🐔 Crispy Fried Chicken Tenders Recipe – Quick & Easy

by | Jun 3, 2024 | Chicken Recipes, Recipes

After a long day, you’re ready for something tasty and simple to make. You find chicken tenders in the fridge. Memories of happy family moments rush back, especially the times everyone loved crispy chicken tenders. The best news? Making these treats at home doesn’t take forever. This recipe promises the joy of great chicken tenders in only 30 minutes or less.

This recipe is healthier than the usual deep-frying method since it uses less oil. The tenders get cooked in just a bit of oil, becoming crispy on the outside and juicy inside. The trick is to prepare the chicken by drying it and heating the oil just right. These steps ensure the breading sticks well and stays yummy.

These chicken tenders are perfect fresh or as leftovers. They’re great for any meal. Let’s get into how you can make these perfect, crispy chicken tenders quickly!

Table of Contents

Key Takeaways

  • The recipe takes 30 minutes or less to prepare.
  • Requires less oil than deep-frying, making it a healthier option.
  • Chicken tenders cook quickly, in 4-5 minutes on one side and 3-4 minutes on the other.
  • Preparing the chicken properly ensures the breading stays intact.
  • Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated within 3-4 days.

Introduction to Crispy Fried Chicken Tenders

Fried chicken tenders are known for being crispy outside and juicy inside. This recipe is great for families because both kids and adults love it. It’s excellent for casual get-togethers or any quick weekday meal.

Why Choose This Recipe?

This recipe is easy and fast, perfect for making a big batch. You can make 20-24 chicken strips from two large breasts. A recommended fryer is affordable at $45 and ships for free.

You’ll get a golden crust by frying at 375°. It only takes about six minutes to cook a batch, ensuring a quick yet tasty meal. Remember, the chicken needs to reach 165° inside to be fully cooked.

What Makes It Quick & Easy?

This recipe focuses on using items you likely have in your kitchen. Let’s break it down:

  1. Flour Mixture: includes 3 cups of flour, 2 tsp of salt, and 2 tsp of pepper.
  2. Water Bath: consists of 2 tsp of salt, 1/2 tsp of pepper, and 1 tsp of garlic powder.
  3. Egg Wash: 1 egg helps the coating stick to the chicken.
  4. Other Essentials: like 1 1/2 cups of buttermilk, 1 cup of cornstarch, and 2 tablespoons of hot sauce.

You’ll only need 15 minutes to prepare the ingredients, then 35 minutes to cook. All in all, it’s a little over an hour to have a delicious meal ready.

Ingredients Needed for Golden Fried Chicken Tenders

To make golden fried chicken tenders, you start by gathering key ingredients. You’ll need basic items from your kitchen and any extra flavors you like. Each part is crucial for a tasty outcome.

Essential Pantry Staples

For this buttermilk chicken tenders recipe, get these staples ready:

  • 2 pounds of chicken tenderloins for the marinade
  • 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour
  • 1.5 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour (coating mixture)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3–4 cups of vegetable oil for frying

golden fried chicken tenders

Optional Add-ons

To spice up your golden fried chicken tenders, here’s what to add:

  • Add a pinch of cayenne pepper for heat
  • Use seasoned breadcrumbs to enhance the crust
  • Incorporate chopped fresh herbs like parsley or thyme into the coating mixture

Preparing Your Chicken: Fresh vs. Frozen

Knowing the difference when you’re making chicken tenders is key. Fresh and frozen tenders each have pros and cons. We’ll guide you on choosing the best tenders and how to thaw frozen ones properly.

Choosing the Best Chicken

Choosing top-quality chicken is vital for great tenders. Fresh tenders should be pale pink with little fat. They usually taste better and have a great texture. For frozen ones, make sure they don’t have freezer burn. They should be from a trusted source. High-quality frozen tenders can taste just as good if cooked right.

Thawing Frozen Chicken Tenders

Thawing frozen tenders well is important to keep them tasty. The best way is to leave them in the fridge overnight. This way, they thaw evenly. In a rush, use a sealed bag and thaw in cold water. Change the water every half hour. This method prevents bacteria and keeps the meat’s texture. For a faster option, an Instant Pot is great. Use it on Manual HIGH for 6 minutes for frozen tenders and 3 minutes for fresh ones.

Step-by-Step Prep: Getting Chicken Ready for Frying

Getting the chicken ready is key before you fry it. This step ensures the breading will stick well and each piece is tasty. Here’s how to make sure your chicken tenders are set for the fryer.

Patting Chicken Dry

preparing chicken tenders

To start, dry the chicken tenders with paper towels. This step makes the breading stick better, giving you a crunchier texture. Put the tenders on a paper towel-lined plate and gently press to remove any wetness.

The Importance of Dry Brining

Dry brining means lightly salting the chicken and letting it rest in the fridge. This step is not a must but makes the chicken juicier and more flavorful. The salt pulls out moisture, then the chicken reabsorbs this liquid along with seasonings.

Focusing on prep sets the scene for tasty chicken tenders. Spending a bit more time on preparation leads to a crispy, delicious outcome.

Setting Up Your Breading Station

Starting with a good breading station is key to crispy chicken tenders. It helps make sure your chicken is evenly coated and super crispy. Here’s how you can set yours up:

Flour Mixture

Make the flour mixture first. Mix 1 cup of flour, 1/2 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp garlic powder, 1/2 tsp ground black pepper, and 1 tsp kosher salt or sea salt flakes in a bowl. This mix is the first layer that makes the chicken crispy. It also helps the egg wash stick better.

Egg Wash

Next, make the egg wash. Beat 2 eggs in a bowl until they’re smooth. The egg wash makes the breadcrumbs stick, which makes your tenders nice and crunchy.

Bread Crumbs Coating

Prepare the breadcrumb coating last. In bowl three, mix 1 and 1/4 cups of Panko breadcrumbs with 2 tbsp of fresh parsley. To add more flavor, include 1/2 tsp of garlic powder and 1/3 cup of Parmesan cheese. This coating makes your chicken tenders extra crunchy and tasty.

With these three places set up, your chicken tenders will be crispy every time!

The Best Oils for Frying Chicken Tenders

Choosing the right oil is key for perfect chicken tenders. The oil you use affects their taste, crunch, and overall quality.

best oil for frying

Choosing the Right Oil

For the best results, pick oils with high smoke points. This prevents burning and ensures your tenders are just right. Some good options are:

  • Canola Oil: It’s great for its neutral taste and can reach high heat without burning (about 400°F).
  • Peanut Oil: Gives a subtle nutty flavor, with a high smoke point (around 450°F).
  • Vegetable Oil: It’s used often, can handle heat well (around 400°F), and helps your tenders get that perfect crisp.
  • Vegetable Shortening: It also has a high smoke point, making it ideal for frying tenders.

Heating Oil to the Perfect Temperature

To get your chicken tenders extra crispy, you must heat the oil right. Here’s how:

  1. Target Temperature: Aim for 350-375°F. This temp ensures golden-brown, evenly cooked tenders.
  2. Food Thermometer: Always use a thermometer to keep an eye on your oil’s heat. This prevents cooking at the wrong temperature.
  3. Maintaining Heat: Don’t overload the fryer, which can cool the oil quick. Fry in small batches to keep the temperature steady.

Follow these tips for choosing and heating oil, and your tenders will turn out delicious, crispy, and not greasy.

How to Pan-Fry Chicken Tenders Perfectly

Pan-frying chicken tenders is easy and yields tasty results. Season them with garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, oregano, and salt. This seasoning makes each bite full of flavor, perfect for an easy chicken tenders recipe.

For the best results, avoid overcrowding the pan. This allows each piece to cook evenly and develop a golden, crispy coating.

To start, warm up 1 cup of non-GMO canola oil or vegetable oil. A large cast iron skillet is best for this. Aim for 350°, the right temperature for frying so that the tenders don’t get too greasy.

Lodge pans come recommended for their ability to cook food just right. They are both budget-friendly and efficient for getting a perfect fry.

Once the oil is hot, add the seasoned chicken into the skillet. They should start sizzling right away. This shows the oil is at the perfect temp. Cook for about 4 minutes on one side, then 3-4 minutes on the other.

Make sure they’re fully cooked by checking their internal temperature. It should read 160°.

Here’s a quick look at the time it takes for this easy chicken tenders recipe:

Preparation Time Cooking Time Total Time
10 minutes 20 minutes 30 minutes

This way of cooking not only gives you top pan-fried chicken tenders. It’s also healthier since they’re not breaded. Plus, it fits diets like gluten-free, paleo, keto, and Whole30 diets.

Keep the oil at the right heat and avoid putting too many tenders in the pan. Doing this will ensure you get crispy, golden tenders every time.

Fried Chicken Tenders Recipe

Our recipe starts with 2 pounds of chicken tenderloins for big servings. Soak the chicken in 1.5 cups of buttermilk. Let it marinate for 4 to 24 hours. This makes the chicken tender and juicy.

Now, let’s make the breading. Mix 1.5 cups of all-purpose flour and 1.5 teaspoons of baking powder. Add your favorite seasonings. You’ll use about 3-4 cups of vegetable oil to fry. Expect the chicken to absorb around 1/4 cup of oil. Cook the tenders in batches for 7-10 minutes at 365°F. Below is a step-by-step on how to make these delicious fried chicken tenders:

Ingredients Measurements
Chicken Tenderloins or Breasts (cut into strips) 2 lbs
Egg 1
All-purpose flour 2 cups
Buttermilk 1 1/2 cups
Cornstarch 1 cup
Hot Sauce 2 tbsp
Seasoned Salt 3 tsp
Paprika 2 tsp
Granulated Garlic 2 tsp
Powdered Sugar 1 tsp
Cracked Pepper 1 tsp
Cayenne Pepper 1/2 tsp
Baking Powder 1/4 tsp
Oil for Frying 3-4 cups
  1. Soak chicken in buttermilk for at least half an hour.
  2. Dredge chicken in flour mixture with seasoning.
  3. Fry chicken in batches for 7-10 minutes at 365°F.
  4. Drain cooked tenders on a wire rack.

One serving of these chicken tenders is about 925 calories. It has 51g of fat, 75g of carbs, and 41g of protein. If you make extra, you can freeze them for up to 3 months. This way, you always have a tasty meal ready.

Alternative Cooking Methods: Oven Baked Chicken Tenders

Looking for a healthier choice than fried chicken tenders? Oven baked ones are great. They keep the crisp but have less unhealthy fats. These tenders are loved, scoring 4.92 out of 5 from 57 votes, showing they’re tasty and work well.

Advantages of Baking Over Frying

Baking chicken tenders has many pluses, especially for those watching their health. It uses a lot less oil, making them healthier. It also means a more even cook and less cleaning up. It takes just 40 minutes, perfect for the busy.

  • Health Benefits: Lower in fat compared to fried versions.
  • Convenience: Simple process with minimal cleanup.
  • Even Cooking: More consistent results with each batch.

Step-by-Step Baking Instructions

Want to make tasty and crunchy oven baked chicken tenders? Here are the steps.

  1. Preheat the Oven: Set your oven to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Prepare Ingredients: Marinate chicken in buttermilk. Mix spices with flour separately.
  3. Coat the Chicken: Dip chicken in flour, eggs, then panko breadcrumbs and cornmeal.
  4. Arrange on Baking Sheet: Lay coated chicken on a greased sheet.
  5. Bake: Cook for 20-25 minutes, flipping once to crisp both sides.
  6. Check for Doneness: Make sure it’s fully cooked at 165°F (74°C).

This recipe is easy and makes enough for four. One serving is 465 calories, with 25.4g carbs, 53.4g protein, and 16.5g fat. Baking is convenient and cuts calories and fats, compared to frying.

Serving Suggestions for Homemade Chicken Tenders

Take your crispy chicken tenders up a notch with tasty sidekicks. These suggestions work well for any meal, big or small. They’ll make your dish stand out.

crispy chicken tenders

Dipping Sauces

Choosing the right sauce can turn good tenders into great ones. Try these top picks:

  • Honey Mustard
  • Ranch Dressing
  • Barbecue Sauce
  • Buffalo Sauce
  • Garlic Aioli
  • Sweet Chili Sauce

Sauces add a flavor boost and make eating more fun. Experiment to find what you like best!

Side Dishes to Pair With

Every good meal needs its partners. Here are some that go perfectly with crispy chicken:

  • French Fries
  • Coleslaw
  • Mashed Potatoes
  • Steamed Vegetables
  • Macaroni and Cheese
  • Garden Salad
  • Buttered Corn

These sides complete your meal. They add variety and keep things balanced. Plus, they’re all delicious in their own way.

Nutrition Info per Serving Value
Calories 925
Total Fat 51g
Saturated Fat 1g
Carbohydrates 75g
Sugar 5g
Protein 41g
Sodium 1866mg
Cholesterol 96mg

Choose the right sauces and sides, and you’ll make everyone happy at mealtime. It’s all about delicious, well-rounded food.

Tips for Extra Crispy Chicken Tenders

Achieving the perfect crispy breading for chicken tenders is a key skill. By following these tips, every bite will be so satisfying.

Ensuring Crispy Breading

  • Pat Dry: Make sure your chicken is dry before you bread it. Use paper towels to dry off the chicken breasts or thighs. Dry chicken sticks to the breading better, and the breading stays crispy.
  • Use Buttermilk: Let the chicken sit in buttermilk for a bit. The acid in buttermilk helps make the chicken tender, ensuring a crispy outside.
  • Egg Wash: Coating the chicken in egg and buttermilk mix helps the breading stay put. It also adds to the crunch.
  • Flour and Seasoning: Create your mix with flour, breadcrumbs, and spices. A combination of seasoned salt, paprika, cayenne, and pepper is excellent for flavor.
  • Double Dipping: Dip your chicken again in the egg mix and flour. This extra step adds more coating, making the tenders even crispier.

Avoiding Soggy Breading

  • Preheat Oil: Heat 6-8 cups of oil to 350-375 degrees Fahrenheit. Well-heated oil quickly sears the breading, keeping it crispy. Ensure there’s enough oil for 48 oz. to fry properly.
  • Frying Time: Fry each tender for 4 minutes on each side. The total cooking time can be 8-15 minutes, depending on the thickness, to get them golden and crispy.
  • Do Not Crowd: Fry in batches to keep the oil’s temperature steady. It helps prevent the breading from turning soggy.
  • Drain Properly: After frying, cool the tenders on a wire rack. This prevents them from getting oily and soggy.

These tips will make your chicken tenders consistently crispy. Whether as a meal or snack, these methods guarantee the perfect crunch every time.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

Keeping chicken tenders fresh demands the right storage and reheating. This keeps their taste and texture at their best for future meals.

Proper Storage Techniques

To keep them fresh, store your chicken tenders airtight. Always refrigerate them within two hours after cooking to stop bacteria. When freezing, wrap each tender in plastic wrap and then store in a freezer bag. This method prevents freezer burn and keeps the tenders moist.

  • Use airtight containers to keep chicken tenders fresh.
  • Refrigerate within two hours to prevent bacteria growth.
  • For freezing, wrap each piece in plastic wrap before placing in a freezer-safe bag.

Best Methods for Reheating

Getting chicken tenders crunchy again is easy with proper reheating. Here are methods that work:

  1. Oven Reheating: First, preheat your oven to 400°F. Then, place the chicken tenders on a baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes. They’re done when the inside hits 165°F. This way, they get a crispy outside.
  2. Stove Reheating: Use medium heat on a skillet. Reheat each tender for 2 to 3 minutes on either side. Make sure the inside reaches 165°F.
  3. Air Fryer: Set the air fryer to 375°F. Put your tenders in a single layer and cook for 3 to 5 minutes. This keeps them crispy without adding extra grease.

Avoid the microwave to prevent sogginess. If you must, microwave in short bursts and frequently check the temperature to avoid making them dry.

“The USDA recommends cooking all leftovers to 165°F to ensure food safety.”

Below is a comparison of different reheating methods:

Method Temperature Time Result
Oven 400°F 12-15 minutes Extra crispy
Stove Medium heat 2-3 minutes per side Evenly crispy
Air Fryer 375°F 3-5 minutes Rapidly crispy
Microwave N/A 20-40 second bursts Potentially soggy

By following the right methods for storage and reheating, your chicken tenders will taste good and be safe to eat.


To wrap it up, this easy chicken tenders recipe makes a classic treat even better at home. With simple ingredients and steps, you get a meal that’s full of flavor and crunch. It only takes 50 minutes, perfect for any time.

Each portion has good nutrition. You’ll get 288 calories and 29 grams of protein. Buttermilk makes them tender, while paprika and garlic powder bring taste. You can even change how you cook them or add more spices.

Enjoy these chicken tenders with dips or as a main with sides. They’ll soon be a regular meal item. This recipe is great for anyone looking for an easy, tasty homemade dish.


What makes this homemade chicken tenders recipe quick and easy?

This recipe uses easy-to-find items and simple steps. You’ll have crispy chicken tenders in under 30 minutes.

Can I use frozen chicken tenders instead of fresh?

You can use frozen chicken tenders. Just remember to thaw them well for the best taste and safety.

What kind of breadcrumbs should I use for the best chicken tenders?

Plain or seasoned breadcrumbs, panko, or crushed cornflakes work great for a crunchy outer layer.

Is buttermilk necessary for the fried chicken tenders recipe?

Buttermilk isn’t a must, but it does make the tenders moister and tastier.

What types of oil are best for frying chicken tenders?

Vegetable, canola, or peanut oil are perfect. They don’t mask the chicken’s flavor and can handle high heat.

How can I make my chicken tenders extra crispy?

To make them really crispy, pat the chicken dry first. Dip in egg wash, coat with breadcrumbs, and fry at the correct oil heat.

What are the health benefits of oven baked chicken tenders compared to fried?

Oven baking uses less oil. This makes the tenders healthier while keeping them crispy.

What dipping sauces pair well with golden fried chicken tenders?

Honey mustard, BBQ sauce, and ranch are classics. Try sriracha mayo or garlic aioli for something unique.

How should I store leftover chicken tenders?

Keep leftover tenders in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days. Ensure they’re cooled first.

What is the best way to reheat chicken tenders to maintain their crispiness?

To keep them crispy, oven reheating at 350°F for 10 minutes is best.