Chicken Tenders with Apple Cider Sweet and Sour Sauce

October  1, 2015
2 Ratings
Photo by Ashley Rodriguez
Author Notes

Three seemingly simple additions—a fragrant blend of dried herbs and spices in the dry brine; a boost of powerful umami flavor in the dredging; and a dipping sauce that is seasonal by way of apple cider—take a classic recipe and turn it into something that extends beyond the realm of kid food and into something the whole family will be requesting. —Ashley Rodriguez

  • Serves 6 to 8
  • For the apple cider sweet and sour sauce:
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1/3 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • For the chicken tenders:
  • 2 pounds boneless chicken tenders
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 pinch cayenne
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 10 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup finely grated Parmesan
  • Flaky salt
  • Oil, for frying
In This Recipe
  1. For the apple cider sweet and sour sauce:
  2. In a small saucepan combine the apple cider, cider vinegar, brown sugar, tomato paste, and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a gentle boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 5 minutes, until slightly reduced.
  3. Combine the cornstarch with 2 tablespoons of the hot sauce. Whisk until smooth. Add this slurry to the sauce and whisk to combine. Bring the sauce back to a boil and cook for 1 to 2 minutes more, until slightly thickened.
  4. Strain the sauce through a sieve and let cool slightly.
  5. This sauce can be made up to three days in advance. Gently rewarm before serving.
  1. For the chicken tenders:
  2. Combine the chicken, salt, thyme, oregano, smoked paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne. Toss well to be sure all the spices are evenly distributed. Cover, refrigerate, and let marinate for at least 1 hour or ideally overnight.
  3. In a small bowl, combine the flour and salt. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and Worcestershire. Finally in another bowl, combine the breadcrumbs and Parmesan.
  4. Dredge a chicken tender in the flour, then dip it into the buttermilk mixture. Then add it to the bowl with the breadcrumbs, pressing them into the chicken to get a good even coat. Transfer each chicken piece to a plate until they are all properly coated.
  5. Heat about 2 inches of oil in a large pot. Be sure to leave plenty of room for the oil to bubble up. When the oil reaches 350° F, carefully add 3 to 4 chicken tenders. Fry until the exterior is deep in color and the chicken is cooked through, about 4 minutes.
  6. Transfer the chicken to another platter and sprinkle with flaky salt while they are still hot. Serve the chicken with the Apple Cider Sweet and Sour Sauce.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Melissa Case
    Melissa Case
  • Aura
  • Cindy Bailey
    Cindy Bailey
  • Dave
Author of Date Night In (2015) and creator of the blog, Not Without Salt.

10 Reviews

Dave February 25, 2016
what do you do with the leftover oil? What's the best way to discard it?
Rebekah January 16, 2016
These were so good! Didn't do the sauce, but will next time. Thanks!
Melissa C. January 10, 2016
Hey Ashley ... I'm actually making these right now. The ingredients for the sauce call for soy sauce, but you reference hot sauce in the instructions. Which is it? :) I ask this, already having used soy, but I imagine either would be delicious.
Melissa C. January 10, 2016
Just a note to say that these are AMAZING. SO good. Definitely worth the effort. Thank you!
Aura October 4, 2015
I wonder how these would turn out if you baked them. I'm new to the world of chicken fingers.
Cindy B. January 10, 2016
I'm curious about baking them too. Has anyone tried?
Aura January 10, 2016
I tried. They were pretty blah that way. Also, as another commenter mentioned, they are indeed plenty of work when you have kids. I like to just through some chicken pieces in the crockpot, whip up some barbecue sauce, drench the chicken, and let it cook a few hours. Not elegant, but brainless and delicious.
dickensthedog October 11, 2020
That makes me think of putting this sauce and the tenders together in the crock pot. How long and at what setting do usually use for tenders in the crockpot?
Tom October 4, 2015
Sounds great. Seems rather time consuming, not exactly something that people have when dealing with kids
hmgbrd7 October 2, 2015
Great recipe Ashley! Do you think these would freeze& reheat well? Thanks!