BEST CHICKEN STRIPS RECIPE - Butter with a Side of Bread

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Best Chicken Tenders recipe for tender, juicy & flavorful chicken. Two simple tips to take your chicken strips from good to great! Shows how to make chicken tenders from scratch!
Chicken Fingers are a favorite at our house! I’ve made homemade chicken strips many, many times over the years but until recently, they’ve just been mediocre.

There are 2 small things you can do that really take homemade chicken up a notch or two. Add in some homemade fry sauce and you’ve got yourself an incredible batch of tender, juicy chicken! To show you the process, I created a video for this recipe that helps show just how to do it.


WHAT DO YOU SERVE WITH CHICKEN FINGERS?

I love to serve these Homemade Chicken Tenders with some classic comfort food favorites like our Fried Cinnamon Apples, Loaded Baked Potato Rounds, Sour Cream Biscuits and Roasted Ranch Potatoes. Finish off the meal with our Easy Peach Pie. Yum!
Best Chicken Tenders recipe for tender, juicy & flavorful chicken. Two simple tips to take your chicken strips from good to great! Shows how to make chicken tenders from scratch! how to make chicken tenders

HOW DO YOU MAKE HOMEMADE CHICKEN STRIPS?

It’s really simple! You start with some fresh chicken. I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts but you’re welcome to use boneless thighs instead. Getting  super tender, juicy chicken strips comes down to a couple of easy steps- cutting the chicken across the grain and adding in cornstarch to the quick marinade. Yep- corn starch! Trust me it works. Follow the recipe below and you’ll see for yourself.

Chicken Strips made from scratch- so tender, juicy & flavorful. Simple tips to take your chicken tenders from good to great! 

 

BEST HOMEMADE CHICKEN STRIPS INGREDIENTS

Here’s what you’ll need to make our Homemade Chicken Strips recipe:

TO MAKE THE QUICK CHICKEN MARINADE YOU’LL NEED

–boneless skinless chicken
–milk
–lemon juice
–sugar
–cornstarch
–Frank’s Red Hot Sauce- optional! It doesn’t add HEAT, just flavor, unless you want to add more!
–pepper

CHICKEN TENDER COATING

–Panko breadcrumbs
–regular breadcrumbs (or Italian)
–all-purpose flour
–onion powder
–salt or garlic salt
–pepper
–shortening or oil, for frying (omit if baking)
These Homemade Chicken Strips are tender, juicy & flavorful. Easy to make at home as I share 2 tips on how to take chicken tenders from good to great!

HOW TO CORRECTLY CUT CHICKEN FOR CHICKEN STRIPS

To cut chicken into strips: This is one of the tips behind better chicken strips! To get a more tender strip, you need to cut against the grain of the chicken. Don’t just cut the chicken any way you like- notice where the grain lines are and be sure to cut opposite them. This makes the cooked fibers of the chicken shorter, so they tear apart easier. Cut strips as big or small as you’d like, just cut against the grain! Place chicken in a ziplock bag and set aside.
Best Chicken Tenders recipe for tender, juicy & flavorful chicken. Two simple tips to take your chicken strips from good to great! Shows how to make chicken tenders from scratch!

QUICK MARINADE TO TENDERIZE AND FLAVOR CHICKEN

Next, combine milk, lemon juice and sugar in a small bowl or 2-cup measuring cup.
Whisk in the cornstarch. This is the 2nd tip I use to make better chicken! I first noticed asian recipes calling for cornstarch in the marinade. When I researched it, it turns out adding cornstarch to chicken prior to cooking it gives it a protective coating that locks in juices. You know what?! It works! It’s amazing actually! The trick is to not let it marinate for too long.

Add in the hot sauce (feel free to add more if you’d like!) and the pepper and whisk to combine. Pour marinade in the ziplock with the chicken and gently shake until chicken is coated. Place bag in the fridge and let marinate for at least 20 minutes, but no longer than 1 hour.

HEAT OIL FOR FRIED CHICKEN TENDERS

Heat about 2 cups of oil to 365 degrees in a frying pan. Frying the chicken in Crisco (plain shortening) yields the crispiest tenders!

Best Chicken Tenders recipe for tender, juicy & flavorful chicken. Two simple tips to take your chicken strips from good to great! Shows how to make chicken tenders from scratch!

COAT THE CHICKEN WITH SIMPLE BREADING

While the oil is heating, combine all ingredients for the coating in a shallow bowl. Remove chicken pieces from bag a few at a time and thoroughly coat them in the breadcrumb mixture. I like to place them in the breadcrumbs, then spoon some on the top of the chicken, then press the chicken down- then flip and repeat the process. Repeat until all chicken is coated.
 

HOW TO FRY CHICKEN FINGERS

Once oil is hot, fry chicken pieces for anywhere from 2-4 minutes per side, depending on how big they are. The small pieces cook quickly! If you’re unsure if the chicken is done, by all means use a meat thermometer. It should register 165 degrees F.
 
I use a meat thermometer all the time! I have 5 kids- getting distracted while cooking is a common occurrence for me and I detest overcooked chicken! My all-time favorite meat thermometer is the Thermapen. It’s super fast and incredibly durable. Another great meat thermometer is the ThermoPop which is a more basic version that works just as well! 
Remove cooked chicken and place on a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat until all chicken is cooked. Serve hot, with Homemade Fry Sauce (it’s a Utah thing- SO good!) alongside.

Chicken Strips made from scratch- so tender, juicy & flavorful. 2 simple tips to take your chicken tenders from good to great!HOW LONG DO YOU BAKE CHICKEN STRIPS?

Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and arrange chicken tenders. Spray chicken tenders lightly with a couple sprays of oil (non stick spray.) Cook 12-15 minutes, until tenders register 165 degrees on a meat thermometer. (Cooking time varies depending on the size of your chicken tenders!

Pay attention and check often as to not overcook them!) Note that my recommendation is to fry these tenders (the photos are of fried tenders), but if you opt to bake them, they will look different as you’re not submerging them in oil. To add a little moisture, I like to spray my baked tenders with a little olive oil spray prior to baking, after you bread them. It’s a lot less oil than frying but I like the way they taste better that way..
Best Chicken Tenders recipe for tender, juicy & flavorful chicken. Two simple tips to take your chicken strips from good to great! Shows how to make chicken tenders from scratch!

 

HOMEMADE FRY SAUCE RECIPE

  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 2 TBSP ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • a couple dashes of salt & pepper
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk. Serve alongside Homemade Chicken Strips or french fries. Or chicken AND french fries- even better!
Best Chicken Tenders recipe for tender, juicy & flavorful chicken. Two simple tips to take your chicken strips from good to great! Shows how to make chicken tenders from scratch!
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BEST HOMEMADE CHICKEN STRIPS EVER

 
Best Chicken Tenders recipe for tender, juicy & flavorful chicken. Two simple tips to take your chicken strips from good to great! Shows how to make chicken tenders from scratch!
 
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Course: Appetizer, chicken, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Keyword: chicken tenders
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 8 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 216kcal
Author: Butter With A Side of Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced boneless, skinless

Quick Marinade

  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 TBSP Frank's Red Hot Sauce
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Crispy Chicken Tender Coating

  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup regular breadcrumbs or Italian
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups shortening or oil for frying (omit if baking)

Instructions

  • To cut chicken into strips: This is one of the tips behind better chicken strips! To get a more tender strip, you need to cut against the grain of the chicken. Don't just cut the chicken any way you like- notice where the grain lines are and be sure to cut opposite them. This makes the cooked fibers of the chicken shorter, so they tear apart easier. Cut strips as big or small as you'd like, just cut against the grain! Place chicken in a ziplock bag and set aside.
  • Next, combine milk, lemon juice and sugar in a small bowl or 2-cup measuring cup.
  • Whisk in the cornstarch. This is the 2nd tip I use to make better chicken! I first noticed asian recipes calling for cornstarch in the marinade. When I researched it, it turns out adding cornstarch to chicken prior to cooking it gives it a protective coating that locks in juices. You know what?! It works! It's amazing actually! The trick is to not let it marinate for too long.
  • Add in the hot sauce (feel free to add more if you'd like!) and the pepper and whisk to combine. Pour marinade in the ziplock with the chicken and gently shake until chicken is coated. Place bag in the fridge and let marinate for at least 20 minutes, but no longer than 1 hour.
  • Heat about 2 cups of oil to 365 degrees in a frying pan. Frying the chicken in Crisco (plain shortening) yields the crispiest tenders!
  • While the oil is heating, combine all ingredients for the coating in a shallow bowl. Remove chicken pieces from bag a few at a time and thoroughly coat them in the breadcrumb mixture. I like to place them in the breadcrumbs, then spoon some on the top of the chicken, then press the chicken down- then flip and repeat the process. Repeat until all chicken is coated.
  • Once oil is hot, fry chicken pieces for anywhere from 2-4 minutes per side, depending on how big they are. The small pieces cook quickly! If you're unsure if the chicken is done, by all means use a meat thermometer. It should register 165 degrees F. (I use one all the time! I have 5 kids- getting distracted while cooking is a common occurrence for me and I detest overcooked chicken!)
  • Remove cooked chicken and place on a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat until all chicken is cooked. Serve hot, with Homemade Fry Sauce (it's a Utah thing- SO good!) alongside.
  • To Bake Chicken Strips: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and arrange chicken tenders. Cook 12-15 minutes, until tenders register 165 degrees on a meat thermometer. (Cooking time varies depending on the size of your chicken tenders! Pay attention and check often as to not overcook them!) Note that my recommendation is to fry these tenders (the photos are of fried tenders), but if you opt to bake them, they will look different as you're not submerging them in oil. To add a little moisture, I like to spray my baked tenders with a little olive oil spray prior to baking, after you bread them. It's a lot less oil than frying but I like the way they taste better that way.

Nutrition

Calories: 216kcal | Carbohydrates: 22g | Protein: 20g | Fat: 4g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 740mg | Potassium: 387mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 110IU | Vitamin C: 1.7mg | Calcium: 81mg | Iron: 1.5mg
 
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Want a spicy take on homemade chicken tenders? Chick out this Flamin’ Hot Cheeto Chicken Tenders recipe here! It’s so good!
How to make homemade chicken strips. Chicken strips recipe you can make at home!

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN CHICKEN TENDERS, CHICKEN STRIPS AND CHICKEN FINGERS?

Really, I think they’re all a variation of the same type of recipe! I do think they vary a bit in size though. Chicken Strips and Chicken Tenders are larger than Chicken Fingers. There is a cut of chicken called the tenderloin that I think works really well for this recipe. It’s naturally incredibly tender! There is a thin silvery membrane that runs along the length of the chicken tenderloin. You can remove it if you’d prefer, but it’s not easy since the rest of the tenderloin can be damaged in the process. You might end up with chicken nuggets instead!

CAN CHICKEN TENDER RECIPES BE MADE AHEAD OF TIME?

Yes, chicken tenders can be made ahead of time! If you are cooking chicken tenders with the plan of freezing them and then reheating them, be sure to fry just until the chicken reaches 160 degrees F. Cool on a paper towel, then freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Transfer to a freezer bag to store for up to 1 month. To reheat, place frozen chicken tenders on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.

CAN YOU FREEZE CHICKEN TENDERS?

Yes! Freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Transfer to a freezer bag to store for up to 1 month. To reheat, place frozen chicken tenders on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.

HOW TO TENDERIZE CHICKEN

I use two different methods to yield super tender, juicy chicken strips. First is to cut chicken breasts against the grain. Don’t just cut the chicken any way you like- notice where the grain lines are and be sure to cut opposite them. This makes the cooked fibers of the chicken shorter, so they tear apart easier. Cut strips as big or small as you’d like, just cut against the grain! The second method is to add cornstarch to the chicken marinade. I first noticed asian recipes calling for cornstarch in the marinade. When I researched it, it turns out adding cornstarch to chicken prior to cooking it gives it a protective coating that locks in juices. It works so well!
Best Chicken Tenders recipe for tender, juicy & flavorful chicken. Two simple steps to take your chicken strips from good to great! Shows how to make chicken tenders from scratch!