Looking for a delicious and spicy chicken tenders recipe? Well, look no further than this Nashville Hot & Spicy Chicken Tenders recipe! We’ll show you how to make them at home, using just a few simple ingredients. Also, this recipe is perfect for pan frying in a cast iron skillet. So, get ready to enjoy some of the best cast iron chicken tenders you’ve ever had!
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If you love KFC’s Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders, you’ll love this copycat recipe that you can make right at home.
Also, one of the best things about this recipe is that it’s perfect for sharing with friends and family.
Plus, this crispy, crunchy, and spicy chicken tenders recipe can be made in just 25 minutes!
Perfect Fried Chicken
Fried chicken has been a southern staple for generations. And while there are many ways to fry chicken, we think the best way is in a cast iron skillet.
Cast iron skillets help create a crispy exterior on the chicken while keeping the meat moist and juicy on the inside.
When it comes to Nashville Chicken Tenders, we think the best way to enjoy them is with a dipping sauce.
Also, this delicious, crispy, golden brown Nashville spicy chicken tenders recipe is the perfect pair for a slice of bread and pickles.
So what are you waiting for? Give this cast iron chicken tenders recipe a try today!
Ingredient Notes and Substitutions
- Chicken – You can use chicken tenderloins or chicken breasts (sliced) fresh or thawed from frozen. Chicken tenders are the best cut of chicken to use since they cook quickly and evenly.
- Oil – You can canola oil or vegetable oil for this recipe.
- Flour Batter – We used all-purpose flour to help give the chicken a crispy and crunchy exterior. You can also use almond flour if you want. We also added garlic salt and ground pepper to the batter for flavor.
- Spicy Butter Sauce – We used butter, cayenne, ground paprika, and salt, but you can adjust the spices to your taste.
- Buttermilk batter – We used buttermilk and Frank’s Red Hot or Louisiana Hot Sauce for this recipe. But you can also use the hot sauce of your choice or even Sriracha for more heat.
You might notice that the ingredients do not include brown sugar. Well, I designed this Nashville Chicken Tenders copycat recipe without sugar.
But, if you prefer a sweeter spicy sauce add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar to the butter basting sauce at the end.
Cut chicken breast into tenders
- Take the chicken breast and find the piece that hangs off the side and pull it from the breast. That’s your first tenderloin strip.
- Next, slice the rest of the breast from top to bottom with a sharp knife into 2-inch strips. If the breasts are very large, slice them in half by placing your hand flat against the top of the chicken and carefully slicing horizontally through the chicken away from you.
Equipment used for this Recipe
- 11″ – 12″ cast iron skillet (or heavy skillet)
- Shallow bowls or dipping trays
- Instant-read thermometer
- Small saucepan
- Basting brush
Cooking to Nashville Spicy Chicken Tenders
Dredge chicken tenders in the seasoned flour, then the buttermilk mixture, and back in the flour. Shake off excess buttermilk and flour.
Add the cooking oil to a large skillet, and heat oil over medium-high heat until hot (350°F).
Then, when the oil is ready fry the tenders in hot oil in batches of 4 – 5 tenders for about 6 minutes on each side.
The chicken should be a deep golden brown before turning.
Be sure to check the internal temperature of the chicken tenderloins (at least 165°F in the center) before removing them from the skillet.
Place on a wire rack with paper towels underneath to soak up the excess oil.
Other Cooking Methods
Cooking in the Air Fryer
Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
Place coated chicken tenders in a single layer in the air fryer basket and cook for 12 minutes, flipping once at the halfway point.
Brush with butter mixture and serve immediately with your dipping sauce of choice.
Cooking in the Oven
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Place chicken tenders on a greased baking sheet and bake for 15 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.
Then, Brush with butter mixture and serve with the dipping sauce of your choice.
- If you want a spicy, and no breading option, you can try our Blackened Chicken Tenders.
- If you’re busy and looking for a quick chicken tender recipe, then Instant Pot Chicken Tenders are for you.
- You can also enjoy this recipe with our Kale Salad, and Cowboy Salad for sides.
- To make extra crispy chicken, you can double dip it in the flour and buttermilk mixture.
Best Sauces for Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders
- 3 Ingredient BBQ Sauce – gives the chicken a sweet and smoky flavor.
- Mango Sweet Chili Sauce – this adds a tangy and sweet kick.
- Spicy Honey Mustard – gives a creamy, tangy, sweet, and spicy flavor.
Frequently Asked Questions
Yes, you can make Nashville Chicken tenders without buttermilk. To do this, simply substitute the buttermilk for milk and lemon juice. Get substitutes for buttermilk here.
Yes, you can make these cast iron chicken tenders with chicken breasts. To do this, simply cut the chicken breasts into strips or tenders – see above for how to cut chicken breasts into tenders.
Get the Full Nashville Chicken Tenders Recipe Here
Nashville Chicken Tenders
- 11″ – 12″ cast iron skillet (or heavy skillet)
- 2 shallow bowls or dipping trays
- instant-read thermometer
- small saucepan
- basting brush
- 1 1/2 pounds raw chicken tenderloins (or frozen and thawed) (to use chicken breasts see notes below)
- 2½ cups canola oil or vegetable cooking oil
Seasoned flour batter
- 1½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1 teaspoon ground pepper
- 3/4 cup buttermilk
- 2 teaspoons hot sauce (I prefer Frank's Red Hot or Louisiana Hot Sauce)
Spicy butter sauce
- 3 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 teaspoons ground paprika
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or ground red pepper
Prepare the batter and dip chicken
- In a shallow bowl or dipping tray, mix flour, garlic salt, and pepper with whisk. In another shallow bowl or dipping tray, mix the buttermilk and hot sauce together with a whisk.
- Dredge chicken tenders in the seasoned flour, then the buttermilk mixture, and back in the flour. Shake off excess buttermilk and flour.
Fry the chicken tenders
- Add the cooking oil to a large skillet, and heat oil over medium-high heat until hot (350°F).
- Fry the tenders in hot oil in batches of 4 – 5 tenders for about 6 minutes on each side. The chicken should be a deep golden brown before turning. Check the internal temperature of the chicken tenderloins (at least 165°F in the center) before removing them from the skillet. Place strips on a wire rack with paper towels underneath to soak upthe excess oil.
Brush on the spicy butter sauce
- In a small saucepan, melt butter over medium-low heat. Stir in paprika, salt, and red pepper with a whisk. Use a basting brush to brush the fried chicken tenders with the spicy butter sauce.
- Take the chicken breast and find the piece that hangs off the side and pull it from the breast. That’s your first chicken tenderloin strip.
- Next, slice the breast from top to bottom with a sharp knife into 2-inch strips. If the breasts are very large, slice them in half by placing your hand flat against the top of the chicken and carefully slicing horizontally through the chicken away from you.