Growing up, my mom used to make fried chicken tenders every so often and it's one of the meals I looked forward to the most after school. (Except for her spaghetti and meatballs and her chili and her chicken corn soup...I guess there were a lot of meals I looked forward to!)
These tenders are ultra crispy and flavorful and juicy. Just as long as you don't fuss over them too much. Let them hang out in the pan and get kind of crispy. The key is to make sure your tenders are well-coated with flour and that the pan is the right heat. Here's my mom's recommendations for checking the heat: "Check your pan, it should be getting hot, so up your heat from low to medium high and wait until it's hot enough that a drop of water will cause a nice sizzle but not a popping sizzle...grease in your eye is too hot."
I served these chicken tenders with Dukkah-Spiced Sweet Potatoes and a Horseradish-Honey Mustard. All three recipes are included in this post. Enjoy!
Serves: 6 or so
Skill Level: Easy
Time to Make: 60 minutes (for the whole meal)
2 pounds chicken tenders (or, boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into strips)
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 cups flour
Salt, pepper, cayenne powder to taste
Flaky Sea Salt for Serving
Canola Oil (I used half a cup)
1/4 cup spicy brown mustard
2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
2 teaspoons honey
Salt and pepper to taste
DUKKAH-SPICED SWEET POTATOES
4 sweet potatoes
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons Dukkah (Plus more for garnish)
Prep Ingredients: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Medium dice the sweet potatoes.
Chicken Tenders: In a shallow dish, whisk the buttermilk and four eggs. Season with salt, pepper, and cayenne powder and continue whisking until smooth. In a gallon freezer bag, combine flour, salt, pepper, and cayenne powder.
Place a large skillet with the canola oil on the stove and heat on low as you dredge the tenders to warm up the oil.
Add all the chicken tenders to the buttermilk and egg mixture and use tongs to evenly coat all of them. Add about 5 of the tenders to the freezer bag with the flour and seal it. Shake the bag around to evenly coat the tenders with the flour.
Turn the heat up to medium high for a few minutes. Add a tiny drop of water to see if it sizzles. If it sizzles, begin frying the chicken. Add the chicken tenders, being careful not to overcrowd the pan. Fry for 6-7 minutes or until very golden brown on the bottom. Flip and continue frying another 6-7 minutes or until completely golden brown all over. Note: the first batch will take the longest since your oil isn't super hot yet. The rest will go more quickly.
Once the first batch is golden brown all over, transfer to a paper-towel lined plate. Continue frying the rest of the tenders in batches, adding a line of paper towels between each layer of tenders to soak up the excess grease. After each batch, sprinkle a bit of flaky sea salt on top of the finished tenders if desired. Keep warm.
Dukkah-Spiced Sweet Potatoes: Add olive oil to a roasting pan and toss the chopped sweet potatoes in the oil. Season with salt and pepper. Bake for 20 minutes.
After 20 minutes, drizzle the maple syrup on the potatoes and carefully toss to coat. Bake an additional 10 minutes.
Remove from the pan and sprinkle the dukkah on the potatoes. Transfer to a serving bowl and garnish with a bit more dukkah on top.
Horseradish-Honey Mustard: In a saucepan, combine the horseradish, honey, and mustard and cook over low heat until well combined and thickened, about 5 minutes. Transfer to one or two small bowls, depending on how many people will be eating.
To Serve: Bring the chicken tenders to the table along with the honey mustard and sweet potatoes and serve family-style. Enjoy!
Designer and photographer living in NYC. I work as a design manager in ed tech and I make tasty recipes in my spare time!