Buttermilk Chicken Tenders


Crispy Buttermilk Chicken Tenders: A Recipe for Culinary Bliss

Indulge in the comforting crunch of these Crispy Buttermilk Chicken Tenders, a dish that brings together the heartwarming flavors of buttermilk-marinated chicken and perfectly seasoned breading. Whether you’re making a cozy dinner for your family or serving a crowd at a casual gathering, these chicken tenders promise to be a hit. Let’s dive into the recipe and explore how to make this classic dish with a touch of culinary perfection.

Ingredients Overview

Chicken Tenderloins: These are the stars of the dish. Chicken tenderloins are soft, juicy cuts of meat that stay tender and moist when fried.

Oil for Frying: Canola, vegetable, or olive oil can be used. These oils have high smoke points, ensuring a crispy exterior without burning.


  • Buttermilk: This tangy ingredient tenderizes the chicken and infuses it with a subtle, creamy flavor.
  • Salt and Ground Black Pepper: Essential for seasoning, these basics ensure the chicken has a balanced taste.


  • All-Purpose Flour and Panko Crumbs: The combination of these two provides the perfect crunch. Flour adheres to the chicken, while panko adds extra crispiness.
  • Salt, Ground Black Pepper, Garlic Powder, Parsley Flakes, Ground Paprika, and Cornstarch: This blend of spices creates a flavorful coating that enhances the chicken’s natural taste.

Dipping Sauce:

  • Honey Mustard Sauce: A sweet and tangy complement to the savory chicken.
  • Chick-fil-a Sauce (Optional): For those who crave an extra burst of flavor.

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

Step 1: Marinate the Chicken

  1. Prepare the Marinade: In a deep bowl, combine 1 cup of buttermilk, 1 teaspoon of salt, and 1/4 teaspoon of ground black pepper.
  2. Marinate the Chicken: Add 2 lbs of chicken tenderloins to the marinade. Ensure each piece is well-coated. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or overnight for deeper flavor.

Step 2: Prepare the Breading

  1. Combine Dry Ingredients: In a deep dish, mix 1 cup of sifted all-purpose flour, 1 cup of panko crumbs, 1 1/4 teaspoons of salt, 1/2 teaspoon of ground black pepper, 1 1/2 teaspoons of garlic powder, 1 1/2 teaspoons of parsley flakes, 1 teaspoon of ground paprika, and 1 teaspoon of cornstarch.

Step 3: Bread the Chicken

  1. Remove Excess Marinade: Take the chicken tenderloins out of the marinade, letting the excess buttermilk drip off.
  2. Dredge the Chicken: Coat each tenderloin generously with the breading mixture, ensuring an even layer of seasoning.

Step 4: Fry the Chicken

  1. Heat the Oil: In a deep skillet, heat oil to 350°F. The oil should be about 3 inches deep.
  2. Fry the Chicken: Carefully add the breaded chicken tenders to the hot oil. Fry for 6-8 minutes, flipping halfway through, until they are golden brown and crispy on all sides.
  3. Drain and Serve: Remove the chicken from the oil and place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil. Serve hot with your favorite dipping sauces.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I ensure the chicken tenders are crispy? Make sure the oil is hot enough (350°F) and do not overcrowd the skillet while frying.

Can I use chicken breast instead of tenderloins? Yes, but make sure to cut the breast into thin strips for even cooking.

What can I use if I don’t have buttermilk? You can make a buttermilk substitute by mixing 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of lemon juice or vinegar. Let it sit for 5 minutes before using.

Can these chicken tenders be baked instead of fried? Yes, bake them in a preheated oven at 400°F for 15-20 minutes or until crispy and cooked through.

How long can I marinate the chicken? Marinate for at least 1 hour, but overnight is best for maximum flavor.

What dipping sauces go well with these chicken tenders? Honey mustard, ranch, barbecue sauce, and Chick-fil-a sauce are all great options.

Can I freeze the marinated chicken? Yes, you can freeze the marinated chicken for up to 3 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before breading and frying.

Is there a gluten-free option for this recipe? Yes, use gluten-free flour and breadcrumbs in place of the regular ones.

What can I do with leftovers? Leftovers can be used in sandwiches, wraps, or salads.

Can I use an air fryer? Yes, cook at 400°F for about 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through.

Helpful Tips

Use Fresh Oil: For the best taste and texture, use fresh oil for frying. Reusing oil can result in off-flavors and less crispy chicken.

Double Coat for Extra Crunch: For an even crunchier exterior, double-dip the chicken in the buttermilk and breading mixture.

Let Chicken Rest Before Frying: Allow the breaded chicken to rest for a few minutes before frying to help the breading adhere better.

Use a Thermometer: Ensure the oil temperature is consistent by using a kitchen thermometer. This helps achieve the perfect crispy texture.

Avoid Overcrowding the Skillet: Fry in batches if necessary to prevent the oil temperature from dropping too low.

Storage and Reheating Tips

Refrigerate Leftovers: Store leftover chicken tenders in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Freeze for Longer Storage: Place cooked tenders on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. Transfer to a freezer bag and store for up to 3 months.

Reheat in the Oven: For best results, reheat in a preheated oven at 375°F for 10-15 minutes to retain crispiness.

Microwave Option: While not ideal, you can microwave the tenders on a microwave-safe plate for 1-2 minutes. The texture might be less crispy.

Avoid Reheating Multiple Times: Reheat only the portion you plan to eat to maintain quality.

Recipe Secrets

Buttermilk Magic: The acidity in buttermilk breaks down protein in the chicken, making it incredibly tender and flavorful.

Cornstarch Trick: Adding cornstarch to the breading mixture helps achieve a lighter, crispier crust.

Paprika for Color: Ground paprika not only adds flavor but also gives the chicken a beautiful golden hue.

Panko Perfection: Panko breadcrumbs create an airier, crunchier coating compared to regular breadcrumbs.

Fresh Parsley: Using fresh parsley flakes instead of dried ones can elevate the flavor profile of the breading.

Temperature Control: Keeping the oil at a consistent 350°F ensures even cooking and perfect crispiness.

Flavor Infusion: Marinating overnight allows the buttermilk and spices to deeply penetrate the chicken for maximum flavor.

Resting Period: Letting the breaded chicken rest before frying helps the coating adhere better and prevents it from falling off during cooking.

Even Frying: Flip the tenders halfway through frying to ensure they are evenly cooked and golden on all sides.

Drain Properly: Let the fried tenders drain on paper towels to remove excess oil and keep them crisp.

Additional Sections

Healthier Alternatives:

  • Baking Instead of Frying: As mentioned, baking is a healthier option that still yields crispy results.
  • Air Frying: Another healthier alternative that uses less oil and is convenient for quick cooking.

Pairing Suggestions:

  • Side Dishes: Serve with coleslaw, potato wedges, or a fresh garden salad for a complete meal.
  • Beverages: A chilled lemonade or iced tea pairs wonderfully with these crispy tenders.


  • Spicy Tenders: Add cayenne pepper to the breading mixture for a spicy kick.
  • Herb-Infused: Mix dried herbs like thyme or rosemary into the breading for an aromatic twist.

Enjoy making these Crispy Buttermilk Chicken Tenders and share the joy of cooking with family and friends. Happy cooking!

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