John’s fried chicken will always hold a very special place in my heart, but sometimes we need to change things up. These fried chicken tenders are a delicious, easy dinner the whole family will love—the kids really love these—and they only take 10 minutes to cook! John marinates the chicken in seasoned buttermilk, which is crucial, as it helps pack in all the flavor into the chicken before frying. He also likes to add a little buttermilk to the flour and spices, which gives the breading extra texture for more craggily bits, aka that super crunchy coating. Even though this recipe is kid-friendly, it still is so flavorful and crispy. You get amazing texture from the coating, and a little spice from the Lawry’s and cayenne pepper (but not too much that the kids won’t enjoy it). My favorite part has to be the endless dipping sauces (or what Toons and Miles call “dip dip”). While they like plain ol’ ketchup, my top picks have to be my honey mustard-ranch or sweet chili sauce.

What You’ll Need:

Luna-Approved Chicken Tenders:

  • Serves: 4
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes, plus a few hours or overnight marinating time

Ingredients:

For the Buttermilk Marinade

  • 2 pounds chicken tenderloins or boneless chicken breasts, sliced into 1 ½ inches thick, tender-sized pieces
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Lawry’s seasoning salt

For the Breading

  • Canola oil for frying
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 tablespoon Lawry’s seasoning salt
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ¼ cup buttermilk

For the Honey Mustard-Ranch Dip

  • ½ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons honey
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon paprika
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper

Directions:

Make the Marinade

  1. Put the chicken tenders in a large bowl along with 1 cup buttermilk, garlic powder, cayenne, and Lawry’s. Use your hands to thoroughly coat the chicken. Cover tightly and refrigerate for a few hours or overnight to marinate.

Bread and Fry the Chicken

  1. Pour enough canola oil into a cast iron pan so that it is about ¾-inch deep. Heat over medium-high heat until it reaches a temperature of about 370°F.
  2. While the oil heats up, whisk together the flour, baking powder, Lawry’s, and cayenne, then whisk in the ¼ cup buttermilk; it should look flaky and not totally smooth. 
  3. Line a baking sheet with tin foil for easy cleanup. Remove chicken from the fridge. Use a fork to dunk the chicken in the breading so it is fully coated, put on the prepared baking tray, and repeat with remaining tenders.
  4. When the oil is hot, carefully put the chicken in the pan (don’t crowd the pan—you’ll probably have to work in two batches). Cook, turning once, until the tenders are golden brown and reach an internal temp of 165°F–170°F, about 10 minutes per batch. If the tenders are browning too fast, turn down the heat a bit so they have a chance to cook all the way through. Transfer the cooked tenders to a paper towel-lined plate. Use a small fine mesh strainer or sieve to carefully remove any breading bits from the oil of the first batch; bring the oil back up to temp and cook the second batch. Serve chicken tenders with honey mustard-ranch dip (or, as the kids say, “dip dip”).

Make the Honey Mustard-Ranch Sauce

  1. In a small bowl, stir together the mayonnaise, buttermilk, mustard, honey, salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne. Refrigerate until ready to use.