There’s no denying the best part of biting into a chicken tender is sinking your teeth into that crunchy, golden batter. But, all too often, the chicken itself leaves much to be desired. Such a tragedy. At last, take heart in knowing this Southern Fried Chicken Strip Recipe is not only as authentic as they come but guaranteed to fulfill every last one of your comfort food cravings.
Producing a chicken tender that’s as good on the inside as it is on the outside came down to four simple factors:
- A buttermilk brine to ensure perfectly tender, juicy bites of chicken.
- A well-seasoned Southern-style batter.
- Getting the oil to the right temperature.
- Setting a timer.
Yes — the keys to perfectly cooked, truly crispy Fried Chicken Strips revolve around a simple buttermilk soak, seasoned flour with a just-right blend of spices, hot oil (not too hot, of course), and timing.
FRIED CHICKEN STRIPS WITH BUTTERMILK
Soaking chicken in buttermilk and frying it is a tried-and-true Southern technique. For the buttermilk brine, you’ll also want to have hot sauce on hand. The hot sauce will give your chicken a kick, but won’t make it spicy. However, if you’d prefer, you can leave it out altogether.
WHAT DOES BUTTERMILK DO TO CHICKEN?
Buttermilk is a semi-sour, acidic ingredient leftover from the process of making butter. This acidic, full-bodied liquid is perfect for both tenderizing and adding flavor to the chicken.
For these Fried Chicken Strips, the buttermilk serves double duty, both as a brine and an adherent for the seasoned flour mix.
FRIED CHICKEN STRIP INGREDIENTS
- Hot Sauce
- Chicken Tenderloins
- All-Purpose Flour
- Kosher Salt
- Black Pepper
- Garlic Powder
- Onion Powder
- Canola Oil
Fried Chicken Strips are made from chicken tenderloins, a strip of meat that is attached to the underside of chicken breasts. This is a budget-friendly cut of white meat poultry, and you’ll find it packaged along with the rest of the poultry in the fresh meat department of your grocery store. If you also have chicken breasts on hand, add this Fried Chicken Breasts recipe to your lineup!
SOUTHERN SEASONED FLOUR MIX
Many times, when there’s frying involved, there’s also a dredging station. This can be messy and time-consuming. Lucky for us, when it comes to these Fried Chicken Strips, all you need is your buttermilk brine and a seasoned flour mix. The seasoned flour consists of all-purpose flour and a Southern spice blend of Kosher salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, and onion powder.
OIL FOR FRYING
The last ingredient you’ll need for frying chicken is oil. You want an oil with a high smoke point, so canola oil, vegetable oil, or peanut oil will do!
HOW TO MAKE FRIED CHICKEN STRIPS
- Brine In Buttermilk – Add your buttermilk and hot sauce to a large bowl and add the chicken. Allow the chicken to brine in the refrigerator for at least 2 or up to 24 hours. Make sure to set out the bowl out for 30 minutes prior to cooking. This will remove the chill so you are not frying ice cold chicken — a cardinal frying no-no!
- Bread the Chicken – Make the Southern seasoned flour mixture by adding both the flour and spices to a large Ziplock bag. Then, transfer the chicken directly from the buttermilk to the bag, seal, and shake.
- Heat Oil – Add the oil to a large frypan and allow it to come to temperature, between 350-375°. Be sure to have ready a baking sheet topped with a cooling rack nearby. The cooling rack will prevent the underside of your Fried Chicken Strips from getting soggy.
- Fry Chicken Strips – Add only four to five chicken strips to the pan at a time and fry for 2 – 2 1/2 minutes on the first side. Then turn and fry for 1 – 2 minutes on the second side. Keep in mind, it’s important not to overcrowd the pan and to fry the chicken fry in batches! Also, we highly recommend you set a timer. If your microwave is nearby, it is very convenient to use its timer function for this task.
HOW LONG TO FRY CHICKEN TENDERS
If your oil is at the right temperature, Fried Chicken Strips fry up fast! They’ll take (on average) less than four minutes to reach a beautiful golden brown and cook all the way through.
If you’re unsure about whether or not your chicken is cooked through, note the safe internal temperature of cooked, white meat chicken is 165°F and is best gauged using a meat thermometer. We prefer the digital ones for a quick and efficient read!
Because they cook so fast, you’ll want to have your side dishes ready before you begin frying!
WHAT GOES WITH FRIED CHICKEN TENDERS?
5 TIPS FOR FRYING CHICKEN STRIPS
- Don’t fry ice cold chicken! Chicken straight out of the refrigerator won’t fry evenly and it will automatically lower the temperature of your oil.
- Use the right oil. Make sure you’re using an oil with a high smoke point.
- Know when the oil is ready. You can determine if the oil is ready for frying by sprinkling a small amount of flour over the grease. If it does nothing (or barely sizzles) the oil is not hot enough. If the flour darkens and smokes right away, the oil is too hot. If the oil is right, the flour will simply bubble up and sizzle.
- Get the rack ready. Placing the Fried Chicken Strips on a rack rather than a paper towel fresh out of the oil will keep their underside from getting soggy.
- Set a timer. Once you know your oil is at the right temperature, use your microwave timer to keep track of how long your chicken has been cooking, and when it’s time to flip it over!
5 MORE CHICKEN RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE
- Oven-Fried Chicken Tenders
- Parmesan-Crusted Chicken Tenders
- Crock Pot Chicken and Rice
- Baked BBQ Chicken
- Chicken Pot Pie
An authentic recipe for truly crispy, golden Southern Fried Chicken Strips cooked to juicy, tender perfection!
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce
- 2 pounds chicken tenderloins
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 2 cups canola oil
In a large bowl, stir together the buttermilk and hot sauce. Add the chicken tenderloins, cover tightly with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or up to 24 hours.
Set out the chicken (still in the buttermilk) at room temperature for 30 minutes prior to cooking to remove the chill.
Add the flour and spices to a large gallon-sized Ziplock bag and mix to combine. Transfer the chicken directly from the buttermilk to the Ziplock bag, seal, and shake until the chicken is evenly coated with the flour mixture. Set aside.
Add the oil to a large frypan and allow it to come to temperature, between 350-375°, and have ready a baking sheet with a cooling rack on top off to the side.
Add four to five chicken strips to the pan at a time and fry for 2 - 2 1/2 minutes on the first side, then turn and fry for 1 - 2 minutes on the second side. Take care not to overcrowd the pan and fry in batches as necessary. Transfer the fried strips to the rack to cool slightly. Serve and enjoy!