. But otherwise, using them as substitutes for each other works out fine in most recipes! 


I hope this article has given you all the information you need about chicken breast and tenderloin. Although the cuts of chicken come from the same area, they have different compositions.

It is eventually what sets the two apart from each other. However, that being said, the two cuts are interchangeable and can be used as substitutes for each other. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Are chicken breast and tenderloin the same? 

No, chicken breast and tenderloin are two different cuts of chicken. 

Do chicken breast and tenderloin come from the same area in a chicken? 

Yes, chicken breast and tenderloin do come from the same area. However, the breast is in the front, whereas the tenderloin is on the underside. 

Is chicken breast more nutritionally dense than tenderloin? 

Yes, chicken breast is more nutritionally dense and has a bigger protein source than tenderloin. 

Does it take longer to cook a chicken breast than a tenderloin?

Yes, it takes longer to cook a chicken breast than a tenderloin. 

Can chicken breast and tenderloin be used as substitutes for each other? 

Yes, chicken breast and tenderloin can be used as substitutes for each other. 

Is it necessary to soak both these cuts of chicken in a liquid before cooking them? 

It is better to soak them in a liquid or baste them while cooking, as there are chances of both these cuts drying out rather quickly. 

Do chicken breast and tenderloin differ in color as well? 

Yes, they do, but very mildly. Chicken tenderloin is a little darker than chicken breast, but the difference is so minor that it can be difficult to distinguish. 

Are chicken goujons the same as tenderloin? 

Yes, chicken goujons and tenderloin are the same cut. 

Are chicken strips the same as tenderloin? 

Although the name may suggest so, they are different. Chicken strips can be from any part of the chicken, whereas tenderloin is a more specific chicken cut. 

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