Home Best Healthy foods Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders

Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders

Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders


A buttermilk bath and a bespoke blend of spices make these Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders a family favorite as an appetizer or entree.

Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders featured image

There are few foods I get cravings for more than chicken tenders. Maybe it’s the child in me who used to invariably order them off the kids’ menu whenever my family went out for dinner. Whatever it is, I can’t help it when I get the urge to fry up a batch.

The first thing I reach for is this recipe. I developed it years ago when I realized that chicken tenders weren’t just a “kids” thing, and, despite, being an adult, I wanted them just as often as I did when I was younger.

If I’m feeling generous, I’ll make enough for the entire family. Doesn’t matter whether I do them up for dinner or ask a snack while we sit around the TV, my kids practically fight over who can consume the most tenders in the shortest amount of time. (Yes, their digestive powers are miracles of science.)

I can also have fun with the spices and seasonings included. No matter what I’m in the mood for, these chicken tenders are up for it. Sweet, spicy, savory… they go well with anything.

Thanks to this recipe, I’ll be guided to the loveliest, juiciest, tangiest, crispiest chicken tenders I’ve ever had. That makes the child in me—and the adult—very happy.

Are Fried Chicken Tenders Healthy?

Chicken is a great source of lean protein, which your muscles will appreciate. It will also appreciate that we’ve opted for healthy versions of many of the ingredients usually called upon for chicken tenders, like whole wheat flour, low-fat buttermilk, and avocado oil. It suits a Mediterranean diet and, if you use almond/coconut flour, paleo and gluten-free diets, too. It can also be dairy-free if you use almond or coconut milk with a squirt of lemon juice instead of buttermilk.

Can I Use a Different Cut of Chicken?

Sure. Thanks to the versatility of chicken, you can bread and fry pretty much any part you like. Chicken breast can be used, though I suggest cutting it into strips to make it easier to share and eat. You can also use thighs; just remove the skin and bone and again, slice them up before marinating. Do the same thing to drumsticks if you prefer dark meat. Chicken wings can be used, though you may need to extend the cooking time to ensure they’re done. You could even use ground chicken. Just pack them up into patties or nuggets and fry them up.


  • 2 lb. chicken tenderloins
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1½ tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • 1½ cups whole wheat flour
  • 1½ tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • ¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp low-fat buttermilk (for breading)
  • 3-4 cups avocado oil 
Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders ingredients



Combine buttermilk and spices in a bag, add chicken, and let it soak up the flavors in the fridge.


Mix flour, baking powder, and spices, then add buttermilk to create a clumpy breading for the tenders.


Heat oil and cook the chicken until each piece is crispy and golden, ensuring it’s cooked to perfection.


Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders featured image

FAQs & Tips

How do I store these chicken tenders?

Let the tenders cool completely then store them in an airtight container in the fridge for up to four days. You can also freeze them for up to three months. Let them thaw in the fridge overnight before reheating them.

Do I need to marinate the chicken in a bag?

No, it’s up to you. A bowl will work just fine. Be sure to cover it up though before you put it in the fridge.

Can I use different dairy when marinating?

Buttermilk is used because it imbues the chicken with a nice tanginess and it has a high level of lactic acid, which breaks down the proteins in the chicken, making it tender. While you can certainly use cow’s milk, a plant-derived milk, buttermilk is ideal. In fact, the only time I deviate from buttermilk is when I want to reinforce the protein content; for that, I sub in Greek yogurt, which is tangy and healthy.

Can I double dredge my chicken?

If you prefer a thicker, crispier coating then double dredging is the way to go. For those unfamiliar with the term, double dredging involves dipping the marinated chicken into the breading mixture, back into the marinade, then back into the mixture, essentially adding two coats.

Can I use baking soda instead of powder?

It’s best if you use baking powder, which is baking soda and an acid (usually cream of tartar), for the best results. While buttermilk is an acid and will activate the baking soda, the reaction may not be enough to result in the crispy and light coating you want.

Any dipping sauce recommendations?

It would be an exaggeration to say, “Any,” but not much of one. Think McDonald’s nugget sauces: barbecue, honey mustard (yes, I’m combining two), sweet ‘n’ sour. Then add buffalo, ranch, sweet chili, garlic aioli, or chipotle mayo. Maybe put out a selection and appeal to a wide swath of tastes.

Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders featured image

Serving Suggestions

Depending on how many you make, you can serve these up as the entree to a casual dinner or a hot lunch. They also make a great snack for the whole family when watching TV. If you want to get a bit more creative, serve soft tortillas with them so that everyone can make wraps; put them in a bun for a take on a chicken sandwich; put them on a salad the same way you would grilled chicken; add mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce to them for a cheeky rendition of a Chicken Parmesan; or serve them up with waffles for a satisfying breakfast.

Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders featured image
Crispy Buttermilk Fried Chicken Tenders featured image


  • 2 lb. chicken tenderloins
  • 1 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • tsp sea salt
  • ¼ tsp cayenne pepper
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder
  • ¼ tsp smoked paprika
  • cups whole wheat flour
  • tsp aluminum-free baking powder
  • ¾ tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tbsp low-fat buttermilk for breading
  • 3-4 cups avocado oil for frying


  • In a large resealable bag, whisk together 1 cup of low-fat buttermilk, ¾ teaspoon of sea salt, cayenne pepper, ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder, and smoked paprika. Add the chicken tenderloins, seal the bag, and gently massage to coat the chicken evenly. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or overnight for deeper flavor.

  • In a large bowl, mix whole wheat flour, baking powder, the remaining ¾ teaspoon of sea salt, black pepper, and an additional ¾ teaspoon of garlic powder and smoked paprika. Drizzle in 3 tablespoons of low-fat buttermilk and mix with a fork until the mixture is crumbly.

  • Line a baking sheet with parchment paper for easy cleanup. Remove the chicken from the marinade and allow excess to drip off. Dredge each tender in the breading mixture, pressing to adhere. Place breaded tenders on the baking sheet.

  • Heat avocado oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat to 350°F. Fry the chicken tenders in batches, careful not to overcrowd, until golden brown and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Transfer to a paper towel-lined sheet to drain excess oil.

  • Serve immediately: Enjoy these crispy chicken tenders hot and fresh.

Nutrition Info:

Calories: 629kcal (31%) Carbohydrates: 12g (4%) Protein: 19g (38%) Fat: 57g (88%) Saturated Fat: 7g (44%) Polyunsaturated Fat: 8g Monounsaturated Fat: 39g Trans Fat: 0.01g Cholesterol: 49mg (16%) Sodium: 453mg (20%) Potassium: 374mg (11%) Fiber: 2g (8%) Sugar: 1g (1%) Vitamin A: 74IU (1%) Vitamin C: 1mg (1%) Calcium: 74mg (7%) Iron: 1mg (6%)

Nutrition Disclaimer

Recipes written and produced on Food Faith Fitness are for informational purposes only.


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