I started making homemade chicken strips (or “tenders” as my kids call them) about 8 years ago. They have become a favorite of family and friends alike. They are requested for special events (birthdays, graduation celebrations, and fourth of July). I sometimes regret the introduction of the homemade strips because now my kids spurn the store bought versions. Hence, when I make a batch of tenders, I make a huge batch and freeze them in single servings (4-5 tenders in a sandwich size freezer bag). They re-heat very well in the oven at 350 degrees, but my impatient kids just heat them in the microwave with no complaints. The recipe is the same as that of my Crispy Buttermilk Fried chicken, except that this recipe uses boneless chicken breasts. I have a fryer that I use (after many years of making a mess on my stove, I finally bought a fryer), but a Dutch oven or heavy duty stockpot works just fine.
- 3 Large Chicken Breasts (you can do a batch of up to 9 chicken breasts with this amount of buttermilk, but you may have to supplement the dry batter mixture with additional flour)
- 1 Pint Buttermilk
- 4-5 Cups Flour
- 1 TBS. Corn Starch
- 4 TBS. Salt
- 1-2 TBS. Pepper
- Canola or Vegetable Oil for Frying – About 1 Quart (enough to cover chicken – amount will vary depending on size of fryer or pot)
Cut chicken breast into equal size pieces (I like strips about 2-3 inches long by 1 inch thick, but you can choose what ever size and shape you like, just be consistent). Pour buttermilk into a large non-metallic bowl, season with 1 TBS. salt and about 1/2 TBS. pepper. Season chicken generously, on both sides, with salt and pepper. Add chicken pieces to buttermilk, being sure that all pieces are immersed. Cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least four hours or overnight if possible. After chicken has soaked for allotted time, heat the oil, in a fryer or on the stove, to 350 degrees. Prepare the dry batter ingredients by combining flour, corn starch, 2 TBS. salt and 1.5 TBS. pepper in a large freezer bag or a large brown paper bag. Meanwhile, cover a baking sheet with paper towels, and place a wire rack on top. Remove 2-3 similar size chicken pieces from the buttermilk and immediately transfer to the dry dredging/batter mixture. Do not drain off excess buttermilk – the more buttermilk that remains on the chicken, the more flour will adhere, which is what creates that awesome crispy coating. Shake the bag or toss the chicken in the flour mixture by hand, chicken should be generously coated with the dry mixture. Carefully add chicken to hot oil or the fryer basket (not yet immersed). If cooking on stovetop, you may need to turn up the heat for a minute or so to bring the temperature back up to 350 degrees. If using a fryer, dredge another few pieces of chicken and add to basket – when basket is full, but not crowded, lower basket into oil. Fry for 5-7 minutes depending on size of chicken pieces. When chicken is golden brown, use tongs to remove chicken pieces from oil and place on cooling rack to drain. While still hot, season chicken with additional salt. Repeat process until all chicken is cooked. To keep chicken warm (for up to 45 minutes): place a wire rack on a baking sheet (no paper towel), put chicken on rack and place in 250 degree oven. Check occasionally to make sure chicken is not getting too brown; if so, reduce oven temperature. Chicken strips freeze well and can be re-heated at 350 degrees for about 15-18 minutes.