This is one of those universally loved culinary creations that kids and adults just can’t get enough of.
We grew up calling these chicken fingers or chicken strips. They were originally frozen and probably not 100% all chicken. But, boy, did we love them. Imagine making them from scratch with quality chicken and a scrumptious homemade honey mustard dipping sauce. We use the same batter and technique for our chicken fried steak, and the results are super crispy and deeply flavorful.
How To Make Crispy Chicken Tenders
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The Ingredients You Will Need
Chicken – Seek our chicken tenders in the meat department of your supermarket. Boneless, skinless breasts can also be used, cut into 2 to 3 strips.
Seasonings for the chicken – Adobo seasoning and salt. See NOTES.
Cornstarch – You’ll need enough to coat all chicken pieces, usually about half a cup.
Flour – All-purpose, for both the wet batter and the dry.
Beer – Just about a third of a bottle. The alcohol cooks off but helps to yield a crispier exterior. If you prefer not to cook with beer, then just substitute chicken or beef broth.
Milk – Preferably whole.
Egg – Lightly beaten.
Seasonings for the batter – Chili powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.
Seasoning for the flour – Adobo seasoning.
Oil – Vegetable is best for frying.
Sauce for dipping – Honey mustard dipping sauce, homemade ranch, or BBQ sauce are our favorites and can be made well in advance.
EXPERT TIP: Set up a three-part dredging station for the cornstarch, and then the wet batter, and then the seasoned flour. If you want an extra thick, extra crunchy crust, then dredge a second time again through the wet batter and then the flour. NOTE: We find that a single dredge produces a very crunchy exterior, but that’s up to you.
Tips For Making Perfect Crispy Chicken Tenders
Season the Chicken Tenders Generously – Go with your favorite seasonings, but remember that some seasoning mixtures (ie, seasoned salt, adobo) have varying degrees of sodium. Taste a little first before adding more salt. But, don’t under season the chicken!
Cold Beer is Best – The little bit of alcohol and chilliness of the beer helps to create an extra crispy crust. But, as mentioned, if you don’t want to cook with beer, go with chicken or beef stock.
Heat the Oil to the Correct Temperature – Use a candy thermometer to ensure the oil is at 350-360°F to achieve a crispy exterior without overcooking the chicken and fry the tenders in small batches to maintain the oil temperature.
Let Fried Pieces Drain – Once fried to a golden brown, transfer the chicken tenders to a wire rack set over a baking sheet to allow any excess oil to drain and help the coating stay crispy. Serve immediately for the best results.
EXPERT TIP: Keep an eye on the tenders as they are frying. They should only take about 5 to 7 minutes to fully cook and turn a crispy golden brown. Use metal tongs or a spider to safely remove the tenders from the hot oil. Only fill your skillet about to about about one-third up the side of the pan.
How To Serve
These chicken tenders are wonderful, even after they’ve cooled off and lost their extra crispiness.
But, the get the ultimate crispy experience, we highly recommend serving these soon after coming out of the hot oil.
Pile them up on a platter, or in baskets lined with wax paper, and be sure to have plenty of dipping sauces. Providing guests with a variety of sauces is best. Our favorites are honey mustard dipping sauce, homemade ranch, and BBQ sauce.
Other Irresistible Crispy Recipes to Try
There is just something extra special about an extra crunch crust. Especially when surrounding a tender, flavorful piece of meat or filling. Here are a few of our favorites that we are certain you and your family will love, too:
Southern Fried Chicken
Best-Ever Fried Chicken Sandwich
Chicken Fried Steak
Chicken Fried Steak Sandwich (copycat DQ Dude)
Classic Meat Pies
Philly Cheesesteak Egg Rolls
Southern-Fried Pork Chops
Fish and Chips with Southern Hush Puppies
Fried Catfish Po-Boy
Southern Fried Shrimp with Cocktail Sauce
Best Fried Fish Sandwich
Restaurant-Quality Fried Calamari
These are all amazing in their own crispy crunchy scrumptious way. But, in the meantime, aren’t these calling your name?
Chicken tenders are on many kids’ menus around the world. Kids love them, and why not?
Most adults will tell you they love them, too.
And folks, when you make them from scratch, with a deeply flavorful wet batter crust, you won’t believe the results. And don’t forget the dipping sauce!
Every bite is chicken tender perfection!
Ready to make the very best chicken tenders in town? Go for it!
And when you do, be sure to take a picture of them, post it on Instagram, and tag @HowToFeedaLoon and hashtag #HowToFeedaLoon!
Crispy Chicken Tenders
- large sturdy skillet for frying, or deep-fryer
- 1 lb chicken tenders or chicken breasts, cut into strips
- Adobo seasoning See NOTES
- Kosher salt divided
- ½ cup cornstarch
- 2 ½ all-purpose flour divided
- ⅓ cup beer cold
- ¾ cup whole milk
- 1 large egg lightly beaten
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp onion powder
- vegetable oil for frying
- honey mustard dipping sauce for serving
- Sprinkle the adobo seasoning and salt all over the chicken tenders.1 lb chicken tenders, Adobo seasoning, Kosher salt
- Set up a dredging station with three pans or bowls. In the first pan add the cornstarch. In the second pan, mix together 1 cup flour, the beer, milk, egg, chili powder, paprika, onion powder, and 1 tbsp salt until smooth. In the third pan, mix together 1½ cups flour and 2 tbsp adobo seasoning.½ cup cornstarch, 2 ½ all-purpose flour, ⅓ cup beer, ¾ cup whole milk, 1 large egg, 2 tbsp chili powder, 1 tsp smoked paprika, 1 tsp onion powder
- Working in batches, dredge the chicken tenders through the cornstarch until fully coated. Press them into the wet batter and flip and move around until completely coated. Add to the seasoned flour and turn to fully coat. Place on a platter or cutting board, and repeat with remaining tenders. Sprinkle more flour on the tenders if they are still very wet.
- Meanwhile, heat oil in a large sturdy skillet (filled about ⅓ of the way up the sides) to 350°F.vegetable oil
- Working in batches, carefully place the coated tenders in the hot oil, and cook until crispy and golden brown, gently flipping occasionally. This will take about 5 to 7 minutes. Use metal tongs to remove the chicken tenders from the hot oil and place them on a baking rack on a baking sheet. Repeat with remaining tenders.
- Serve at once with honey mustard dipping sauce and your other favorite dipping sauces.honey mustard dipping sauce