Golden Crisp Chicken Tenders Recipe

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Golden Crisp Chicken Tenders are succulent strips of chicken, delicately coated and deep-fried to achieve a luscious golden crunch.

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Golden Crisp Chicken Tenders Recipe

Chicken tenders, boneless strips of fried chicken, offer a delightful treat that pairs perfectly with your preferred sauce, such as my signature homemade aioli. Loved by both children and adults alike, these homemade crispy chicken tenders rival any ordered from restaurants, and I’ll also share how to prepare them using an air fryer.

Golden Crisp Chicken Tenders Ingredients

The foundation of this recipe lies in a buttermilk marinade, followed by a golden coating fried to perfection.

  • Buttermilk: Opt for full-fat buttermilk to marinate the chicken tenders. Buttermilk aids in tenderizing the chicken by breaking down its proteins and also ensures the breading adheres well to each piece.
  • Panko: Alongside dredging the chicken in a flour and cornstarch mixture, we’ll coat it in a panko mixture for that extra crunch. Panko, a Japanese-style breadcrumb, maintains its crispiness longer. While you can substitute regular breadcrumbs, the texture may not be as satisfying.
  • Oil: For frying the chicken, choose vegetable oil or canola oil. Consider recycling used oil; learn how to clarify it to prevent waste.

Golden Crisp Chicken Tenders Recipe

Buttermilk Marinade

Begin by marinating the chicken tenders. (Note: To make chicken nuggets, simply cut the chicken breasts into smaller, nugget-sized pieces.)

In a large bowl, season the chicken strips with salt and pepper, then pour buttermilk over them, ensuring each piece is fully submerged. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 3 hours, or up to 48 hours for advanced preparation.
Tips & Tricks for Heating the Oil

Heat the oil over medium-low heat until it reaches 350°F (175°C). Use a candy thermometer or deep-fry thermometer to monitor the temperature. Without a thermometer, heating usually takes 12-15 minutes, but you can employ some simple tests:

  1. To gauge the oil temperature, insert the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil; steady bubbling indicates readiness.
  2. Excessive bubbling suggests the oil is too hot, while minimal bubbling signals it’s not hot enough.
  3. Alternatively, drop a 1-inch square of bread into the oil; if it browns in 60 seconds, the oil is ready.
  4. The popcorn test involves adding a kernel of popcorn to the oil as it heats. Once the kernel pops, the oil is ready.

Golden Crisp Chicken Tenders Recipe

How to Serve Golden Crisp Chicken Tenders

After frying the chicken tenders and allowing them to drain on a paper towel-lined plate, they’re ready to enjoy! Dip them in homemade sauces like buffalo sauce, ranch dressing, or BBQ sauce for a delightful experience.

Can I Make These in an Air Fryer?

Absolutely! Preheat the air fryer to 400°F (200°C). Follow the instructions until the point of frying and instead, place the coated chicken tenders in the air fryer basket. Cook for 8 minutes, flipping halfway through. Depending on the air fryer’s size, you may need to work in batches, and cooking times may vary.

How to Freeze Golden Crisp Chicken Tenders

While best served fresh, leftovers can be frozen. Once cooled, place the tenders on a baking sheet in the freezer until solid, then transfer them to a freezer-safe container for up to three months. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating in an air fryer, oven, or microwave.

Golden Crisp Chicken Tenders Recipe


Chicken Marinade

  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into vertical strips
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 3 cups (735 g) buttermilk

Chicken Coatings

  • 4 cups (500 g) all-purpose flour
  • ¼ cups (32 g) cornstarch
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 2 cups panko breadcrumbs
  • Oil, for frying


Chicken Marinade

  1. Season chicken strips with salt and pepper and place them in a large bowl. Pour buttermilk over them until fully submerged. Cover and refrigerate for 3 hours to 48 hours.

Chicken Coatings

  1. Allow marinated chicken to reach room temperature while preparing the coatings.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
  3. In a large bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, salt, and garlic powder.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs and water.
  5. In another large bowl, combine 2 cups of the flour mixture with panko breadcrumbs.
  6. One piece at a time, coat chicken strips in flour mixture, then egg mixture, and finally panko mixture. Place on the prepared baking sheet.
  7. Heat oil in a large pot over medium-low heat until it reaches 350°F (175°C).
  8. Working in batches, fry 3-4 chicken pieces for 4-5 minutes, or until internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) and they are golden brown and crispy.
  9. Transfer fried chicken to a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil.
  10. Repeat with remaining chicken, ensuring oil is at the correct temperature for each batch.
  11. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Golden Crisp Chicken Tenders Recipe

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