I freaking love chicken tenders. Especially dipping them in different sauces to change up their flavors. I don’t know why, but I do. Frankly, I’m not sure I even need to explain myself, so take me as I am!
While looking around online, I saw a baked Chicken Tender recipe that caught my eye from Sarcastic Kitchen that used bran flakes as breading. They looked fantastic in the pictures and made me want to make my own extra crispy chicken tenders. Nonetheless, for my first attempt making extra crispy tenders, I wanted to fry them for full effect. The problem with any fried food though is that the calories shoot up significantly. Don’t get me wrong, baked chicken tenders can be very tasty, but they will never taste as good as fried. It is something to keep in mind though because you could bread the chicken in this recipe as described and then bake them instead of frying to save a ton of calories per serving. Normally, I don’t really go for this much breading, but I wanted to give it a try to simulate restaurant style tenders. These tenders do stay really crispy, but if you’re going to reheat them, I suggest heating them in an oven rather than the microwave.
For this recipe, instead of using bran flakes, I went with corn flakes. I just thought I would prefer that flavor and I read that many fried chicken places will use corn flakes in their batter. The one thing I really learned while making these chicken tenders though is that you need to make sure that you season them well. I’ve adjusted the recipe to add a bit more seasoning since my first attempt, while good, was a little bland for my taste without some good spices to accent the chicken’s flavor.
Makes six servings of two chicken tenders each at about 433 calories.
- 12 – 14 chicken tenderloins – almost 2 pounds (about 75 cal. each or 900 cal. total)
- 1/2 cup of all purpose flour (about 100 cal. per 1/4 cup or 200 cal. total)
- 4 cups of corn flakes crushed down to fit into 2 cups (about 100 cal. per cup or 400 cal. total)
- 2 large eggs (about 70 cal. each or 140 cal. total)
- 1 cup of oil for frying (about 1920 cal. per cup, but only about 1/2 cup is absorbed so 960 cal. total)
Note: Try baking in the oven on a wire rack for 30 min. at 375 degrees instead of frying to save some calories.
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
- Optional: Instead of the spices or in conjunction with the spices above, try using a liberal amount of Cajun Spice mix. My mother swears by it.
- Small frying pan
- Large mixing bowl
- Small bowl
- Medium bowl or large plate
- Another large plate
- Tongs or spatula
- Measuring cup
- Teaspoon measurement
- Paper towels on a tray or raised baking rack on a tray
- Mix the flour and all of the spices in a large mixing bowl.
- Add in the chicken tenders and mix them with the flower to make sure they are completely coated.
- In a small bowl, crack two eggs and beat them together until well mixed.
- In another medium bowl or large plate place 4 cups of corn flakes that you crush down to fit into two cups using your hand. I did this in two batches by filling a 2-cup measuring cup and then crushing the corn flakes down to 1 cup.
- Dip one tender at a time into the egg wash and coat it very well.
- Then move that tender coated in egg over to the corn flakes and roll it until it is well coated before placing it aside on a plate. Repeat this process for the rest of the chicken tenders.
- After breading the tenders, fill a small frying pan with 1 cup of oil and set the stove to medium heat.
- When the oil is hot, but not burning/smoking, place 3 – 4 tenders in the pan and let them fry on one side for a few minutes until well browned. Then flip them over and let them fry on the other side until that side is well browned. All in all, it should take 8 minutes or so per batch.
Please Note: Be careful not to let the oil get too hot. It happened to me and to a friend that used this recipe, so our first batch of tenders came out really dark. The oil should be around 300-350 F or medium-high heat and it shouldn’t sit around too long without anything frying in it.
- After frying place the tenders either on a paper towel laid out over a tray or on a raised baking rack on a tray so that the excess oil drips off. This keeps these already very crispy chicken tenders crispy even longer.
- Serve the tenders hot with any sides of your choice (like Collard Greens – see my recipe) and with dipping sauces like barbecue, honey mustard, buffalo, etc. You can even toss the tenders in a tupperware container with your favorite sauce to create heavily flavored tenders.