Super Crispy Chicken Tenders

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 ½ teaspoon of dried Italian seasoning. Serve with a squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Cajun Chicken Tenders: Add ½ 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

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 ½ teaspoon) (this is MSG, so use at your discretion).

Chicken Fingers

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Super Crispy Chicken Tenders

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


  • 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


  • Cut the chicken breasts into four tenders each and soak them in a bowl with the buttermilk and hot sauce for 30 minutes.
  • Add the eggs to one bowl and the flour and spices to a second bowl.
  • Dip each piece of chicken from the buttermilk bowl to the flour mixture.
  • Dip it into the eggs then back into the flour mixture.
  • Shake excess flour gently off and put the chicken onto a baking sheet.
  • Repeat with all the pieces.
  • Heat the oil (three inches deep) in a dutch oven on medium high heat to 350 degrees.
  • Fry the chicken in small batches for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown.


Calories: 138kcal | Carbohydrates: 12g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 58mg | Sodium: 459mg | Potassium: 256mg | Vitamin A: 80IU | Vitamin C: 0.8mg | Calcium: 27mg | Iron: 1mg
Keyword: Super Crispy Chicken Tenders

Super Crispy Chicken Tenders

About the Author: Sabrina Snyder

Sabrina is a professionally trained Private Chef of over 10 years with ServSafe Manager certification in food safety. She creates all the recipes here on Dinner, then Dessert, fueled in no small part by her love for bacon.

Sabrina Snyder is a professionally trained personal and private chef of over 10 years who is the creator and developer of all the recipes on Dinner, then Dessert.

She is also the author of the upcoming cookbook: Dinner, then Dessert – Satisfying Meals Using Only 3, 5 or 7 Ingredients which is being published by Harper Collins.

She started Dinner, then Dessert as a business in her office as a lunch service for her coworkers who admired her lunches before going to culinary school and becoming a full time personal chef and private chef.

As a personal chef Sabrina would cook for families one day a week and cook their entire week of dinners. All grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning was done along with instructions on reheating. As a private chef she cooked for private parties and cooked in family homes in the evenings for families on a nightly basis after working as a personal chef during the day.

Sabrina has been certified as a ServSafe Manager since 2007 and was a longstanding member of the USPCA Personal Chef Association including being on the board of the Washington DC Chapter of Chefs in the US Personal Chef Association when they won Chapter of the year.

As a member of the community of food website creators Sabrina Snyder has spoken at many conferences regarding her experiences as a food writer including the Indulge Food Conference, Everything Food Conference, Haven Food Conference and IACP Annual Food Professionals Conference.

Sabrina lives with her family in sunny California.

Dinner, then Dessert, Inc. owns the copyright on all images and text and does not allow for its original recipes and pictures to be reproduced anywhere other than at this site unless authorization is given. If you enjoyed the recipe and would like to publish it on your own site, please re-write it in your own words, and link back to my site and recipe page. Read my disclosure and copyright policy. This post may contain affiliate links.


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  1. That is about as close as you can get! Excellent recipe! Will make it again for sure.
    Thanks for sharing your talent

    1. I would choose a recipe for baked chicken tenders instead, the batter on this wouldn’t bake well, it would taste very doughy.

  2. Hi, what are the directions for cooking in the oven? I am not seeing, but it was mentioned that it was part of the recipe. Thank you!

  3. The fingers turned out great. Tried other recipes but my husband says these are the best. Will use this recipe again!!

  4. Out of the dozens, if not 100s of chicken tender and chicken nugget recipes I’ve tried, this one is the best. I didn’t change a thing and I will be making it again.

  5. Flavor is decent but not crispy long. Even after cooling on a wire rack, not stacked on each other. Breading separates from chicken.

    1. Your doing something wrong. I would say your oil isn’t hot enough. If it’s not around 350F It won’t crisp up. Try a thermometer in your oil 🙂

    2. I use buttermilk flour egg flour. Turned out fantastic. Don’t pat down your floured tenders, you need the nooks and crannies

    3. How would you get the breading to stick to the chicken? It tastes good but it just slides off of the chicken?

  6. I’m glad I read reviews first, because otherwise this recipe would have no flavour at all. I used approximately 1 tsp for each of the spices (aside from salt- I didn’t adjust that) and also added in approximately 1 tsp of old Bay seasoning. I also needed to use 3 eggs for 12 chicken strips.

    That being said- this recipe made for perfectly breaded chicken tenders! I will definitely be using this as my base the next time I make chicken tenders!

  7. Made these tonight for us and extra for someone I’m taking to, double batch, along with KFC copycat coleslaw, Amish macaroni salad, and deviled eggs. They were excellent! Thank you for the recipe! Might have been a little heavy handed on the spices, but not much. Excellent the way it is written. I do have a question though. Since I’m not taking these to the recipient until tomorrow, what is the best way to reheat? I don’t want to dry them out.

  8. Absolutely perfect recipe, if followed word for word. Oil temp is critical, a Dutch Oven will maintain oil temp due to its thick construction and retention of heat. If one does not have a Dutch Oven, a deep fryer with thermostat must be used. Myself and my kids are chicken tender fanatics, and these stepped up to the top of the list, both for store bought and restaurant sourced. There was a comment to let them set up for a bit before frying, this is great advice. I now have to make a huge batch of these and freeze them to enjoy whenever my kids and I would like. Thanks for such a simple yet perfect recipe!

  9. This recipe is absolutely perfect! It’s my husband’s favorite and would gladly eat it 3 times a week if I made it!

  10. Made these tonight for dinner and wow they were amazing! Husband and children loved them!
    Only thing I did differently was letting the tenders sit longer in the buttermilk.
    Will definitely be making these again!

  11. Delicious. Used crispy crushed ritz crackers & crushed rice Chex. My grandson said this was the best chicken ever!

    1. Why do I not get the thick crispy breading, mine always look flat and have no crunch. I feel like there is some secret trick that is not listed on any recipe because I’ve tried them all. Your photo looks like what I’m going for the most though.

      1. Hi, Your oil is not consistently hot enough or you may have too many pieces of chicken in the skillet. If the oil doesn’t keep it’s consistent temp, the breading will fall off as it’s cooking. Overcrowding can make turning chicken harder to do and the breading will fall off. Also.T try to turn the chicken only once or twice. The first turn shouldn’t be until the chicken is golden brown on it’s cooking side. Frying temp between 350 degrees and 375 degrees. Hope that helps.

  12. Made these tonight. Didn’t have buttermilk so I substituted whole milk with lemon juice. Worked like a charm! Best homemade chicken tenders I’ve ever made, my dad had 5 pieces!!

  13. i tried this and it came out really well for the first time. Although i did create a doughy mess that stuck everywhere once the buttermilk gets into the flour bowl. Would it be worth removing the chicken from the butter milk and letting them drip a bit before dredging?

  14. too salty for my taste. not crispy at all. when I fried them to deep gold in an attempt to make them crispy chicken was over cooked.

  15. Read all reviews. Heres what i did. Doubled all spices except salt. Used 3 tsps seasoned salt. Added onion powder & a splash of cajun spice. Patted fingers DRY after removing from marinate. Pressed into flour with fingers to get a good coat. Shook off excess. Dipped in egg & let it drain off & repeated pressing flour into chicken. Placed on waxed paper in fridge for 30 mins to set. Deep fried as directed in clean oil & they turned out just like ur pic. Perfect. This will be my go to recipe! Thank you!

    1. LOL your right on = this recipe is a guild and a pretty good one , for some people that cant cook lol , I am a real good cook and I but you are also = you looked up this recipe for a guild = I did this also = I knew id change it = thanks , for your take on this = I will be using yours for my base = but I am adding a few thingys of my own

  16. Can you cook these in an air fryer and get a similar crispiness? Also, if you don’t want spice, do you leave out the hot sauce? Lastly, does the MSG add flavor? Can you do it without the MSG and still have a tasty chicken?

    1. Hi! I have not tried these in the air fryer so I don’t know the level of crispy they would get. As for spice, I have seasoning options in the blog on how to make it different flavors, and the MSG does add flavor as well.

  17. I haven’t tried this yet, but I will really soon. I have a question though. Previously when I try to fry up some chicken, the crispy breading would separate from the chicken after frying. I’m left with chunks of fried breading and bare chicken. What am I doing wrong? I’ve tried the flour-egg-flour method. Someone said to put it in the fridge to dry the chicken before breading it and I still get the same result.

    1. It sounds like the temp of your oil may be off. Also, if you put the chicken on paper towels to drain it will make it soggy and the breading will fall off. Use cooling racks placed over a cookie sheet to drain. Hope this helps.

    1. Ginger?? Ginger doesn’t go into this. . . . .why would anyone put ginger into fried chicken tenders anyway? Did you even give a single nanosecond to re-read this before making it public? (That was a rhetorical question)

  18. If you love bacon, you get 2-thumbs up.

    KFC Spice blend: Marion Kay 99x. Read their back story. It’s the 11 herbs and spices (99) plus one more (X). This nails the seasoning. They recommend 2C flour/1-1/2 Tbsps salt/1 Tbsp 99x). For my taste buds it’s 2C flour/3 Tbsps salt/6 Tbsps 99x/1 tsp MSG.

    If brining pieces overnight, reduce salt to 1-1-1/2 Tbsps. I recommend starting with their recommended measurements, then tweak from there. When brining, I use 1 Tbsp salt per pound of chicken pieces with enough water to cover well. Bag, chill over night; drain, blot dry then proceed with the recipe. The chicken is so moist and tender this way. For extra crispy coating, bake in a 350°F oven for 15-20 minutes.

    I’m really after the gorgeous craggy coating shown on your photos. I’ll let you know soon if I have achieved that.

  19. Will the hot sauce make these spicy? I’m making them for my 3 year old and she hates even a hint of spicy.

  20. Absolutely perfect recipe no changes needed! We live way out in the mountains so quick grocery stops aren’t an option, so I keep powdered buttermilk on hand – worked perfectly for this. I fried them in a combo of Safflower oil & tallow from our beef, they turned out so good, served them with air fried yukon french fries – my family absolutely loved dinner. I mostly cook low carb but every now and then I like to throw in something like this for a real treat, I will continue to use this recipe from now on. This is one of those rare recipes you don’t have to tweak or add a lot of spices to make it palatable. So glad I found it, thank you!

    1. I haven’t tested it using one but if you decide to try, I’d love to know how it turns out. Thanks!

  21. This is my third recipe I have tried from you and you now have a devoted fan. All were fantastic! I have a dozen more marked to try.

  22. Made this tonight and they were super! Crispy and so juicy inside. Now if there is a secret to avoiding the mess we made doing it I’d love to know but the taste was outstanding!

      1. I used a deep fryer outside which made it much easier from a mess stand point and it also avoid the lingering smell of fried food in the house.

  23. I am terrible at frying chicken. My family loves KFC mashed potato bowls so I thought I give it another go. NEVER have I ever fried chicken without breadcrumbs. I was skeptical to say the least. But this turned out amazing!!! I can hear the crunch! This was hands down the best fried chicken! My husband said, “you need to leave a great review “ Never using bread crumbs again!

  24. Saw this, made this, Loved it! As is. Come to your site often for recipes; Thank you for sharing & caring!

  25. Followed the directions thoroughly and the recipe was bland. The process might be right but the amount of seasoning is lacking. Had to serve it with sauce, and a slaw to cover up the lack of flavor.

  26. Thanks so much for this recipe. I too added much more seasonings and spices to the flour (we like spicy food). But the process and recommendations was SPOT ON. I was actually wanting to replicate the Chicken Bowls from a famous Fried Chicken Chain. The first time I pretty much made the chicken, I cut them into longer tenders and they turned out great. But for the bowl with mashed potatoes, gravy and corn, I decided to cut the chicken in to nugget size. I stilled followed the process of soaking them in buttermilk over night then dredging them in seasoned flour, egg (added water to the egg) and one again seasoned flour. Frying took less time for the smaller pieces and I the taste was FABULOUS!!! I got great review for the 10-15 people I served on a wintery day. Classic comfort food. Thanks for this great recipie!

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