Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders
My daughter has never been a gourmand. She’ll take processed kid food or McDonalds over a home cooked meal any day of the week. Sometimes it works to my advantage — a trip to McDonalds makes excellent bribery — but most of the time I’m just dealing with a picky eater. I don’t usually give in, but every once in a while you have to give a picky eater what she wants, and what mine wants (big shocker) is fried chicken tenders. Marinated in seasoned buttermilk and pan-fried to crispy, crunchy perfection, these are her all-time favorite. They’re delicious on their own, dipped in honey mustard, or perched on top of a salad. And by the way, they’re not just for kids…everyone loves them.
Begin by combining the chicken tenderloins with a mixture of buttermilk, paprika, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and salt. If you have time, let them marinate overnight.
When you’re ready to cook them, make the breading by combining the flour, baking powder and spices in a bowl. Stir in a bit of buttermilk until the mixture is nice and clumpy.
Toss the tenderloins in the mixture and coat evenly with the breading.
They’ll look like this…
Finally, heat your oil until shimmering in a high-sided pot to prevent splatters. Place the tenderloins in the hot oil without crowding the pot, and cook until golden brown on both sides.
Drain on paper towels.
And that’s all there is to it. If you need a good honey mustard recipe to go with it, try this one. Enjoy!
Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders
For the Marinade
- 2 pounds chicken tenderloins
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1-1/2 teaspoons salt
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
For the Breading
- 1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 heaping teaspoon salt
- 3/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 3/4 teaspoon paprika
- 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk
- 3-4 cups vegetable oil, for cooking
- Combine the chicken tenders with all of the marinade ingredients in a large ziplock bag. Seal the bag tightly and smush it around to ensure chicken tenders are evenly coated with buttermilk and seasoning. Place in a bowl (in case of leakage) and refrigerate overnight, or at least 4 hours.
- Make the breading by combining the flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and baking powder in a large bowl. Whisk until well combined, then add the buttermilk and stir with a fork until mixture is evenly clumpy.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Remove the chicken tenders from the marinade a few at a time and toss into the flour mixture. Be sure to press the chicken firmly into the breading so clumps adhere to the meat. (It's best to use one hand to remove the tenders from the bag and the other to toss in the breading.) Set breaded tenders on prepared baking sheet.
- Line another baking sheet with a few layers of paper towels and set aside. Add oil to a large, high-sided pot until the level reaches about 3/4-inch. Heat over high heat until oil is shimmering. (If a cube of bread sizzles when you drop it in, it's ready.) Using tongs, place several chicken tenders in the hot oil without crowding the pan. Cook until golden brown on the bottom side, a few minutes, then flip and cook until second side is also golden, a few minutes more. Set cooked tenders on baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain. Fry remaining tenders in batches. Serve hot.
- Note: I find that it's hard to tell how golden the chicken is when it's immersed in the oil. It may only look lightly golden, but it's actually a perfect fried chicken golden brown. If you're unsure, simply pull a tender out of the oil and rest it on the paper towels to see the true color.
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