Buttermilk Chicken Tenders

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Buttermilk Chicken Tenders are marinated in buttermilk, then battered and pan fried until golden brown. The crunchy batter makes them perfect on a salad, as a snack with honey mustard sauce, or for dinner with southern sides!

buttermilk chicken tenders on a plate surrounding a green bowl of honey mustard sauce.
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Why This Recipe Is Best

I've never met anyone who didn't love crispy chicken tenders. I know you're out there, but this recipe is intended to turn you into a believer!

Whether you call them chicken strips or homemade chicken tenders, what sets this recipe apart is the buttermilk marinade. It's loaded with seasonings and ready to tenderize boneless skinless chicken into a plump and juicy meal.

And there are so many side dishes to serve with them!

As far as fried buttermilk chicken goes, this is my favorite way to fix any type of fried food because it works like a charm. The addition of cornstarch to the batter makes it extra crunchy and crispy.

Kids love 'em. Adults will fight you for the last one on the plate. So, get out your cast iron skillet (ad) and make this easy recipe for breakfast, lunch or dinner. It's time to show some chicken tender love!

buttermilk chicken tenders in a wooden basket with honey mustard sauce drizzled on top.

Ingredients

To make the marinade, you'll need buttermilk, garlic salt, paprika, pepper and dried Italian seasoning.

Trust me on the Italian seasoning. I know it's different, but it adds amazing flavor so try it before you knock it. Paprika adds a touch of smokiness and great color too.

The dredge that creates the batter is made of all purpose flour, cornstarch, and all of the seasonings above. You'll also need vegetable or canola oil for frying.

My homemade honey mustard sauce includes mayonnaise, yellow mustard, honey, and a dash of garlic salt and paprika. That's it!

See recipe card for quantities.

ingredients needed for buttermilk chicken tenders recipe.

How to Make Chicken Tenders

1 - Mix up the marinade and pour it over chicken. Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight or for a few hours if you're in a hurry. The meat needs time in the marinade to absorb the acid and flavor.

chicken marinating in buttermilk and seasonings.

2 - Prepare your dredging station. You'll need two large bowls, a large plate or sheet pan, plus spoons and forks.

3 - Whisk the flour mixture together to make the batter. Remove tenders from the marinade and dredge them in the flour mixture. Pat the flour down to make sure it sticks. Place chicken on a plate or sheet pan while heating up the oil.

dredging chicken tender in flour mixture.

4 - Heat oil to 350 degrees (medium temp) in a skillet. Test oil to see if it's ready by adding a little flour to the skillet. If it sizzles, it's good to go. Add battered chicken fingers one at a time to the hot oil. Take care not to put too many in the pan at once.

5 - Fry tenders on one side for 3 minutes. Flip and fry 3 more minutes. Flip one more time and fry until golden brown (about 3 minutes more). Remove from oil and place on a rack over a sheet pan. Keep warm in a 170 degree oven until ready to serve.

chicken tenders battered and ready to fry in oil.

How to Make Honey Mustard Sauce

To make honey mustard sauce, add mayonnaise, mustard and honey to a bowl and stir well. Add a dash of garlic salt and paprika and you're good to go! For quantities, check out the recipe card below.

Other Dipping Sauces to Try

You could use any sauce as a dipper! Some of my favorites are...

honey mustard sauce in the middle of fried chicken.

Recipe FAQS

How do you get batter to stay on fried chicken?

The secret to getting batter to stay on while frying is to use whole buttermilk instead of egg. Buttermilk is thicker and adheres to the chicken better. Also, heating the oil to medium (350 degrees) is important. You can check to see if the oil is ready by adding a few specks of flour. If the oil sizzles, it's time to fry!

How do you keep fried chicken crispy?

The best way to keep the breading crispy is to keep the tenders in a 170 degree oven after frying. Place them on a baking rack over a sheet pan. This will keep the chicken warm and crispy until ready to serve.

Why is buttermilk a good marinade for chicken?

Buttermilk has acid in it that breaks down the protein in meat, so it works well to tenderize chicken. It also acts as a great binding agent when dredging meat in flour, so it's the perfect ingredient for tender and crispy fried chicken!

honey mustard drizzled over the top of fried chicken in a basket.

Top Tips

  • Leave the chicken in marinade overnight for best results.
  • Be sure the oil is the correct temperature (350 degrees) before adding chicken or the batter won't stick.
  • This recipe doesn't work well in an air fryer because of the buttermilk. Leave it out if you want to try air frying instead.

Freezer and Storage

You can freeze this recipe after frying for up to 3 months if wrapped securely or vacuum sealed. Store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. To reheat, do so in a 350 degree oven.

Buttermilk Chicken Tenders go great with dips, but they're also perfect for dinner with all types of southern sides.

If you love southern fried chicken, try these other recipes that are sure to please!

Recipe Card

circle of buttermilk chicken tenders around a bowl of honey mustard sauce.

Buttermilk Chicken Tenders

Buttermilk Chicken Tenders are marinated in buttermilk, then battered and pan fried until golden brown. They're a crispy and crunchy treat!
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate
Course: Main Dishes
Cuisine: Southern
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 400kcal

*See notes in blog post for detailed tips, photos and instructions.

Equipment

Ingredients

BUTTERMILK MARINADE

  • 1 cup whole buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 pound chicken tenders

BATTER

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1 cup vegetable oil

HONEY MUSTARD SAUCE

  • 4 Tablespoons mayonnaise I use Duke's
  • 1 Tablespoon yellow mustard
  • 2 Tablespoons honey
  • dash of garlic salt
  • dash of paprika

Instructions

  • Mix up the marinade and pour it over chicken. Place in an airtight container in the refrigerator overnight, or use immediately if you're in a hurry.
  • Whisk the flour mixture together to make the batter.
  • Remove tenders from the marinade and dredge them in the flour mixture. Pat the flour down to make sure it sticks.
  • Place chicken on a plate or sheet pan while heating up the oil.
  • Heat oil to 350 degrees (medium temp) in a skillet.
  • Gradually add battered chicken fingers one at a time into the hot oil. 
  • Fry tenders on one side for 3 minutes. Flip and fry 3 more minutes. Flip one more time and fry until golden brown (about 3 minutes more).
  • Remove chicken tenders from oil and place on a rack over a sheet pan. Keep warm in a 170 degree oven until ready to serve.
  • To make honey mustard sauce, combine all ingredients together and mix well. Serve with chicken tenders.
  • Refrigerate leftovers in an air tight container for up to 3 days.

Notes

  • Leave the chicken in marinade overnight for best results.
  • Be sure the oil is the correct temperature (350 degrees) before adding chicken or the batter won't stick.
  • This recipe doesn't work well in an air fryer because of the buttermilk. Leave it off if you want to try air frying instead.

Nutrition

Calories: 400kcal | Carbohydrates: 38g | Protein: 30g | Fat: 70g | Saturated Fat: 12g | Sodium: 2072mg | Potassium: 566mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 12g | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 98mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutrition info is an auto generated estimate.

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One Comment

  1. 5 stars
    I made these last night and I've never had such a crunchy chicken finger! They were really good. Thank you for this recipe.

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