Crispy Chicken Tenders marinaded in buttermilk then fried (or oven baked!) golden brown are juicy and flavorful with southern seasonings.
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 Wing Dip (or try my slow cooker version!)
- Perfect Queso Dip
- Ultimate Bean Dip
- The BEST ever Buffalo Wings
- Ultimate Spinach Artichoke Dip
- Philly Cheesesteak Sloppy Joes <— these are ridiculously good.
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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?
- KFC Potato Wedges (Copycat)
- KFC Coleslaw (Copycat)
- KFC Original Recipe Chicken (Copycat)
- Chick-fil-A Nuggets (Copycat)
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).
- 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.