Make Spicy Fried Chicken Strips

Spicy fried chicken

The Spruce Eats/Nita West

Prep: 20 mins
Cook: 20 mins
Marinate: 2 hrs
Total: 2 hrs 40 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 servings
Nutritional Guidelines (per serving)
815 Calories
48g Fat
38g Carbs
54g Protein
See Full Nutritional Guidelines Hide Full Nutritional Guidelines
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Nutrition Facts
Servings: 4 to 6
Amount per serving
Calories 815
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 48g 62%
Saturated Fat 10g 48%
Cholesterol 154mg 51%
Sodium 697mg 30%
Total Carbohydrate 38g 14%
Dietary Fiber 2g 7%
Total Sugars 4g
Protein 54g
Vitamin C 6mg 28%
Calcium 115mg 9%
Iron 4mg 22%
Potassium 644mg 14%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

You may think chicken tenders are strictly the domain of bar food, takeout, or fast food, but making chicken tenders at home is easy. It allows you the opportunity to customize them exactly how you like them, and giving them a kick is just a matter of adding some heat. These spicy chicken strips are excellent for an everyday meal, tailgating, or as an appetizer for a party. Serve alongside homemade french fries, a green salad, and coleslaw.

This recipe works best with boneless, skinless chicken breasts. The chicken marinates in buttermilk, making it tender and juicy, along with garlic powder and hot sauce for flavor. Once marinated, the chicken strips are double-dipped in the spicy buttermilk and a seasoned flour mix to ensure a flavorful, crispy breading.

Buffalo wing sauce is easy to make, and the recipe will work great with your favorite hot sauce. You will also need a deep fryer or a large pan for the stovetop and a deep-frying thermometer to monitor the oil temperature.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 to 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts

  • 1 1/2 cups buttermilk

  • 1/2 cup Buffalo wing sauce, or 1/4 to 1/2 cup of a similar hot sauce, such as Texas Pete or Frank's

  • 2 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

  • 2 cups vegetable oil

  • For serving: chipotle mayonnaise, Buffalo aioli, blue cheese or ranch dressing

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients for spicy fried chicken strips

    The Spruce / Nita West

  2. Cut the chicken breasts into 1-inch strips, about 3 to 4 inches in length.

    Chicken breast cut into strips in a bowl

    The Spruce / Nita West

  3. In a bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, wing sauce or hot sauce, and 1/2 teaspoon of the garlic powder.

    Buttermilk, hot sauce, and seasonings whisked together for chicken tenders

    The Spruce / Nita West

  4. Put the chicken strips in the buttermilk mixture. Cover and refrigerate for about 2 hours or overnight.

    Marinate the chicken in a bowl and cover with plastic wrap

    The Spruce / Nita West 

  5. In a large shallow bowl or pie plate, combine the flour, oregano, remaining garlic powder, paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and ground black pepper.

    Flour combined with seasonings for spicy chicken tenders

    The Spruce / Nita West

  6. Remove the chicken pieces from the marinade, shaking off any excess. Coat each piece with the flour mixture, arranging them in a single layer on a baking sheet.

    Dredge the chicken in the marinade and seasoned flour

    The Spruce / Nita West 

  7. Dip each chicken strip once again in the buttermilk mixture, then coat again with the flour mixture. Discard any remaining buttermilk mixture.

    Dip chicken into sauce

    The Spruce / Nita West

  8. In a deep fryer, large saucepan, or deep sauté pan, heat vegetable oil to 365 F. Fry the chicken strips in small batches, cooking for 3 to 4 minutes, or until golden brown.

    Spicy chicken tenders removed from hot oil with tongs

    The Spruce / Nita West

  9. Remove to paper towels to drain.

    Spicy chicken tenders draining on a paper towel

    The Spruce / Nita West

  10. Repeat with the remaining chicken strips.

    Spicy chicken strips draining on a paper-towel-lined baking pan

    The Spruce / Nita West

  11. Serve these tasty chicken strips with chipotle mayonnaise, Buffalo aioli, or a blue cheese or ranch dressing.

    Serve fried chicken strips with chipotle mayonnaisse

    The Spruce /Nita West 

Should Chicken Be at Room Temperature Before Frying?

Don't use chicken straight from the fridge. If you put cold chicken into the hot oil, it will significantly reduce the temperature of the oil. The chicken won't cook evenly nor will it be super crispy once it's fried. Instead, take your chicken out and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before you plan to bread it.

How to Store Spicy Chicken Strips

Fried chicken always tastes best the day you make it. You can keep leftovers in the fridge, wrapped in foil, for three to five days. Reheat in foil in a low oven for 10 to 15 minutes. Or, use it cold straight out of the fridge and add the chicken to a salad, put it in a wrap, or turn it into a creative grilled cheese sandwich.

Why Isn't the Fried Chicken Crispy?

Maintaining proper oil temperature is key to great fried chicken. If it's too hot, the breading will burn, and the chicken will be undercooked. When too cool, it will need to cook longer, and the breading may get soggy. Don't overcrowd the pan and use a deep-fry or candy thermometer to ensure the oil stays close to 365 F.