Chicken tenders are one of the most common items to appear on kids’ menus when you’re out to eat, no matter if you’re at Culver’s or the best steakhouse in your state. However, I’d argue that chicken tenders shouldn’t always be labeled a kid’s food. Yes, they might seem simple—but with a few choice ingredients like buttermilk, they can be taken from standard to super. Adults and children alike will love these buttermilk chicken tenders.

How to Make Buttermilk Chicken Tenders

This recipe from Genise Krause from Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin serves 6 and takes 35 minutes to make from start to finish.


1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1 cup all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
1-1/2 teaspoons pepper
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon paprika
2 pounds chicken tenderloins
Oil for deep-fat frying
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese


Step 1: Whisk the egg and buttermilk

In a shallow bowl, whisk the egg and buttermilk.

Editor’s Tip: If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, it might be worth a trip to the store. However, if you’re really in a pinch, you could make homemade buttermilk with milk and vinegar, lemon juice or cream of tartar.

Step 2: Prepare the breading

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, garlic powder, pepper, salt and paprika.

Step 3: Bread the chicken tenderloins

Dip each piece of chicken in the egg mixture, and then the flour mixture.

Editor’s Tip: If you’re having troubles, here are some reasons why the breading keeps falling off your chicken.

Step 4: Fry the chicken tenders

In an electric skillet, heat the oil to 375°F. Fry the chicken, a few pieces at a time, for 2 to 3 minutes on each side or until no longer pink. Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Don’t fry too many tenders at once, and make sure you let the oil come back to temperature after you’ve been frying for a little bit. If the temperature of the oil is any lower, it could result in oily chicken tenders.

Editor’s Tip: Keep the fried buttermilk chicken tenders in a 250° oven to keep them warm while you finish frying the rest of them.

Tips for Making Buttermilk Chicken Tenders

Can you use different cuts of chicken to make buttermilk chicken tenders?

The reason they’re called chicken “tenders” is because they’re made with the tenderloin, which is a muscle found underneath each chicken breast. If you can’t find chicken tenderloins at the store, you can use cut up chicken breast to make chicken strips instead.

What are some variations of this buttermilk fried chicken recipe?

Instead of mixing the buttermilk with the egg, you can marinate the chicken tenderloins in the buttermilk for a few hours. The acid in the buttermilk will help break down the proteins in the chicken, resulting in juicy and tender meat. If you go this route, you can also add a little hot sauce to the buttermilk to add some heat to each tender.

Another way to make this recipe your own is to add more spices to the breading. Try smoked paprika instead of regular paprika—it’ll make a world of difference. Or find your favorite combination of spices, using anything from onion powder and oregano to white pepper and mustard powder. Cayenne pepper would also work nicely for those who like a little spice.

What can you serve with buttermilk chicken tenders?

Serve your buttermilk chicken tenders with your favorite dipping sauce, whether it’s honey mustard, barbecue sauce, buffalo sauce, ranch or even copycat Chick-fil-A sauce.

Round out the meal with side dishes for fried chicken such as coleslaw, french fries, potato salad, macaroni salad or steamed veggies.

How do you store buttermilk chicken tenders?

They’ll last in the fridge for three to four days in an airtight container in the fridge. You can freeze them too—just make sure you know how to reheat fried chicken properly to maximize crunch and juiciness just as much the second time around.

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