These chicken tenders always go down a storm in my house. Who doesn’t love a hot crispy strip of chicken?! They are tenderised in buttermilk and then coated in a perfectly seasoned panko crumb for super crunch. I prefer not to deep-fry anything personally, so oven baking them is a great, healthier alternative. My Baked Buttermilk Chicken Tenders can also be cooked in the air fryer, I’ve included instructions in the recipe notes.
Marinating the tenders in buttermilk keeps the chicken succulent and soft while it cooks, and it also acts as a great binding agent for the panko crumb. If you haven’t used buttermilk before, it is quite a lot thicker than regular milk, and has a slightly sour taste.
These chicken tenders can be eaten all kinds of ways, with chips or wedges, served up with your favourite dip (sriracha mayo is ours!), with salad, or in a wrap (and again sriracha mayo goes great in those).
See how to adapt this recipe for your family here >
How to Make My Baked Buttermilk Chicken Tenders
Watch me make these Buttermilk Chicken Tenders step-by-step before or as you cook.
Make Them Extra Healthy
I like to spray my chicken tenders 3 times each side to get them super golden, but to be healthier you can spray them just once or twice each side. The crumb will cook, it will just appear paler.
Kids Cook Too
Younger children can get stuck in and help you coat the chicken strips in the crumb, they’ll love it. Just make sure they have a good hand wash before and after. They can also help you spray the tenders with oil.
Pairs Perfectly With…
Feed a Crowd
You can easily double this recipe if you are entertaining friends and family. You will need just need a second extra large baking tray/sheet and space in the oven.
Storing My Baked Buttermilk Chicken Tenders
You can store any leftover chicken tenders in an air-tight container or resealable food bag in the fridge for up to 3 days (cook day + 2). You can also freeze them, just defrost for 24 hours in the fridge before use. Reheat in the oven at the same temperature for 15 mins, or until steaming hot in the middle.
For more on safe food storage and reheating read here >
My Baked Buttermilk Chicken Tenders are nut-free.
Adapting My Baked Buttermilk Chicken Tenders For Your Family
In the recipe below you’ll see a bracket of ¼ - ½ teaspoon for salt. Also below in the baby & toddler section I suggest what to do if you’re serving to children that young, but if your kids are older you can decide which amount you want to go for.
I’ve also given a bracket of between ¼ - 1 ½ teaspoons of cayenne pepper, and same thing goes there too, choose your amount based on how much spice your kids can handle. A ¼ teaspoon will be super mild with the spice level creeping up as you increase to 1 ½ teaspoons, which will give you a nice little heat kick.
Keeping Picky Eaters Happy
Not much to say here! I’ve yet to find a fussy eater who doesn’t like crispy-crumbed chicken! The only point to make here is on the cayenne pepper. Choose the right level depending on their tolerance. Or the first time you make them start with only ¼ teaspoon and increase the level the next time you make them.
See more from me on fussy eaters here >
Making Them Baby & Toddler Friendly
For younger babies, you can just leave the crumb off a couple of the chicken strips as the crumb will be too hard for them. You can cook them just the same as the rest.
For older babies, these do have a fair bit of salt in AND a little cayenne pepper in. The cayenne pepper at ¼ teaspoon is very mild, and if you want your little one to get used to spice (always a good idea!) you should go with that. If you are very unsure, read on and exclude the cayenne along with the salt.
To give your little one salt-free chicken tenders, you’ll need to put a little extra effort in. Instead of combining the flour, panko breadcrumbs and all the seasoning in step 3, hold back on adding the salt to begin with (and cayenne pepper, or some of it, if you like). So, combine the other crumb ingredients, and stir well. Then remove a heaped serving spoon of the panko mix and add it to another bowl. Then dip just your little one’s chicken strips in there. When you come to bake them, either add them to a separate baking tray/sheet or put an extra, small piece of baking paper that just fits them underneath so you remember which are theirs.
You can then add the salt and cayenne pepper levels you want into the large bowl of the panko mix and carry on with step 3 for everyone else.
You’ll want to go light on the oil, just remember the crumb won’t go very golden. The crumb will cook, but be quite pale.
How to Serve My Baked Buttermilk Chicken Tenders to Babies & Toddlers
Your little one will be able to palm these, but I’d recommend you slice theirs in half lengthways to make them thinner. For 1 year+ you can just chop these into bite-size pieces. Serve along side salad vegetables and a few chips if you like. Serving soft flour tortilla’s cut into strips is a good way to bring in carbs for under 1’s.
I’ve also added these notes to the bottom of the recipe so you have them to hand when you come to cook.
See more on how I keep my family meals baby & toddler friendly here >
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Baked Buttermilk Chicken Tenders
- Meat / poultry / fish knife + chopping board (for raw poultry/meat)
- Large shallow dish or platter
- Tongs or turner + fork
- 1 XL baking tray/sheet or 2 regular PLUS baking paper
- Air Fryer if using
- 3 large or 4 medium chicken breasts Sliced into ½ inch strips
- 284 - 300 ml buttermilk
- olive oil spray
FOR THE CRUMB COATING
- 200 g plain flour / all-purpose flour
- 120 g panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- ¼ - 1 ½ teaspoons cayenne pepper*
- 1 ½ teaspoons dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon garlic granules
- ½ - 1 teaspoon salt**
- a little black pepper
- Put the chicken strips into a medium lidded prep bowl or resealable food bag and add in the buttermilk. Turn the strips around until fully coated in the buttermilk. Chill in the fridge for minimum of 1 hour and max overnight.
- Preheat the oven to 200ºc/180ºc/400ºf/gas 6. Line an extra large baking tray/sheet, or two regular ones with baking paper. Then, in a large shallow dish, mix all the crumb ingredients together and stir well, then roughly level out. Then in turn take the chicken strips out of the buttermilk and put it into the crumb mix, pile on the crumb to cover and coat. I do about 5 at a time. The strips should be completely coated in the crumb. Lay the strips on the baking tray/sheet, leaving a slight gap between each piece.
- Spray generously with oil both sides of each tender (3 sprays both sides of each piece will get them the brownest and crispiest). Transfer to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden and cooked through.
TO AIR FRY
- Preheat your air fryer to 200ºc for 5-7 minutes. If you have metal wire trays in your air fryer, line them with baking paper and set out on your counter. If you have a basket give it a light spray of oil. Add the chicken tenders to your air fryer trays or basket in an even layer with slight gap in between each piece (you may have to do 2-3 batches if you have a basket air fryer). You don’t have to use any oil, but they will stay pale in colour if you don’t and they won’t go quite so crispy as with using oil. If you are happy to use oil, spray all the chicken pieces both sides - 2-3 sprays each side or each tender. The more you do the browner and crispier they will go. Then transfer them to your air fryer and fry for 10 minutes, turn over and cook for another 10 minutes or until cooked through.
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