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closeup of chicken tender with a few more in the background
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5 from 8 votes

Spicy Fried Chicken Tenders

These Spicy Chicken Tenders are ridiculously delicious! Chicken strips marinated in buttermilk and hot sauce, then deep fried for extra crispiness. Need I say more?!
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time10 mins
Marinating Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 30 mins
Course: Appetizer, Finger Food
Cuisine: American
Servings: 16 tenders
Calories: 130kcal
Cost: £2.50 / $3


  • Suitably Sized Pot (for deep frying)
  • Shallow bowl or Curved Tray (for dredging)
  • Large Mixing Bowl & Cling Film (for marinating)
  • Kitchen Thermometer
  • Cooling Wrap & Paper Towels
  • Tongs


  • 1.3lb / 600g Chicken Tenders (see notes)
  • 3-4 cups / 750ml - 1 litre Vegetable Oil (see notes)


  • 1 cup / 250ml Buttermilk (see notes)
  • 1/4 cup / 60ml Hot Sauce (I use Frank's)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp White Pepper

Dry Mix

  • 1 3/4 cups / 250g Plain Flour
  • 2 tsp Paprika
  • 1.5 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 tsp EACH: Onion Powder, Garlic Powder, Baking Powder, Salt


  • Combine chicken with the buttermilk, hot sauce, salt and white pepper. Cover and place in the fridge for as long as you have time for. Preferably overnight, absolute minimum 2 hours.
  • Meanwhile, in a shallow dish or curved tray combine flour, cayenne pepper, baking powder, paprika, onion & garlic powder and salt. One by one, coat your chicken strips in the dry mix, making sure you cover every spec of chicken. Press the mix right into the chicken so it goes nice and flaky. Place on a wire wrack and repeat.
  • Heat up your oil to around 350F/175C. To test without a thermometer, drop a tiny piece of batter in the oil, if it very slowly rises to the top, you should be good to go. A medium heat for around 8-10 minutes should obtain this. The temp will slightly drop when the chicken hits, which is fine, just maintain that heat (no lower than 320F/160C).
  • Working in batches of 3-4, carefully place your strips into the oil. Separate them with tongs if the instantly stick together, then leaves for 3-4mins until they start turning golden. Flip over and leave for another few minutes until deep golden and visibly crispy. If your oil is too hot simply pour in more oil/turn down heat. If you're not confident with deep frying then test one strip first.
  • Place on a wire rack with a tray or paper towel underneath. Enjoy with a dip or as a side!



a) Chicken Tenders - If you can get chicken tenders that's preferable, if not you can slice chicken breast into strips which will work just as well.
b) Buttermilk - Buttermilk has great consistency (not too thin, not too thick) and the slight acidity also tenderises the chicken. It is preferable, but if you can't get your hands on it you could sub 3/4 cup plain unsweetened yogurt (for acidity) mixed with 1/4 cup milk to thin out (for texture). Another good buttermilk sub is 1 cup milk mixed with 1 tbsp acid (white vinegar or lemon juice). Mix together and let it sit for 10mins before mixing in the chicken. This is a slightly thinner solution than buttermilk, so if you’re doing this just make sure you give it a thorough dredge through the flour.
c) Oil - You want to use an oil with a high smoking point with a neutral flavour to it, like vegetable or sunflower oil. Do not use olive oil.
d) Spice Level - the 1/4 cup hot sauce and 1.5 tsp cayenne pepper give these tenders a nice kick of spice. Nothing too drastic, but definitely apparent. As everyone's spice preference is different, if you're concerned then use 1/2 tsp of cayenne pepper in the mix, test with one tender, and adjust accordingly if you want more. This way you won't spoil the whole batch with them being too spicy. Much easier to add spice than remove it.
e) When is the Chicken Cooked? - Ensure the chicken is white all the way through the centre, piping hot, with the juices running clear. The safe internal temp of chicken is 165f/75c.
f) Calories - It's really tricky to calculate deep fried recipes, but the below stats are based on the following: 1/2 cup buttermilk stuck on, 3/4 cup flour stuck and 1.5 tsp oil absorbed during cooking. Calories per tender.


Calories: 130kcal | Carbohydrates: 5.28g | Protein: 9.24g | Fat: 7.98g | Saturated Fat: 5.824g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.331g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1.066g | Trans Fat: 0.005g | Cholesterol: 27mg | Sodium: 128mg | Potassium: 154mg | Fiber: 0.3g | Sugar: 0.45g | Vitamin A: 500IU | Vitamin C: 0.8mg | Calcium: 10mg | Iron: 0.5mg