Cajun chicken tenders bring a little spice to a family favorite dinner that nothing from a box can ever rival. Learn all the tips and tricks to fry like a pro and watch them disappear.
Fried chicken is a southern right of passage–we learn to fry it up from a young age and never seem to stop loving the stuff. Crispy on the outside, perfectly seasoned and juicy inside: It’s time for you to learn to do this yourself.
My traditional fried chicken tenders are a consistent winner and you can find plenty of tips for frying there but we’ll go over them again here just so you know.
The basics of frying
First know that if you’ve never fried before, you’ll probably stink at it for the first few times. Just be patient with yourself and if you need it, use an electric skillet or other device that will control the temperature of your heat until you feel comfortable enough to use a skillet on the stove.
Next make sure to use the right oil. Lots of people use vegetable oil but we don’t anymore and here’s why. I like to use refined coconut oil which doesn’t taste like coconuts and is more affordable than avocado oil.
When you’re frying your chicken should sizzle immediately. If it doesn’t your oil isn’t hot enough. If it’s smoking, it’s too hot. Remember that the more chicken you put in your skillet, the more it drops the temperature of your oil and that will make your breading fall off. Don’t add more than 4 or 5 tenders to a 12-inch skillet.
Use the right chicken
Your cajun chicken tenders will be best if you don’t actually use tenders. Those little suckers have tendons that run right through them and to me, they are anything but tender.
Use chicken breast meat instead and cut them in to 1-inch wide strips. If you want to go even one step further, make sure to buy chicken tenders that are low in “retained water” AKA chicken that’s been pumped full of water during processing. You can read the label to find one that has low or no retained water. Look for one with less than 5%.
What to serve with cajun chicken
Everything from honey mustard to Zaxby’s sauce will all go great with your chicken but there’s no need to buy a bottled version. Check out these 12 dipping sauces for lots of inspiration.
Everything goes with chicken, right? Maybe not, but try pairing yours with any of these southern sides:
Fried Cajun Chicken Tenders
- 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts cut in to 1" thick strips
- 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour gluten free flour blend works too
- 2 tablespoons cajun seasoning *see notes
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce optional
- 3 cups refined coconut oil for frying (you may also use another high heat oil of your choice)
- In a large, shallow bowl or dish with sides, add the flour, cajun seasoning, onion and garlic powders. Stir to mix. Taste it to see if you want more spice. Add more if you do, but don't taste it once you've dipped any raw chicken in it. Set aside.
- In a second bowl, beat the eggs, hot sauce and water. Set aside.
- Dip one chicken tender at a time into the flour then the eggs, and then back into the flour, pressing to coat the chicken well. Repeat with the remaining tenders and set them aside while you heat the oil. Allow the chicken to rest 3 or 4 minutes before frying so the breading can "set".
- If using a 12 inch skillet, pour oil to a depth of 2 inches and heat on high to 375 (you can use a thermometer to check if you aren't sure). Slowly add three to four pieces of chicken, reduce heat to medium high, and allow them to fry until just brown on one side–about 5 minutes–then turn and cook until golden on the second side–6 to 7 minutes more. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate to drain and repeat with the other tenders. **Make sure to stay by the stove! If your oil starts to smoke, turn the heat down or pull the skillet off the burner carefully for a minute or two. If your chicken is cooking too slow and the breading is soggy or falling off, turn the heat up.