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

4.93 from 13 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.


  • 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


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: 1.6g, Vitamin C: 1g, Calcium: 2.7g, Iron: 5.7g

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Keyword: Super Crispy Chicken Tenders
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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.

See more posts by Sabrina

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. Loved it!! Only change was I added pickle juice instead of vinegar to my milk to make the buttermilk. It gave it a distinct dilly flavor and extra saltiness. Awesome recipe. Leftovers were great in the air fryer the next day.

  2. You don’t address the hot sauce, which is a liquid. Probably wouldn’t work well here, you might want to use simple cayenne pepper powder.

    1. Not quite sure what your question is but I used the hot sauce with the buttermilk in this recipe (step 1).
      Hope this clears it up.

  3. These were very good, very flavorful. I did double the spices to the flour as well as pre seasoned the chicken. It’s always nice to find a recipe the kids will enjoy.

  4. I just found this recipe and want to try could I use whole milk if I don’t have any buttermilk? Please reply

    1. You can make your own buttermilk by taking 1 cup of milk and adding 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Stir and let sit for 5 minutes. Hope this helps. Enjoy!

    1. You need to use buttermilk but you can make your own by combining 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon on either lemon juice or vinegar. Stir and let it sit for 5 minutes. Hope this helps!

  5. Hi just wanted to know if i can make a big batch and freeze? I can then defrost and crumb to put in the oven. Will this work?

    1. Yes, I would flash freeze them in a single layer after they’ve been made and then store them in a freezer safe container. To reheat, place it in a 375 degree oven for 20-30 minutes. Enjoy!

  6. Hi! Me again… wondering if you get better results if the flour coating stays dry or if it becomes batter like from resting before frying?

    1. I think you’ll be good either way. You can always try it both ways and see if it makes a big difference for you.

  7. Thank you!! This is the closest we have come to restaurant quality fried tenders. The seasonings were perfect. I marinaded the chicken in buttermilk and salt before I found this recipe so I cut down the salt in the flour and it worked. I halved the recipe so basically just threw in dashes of the seasoning and it was perfect. It takes a lot to get added to our rotation so thank you!!

  8. Hey,

    I wonder which breadcrumbs you used in the picture. Was it Panko? As it seems soo crispy but I can’t imagine it that crispy with only flour!

    1. Make sure not to overcrowd the pan while frying. That’ll help to get them crispy. Also, make sure the oil temperature is hot enough. Hope this helps for next time.

  9. This was a super good recipe. The buttermilk does the trick for moist chicken. I only wished I would have put less chicken in the oil. A few at a time is the key. Otherwise it’s too crowded & the crispy flakes come off. Sorry no pictures, mine was not pretty. But TASTY

  10. I have always done all the cooking at home. I made these tonight and my wife said I had overdone myself this time. She vowed to never eat chicken tenders from any where else again other than mine.

  11. Just tried this recipe for the first time last night. It was AMAZING!!!! WE used 64 oz of oil in a dutch oven and it was the perfect amount of oil. At 350 degrees they cooked very quickly 3-4 minutes but the cutlets were super thin. This is a winner and we’ll be making again!

    1. Hmm, popcorn chicken would probably work but breading such small pieces might be a challenge. As far as fried wings go I think because the meat is hidden in between the bone, it won’t be cooked before the outside gets to dark. I’m not sure it would work. Sorry.

  12. I found the addition of dipping in egg and the inclusion of baking powder in the flour made the coating more bread than crust and separated from the meat…I would keep the baking powder but skip the eggs…if crunchier coating desired just double dip between buttermilk & flour.

    1. Yes, I would recommend freezing them after they’ve been made. Flash freeze them completely in a single layer and then store them in a freezer safe ziplock bag. To reheat, place in the oven at 375 degrees 20-30 minutes. Hope this helps!

  13. Were these really spicy on 1-10 scale! Or should I leave hot sauce out! They look really good just was wanting to know spicy factor!

  14. If we were to decide to add the accent seasoning do we replace the salt with it or add that on top of the salt the recipe already calls for??

  15. I made these for 4th of July- while the rest of the country was BBQing we fried! It was my first time deep frying anything and I’m so glad I picked this recipe they came out really good and everyone loved them. Thank you

    1. Haha, nothing wrong with frying on the fourth!! I’m so glad you guys enjoyed it! Thanks for coming back to let me know!

    1. Yes, you’ll just want to make sure that it’s deep enough to be able to fry the chicken. I like using a dutch oven because the sides are high which means less splattering and clean up.

    1. This recipe doesn’t require the accent seasoning. The original KFC recipe does and I wanted to include it in case others were interested in it.

    1. I didn’t use it for my recipe because it’s MSG. I just wanted to give the information if others wanted to use it.

  16. From the reviews, I’m assuming the amount of spices indicated are enough to give the tenders that KFC flavor…My husband doesn’t like spicy & I do, so he would probably like that amount of spices in the recipe.  

    1. It really won’t be as crispy in the oven. You might be able to do just a light breadcrumb coating and try it in the oven that way.

      1. I’m definitely making these for my picky grandchildren one night this week. They are always at my house on Thursday nights. I know they will go nuts for them. I’m also looking forward to them, they look SO good.