Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders are flavorful and juicy with an irresistible crunchy fried coating. They’re the size for party appetizers, a midday snack, or light lunch served alongside your favorite dipping sauce.
While deep-frying isn’t as healthy as using the air fryer, it’s certainly the healthier option compared to deep-fried chicken takeout. There’s also nothing stopping you from using the air fryer for this chicken recipe if that’s your preference. Add these crispy chicken tenders to a side of Dirty Fries, onion rings, salad, or whatever your heart desires. They’re also great as a snack served with sticky BBQ sauce!
What do I Need for Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders?
- All-purpose flour – Gluten-free flour blend can be used.
- Seasoning – Garlic salt, coarse sea salt, coarse black pepper, paprika, and onion powder.
- Cholula or Tobasco hot sauce
- Chicken tenders – You’ll need about 1 ½ pounds of chicken tenders (about 10 tenders). Skinless chicken breast can also be used for this recipe.
- Vegetable oil or shortening for frying – This is at least 4 cups. You can also use Canola oil
Top these crispy fried chicken tenders with shredded parmesan cheese or a drizzle of your favorite dipping sauce, such as sweet and sour, BBQ, or honey mustard sauce.
Paper towels or wire rack, Dutch oven or cast iron skillet, medium bowl, and shallow dish.
Variations and Substitutions:
- Make your buttermilk chicken tenders in an air fryer instead of deep-frying the chicken tenders. Air fryer chicken tenders are just as delicious!
- If you can’t source chicken tenderloins, cut chicken breasts into the size of tenders.
- Garlic powder can be used instead of garlic salt. You can also use other seasonings such as cayenne pepper.
- Add panko bread crumbs to the breading mixture for added crunch.
- Dredge chicken in gluten-free buttermilk mixture for those with food sensitivities.
PREP: Pat the raw chicken tenders dry with paper towels and heat 4-6 inches of oil to a high temperature of 350 degrees F while preparing the chicken.
Step 1: Whisk buttermilk and hot sauce in a bowl. In a separate bowl or on parchment paper, combine flour with the rest of the dry ingredients.
Step 2: Dip each side of the chicken tenders in the flour mixture.
Step 3: Dip the flour-coated chicken tenders buttermilk mixture.
Step 4: Dip the chicken tenders back into the flour mixture.
Step 5: Carefully drop one piece of chicken at a time into the hot oil for about 5 minutes or until crispy and golden brown. The internal temperature of the chicken should be 165F.
Step 6: Place the fried chicken on paper towels or parchment paper for any excess oil to be soaked up.
SERVE: Serve these buttermilk fried chicken cutlets with your favorite dipping sauce.
- Using chicken tenders that aren’t too thick will ensure that you get perfectly fried chicken (about ½” in thickness).
- Maintain a decent depth of oil for adequate frying and use a food thermometer to check that the temperature of the oil is exactly at 350℉ before adding the chicken.
- A Dutch oven tends to work well for stovetop deep frying since it maintains the temperature more evenly than lightweight pots and pans. The temperature of the oil will naturally drop when you add the chicken so you should avoid adding too many chicken tenders at once which can lead to a more dramatic shift in oil temperature. Similarly, the oil can easily heat above 350°F, burning the breading before the chicken is cooked through.
- The seasonings add a little punch of flavor to the breading. You can easily kick up the amount of hot sauce or add buffalo sauce for a spicier chicken tender.
- Two coatings of buttermilk and flour mixture make a nice, crispy thick breading although not necessary but I tend to think it’s well worth the effort since it’s so yummy and you’re already making the effort of deep frying!
- Make use of vegetable oil, shortening, or even peanut oil for the best results.
- If you have access to a deep fryer, go ahead and use that since it also maintains oil temperature really well and you won’t have to discard the oil each time.
- Use a strainer for lifting your fried chicken tenders from the hot oil or tongs. Both are good options that are less likely to break the breading apart.
The use of buttermilk in fried chicken recipes actually has a practical purpose beyond just adding flavor. Buttermilk contains lactic acid, which helps to tenderize the meat and makes it more moist and juicy.
These Fried Chicken Tenders can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2-3 days although I always recommend eating them right after cooking since that’s when the fried coating is at its best.
You can reheat refrigerated fried chicken tenders in the oven or even for a few minutes in your air fryer to re-crisp the breading.
I wouldn’t recommend freezing these fried chicken tenders since the freezing and thawing process could affect the texture even if you reheat in an effort to re-crisp afterwards.
I also don’t suggest that you freeze the chicken tenders uncooked with the flour coating since the flour is likely to fall off during defrosting.
Enjoy these buttermilk fried chicken cutlets with creamy coleslaw, French fries, roasted potato wedges, leafy green salad, pasta salad, or onion rings.
Yes, you can! Prepare your chicken tenders as you would to fry the conventional way but instead of dropping your chicken pieces into a heated pot of oil, place them on your Air Fryer rack and set them to cook for about 10 minutes and then flip them to cook for another 10-15 minutes until their internal temperature reaches 165℉.
If you do cook your chicken tenders using an air fryer, make sure that you allow enough space between the tenders for sufficient airflow in the air fryer which will ensure adequate frying.
Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders
- 1 ½ cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
- 1 teaspoon coarse black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 1 ½ cups buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon Cholula or Tobasco hot sauce
- 1 ½ pounds chicken tenders about 10 tenders
- Vegetable oil or shortening for frying at least 4 cups
- Be sure that chicken is thawed completely, drained, and pat dry with paper towels.
- Fill a dutch oven or heavy stock pot with at least 4 inches of oil, preferably 6”. Heat the oil until it reaches 350°F (this will take 15 minutes or so) Get the oil heating while preparing the chicken.
- In a bowl, whisk together buttermilk and hot sauce.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together flour, salt, pepper, paprika, and onion powder in a shallow bowl or on a sheet of parchment paper.
- Dip each side of the chicken tenders in the flour mixture, then dip into the buttermilk mixture and back into the flour mixture. For extra breading, repeat this process one more time.
- Carefully drop one chicken piece at a time into heated oil and fry until cooked through (the center should reach 165°F). The outside should be deep golden brown and crispy. Maintain an oil temperature of 350°F for best results. The chicken tenders will cook through in about 5 minutes. I’ve found that as long as the oil temperature is maintained correctly, the chicken will be cooked by the time the breading is a deep golden brown.
- Place cooked chicken on paper towels or brown paper bags to soak up excess oil.
- Serve immediately.