This chicken tenders recipe is guaranteed to be a family favorite. The chicken is coated in a breading that's super flavorful, perfectly crispy and crunchy. It gets lightly fried till golden for that restaurant-like texture.
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My Take On Chicken Tenders
Chicken tenders are one of those nostalgic foods that I think are just as delicious as an adult as they were when I was a kid. I still love ordering chicken fingers at restaurants, but everything is better homemade, so I had to come up with my own recipe.
Well, these homemade chicken tenders turned out incredible! For being so simple to make, they're crazy good. The chicken has a depth of flavor from the marinade and seasonings blend, and my quick frying method makes it turn out crazy crunchy and crispy outside yet still juicy inside.
After one bite, you'll be hooked! If you want something to dip them in, my keto bbq sauce pairs so well.
Why You'll Love This Recipe
Restaurant quality. Flavorful, juicy, and crispy, these tenders seriously taste like something you'd get from a restaurant.
Crowd favorite. Everyone I've made this recipe for can't get enough of it. The chicken tendies are always the talk of the party, and kids and adults both love them.
Simple ingredients. Most of the ingredients for this recipe are pantry staples, so you probably have almost everything you need to make them at home!
For the chicken:
- Chicken tenderloins- I like to get slightly thicker ones.
- Buttermilk- this is such an underrated addition that makes this recipe turn out like a cross between classic chicken fingers and fried chicken.
- Salt and pepper
- Garlic powder- for a little savoriness.
- Smoked paprika- to add some spice that pairs really well with buttermilk.
And for the breading:
- Flour and baking powder- to coat the chicken and make it extra crunchy.
- Salt and pepper
- Garlic powder
- Smoked paprika
- Buttermilk- most recipes use egg to coat the chicken, but this is my secret trick that makes the chicken turn out so darn good.
How To Make Chicken Tenders
1. Marinate the chicken: In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk with the salt, pepper, garlic powder, and smoked paprika. Add the chicken and stir to coat them well in the mixture. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
2. Prepare the breading: Combine the flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, garlic, and smoked paprika in a large mixing bowl. Add the buttermilk and stir until you have a clumpy mixture. You can also just toss it all in a food processor and process until coarse.
3. Bread the chicken: Spread the breading on a tray or baking sheet. Add the marinated chicken to the baking sheet and coat it well on all sides with the prepared breading.
4. Fry the chicken: Heat 2 inches of oil in a large skillet over medium high heat to 350°F. Add the breaded chicken and fry for about 4 minutes until they're golden brown. Flip and fry on the other side for another minute or so until golden and crispy. Transfer to a wire rack or plate lined with a paper towel to drain any excess oil
5. Serve: Take out any of your favorite dipping sauces like BBQ sauce, Buffalo sauce, ketchup, or a honey mustard dipping sauce. Serve the chicken warm and enjoy!
My Pro Tips To Make The Best Recipe
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels before starting the recipe.
- Give the chicken enough time to marinate for the best flavor. Patience!
- Coat the chicken completely on all sides with the breading before frying. I'll press it into the flour mix on the tray to make sure it sticks.
- Make sure the oil is hot before adding the chicken to it.
- Only fry a few pieces of chicken at a time so it doesn't lower the temperature of the hot oil.
How I Recommend Storing Leftovers
In the fridge: Store leftovers in a shallow airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
In the freezer: Put the chicken in a freezer-safe bag and freeze for 6 months. I like to make a double batch of this recipe, so I have some frozen chicken tenders on hand for a few weeks!
Reheating: I like to put the chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and heat it in the oven at 350°F for 8-10 minutes. You can also use the air fryer and warm at 375°F for 5 minutes for a quicker method.
Frequently Asked Questions
What's the difference between chicken tenders and chicken fingers?
The only difference is the type of chicken used. Chicken tenders are made with chicken tenderloins, and chicken fingers are made with chicken breast that is cut into strips.
Do I have to fry the chicken?
I think frying yields the best results, but you can also make baked chicken tenders or air fryer chicken tenders if you don't want to fry them. Just bake at 425°F for 15 minutes or air fry at 400°F for 8 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking.
More Chicken Recipes To Try Next
- Baked chicken tenders (no breading)
- Chicken cutlets recipe
- Baked BBQ chicken wings
- Baked chicken legs and thighs
- Italian baked chicken
- For the chicken:
- 1lb. chicken tenderloins
- ½ cup buttermilk
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon smoked paprika
For the breading:
- ¾ cup flour
- ¾ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- Black pepper, to taste
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 ½-2 tablespoon buttermilk
- In a large bowl, combine buttermilk with salt, pepper, garlic, and smoked paprika.
- Add chicken tenders and stir to coat well. Cover with plastic foil and refrigerate for 4 hours.
- Make the breading; in a mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, salt, black pepper, garlic, and smoked paprika. Add buttermilk and stir until you have a clumpy mixture, or just toss it all in a food processor and process until coarse.
- Spread the breading out on a tray or baking sheet. Add chicken to the try and coat it well with the prepared breading on both sides. I'll gently press the chicken into the breading to help it stick.
- Heat 2 inches of oil in a skillet to 350F.
- Add chicken tenders and fry for about 4 minutes, then flip and fry another minute until they are golden brown.
- Place the cooked tenders on a paper-lined plate to drain.
- Serve with potatoes on the side, salad, and hot sauce.
Nutrition Information:Serving Size: ¼ lb.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 352Total Fat: 17.1gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 74mgSodium: 388mgCarbohydrates: 20.5gFiber: 0.8gSugar: 1.9gProtein: 27.6g