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Crispy Fried Chicken Tenders

Truly crispy fried chicken tenders are a dinnertime staple you’re whole family will love. Get all my tips for making that crispy crust you crave, seasoning like a pro (and shortcuts if you don’t know how), and fry them up like “cast iron skillet” is your middle name. 

a plate of fried chicken tenders on a paper towel

I’m not going to lie or sugar coat this. If you haven’t ever fried anything, you’ll more than likely mess this up.

Because there’s some sort of rule that says that if you don’t get your first cast iron skillet by the age of 5, you won’t be able to hack it as an adult. No–frying takes practice. Lots of it.

Sometimes you’ll burn things, sometimes you’ll cook it too low and all the breading will fall off. Sometimes it will be golden on the outside and raw in the middle.

You just can’t give up. If you need to, use an electric skillet where you can set the heat or a fryer for safety. Please don’t burn your house down.

Don’t walk away from it. Don’t do laundry. Don’t take a nap. (I know a friend who has!)

My crispy fried chicken tenders don’t have any buttermilk listed, but if you want to wet yours in some before you drop them in the first round of flour, you can do that. I just didn’t here because I get the best crust with egg and flour.

No matter what–once you get the hang of this, you can FRY ANYTHING.

You can make your family the most unhealthy ones on the block. I mean–think about it: donuts, pickles, Twinkies, funnel cakes. Oh man. Funnel cakes. I’m just looking out for your best interests here.

I am your enabler.

Tips for the best crispy fried chicken tenders

-Make sure your flour is well seasoned. If you aren’t confident  in that area, I’ve given you measurements for salt and pepper in the recipe.

-Use a good skillet that controls heat well. Of course I’m going to recommend cast iron.

-Press the breading on your chicken tenders really firmly, then let them sit for a couple of minutes before you fry them. This makes the breading soft of gooey and it crisps up even better.

Watch me make the full recipe on YouTube

Add a skillet of cornbread and you’ll be all set! You can learn how to make cornbread here if you don’t know how or get brave and learn how to fry bone-in buttermilk fried chicken.

a plate of fried chicken tenders on a paper towel

Crispy Fried Chicken Tenders

Crispy fried chicken is a great addition to your dinnertime table and tenders are a quick and easy way to do it. 
4.85 from 88 votes
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Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 55 minutes
Servings: 5
Calories: 499kcal
Author: Rachel Ballard

Ingredients

  • 1-2 pounds chicken tenders or 2 large boneless skinless chicken breasts sliced into 1-inch thick strips
  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water
  • vegetable oil for frying

Instructions

  • Fill a 9-inch cast iron or standard skillet with about 2 inches of oil. Start heating it over medium-high heat while you bread the chicken. (Keep an eye on it!)
  • In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and pepper.
  • In another large bowl, beat the egg and water
  • Dredge the chicken in the flour, coating well. Shake off excess flour and dip in the egg, the back in the flour.
  • Set the chicken to the side to rest for about 5 minutes. (This helps the coating stick better)
  • Check your oil temperature with a candy thermometer if necessary (you should be around 365-375 degrees) or drop in a little bit of flour–if it sizzles immediately, you can add one piece of chicken.
  • If the chicken sizzles, add about 5 pieces at a time and cook until golden brown on that side–about 8 to 10 minutes or so.
  • Turn, and repeat until all brown.
  • Cook the rest of the chicken in batches.
  • Transfer to a paper towel lined plate and sprinkle with a little more salt if needed.

Nutrition

Calories: 499kcal

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Recipe Rating




Krystle

Monday 5th of April 2021

absolutely love this recipe!! I have been so scared to make fried chicken and i finally did it and with this recipe I nailed it my first time!!! Thanks for sharing this recipe!!!

Bec

Monday 22nd of March 2021

Have you tried cooking these with an air fryer?

Rachel Ballard

Tuesday 23rd of March 2021

I don't own an air fryer Bec but other readers have done it I think with decent success. Sort through the comments and see if you don't find some answers on that. --Rachel

Milton

Thursday 18th of March 2021

Tried this recipe with my makeshift, home made deep fryer and it turned out great as far as juiciness and crispiness. I did under-season quite a bit and regretted it slightly. Had to add salt after cooked. I think someone suggested marinating the chicken and that is an interesting idea to add any spin you want. All together I rate this recipe a 5 out of 5. The seasoning is always to taste and that's my fault. I tend to over season things and didn't want to F this up. Wife loved it (despite the lack of seasoning on my part) and the kids were too busy dipping them in the sauce of their choice.

Thank you for the recipe, Rachel.

Milton

C.J.M

Saturday 13th of March 2021

I have made these twice now the first time was not enough of salt and pepper. The second time I did something different. I took my chicken strips. I took a container I filled the container with 1/4 cups of water. Then I add some salt and garlic powder and a dash of white pepper. I took the chicken and placed it in the bowl with the mixture. Then I put a plastic wrap over it and I let it sit in the icebox for an hour. After that I took it out and made the flour mixture. I did put a lot more pepper a little bit more salt. I did the egg ingredients just like you said. And I did what you said flour egg flour. I did one taste test reason for that is because I already put salt and white pepper in the beginning with my water marinade. I fried it in my baby fryer I did not use an iron skillet. It came out perfect crispy and everything. I let it sit before I tried it. Then I tried it the chicken was moist and juicy the flour mixture was okay but I had to add more black pepper to it but marinating the chicken first was a lot better. I also marinate my chicken like that before I make sweet and sour chicken but not too much garlic. I always taste my marinade to make sure that it's not too much garlic I do one teaspoon but sometimes even one teaspoon is too much. You can do whatever works for you and your family. Thanks for the recipe really do appreciate it.

Pete

Saturday 13th of March 2021

First time fryer here. I loved this recipe so much! Thank you. They turned out perfect!

Rachel Ballard

Monday 15th of March 2021

Way to go Pete!