The creator of this homemade chicken strips recipe, a mom, found herself wincing at the ingredients list on many a package of processed chicken strips before coming up with these. And everyone is happier because she did—including every mom and kid we know who’ve tried these based on the comments we’re hearing like, “This is my new go-to chicken recipe, thanks in part to my kids’ ‘These are yummy!’ statements.” and “Crisp and not at all greasy.” “I ate one cold the next day, and it wasn’t even soggy.” Sorta makes you want to try them, yeah?

What is a Chicken Tender, Anyway?

Sorta like a beef or pork tenderloin, chicken tenders are the little strip of meat that you’ll sometimes find still attached to the underside of a breast. Sometimes, you’ll find them sold as “stir-fry strips”. You can also remove them anytime you have boneless breasts and freeze until you have enough for a chicken finger feast.

Homemade chicken strips piled on a white plate with dishes of barbecue sauce and ranch nearby.

Homemade Chicken Strips

5 / 9 votes
Homemade chicken strips. When it comes to this type of quick weeknight dinner, we’re all about respecting the yum factor. This recipe does exactly that.
David Leite
Servings4 to 6 servings
Calories772 kcal
Prep Time10 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time25 minutes


  • Deep-fry or candy or instant-read thermometer


  • Olive oil, for frying
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup unseasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 2 teaspoons sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups buttermilk, (either low-fat or full-fat)
  • 1 3/4 pounds chicken tenders, (about 18 tenders) or chicken breast meat cut into slender strips
  • ketchup, (optional)
  • Barbecue Sauce, (optional)


  • Pour enough olive oil into a large heavy skillet to reach a depth of 1/2 inch. Place over medium heat until the oil registers 325°F (163°C) on a deep-fry or candy thermometer. Place a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet and place it alongside the stove.
  • Meanwhile, in a shallow bowl, whisk together the flour, bread crumbs, salt, and pepper. Pour the buttermilk into a separate shallow bowl.
  • Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Working with half the strips at a time, dip them first in the buttermilk, allowing any excess to drip off, and then dredge them in the flour mixture, turning to coat all sides. (You want to stir the flour mixture often in between strips to keep the bread crumbs from settling to the bottom of the bowl.)
  • Carefully place a few chicken strips in the hot oil and cook, turning often, until the coating is golden brown, the juices run clear, and the chicken is cooked through, 6 to 10 minutes. It may be necessary to adjust the heat during frying to maintain an oil temperature of between 315°F to 325°F (157°C to 163°C). Be certain to return the temperature to 325°F (163°C) in between batches. Place the cooked strips on the wire rack. Repeat with the remaining ingredients.
  • Serve the chicken strips with ketchup or barbecue sauce, if desired, on the side for dipping.


Homemade Chicken Strips Variation

Even Healthier Homemade Chicken Strips
To sneak a little more nutrition into these homemade chicken strips, you can replace the all-purpose flour and bread crumbs with 1 cup all-purpose flour, 1 cup whole-wheat flour, and 3 tablespoons ground flaxseeds.
Fried Chicken Cookbook

Adapted From

Fried Chicken

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Serving: 3 tendersCalories: 772 kcalCarbohydrates: 64 gProtein: 55 gFat: 32 gSaturated Fat: 7 gMonounsaturated Fat: 18 gTrans Fat: 0.03 gCholesterol: 140 mgSodium: 1721 mgFiber: 2 gSugar: 7 g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Tried this recipe?Mention @leitesculinaria or tag #leitesculinaria!
Recipe © 2015 Rebecca Lang. Photo © 2015 John Lee. All rights reserved.

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This is my new go-to chicken strips recipe, thanks in part to my kids’ “these are yummy” statements. Fast and easy input, very tasty and tender output. It took less than 5 minutes to pull together all the ingredients, but because the chicken was cooked in batches, the full cooking time was 15 minutes. About 6 minutes was sufficient time to cook each batch.

I’ll admit that when my kids were little (more than 20 years ago) and my husband and I were going out on a Saturday night, I reached for Perdue chicken nuggets for their dinner. If I had this recipe then, I would have been (nutritionally-speaking) a much better mother. These chicken strips are delicious, and they’re a breeze to prepare. I used prepared chicken tenders, and I followed the basic recipe. I was a little nervous about the olive oil for frying since I only had extra-virgin, but the oil didn’t burn. To be honest, I didn’t take the temperature of the oil. I just let it heat up until it was shimmering, and then put in the chicken. The cooking time was 8 to 10 minutes. The strips were crisp and not at all greasy. I ate one cold the next day, and it wasn’t even soggy.

These proved to be a good weeknight meal option. The batter was crisp and clung to the chicken well. Each piece took about 10 minutes to cook through and turn golden brown. The recipe did not state to salt the chicken while still hot out of the oil, but it should.

About David Leite

I count myself lucky to have received three James Beard Awards for my writing as well as for Leite’s Culinaria. My work has also appeared in The New York Times, Martha Stewart Living, Saveur, Bon Appétit, Gourmet, Food & Wine, Yankee, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, The Washington Post, and more.

Hungry For More?

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Proof that it doesn’t take buttermilk or an insufferably long overnight brine to make insanely tender, crazily crisp, gosh darn perfect fried chicken.

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Recipe Rating


  1. 5 stars
    I made this recipe with a buttermilk substitute basically take 3/4 cup of sour cream and 1/2 cup of milk and it came out delicious and moist! Thanks for sharing this recipe ?

  2. 5 stars
    I hesitated to make this recipe because the chicken is fried but a closer reading of the instructions — “a dept of half an inch”— convinced me I should try making it last night. Oh my goodness, am I glad I did!! The chicken tender turned out light, moist and unlike other recipes I’ve tried, not the least bit oily! It’s the perfect weeknight meal so easy to make & so delicious!! Serve these guys with different condiments — asian chili, bbq, sriracha-mayo sauce or simply ketchup. My husband said they taste great on their own! Am I using too many exclamation points?? Can’t help myself…thanks, Leites Culinaria for these grownup chicken fingers!!!

    1. You’re welcome, Anne! Thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience. We’re so pleased that it was such a hit at your dinner table, and love love love the suggestions of possible dipping sauces!