Crispy Chicken Tenders- these are the tastiest, crunchiest, juiciest chicken tenders you will ever make!
Who loves crispy chicken strips?! They are one of my all-time favorite foods!
Since I just shared my favorite smoked chicken recipe, I thought I'd also share my favorite chicken tender recipe!
Ordering chicken strips from restaurants can be hit or miss and are usually a miss. Either there is way too much breading, the chicken is super dry and tough, they are flavorless, or since most are cooked from a frozen state, they don’t cook all the way through (gross I agree and it happened to me once!).
Also, like all things, ordering out gets expensive. So, I’ve come up with this tasty crispy chicken recipe, that can be made at home and it is THE BEST!
The first time I made these crispy fried chicken tenders, my husband and I ate the entire batch in one go. They are that good.
Want to know my secret to them? There’s two.
- Using cornstarch in the breading
- Soaking the chicken in a buttermilk brine. This makes the chicken soooo juicy
Does cornstarch make things crispy?
Yes! I use a mixture of 50% flour to 50% cornstarch and find it makes the crispiest chicken. The cornstarch helps the batter fry up nicely.
Not only are the chicken tenders crunchy, but the corn starch helps them achieve the beautiful golden-brown color that is irresistible while helping seal in the tasty juices into the chicken.
Frying with cornstarch is a must!
Another necessary part of making these the best chicken tenders ever- is soaking the chicken in buttermilk- for 4 hrs or overnight. This will make the chicken so juicy and delicious!
How to make chicken tenders:
- Mix up the seasoning in a small bowl
- Combine buttermilk, an egg, salt, and a little bit of the seasoning mix together.
- Dip the chicken tenders in the buttermilk mixture making sure top coat them well.
- Pour all the buttermilk and chicken into a ziploc bag and refrigerate for 4 hrs at least.
- Combine the cornstarch, flour, remaining seasoning, more salt, and baking powder in a bowl.
- Add a little bit of the buttermilk marinade to the cornstarch mixture and mix thoroughly.
- Dip each chicken tender into the cornstarch mixture and then knock off any extra breading using a fine mesh strainer.
- Fry each chicken tender in hot oil for 6 minutes (3 minutes on each side).
- Once done frying place on a paper towel lined plate to soak up any extra grease.
- Eat while still warm!
How to get a good coating on the chicken tenders:
Dip your chicken tenders in the cornstarch mixture one at a time. This allows you to get a good coating on it and will make the crispiest chicken!
How long do I let it fry on each side? How to fry chicken with cornstarch?
Let your chicken cook for 3 minutes before moving it in the fry pan to flip. If you move it sooner it may make the breading come off and we don’t want that!
How do you keep your hands from getting really messy when you dip the chicken in the batter?
I like to keep one hand as a wet hand and one as a dry hand. The wet hand picks up the buttermilk-soaked chicken and places it in the cornstarch mixture. The dry hand then covers the chicken tender with the mixture and places it in the strainer.
Why do you use a strainer?
A fine mesh strainer is used to remove excess cornstarch mixture from the chicken tenders. This actually helps them to have better, crispier, breading once fried.
See the pictures below for using a strainer vs not.
Do I have to use a strainer to get rid of the excess breading?
Nope- they will still be delicious, just maybe not as crispy. See the pictures below for an example.
Why marinate the chicken in buttermilk?
This is one of my favorite way to make chicken moist. It helps tenderize the chicken and add flavor to the meat!
Why add some of the buttermilk marinade to the cornstarch mixture?
This is a great tip from the The Food Lab Cookbook. The reasoning is that it gives the fried chicken that craggy texture that we all love by helping the breading clump together just a little.
Can I fry other pieces of chicken with this breading?
Absolutely! Depending on the size (breast vs a wing) you may need to double the seasoning mixture, batter, and brine.
Other pieces of chicken will also need different cooking times to make sure they are done.
How to tell if the chicken is done?
For chicken tenders, 3 minutes on each side should cook them perfectly. I do tend to check any meat I cook for doneness with my cooking thermometer, and I highly recommended doing that with bigger pieces of chicken like breast and thighs.
Plus, I use it to make sure the oil is heated to the right temperature too! (and yes, that’s an affiliate link to Thermoworks thermometers. I make a small percentage off of any purchase but at no expense to you. I just love their product so much!)
Can I make these gluten free?
Yep! Just swap the all purpose flour with your favorite gluten free flour blend.
I love dipping these chicken strips in ranch dressing, bbq sauce and my honey mustard sauce!
Let me know how these crispy chicken tenders turn out for you! I’m sure you’ll love them as much as we do!
For more tasty recipes check these out:
- Homemade Baked French Fries
- Smoked Chicken
- Shredded Chicken Enchiladas
- Carnitas Tacos
- Stuffed Mushrooms
- Green Chile Stew
- Spinach Dip
- Best Hamburger Recipe
- Grilled Shrimp Kabobs
Watch how to make this recipe!
Best Crispy Chicken Tenders
- 1 tbs paprika
- 1 tbs pepper
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
- ½ cup buttermilk
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbs salt divided into 2 tsp and 1 tsp
- 2 lbs chicken tenders
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- ½ cup cornstarch I love using Argo® Corn Starch!
- ½ tsp baking powder
- 2-3 cups corn oil
- Combine the paprika, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Mix well and set aside. (1 tbs paprika, 1 tbs pepper, 1 tsp garlic powder, 1 tsp dried oregano, ¼ tsp cayenne pepper)
- In a large bowl whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and 2 tsps salt. Then add in 1 tbs of the mixed spices and whisk until well incorporated. (½ cup buttermilk, 1 large egg, 2tsp salt)
- Place the chicken tenders in the buttermilk mixture, making sure they are well coated. Place all contents of the bowl in a Ziploc baggie and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight, making sure to flip the bag every now and then to make sure the chicken is evenly coated. (2lbs chicken tenders)
- Combine the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, 1 tsp salt, and the remaining spice mixture in a large bowl- stirring until evenly mixed. (½ cup all-purpose flour, ½ cup cornstarch, ½ tsp baking powder).
- Add 2 tbs of the buttermilk marinade from the ziploc bag to the flour mixture, mixing it well into the flour. Remove a chicken tender from the bag, allowing any excess buttermilk to drip off, and dip into the flour mixture. Toss to coat. You made need to press the flour onto the chicken to get to stick nicely.*
- One at a time, transfer the chicken pieces to a fine mesh strainer and shake off any excess of the flour mixture.* Then set on a separate plate.
- In a cast iron pan or large fry pan, heat oil over medium-high heat. Once oil is hot (~400°F) place the chicken tenders into the oil, making sure they don’t touch. Fry the chicken until it’s a deep golden brown on one side, about 3 minutes* then flip each piece and fry an additional 3 minutes. (2 cups corns oil)
- Once fried place on a paper towel lined plate and allow to cool enough to serve.
- Eat hot and enjoy!
*Dip your chicken tenders in the flour mixture one at a time. This allows you to get a good coating on it and will make the crispiest chicken!
*Let your chicken cook for at least 3 minutes before moving it in the fry pan to check for it to be done. If you move it sooner it may make the breading come off and we don’t want that!
*Make these gluten free by swapping the all-purpose flour with your favorite gluten free flour blend. Get a great kitchen thermometer here! (affiliate link) This recipe is adapted from The Food Lab Cookbook- love this book and all the science that it explains about cooking!
Post updated 7/22/2020- was previously a sponsored post for Argo Cornstarch