Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders

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These Pan Fried Chicken Tenders are moist, tender, and crispy. They’re perfect for a snack, salad, tacos, sandwich, or served over waffles.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders

I seriously do not know when chicken tenders became a thing. I’ve only known fried chicken on the bone for most of my life. Then one day, I looked up, and chicken tenders were the new craze!

I don’t even think spots like Raising Cane’s would’ve been able to survive in the early 90s, but here we are with lines down the street causing traffic jams for fried chicken tenders and fries.

I know better because I’ve been on those same lines. Although every time I’m waiting in line, I can only think how much time and money I could save if I stopped being lazy and made them myself.

That’s exactly how this recipe came about. While sitting in a long line for Cane’s, I jotted this recipe down on my phone. The next day I tested the recipe and finally perfected moist, crispy fried chicken tenders with an incredibly crunchy crust.

Oh, did I mention that they are AH-MAZING with Cajun ranch?!! I’ll make sure to add some excellent dipping sauce that you can use with your fried tenders.

What is a chicken tender?

Chicken tenderloins are small tender muscle located underneath the chicken breasts. It can be cooked the same way as chicken breasts, pan-fried, baked, or grilled.

The most common way to eat them is fried with french fries served with barbecue sauce, honey mustard, or buttermilk ranch.

Key Ingredients

Before making these delicious buttermilk fried chicken tenders, check this list of ingredients to ensure you have everything you need.

Chicken Tenders

After trying this recipe, you may need more than a pound of chicken tenders.

Kosher Salt

Using a coarser salt like kosher or sea salt allows you to use less salt.

Black Pepper

Look for butcher ground or coarse black pepper for a better flavor.

Cayenne Pepper

I’m not adding as much as I do at home, but the cayenne helps round out the flavors.

Onion and Garlic Powder

This is a southern fried chicken, so we need onion powder and garlic powder.

Buttermilk

Buttermilk will tenderize these tenders and help them stay moist. You don’t need an egg mixture when using buttermilk.

Flour

No special flours are needed, only all-purpose flour.

Oil

I always use peanut oil for frying chicken. Blame my New Orleans roots.

How to fried chicken tenders recipe?

These fried chicken tenders are perfect for a wide range of uses, so after looking up and realizing you ate the first batch, don’t feel bad. Just instacart some more chicken tenders and buttermilk and start again.

Step 1: In a medium bowl, combine the spices, add half to a large bowl with flour and the remaining to another bowl with buttermilk, whisk together, add chicken tenders, cover, and pop in the fridge for 1 hour. 

Step 2: Remove chicken from buttermilk marinade; Fill a cast iron skillet halfway with oil, and heat oil to 325°F degrees. 

Step 3: One key to getting extra crispy coating is in the dredging process. You’ll discard any excess off each chicken tender before dipping in the next step. 

Dip the chicken in flour, buttermilk, then flour. Fry chicken for 12 minutes, flipping it halfway until golden brown. Drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. Keep fried chicken in a warm 200°F oven.

Serve hot chicken with your favorite dipping sauce.

Dipping Sauce for Crispy Fried Chicken Tenders

Here are the top dipping sauces you can use with your crispy chicken tenders.

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Pro Recipe Tips & Tricks

Here are a few notes I had from making these outstanding buttermilk chicken tenders.

  • To create crags of crispy bits on your chicken, squeeze the chicken slightly as you dredge it in flour.
  • You can cut chicken breasts into chicken strips and use them instead of chicken tenders.
  • You can use canola oil, vegetable oil, or avocado oil to fry the chicken.
  • You’ll know when the oil is hot enough by adding a pinch of flour to the oil; it should bubble up when it’s hot. 
  • You can use a Dutch oven or deep fryer to fry the tenders.
  • Feel free to use gluten-free flour in the seasoned flour.
  • If you’re looking for an alternative to chicken tenders, you can use chicken wings or breasts. Just note that cooking time will increase by about five minutes.
  • If you’re looking for the best buttermilk, look no further than Bulgarian buttermilk.
  • Use a liquid measuring cup to measure the buttermilk. A dry measuring cup will give an inaccurate measurement.
  • You can drain your chicken over a wire rack. If you don’t have one, you can use one of your oven racks turned upside down.
  • I would not suggest using apple cider vinegar or lemon juice as a substitute for buttermilk.
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What to serve with buttermilk fried chicken?

A ton of sides go great with this recipe for buttermilk fried chicken tenders. Here are some of my favorites: New Orleans baked mac and cheese, southern green beans, garlic mashed potatoes, buttermilk biscuits, red beans and rice, collard greens, or cajun corn maque choux.

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FAQs

Here are the top questions readers have about making buttermilk fried chicken tenders.

Why do you soak the chicken in buttermilk?

Soaking chicken in buttermilk tenderizes and helps make the chicken juicy.

How long can chicken be soaked in buttermilk?

The longest time you should soak the chicken in buttermilk is 8 hours, and the least amount of time is 1 hour.

Can I use heavy cream instead of buttermilk for fried chicken?

Absolutely not, not if you’re trying to make southern fried chicken. You can use half and half and regular milk instead.

Can I use regular milk instead of buttermilk for fried chicken?

If you don’t have any buttermilk, regular milk can work in a pinch for your fried chicken recipe. All you have to do is beat one egg into each cup of milk, which will help moisten your chicken the same way as using buttermilk would.

What is the best recipe to prepare fried chicken without buttermilk?

The best recipe for crispy fried chicken tenders is the same one that suggests using buttermilk. Substitute evaporated milk instead, and the evaporated milk will add a great flavor to your chicken.

Can I use sour cream instead of buttermilk for fried chicken?

Using sour cream instead of buttermilk will not add moisture, flavor, or tenderize your chicken.

Can I use milk soured with vinegar in place of buttermilk for marinating chicken?

I do not recommend consuming soured milk as it can cause stomach pains and make you sick. Buttermilk contains live active cultures, which give it the signature tang and acidity.

How can half and half be substituted for buttermilk in a recipe?

Although half and half won’t provide the same flavors as buttermilk because it has no acidity, you can still use it as a substitute to make your chicken crispy and moist.

How to store leftovers

Pan-fried chicken tenders are best eaten freshly fried but will remain fresh in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge. 
 
They will remain fresh in an airtight container or freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3-4 months.
 
Ready to heat your leftovers? You can reheat cooked fried chicken uncovered in a 350°F oven for 10-12 minutes or reheat it in an air fryer at 300°F for 6 minutes. 
 

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More Waffle Recipes

These recipes are perfect for anyone who enjoys fried chicken just as much as I do!

Latest Recipe Video:

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Before You Begin

Here are my steps for getting organized and moving fast in the kitchen.

Step 1: Get all the fried chicken tenders recipe ingredients and tools on the counter.

Step 2: Measure everything out.

Step 3: Start following the recipe and get ready for the most crispy fried chicken tenders you’ve ever had.

Thank you for reading! I hope you will give this recipe a try. If you do, please leave a comment and rating below. I love hearing from you!

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Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders-2

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders

Kenneth Temple
These Pan Fried Chicken Tenders are moist, tender, and crispy. They're perfect for a snack, salad, tacos, sandwich, or served over waffles.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 1 hr
Cook Time 30 mins
Total Time 1 hr 30 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4 persons
Calories 548 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1-1½ lbs. chicken tenders
  • 2 ¼ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
  • oil for frying

Instructions
 

  • In a medium bowl combine spices, add half to a large bowl with flour and the remaining to another bowl with buttermilk, whisk together, add chicken tenders, cover, and place in the fridge for 1 hour.
  • Remove chicken from buttermilk; heat oil to 325°F degrees over medium-high heat in a cast iron skillet or large skillet.
  • Dredge chicken in flour, buttermilk, flour, and fry for 12 minutes, flipping chicken halfway until golden brown. Drain on a baking sheet lined with paper towels. If frying in batches, hold finished chicken in 200°F oven.
  • Serve hot chicken with your favorite dipping sauce.

Notes

Pro Recipe Tips & Tricks
Here are a few notes I had from making these outstanding buttermilk chicken tenders.
  • To create crags of crispy bits on your chicken, squeeze the chicken slightly as you dredge it in flour.
  • You can cut chicken breasts into chicken strips and use them instead of chicken tenders.
  • You can use canola oil, vegetable oil, or avocado oil to fry the chicken.
  • You’ll know when the oil is hot enough by adding a pinch of flour to the oil; it should bubble up when it’s hot. 
  • You can use a Dutch oven or deep fryer to fry the tenders.
  • Feel free to use gluten-free flour in the seasoned flour.
  • If you’re looking for an alternative to chicken tenders, you can use chicken wings or breasts. Just note that cooking time will increase by about five minutes.
  • If you’re looking for the best buttermilk, look no further than Bulgarian buttermilk.
  • Use a liquid measuring cup to measure the buttermilk. A dry measuring cup will give an inaccurate measurement.
  • You can drain your chicken over a wire rack. If you don’t have one, you can use one of your oven racks turned upside down.
  • I would not suggest using apple cider vinegar or lemon juice as a substitute for buttermilk.
Storage:
Pan-fried chicken tenders are best eaten freshly fried but will remain fresh in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge. 
They will remain fresh in an airtight container or freezer bag in the freezer for up to 3-4 months.
Ready to heat your leftovers? You can reheat cooked fried chicken uncovered in a 350°F oven for 10-12 minutes or reheat it in an air fryer at 300°F for 6 minutes. 

Nutrition

Calories: 548kcalCarbohydrates: 65gProtein: 48gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 3gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0.02gCholesterol: 122mgSodium: 3816mgPotassium: 973mgFiber: 3gSugar: 6gVitamin A: 787IUVitamin C: 3mgCalcium: 183mgIron: 5mg
Keyword buttermilk chicken tenders, chicken strips, chicken tender recipes, chicken tenders recipe, fried chicken strips, fried chicken tenders, fried chicken tenders buttermilk, fried chicken tenders recipe, pan fried chicken tenders, southern fried chicken tenders
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