Southern Buttermilk Chicken Tenders

A simple recipe for buttermilk chicken tenders that combines a honey buttermilk marinade with just the right seasonings for restaurant-worthy results.

Everyone, everyone, everyone will love these! I’ve made them every single week of my life for the past four years.

finished chicken tenders close up.

Famous Buttermilk Chicken Tenders

Everyone will love these deep fried chicken tenders. A buttermilk honey marinate makes them extra tender.
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
marinating 4 hours
Total Time 4 hours 55 minutes
Serving Size 6 servings


  • Deep fryer


  • 3 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast trimmed and cut into 1/2 inch strips then cut in half lengthwise
  • 1 quart oil for frying peanut recommended

For the buttermilk mixture

  • cups buttermilk
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • tablespoons honey

For the seasoned flour

  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder


  • Marinate. Combine the buttermilk, salt, cayenne, and honey in a large mixing bowl. Add the chicken and toss until fully submerged. Cover and allow to marinate for 1 hour at room temperature or 4 hours in the refrigerator.
    bowl of buttermilk marinade with chicken tenders inside.
  • Bread. Combine the flour, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a large mixing bowl. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk marinade, shaking off any excess. Working in batches, coat the chicken in the seasoned flour.
    bowl of seasoned flour with tenders tossed inside.
  • Fry. Preheat oil in deep fryer or Dutch oven to 365 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lining with paper towels and laying a wire cooling rack on top. Deep fry the tenders in a single layer for 6 minutes, or until medium golden brown and thoroughly cooked. Allow to drain on the cooling rack or paper towel lined baking sheets. while you finish cooking the remaining chicken.
  • Serve immediately, or keep warm in a 200 degree oven until serving.


You can also fry these in a skillet with a 1/4 inch of oil, but you’ll need to turn them halfway through.
Serve with honey mustard, barbecue sauce, or ranch on the side. 

more about what you’ll need

  • Deep Fryer or Dutch Oven: Essential for achieving that deep-fried perfection.
  • Wire Cooling Rack: Helps to drain off excess oil, keeping your tenders crispy.
  • Mixing Bowls: You’ll need a few – one for marinating and another for the seasoned flour.
  • Tongs: These make it easy to turn and remove chicken from hot oil without any mess.
  • Kitchen Thermometer: This will help you keep the oil at the right temperature, ensuring perfectly cooked tenders.
buttermilk, honey, chicken breast, flour, and seasoning on counter
  • Buttermilk: It’s the star ingredient, ensuring your chicken is tender and moist. It also helps the batter stick better, giving you that perfect crunchy exterior.
  • Honey: This natural sweetener adds a touch of sweetness to the marinade, balancing out the flavors and adding depth.

tips for success

  • Temperature: Ensuring your oil is at the right temperature (365 degrees) is crucial. Too hot, and your chicken may burn before it’s cooked through. Too cool, and your tenders can become greasy.
  • Don’t Overcrowd: When frying, make sure to cook in batches without overcrowding the fryer. This ensures even cooking and a crispy finish on each tender.
  • Drain Well: After frying, allow the chicken tenders to drain on a wire rack instead of directly on paper towels. This prevents them from getting soggy and retains that desirable crunch.
close up view of fried chicken tenders

Serving suggestions:

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