Super Crispy Chicken Tenders

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Crispy Chicken Tenders marinaded in buttermilk then fried (or oven baked!) golden brown are juicy and flavorful with southern seasonings.

We love recreating fun family favorite American restaurant meals at home and these tenders are great served with Cole Slaw, Baked Beans my famous Baked Mac and Cheese and Macaroni Salad.

crispy chicken tenders
 The Best Ever Chicken Tender Recipe

I literally cracked a secret code in making chicken tenders crispy, juicy and flavorful. These Homemade Chicken Tenders are soaked in buttermilk and fried crisp are super flavorful, moist and extra crispy on the outside. Plus with spices like the kinds you’d get at KFC they are perfect for replacing fast food cravings and even game day parties. Plus I have directions for an oven baked version too, so there can be no feeling guilty about indulging in this awesome chicken fingers recipe.

The addition of the KFC spices that I use in my potato wedges recipe takes these chicken fingers over the top. KFC always said their chicken was finger licking good, you will want to because this chicken, like my Ultimate Fried Chicken Recipe (oooh, or my Oven Fried Chicken) is that good.

They’re golden brown fried chicken tenders made with either chicken breasts (make sure you use skinless chicken breasts) that you can slice into thinner chicken strips or you can use chicken tenderloin pieces and skip an extra step in the preparation.

If you’re using a chicken breast you will cut it along it’s long side to make chicken strips the right length for these chicken tenders. If you cut the chicken strips the shorter way they’ll be about 2-3 inches long and be closer to the size of an average fish stick.

Want some different seasoning ideas for next time?

  • Italian Chicken Tenders: Swap out the paprika for grated parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Cajun Chicken Tenders: Add 1/2 teaspoon cajun seasoning and double the garlic powder.

How to keep Chicken Tenders Crispy once fried:

Once fried you can keep the chicken tenders crispy on a baking sheet or a cookie sheet in a low oven at 250 degrees while you finish frying the remaining chicken tenders or keep them warm until your even starts.

The low temperature will ensure the chicken fingers stay juicy too, it isn’t hot enough to dry them out unless you leave them in there for hours. Do not cover the chicken though as it will create steam which will ruin the texture of the crispy chicken.

With the big game coming up we are looking for fun finger foods and chicken tenders are the perfect finger food. If you’re looking for more game day food look no further!

Game Day Recipes:

chicken tenders platter

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Dipping Sauces for Chicken Tenders

Why Marinate in Buttermilk?

The buttermilk acts as a tenderizer which makes the chicken juicy. Even just a half an hour soak will help with flavor and it also acts as a binding agent for the first coat of seasoned flour.

Even if the chicken tenders are going to be oven baked they should still be marinaded in buttermilk before baking.

Panko Breadcrumbs and Regular Breadcrumbs

If you would like to use panko breadcrumbs or regular breadcrumbs in this recipe to add more of a texture or crunch, like in a tempura recipe, you will have to reduce the flour to make up for the additional coating. Using breadcrumbs also allows you to bake this recipe instead of frying it (see baked chicken tenders recipe below).

If you fry the recipe with the use of the panko be aware the fat content (and saturated fat) of the recipe may be slightly higher as breadcrumbs tend to absorb more total fat than a flour based coating.  Serve this meal up with some roasted vegetables for some additional dietary fiber to make up for it! 😉

Oven Baked Chicken Tenders (Healthy Chicken Tenders)

  • After the buttermilk marinade add the spices to panko crumbs or breadcrumbs instead of flour.
  • Dredge the chicken from the buttermilk into the breadcrumbs then add to a baking sheet coated with cooking spray.
  • Brush with just 2 tablespoons of melted butter or spray with cooking spray (melted butter will give better flavor).
  • Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes.

Looking for some more fun fried chicken and sides?

Tools Used In This Recipe:
Deep Fryer: Easy for keeping temperature on point and kind of fun to use!
Accent Seasoning: The x factor in the original KFC copycat recipe (use 1/2 teaspoon) (this is MSG, so use at your discretion).

Chicken Fingers

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Super Crispy Chicken Tenders

4.91 from 30 votes
  • Yield: 16 Servings
  • Prep Time: 40 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour
  • Course: Main Course
  • Cuisine: American
  • Author: Sabrina Snyder
Super Crispy Chicken Tenders made with a buttermilk marinade that makes them really tender and the crispiest crust with KFC flavored spices.

Ingredients

  • 4 chicken breasts boneless skinless
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • canola oil for frying

Instructions

Note: click on times in the instructions to start a kitchen timer while cooking.

  1. Cut the chicken breasts into four tenders each and soak them in a bowl with the buttermilk and hot sauce for 30 minutes.

  2. Add the eggs to one bowl and the flour and spices to a second bowl.
  3. Dip each piece of chicken from the buttermilk bowl to the flour mixture.
  4. Dip it into the eggs then back into the flour mixture.
  5. Shake excess flour gently off and put the chicken onto a baking sheet.
  6. Repeat with all the pieces.
  7. Heat the oil (three inches deep) in a dutch oven on medium high heat to 350 degrees.
  8. Fry the chicken in small batches for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.

Nutrition Information

Yield: 16 Servings, Amount per serving: 138 calories, Calories: 138g, Carbohydrates: 12g, Protein: 14g, Fat: 2g, Cholesterol: 58mg, Sodium: 459mg, Potassium: 256mg, Vitamin A: 80g, Vitamin C: 0.8g, Calcium: 27g, Iron: 1g

All images and text © for Dinner, then Dessert.

Keyword: Super Crispy Chicken Tenders
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Super Crispy Chicken Tenders

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Comments

  1. Remember everyone who reads this. To let your chicken sit in the fridge for at least 15-20 mins. Before frying or baking. This will give the chicken a chance to bind with the breading.

    Follow this formula and you will succeed every time.

    Marinate chicken for 3 hrs in buttermilk/ or cream. Make sure to season the mixture.
    Then when ready to try. Mix eggs with cream until perfectly blended. Then follow this step below:

    From the marinade into all purpose flour with seasoning…

    Then into the egg wash

    Then into the final coating be it flour or bread crumb.

    Let the costed chicken sit for 15 minutes in the fridge without touching it.

    Then Cook

    Enjoy

  2. I just cooked this using bite size pieces of chicken tenderloin and it was the best fried chicken! I work at a chicken restaurant and my homeade was so much better! I will definitely be using this recipe again!

  3. Hi Sabrina,

    Though I followed your recipe to a T. , my chicken did not come out with a crispy skin such as the ones in the pics. The outer part came out more like a thin flour covering – even though I used so many eggs in the end; the last few pieces of chicken took alot of eggs because by then the egg bowl had so much flour in it, that it was just absorbing the eggs. Another thing – towards the middle, the oil became a frothy mess . I was sooo disappointed – my ‘crispy’ chicken nuggets came out like soft covered chicken nuggets – I really need to understand what to do about the crispiness, the oil & the eggs.

    Thanks

    Donna

    1. It sounds like you might need to dredge less or not make it as thick when dredging…does that make sense? That would cause too much coming off in the egg and making the oil frothy. Try and have a lighter hand or make a few batches to swap out in between if that happens again. Hope this helps!

  4. First time frying chicken in over 25 years. It was easy and delicious. I probably could have gone a little more golden, but they were still good

  5. I have a 10 year old who will only eat chicken strips from KFC. I googled “KFC chicken strips” and this recipe popped up in the results, so I gave it a whirl. Like others have said below, I cranked up the paprika and garlic powders as I thought 1/8 tsp would leave it quite bland. Otherwise, I followed it and used my little deep fryer to cook them in (minus the suggestion of using “Accent”).

    He took one bite and excitedly shouted “These taste just like KFC!”, so this recipe is going into the favorites.

    Thanks for sharing it!

  6. After reading this recipe because I wanted to try the oven baked version, I was really disappointed because there were no directions about the breading with breadcrumbs for the baked version. I was always taught never assume when writing a recipe, Confused in Ohio.

  7. Good recipe. I used more garlic and paprika then the recipe called for, also added a little onion powder. I normally season my chicken and the coating but in this case, followed the recipe. The chicken was not as rich as i would have liked. Next time, I’ll try that. Also, the store had 0 buttermilk. I googled a substitute, milk and for each cup add 1tsp of vinegar. Turned out great and you couldn’t taste the vinegar. Also, great idea placing the fingers in the oven. All and all, happy with the recipe and fingers came out nice, tasty and crispy.

  8. My kids (17, 13 & 7) all loved these! I did add a few extra dashes of Tabasco to the buttermilk and a bit more of each spice and finished with a little salt after they came out of the oil. They turned out just like the photo and none were left behind. Will be making again soon.

    1. You can make your own by adding 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar to a cup of milk and let it sit for about 10 minutes. Hope this helps!

  9. I didn’t have buttermilk. Measured 1tsp lemon juice and filled the rest of the cup with milk. Turned out amazing!

  10. Hi Sabrina,
    I made them and they were tasty however, they didn’t turn out to be like the ones in your photo. They were crispy but I was hoping they would turn out just like the ones you made. I used everything in the recipe. Did you use breadcrumbs to give them the texture like the ones in the photo?

  11. Why don’t you try to substitute yogurt instead of buttermilk it’s delicious as well some allperpus seasoning, crushed garlic

  12. I made these for my family and they loved them! I tossed them into buffalo sauce to give them more flavor and they were delicious! The only thing I would say is add a little more spices or what not to give it that extra flavor.

  13. Made this recipe today!! Worked out great tenders were so crispy , only thing was I tripled the recipe but found could of used a little more seasoning, but ground some black pepper and salt ontop and they worked out so good! Definitely adding to my recipe book , family favourite!!

    1. The strips came out good for the most part. However, I honestly don’t see the point in adding hot sauce to the buttermilk, the breading all fell off with the first bite, and if anyone wants more of a kick I suggest added crushed red pepper to the flour mix.

  14. You cannot cut a chicken breast into tenders.
    They are called “tenders” because they are made from chicken tenderloin.

    Otherwise, recipe is good 🙂

    1. This is the funniest comment!
      Please, please tell me where the chicken tenderloin is on the chicken so the next time i can make these properly.

      1. He’s actually correct. It is a part of the breast. That is why some places serve chicken tenderloins or tenders and others serve chicken strips. Some don’t know any better and call it whatever they want to. Chicken tenderloins are premium in my opinion. I absolutely prefer them. But a sliced chicken breast aka chicken strips go a lot further when feeding a crowd, on a budget or just don’t care. I do both, but I prefer tenders.

  15. When I make chicken tenders I like to add many spices from the cabinet. As well as some salt, pepper, paprika and garlic powder.. I also like to add a little onion powder, ground mustard…**Also** I add a packet of ranch dressing seasoning to the dry flour mix and it really adds a LOT of good flavor to your chicken tenders. A lady I worked with for years that makes great soul food recommended this to me and I’ve been making them this way ever since. Happy frying! 🙂

      1. I don’t know what I did wrong as followed the recipe to a t but my super crispy chicken nuggets weren’t that crispy

    1. Hello Courtney, about how much of a portion do you put of the ground mustard? If you don’t mind me asking. for years I try to look for a good recipe and tonight is the night I think I’m going to try it finally. Wish me luck and thank you to all and Sabrina very much for all of this yummy cooking to be so delicious & to be possible for me to make.

  16. Really nice but the seasoning wasn’t flavoursome enough. But really nice and crispy. Will make again. Any ideas on what else could be added to the seasoning?

    1. Depending on how much spice and heat you like, you can always add in some red pepper or chili powder. Also, feel free to up the amounts of the other spices, especially the garlic powder and the black pepper.

  17. These were delicious! Super crunchy and cooked well. I soaked a little longer than suggested in buttermilk and loved the taste! Will definitely use again.

    1. So sorry you feel that way. I use universal measurements that the majority of home cooks are comfortable with. If you are comfortable around using a scale, I say feel free to convert the measurements 🙂

      1. Wow, you handled that rude comment from Paul very well. Even if he had legitimate suggestion to make, he definitely should have started with “Thank you for the recipe” and then offering his suggestion respectfully. Well done, and thank you for the recipe!

  18. I’m unable to have casien, so instead of buttermilk, I added a tablespoon melted ghee to 2 cups soy milk. It worked great and was very delicious! Even my sister, who hates chicken, LOVED it!

  19. Hi Sabrina, this recipe looks delicious! But I have a quick question for the oven recipe. Since your adapted directions don’t reference the eggs (but it does direct to dredge) can you confirm whether I would still use the eggs? Thanks in advance! I can’t wait to try this recipe!

    1. So sorry I missed this! I would leave out the eggs, too much moisture will keep them from getting crispy. Let me know how it turns (turned) out!

  20. Made these for dinner. I did let the chicken breast slices soak in the buttermilk overnight. They were so tender. Now, mine did not look like the photo, but they were crunchy and tender. I tried to keep the oil as close to 350 degrees as possible, which was hard to do. I would love to see a video of the preparation of this recipe, as I never know if I am breading the chicken correctly. I will try the baking option next time, as I typically only fry about once a year! Great recipe!

    1. Glad you liked the recipe. Thanks for the feedback, hopefully we can get more videos out to you in the future! Let me know how the baking option goes!

  21. As I don’t like canola oil, would I be able to use peanut oil instead? Or would that alter the flavor? Thanks for all the great recipes!

    1. You need to use buttermilk but can make your own combining 1 cup of milk and either 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Stir and then let sit for 5 minutes before using. Good luck!

      1. Thank you! I don’t have buttermilk, but I do have lemon juice and milk, I am trying this tonight!! Thank you for a great recipe!!