Remove that Awful Tendon from Chicken Tenderloins

Chicken tenderloins? More like TENDON loins. Ooh, ick. Gristly bits make me retch, so let’s remove it.

What even is this thing?

Package of chicken tenderloins with the tendon visible

I call it a “chicken tag” because I like to feel clever by making up my own terms for things, but as the title of the article says, it’s actually a tendon. This particular tendon holds the pectoralis minor (tenderloin) muscle to the keel bone (sternum), and makes the wings go up. It’s found beneath the pectoralis major–the “breast meat”–which makes the wings go down.

(Provided, of course, that the chicken is still intact and flapping around.)

I can’t find a public domain image showing these muscles clearly, but the Krieger Science Blog has a pretty good breakdown if you’re really interested in chicken anatomy.

Anyway, whatever it is, I don’t want it in my chicken because it’ll make me gag and I don’t like having to take food back out of my mouth and hide it in my napkin in front of my dining companions.

This isn’t a pretty process, but as I’m making a BBQ chicken stir-fry today and I’m going to chop it all up anyway, I don’t care how the tenderloins look when I’m done.


Grab a sharp knife (preferably by the handle) and grip the tendon firmly in your fingers.

Removing the tendon from the chicken tenderloin with a knife

Pull the tendon upward as you saw the knife gently along either side.

Removing the tendon from the chicken tenderloin with a knife

Try to save as much meat as you can by cutting the thin parts underneath the tendon too, but don’t worry about the chunks clinging to it. To remove a tendon from a chicken tenderloin, you’ll just have to ignore your OCD. It’s not a precise process.

Working the knife gendly down the tenderloin

Almost done!

There. It’s out. And we didn’t even waste too much of the good stuff!

chicken tenderloin with tendon removed


And I have successfully included that keyphrase more-or-less unobtrusively enough times to make my SEO thingy happy.

You can use a similar technique to get rid of that fatty film surrounding the tenderloin if you want to, but I find that most of it disappears during cooking.

Now throw the tendon away and go wash your hands and the knife and the cutting board and the counter and the sink and you’d probably better mop the floor too so you don’t catch salmonella. Chickens are gross.

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