Make restaurant style chicken tenders at home! Can you guess what secret ingredient I use to make the CRISPIEST fried chicken tenders? You probably already have a container of it in your pantry!
Watch our step by step video!
If you’ve ever found yourself intimidated by making fried chicken, homemade chicken tenders or chicken nuggets is a great place to start. Chicken tenders fry up much more quickly and cook much more evenly than drumsticks. I’ve tried many different methods over the years and came up with one that my family goes nuts over using a secret ingredient that you probably have in your pantry. Restaurant style chicken tenders made at home! With a family of 7, this is a huge money saver. I can feed our entire family for the price of two combo meals.
The key ingredient in making the CRISPIEST fried chicken is corn starch. I’ve been making fried chicken using corn starch for years, and every time I branch out and try out a recipe that doesn’t call for corn starch, I am disappointed. The coating just isn’t the same!
A simple 50/50 ratio of corn starch and flour works great, and it is something that you probably already have in your pantry. Many view corn starch as only an ingredient for baking or making sauces, and it works great for those uses. I use it in my bakery style sugar cookies.
If you’re looking for a crowd pleaser to make for the entire family, whip up a batch of these chicken tenders and serve them with garlic fries, my favorite dipping sauce (scroll down for recipe) and a vegetable platter!
How to Make the CRISPIEST Fried Chicken Tenders
The first thing you need to do is soak the chicken tenders in pickle juice, milk and an egg. Yes, pickle juice. It adds so much flavor and moisture and the tenders only soak for 30 minutes, so definitely take the time to do that.
When the chicken has about 5 minutes of soaking time left, go ahead and mix the dry ingredients. Corn starch, flour, seasoned salt, paprika, garlic powder and a bit of cayenne pepper.
Place them all in a plastic sealable bag and dip 6 tenders at a time. Seal the bag, give it a good shake and transfer the chicken tenders to a rack. Repeat until all of the tenders have been dipped and shaken.
I prefer to dip and shake everything at once instead of frying small batches and continually dipping more chicken in the corn starch mixture. This way, I only have to wash my hands once and it makes the frying process even quicker!
Frying the Crispiest Chicken Tenders
A good rule of thumb for frying chicken is to keep the oil between 350 and 375 degrees. The temperature of the oil will fluctuate as the cold chicken is added, so just keep an eye on it. The best way to have success deep frying chicken is to monitor the oil using a thermometer. Fry 5-6 tenders at a time.
Tip: If you don’t have a thermometer, you can test the oil by dipping a bamboo skewer into the oil. Make sure it touches the bottom of the pan. If you immediately see bubbles coming up against the skewer, the oil is ready. Drop the temperature from medium high to medium and do a test batch with one chicken tender. The tenders shouldn’t brown immediately. If they do, the oil is too hot. Lower the oil and wait a few minutes before testing another chicken tender.
Just LOOK at that crispy coating!
Once the chicken has cooked for 5-6 minutes and is golden on both sides, remove and place on a platter with paper towels to drain. This recipe makes 16-18 tenders, so you can easily fry all of them in 3-4 batches.
The Best Dipping Sauce for Chicken Tenders
Ranch, honey mustard, BBQ sauce, ketchup—what is your favorite dipping sauce? I actually prefer a tangy version that is similar to fry sauce! So delicious.
Tangy Chicken Tender Dipping Sauce
1/2 c. mayo
2 T. bbq sauce
splash Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. pickle juice
Mix ingredients and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Stir before serving.
The Crispiest Fried Chicken Tenders
- 1 1/2 lbs. chicken tenders 16 tenders (or chicken breast cut into strips)
- 3 cup canola oil for frying
- 3/4 cup dill pickle juice
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1 egg
- 3/4 cup corn starch
- 3/4 cup flour
- 2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 1/4 teaspoon seasoning salt
- cayenne pepper pinch
- Mix pickle juice, milk and egg in a large bowl. Add chicken tenders and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
- Mix dry ingredients in a plastic bag.
- Place tenders in plastic bag, 6 at a time. Seal bag and shake.
- Remove tenders and place on a rack. Repeat with remaining tenders.
- Heat oil to 350-375 degrees.
- Fry tenders, 5 at a time, for 5-6 minutes or until golden brown.
- Place cooked tenders on a paper towel lined platter.