Buffalo Chicken Tenders

January 18, 2023
0 Ratings
Photo by MJ Kroeger
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

In the battle of game day appetizers, there are very few times when chicken wings don’t easily sweep the competition and land solidly in first place. This Buffalo Chicken Tender recipe is packed with flavor just like its bone-in counterpart, but is easier to eat and much more kid friendly. It all starts with a foolproof breading technique. The chicken tenders take turns dredging in flour, eggs, and then flour again. The second dip into flour is the most important—this is where you get your hands dirty, pressing the flour into all of the nooks and crannies of the chicken tenders. Some of the beaten egg will mix with the dry flour to create ragged bits of dough that become extra crispy in the fryer, giving you that classic chicken tender texture. This technique works the same with chicken breasts or thighs.

Another important step in achieving the crispiest chicken is how you drain it. As soon as you lift the tenders out of the hot oil, immediately place them on a wire rack set over a baking sheet or a layer of paper towels to drain. When you put anything fried directly onto paper towels to drain, the bottoms will begin to lose their crispiness almost immediately. Draining on top of a rack allows some air to circulate, which means your chicken tenders will stay crispy on all sides much longer.

What makes any buffalo chicken dish special is the sauce that it gets tossed in. Frank’s Red Hot is the hot sauce of choice in most recipes, and there is a clear reason. It is a near perfect combination of spiciness, acidity, and sweetness that provides that classic buffalo flavor that we all know and love. If you want to switch things up, try other glazes instead of buffalo. Mixtures of maple syrup and grainy mustard, sticky honey and ground cayenne, or hoisin sauce and sesame oil are all great ways to amp up flavor and try something a little different. Whichever sauce you choose, make sure you toss it with the chicken while it is still hot. This will ensure the chicken really soaks up all of the flavors. You could also keep it super simple and leave the chicken tenders “plain” and just serve them with ketchup, mustard, or mayo for dipping.

In theory, the chicken tenders are the stars of the show here, but I like to think the sour cream and blue cheese dip could hold its own in a fist fight. It is as simple as can be—just stir together sour cream, mayonnaise, lemon juice, and crumbled blue cheese. The sauce can be made a few days in advance and stored in the refrigerator, so you can use it when you are ready. If you end up with some sauce leftover, use it in potato salad or as an indulgent wedge salad dressing. And in case you land on team ranch instead of blue cheese, fear not. I hear you. I see you. This is a safe space.
Riley Wofford

What You'll Need
  • Chicken Tenders
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 1 large garlic clove, smashed and peeled
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2/3 cup hot sauce, such as Frank’s Red Hot
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 2 1/2 pounds chicken tenders, patted dry
  • kosher salt, to taste
  • Carrot and celery sticks, for serving
  • Dipping Sauce
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 ounces crumbled blue cheese (⅓ cup)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
  1. Combine butter, garlic, and cayenne in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once butter melts, cook for 1 minute. Stir in hot sauce. Remove from heat; cover to keep warm.
  2. Meanwhile, fill a large heavy-bottomed pot a little less than halfway with oil. Heat over medium-high until a deep-fry thermometer registers 375°F, about 20 minutes. Place flour in a shallow dish, and season with a pinch of salt. Beat eggs with water in another shallow dish. Season chicken tenders generously with salt. Working with a few tenders at a time, toss in flour to coat, then dip into egg, allowing excess to drip back into dish. Toss in flour again, pressing bits of flour into nooks and crannies of chicken to create some craggy bits.
  3. Working in batches, add tenders to oil and fry, stirring occasionally, until crisp, light golden, and cooked through, about 6 minutes. Adjust heat as needed to keep oil between 350 and 375°F, and allow oil to return to 375°F between batches. Transfer tenders to a wire rack set over a rimmed baking sheet to drain and immediately season with salt. Keep warm in a 200°F oven in between batches. Toss in sauce while they’re still hot; serve with blue cheese dip and carrot and celery sticks.
  4. To make the dipping sauce:Combine sour cream, mayonnaise, and lemon juice in a small bowl. Fold in blue cheese and season to taste with salt and pepper. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

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