Crispy fried chicken tenders are my new favorite thing that I’ve ever made! You all loved my crispy chicken schnitzel recipe so much that I turned it into this addicting recipe for crispy fried chicken tenders. These are not your McDonald’s chicken tenders; these are a grown-up version of a classic that I know your kids will love too. Do not sleep on the creamy honey mustard sauce because I’m obsessed with it. As a result, I commit to having a jar in my fridge forever. If you love chicky tendies and your family does too, this recipe is for you!
What are chicken tenders?
Did you know that chicken tenders are an actual part of chicken anatomy? If you’ve ever cut up a whole chicken, the chicken tenders are two strips that live UNDER the chicken breast. Think of them as the ‘filet mignon’ of the chicken breast. Chicken tenders are, like the name implies, extra tender and flavorful. Chicken tenders are a colloquialism for chicken strips, but the tender is an actual part of the chicken. Because chicken tenders are so popular, most grocery stores now sell whole packages of tenders. Check with your local grocery store or butcher!
Ingredients for Crispy Fried Chicken Tenders
- Chicken. As we discussed in the paragraph above, you need chicken tenders! You can buy chicken tenders, or cut up a chicken breast into 1″ strips.
- Panko Breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs are a staple in Japanese cooking and they yield the crispiest fried goods.
- Dijon Mustard. Dijon mustard is in the batter and the honey mustard sauce–it’s so flavorful!
- Worcestershire. I add Worcestershire sauce to my batter as well because it adds so much flavor. Don’t skip it!
- Oil. Because we’re frying our chicken tenders, oil is necessary. I like to use canola or peanut oil, but vegetable oil will work too.
- Pickle Juice. Pickle juice is an important component of our creamy honey mustard sauce. It adds a little acid for balance and it’s addictingly good!
How to make Crispy fried chicken tenders
Breading meats usually require separate containers for flour, eggs, and then breadcrumbs. To simplify the method, I whisk the eggs and flour together to make a flavorful batter and then dip the tenders in the panko. Way easier and less mess!
- Start by seasoning your chicken tenders with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper. Seasoning is the base of flavor and every element should be seasoned.
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, flour, dijon, Worcestershire, and water until smooth. In a shallow dish, combine your panko crumbs with the sesame seeds and za’atar and whisk to combine.
- Dip your chicken strips into the batter and gently shake off any excess. Transfer to the panko and coat well, then lay the strips on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining tenders.
- Heat about 2 inches of oil in a dutch oven or high-sided skillet until it reaches 360 degrees F. In batches of 3-4, gently lower the breaded chicken tenders into the oil and fry for 4-5 minutes, until golden brown. The internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F. Using a slotted spoon or spider, transfer the chicken tenders to a wire rack set over a baking sheet to drain any excess oil.
- Return the oil to 360 degrees F and repeat the frying process. You can keep the cooked chicken tenders in the oven at 200 degrees F to keep them crispy while frying the rest.
And that’s it! Crispy fried chicken tenders are so easy to make and your whole family will go crazy over them!
Tips for the best crispy fried chicken tenders
Oil temperature. One of the most important aspects of a perfectly crispy tender is to fry them in hot oil. Once you add tenders to the oil, the temperature goes down–keep a steady flame underneath it and use a thermometer to gauge the oil temp. Let your oil come back up to temperature between batches.
Let your tenders sit. After you bread your chicken tenders, let them sit out for about 15 minutes. The breading gets a little soft and frying them this way yields a crispier tender.
Keep your tenders warm. If I’m frying a large batch of tenders, I keep my oven at 200 degrees F. Once I have some fried tenders, I keep them in the oven while I fry the rest. Keeping them warm ensures that all the tenders will still be crispy by the time you’re done.
Use the right vessel. Using a pot or skillet that holds heat well is essential to frying. I love using my 4-quart Dutch oven, but you can also use a high-sided cast-iron skillet. Just make sure you have an inch or two of room at the top after you add the oil to prevent spills.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Can you freeze crispy chicken tenders?
Yes! After you fry your chicken, if there are any leftovers you can freeze them on a baking sheet. Once frozen, transfer them to a ziplock bag. To reheat, set an oven to 425 degrees F. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until hot and crispy.
How long do chicken tenders last in the fridge?
You can store chicken tenders in the fridge for about 3 days. To reheat, use the same method as above, but only bake for 8-10 minutes.
Are chicken tenders gluten-free?
Unfortunately, they are not. Wheat-based flour is present in the batter and breading. If you try a gluten-free version of this recipe, I would love to hear about it!
Any other questions? Just drop them in the comments below!
MORE CHICKEN RECIPES TO TRY:
Crispy fried chicken tenders are a grown-up take on classic chicken tenders. They’re juicy, delicious, and only take 20 minutes to make!
2 lbs chicken tenders or chicken breast cut into 1” strips
1 cup flour
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon Worcestershire
1/4 cup water
freshly ground pepper
4 cups panko bread crumbs
1 tablespoon sesame seeds
1 tablespoon za’atar seasoning
canola oil, for frying
Creamy Honey Mustard Sauce:
1 cup mayonnaise
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
1 tablespoon whole grain mustard
1 1/2 tablespoons pickle juice
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish (optional)
2 tablespoons freshly minced chives
- To make the creamy honey mustard sauce, whisk together all the ingredients until smooth. Refrigerate until ready to use.
- To make the chicken tenders: Season chicken tenders with kosher salt and pepper.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, eggs, dijon, Worcestershire, water, 1/2 teaspoon of kosher salt, and 1/2 teaspoon of freshly ground pepper until smooth. In a separate, shallow dish or pie plate, combine the panko with the sesame seeds and za’atar until well-mixed.
- Heat about 2 inches of canola oil in a wide-bottomed, high-sided pot (reduces splatter, a dutch oven works well, or a large cast-iron skillet) to 360 degrees F.
- Dip the chicken into the batter and coat it well. Shake off any excess as you lift it from the bowl and then transfer it to the panko crumbs and coat it really well. Lay the chicken in a single layer on a baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining chicken. Rest for 15 minutes.
- In batches of 3-4, gently lower the chicken into the oil and fry for 4-6 minutes, until golden brown. The internal temperature should reach 160 degrees F.
- Transfer to a wire rack set over a baking sheet and into a 200-degree F oven. This keeps the chicken warm and crispy while you finish frying the rest. Serve warm with creamy honey mustard dipping sauce.