Buffalo Chicken Tenders

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Special thanks to Danish Creamery for making delicious, high-quality butter and for sponsoring this post. As always, all opinions are my own.

Our favorite Buffalo Chicken Tenders are baked to crispy perfection thanks to a few tricks in the preparation method. These baked tenders are an explosion of flavor and a good hit of spice. Dunk ’em in some blue cheese or ranch dressing and prepared to be hooked!

 

Overhead image of the Buffalo Chicken Tenders

Baked Buffalo Chicken Tenders

That are actually crispy! It can be tricky getting crunchy, crispy chicken tenders without loads of oil and a deep fryer, but we’ve got a few tricks in this recipe to ensure ultra-crispy chicken (seriously — the best Buffalo Chicken Tenders ever!) without sacrificing nutrition.

Step aside fried tenders, baking is better! Here’s what we do to ensure ultimate crispiness:

  1. Use panko breadcrumbs. Panko bread crumbs are similar to regular bread crumbs, but they create a much crunchier, crispier, lighter, and more delicate result. Using panko ensures a crunchier end product than regular bread crumbs.
  2. Brown the panko. Before coating the chicken in the panko, we crisp it up in a skillet with a touch of butter. This ensures those bread crumbs are even crispier!
  3. Spray the chicken with cooking spray. The cooking spray not only keeps the chicken from sticking to the wire cooling rack, but also contributes to the crispy texture.
  4. Bake on a wire cooling rack. If you have a wire cooling rack, place it right on top of a sheet pan and bake the coated chicken tenders on top. This ensures more even circulation of heat in the oven which results in crispier chicken all around (as opposed to just being crispy on one side). 

QUICK TIP

With game day approaching, these healthy Buffalo Chicken Tenders are a great addition to your game-day spread! You’ll get all the flavors you know and love, but with a fraction of the fat and calories since we’re baking, not frying, the chicken.

Overhead image of the butter used in this dish

Danish Creamery Butter 

Special thanks to our sponsor and partner for the last couple of years — Danish Creamery Butter. If you’re a long-time reader, you know how big of a fan we are of this butter! We use it in absolutely everything from sweet to savory.

So, of course we use it in these Buffalo Chicken Tenders to elevate the flavor and enhance the texture. We use the butter in both the crumb coating and in the Buffalo sauce.

Here are a couple of reasons we love this brand so much:

  • Since 1895, the recipe for Danish Creamery Butter hasn’t changed: highquality cream and a touch of sea salt. 
  • Danish Creamery Butter is a dream for baking applications, sauces, or just for your morning toast!

QUICK TIP

Check out some of the other tasty butter-filled recipes we’ve created in collaboration with Danish Creamery Butter: Butter Mints, French Onion Soup, Cheesecake Bars, Honey Butter, and our fave Corn Casserole!

Process shots of the buffalo chicken tenders-- images of the raw renders being prepped and then the Panko being toasted

How To Make Buffalo Chicken Tenders

  1. We start with chicken tenders. You can use chicken breasts, but you’ll need to cut them into thin strips — so they’re the size of tenders. Depending on the breast size, you can get 3-4 tenders from one breast. (See the “quick tip” box below for tips on preparing chicken tenders).
  2. Once the tenders are prepped, we dredge them in a quick batter, toss them in breading, and bake!
  3. While baking, we whip together the quick Buffalo sauce and toss the crispy tenders in that right before eating.

QUICK TIP

To prepare the chicken tenders, you’ll need to remove the tendons. An easy way to accomplish this is to grab the tendon between the tines of a fork and pull. The tendon separates easily..  For more deeply embedded tendons, I like to cut them out with a sharp paring knife.

Once tendons are removed, cut out any other gristle or fat and then pat the tenders dry with a paper towel. Why pat meat dry? In this recipe, it helps the batter and breading stick to the chicken better and prevents it from cooking unevenly (excess liquid steams instead of roasts) which ultimately will make the chicken taste better!

Process shots-- images of the batter ingredients being mixed together and the chicken being dredged in it

Tools To Ensure Ultra-Crispy Chicken

  • Cooling racks. To ensure ultra-crispy Buffalo Chicken Strips, we bake them on a wire  cooling rack. Be sure the cooling rack you’re using is indeed oven safe and a size that will fit comfortably on the sheet pan being used.
  • Cooking spray. Once all the tenderloins are battered and breaded, they need to be sprayed with cooking spray. This promotes crisp, even browning in the oven and results in seriously crispy, crunchy chicken! We use olive oil cooking spray, which can be found near the different types of oils in the grocery store.

Process shots of Buffalo Chicken Tenders-- images of the butter and remaining ingredients being added to a pot all mixed together

Buffalo Chicken Tenders Recipe Notes

  • Spiciness: The sauce coating the chicken is intended to have some kick to it! The brown sugar and butter tame down the spice, but it’s still very present. Keep in mind that if you dip these tenders in blue cheese or ranch, that further reduces the spice. For less spice, add more butter and/or brown sugar to the sauce.
  • Saltiness: we don’t salt the chicken tenders because the breading is fairly salty on its own thanks to the ranch seasoning mix. I do like to add a touch of salt to the panko and Buffalo sauce to round out the flavors. You may want to scale the salt if you’re sensitive to salt or if using a particularly salty seasoning mix. (I’ve found off-brand seasoning mixes tend to be saltier)

Process shots-- images of the chicken being dredged in the toasted Panko

Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Tenders

If you’d prefer to air fry the tenders (as opposed to baking), here’s how to do that:

  1. Set air fryer heat to 400 degrees F.
  2. Add the breaded tenders to the fryer basket in one even layer (you may need to do this in batches; don’t overlap chicken).
  3. Cook for 5-8 minutes, flip the tenders, spray with cooking spray on the other side, and cook for another 5-8 minutes or until golden brown and cooked to 160 degrees F. (Carryover heat will take them to 165 degrees F.)

There will be variation in cooking in the air fryer based on the air fryer model and especially based on the actual size of chicken tenders (smaller/thinner tenders cook much quicker than thicker/larger tenders). Keep an eye on them and test with a thermometer to avoid dry chicken. If using very small, thin tenders, cook time may be even shorter than suggested amounts.

Process shots of the buffalo chicken tenders-- images of them being flipped and dredged in the buffalo sauce

Serving Suggestions For Buffalo Chicken Tenders

We love to cut up raw celery and carrots to accompany these buffalo tenders. Beyond that, having a good dipping sauce (or 2) is a must! Our favorites: a chunky blue cheese or ranch!

You can, of course, make your own dipping sauce, but if you’re looking to get a tasty store-bought sauce, I’d recommend the freshly made dressings/sauces located in the produce section of the store. They’re much fresher tasting than the alternatives you’ll find on the dressing aisle. 

If you’re serving these tenders for dinner, I’d recommend some Roasted Broccoli, Roasted Asparagus, or Roasted Green Beans on the side. A good greens salad also makes a nice accompaniment — either this Caesar Salad, Olive Garden Salad, or Italian Salad!

Another option: Dice up these tenders and add them to these tasty Buffalo Chicken Lettuce Wraps!

Overhead images of the buffalo chicken tenders

STORAGE

How To Store Leftover Buffalo Chicken Tenders

These crispy chicken tenders are definitely best enjoyed instantly after dredging in the buffalo sauce — we typically only dredge half the batch at a time, eat, then dredge the rest.

The tenders don’t stay crispy when stored, so I recommend cooking only enough for what will be enjoyed that same day.

As far as making ahead of time, it can be done, but I recommend waiting to dredge the tenders in the panko mixture until right before baking. Otherwise, the breading will get soft and the chicken won’t be nearly as crispy/crunchy after baking.

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Buffalo Chicken Tenders

5 from 1 vote
Our favorite Buffalo Chicken Tenders are baked to crispy perfection thanks to a few tricks in the preparation method. These baked tenders are an explosion of flavor and good hit of spice. Dunk 'em in some blue cheese or ranch dressing and prepared to be hooked!
Print Recipe

Buffalo Chicken Tenders

5 from 1 vote
Our favorite Buffalo Chicken Tenders are baked to crispy perfection thanks to a few tricks in the preparation method. These baked tenders are an explosion of flavor and good hit of spice. Dunk 'em in some blue cheese or ranch dressing and prepared to be hooked!
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword buffalo chicken tenders
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 520kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $9.21

Ingredients

Chicken & Breading

  • 1 lb. chicken tenders, tendons removed
  • 1-1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs (Note 1)
  • 2 tablespoons Danish Creamery Premium Butter
  • Cooking spray

Batter

  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 pkt (1 oz.) ranch seasoning mix

Sauce

  • 4 tablespoons Danish Creamery Premium Butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup Frank's original red hot sauce
  • 1-2 tablespoon(s) light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • For serving: ranch or blue cheese dressing (Note 2)

Instructions

  • PREP: Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (204 C). Generously grease a large sheet pan with cooking spray. If available, add an oven-safe metal cooling rack on top of the sheet pan and generously grease that as well. (This is optional, but ensures more even baking/crispier chicken.) Prepare the chicken tenders: pat each tender very dry with a paper towel. Remove the tendons (cut them out with a sharp pairing knife).
  • BREADING: Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Once melted, add in panko and salt to taste. ( I add 1/4 teaspoon.) Stir constantly until lightly and evenly browned then transfer to a wide shallow dish.
  • BATTER: Add all the batter ingredients to a bowl and whisk until combined.
  • BREAD: Add chicken tenders to batter and generously coat, using all the mixture. Then press chicken pieces into the breading to generously coat. Add tenders, spaced apart, to the n sheet pan on top of cooling rack. Press any leftover crumbs on top of the chicken. Generously spray the side of the tenders facing you with cooking spray. (We'll spray the other side later.)
  • BAKE: Place entire sheet pan in the center of the oven and bake for 10 minutes. Remove and gently flip the tenders to the other side (careful to avoid losing the breading). Generously spray the side facing you with cooking spray and bake for another 5-10 minutes or until chicken registers 160 degrees F on a food thermometer (carryover heat will bring it up to 165 degrees F). Remove from the oven and taste test. Add a light sprinkle of salt on top of the tenders if needed to make the flavors come alive.
  • SAUCE: While the chicken bakes, melt the butter on the stovetop over medium heat. Once fully melted, add rest of sauce ingredients and whisk to combine until smooth. Season to taste with salt, I add 1/4 teaspoon. If you'd like the sauce to be sweeter, add additional brown sugar. Remove from heat.
  • ENJOY: Toss tenders in sauce (We like to coat half, eat, then coat the rest to keep things nice and crispy!) and enjoy dipped in ranch or blue cheese dressing. We love serving celery and carrot sticks on the side as well!
  • AIR FRYER INSTRUCTIONS: Set air fryer heat to 400 degrees F. Add the breaded tenders to the fryer basket in one even layer (you may need to do this in batches; don't overlap chicken).Cook for 5-8 minutes, flip the tenders, spray with cooking spray on the other side, and cook for another 5-8 minutes or until golden brown and cooked to 160 degrees F. (Carryover heat will take them to 165 degrees F.)

Video

Recipe Notes

Note 1: Panko: Panko bread crumbs are similar to regular bread crumbs, but they create a much crunchier, lighter, and more delicate result. Using panko ensures a crunchier end product than regular bread crumbs.
Note 2: Serving suggestions: We love serving these tenders alongside cut carrots and celery with a tasty blue cheese or ranch. Look for freshly made dressings/sauces located in the chilled produce section of the store as opposed to shelf-stable options.
Note 3: Calories: Buffalo Chicken Tenders calories take into consideration all of the sauce being used, but do not include optional dipping sauces or sides.

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 520kcal | Carbohydrates: 31g | Protein: 30.2g | Fat: 29.1g | Cholesterol: 155.5mg | Sodium: 1225mg | Fiber: 2.2g | Sugar: 7.9g

We do our best to provide accurate nutritional analysis for our recipes. Our nutritional data is calculated using a third-party algorithm and may vary, based on individual cooking styles, measurements, and ingredient sizes. Please use this information for comparison purposes and consult a health professional for nutrition guidance as needed.

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