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Nashville Chicken Tenders

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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!

a white serving platter of fried chicken with a basting brush and spicy hot butter sauce in the background

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.

Our personal favorite is a mixture of honey and mustard sauce, but you can also try ranch or blue cheese dressing, BBQ sauce, or even sweet mango sauce.

Nashville chicken tenders dipped in  a blue cheese dressing

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!

Ingredients for Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders

a package of chicken, the dry batter dip, and the wet batter dip mixed
  • Garlic salt
  • Ground pepper
  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
salt, pepper, and garlic powder on a wood board along with a measuring spoons and white rectangular shallow bowl, and a flour on a wooden flour scoop
  • Buttermilk
  • Hot sauce – I prefer Frank’s Red Hot or Louisiana Hot Sauce
Spicy Chicken Tenders Ingredients contains buttermilk and hot sauce beside gold colored measuring spoons
  • Butter
  • Ground paprika
  • Cayenne pepper or ground red pepper cayenne
Nashville Spicy Chicken Tenders Ingredients contains of butter, paprika, chili powder beside a small bowl, and a batting brush.

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

  1. 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.
  2. 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

Cooking to Nashville Spicy Chicken Tenders

Use a shallow bowl or dipping tray to mix flour, garlic salt, and pepper with a whisk. Then, in another shallow bowl or dipping tray, mix the buttermilk and hot sauce together with a whisk.

Preparing the tenders, from left going clockwise: the dipping tray of dry batter and a tray of wet batter and a tray of chicken, dipping the strips into the dry batter, dipping the tenders into the wet buttermilk batter, then dipping the chicken tenderloins into the dry flour batter before frying chicken tenders

Dredge chicken tenders in the seasoned flour, then the buttermilk mixture, and back in the flour. Shake off excess buttermilk and flour.

Chicken tenders that are coated in flour and buttermilk mixture on a white serving platter along with flour mixture and buttermilk mixture on separate trays

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.

frying chicken in the oil on a cast iron skillet

The chicken should be a deep golden brown before turning.

frying the Nashville chicken tenders in the oil on a cast iron skillet

Be sure to check the internal temperature of the chicken tenderloins (at least 165°F in the center) before removing them from the skillet. 

frying the chicken strips in a cast iron skillet with a instant read thermometer showing the  temperature of 166 degree Fahrenheit

Place on a wire rack with paper towels underneath to soak up the excess oil.

fried hot chicken on a baking rack tray with paper towels at the bottom to catch the grease and oil

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. 

Basting spicy butter sauce on the Nashville hot chicken tenders

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.

fried chicken strips on a white serving platter

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.

Recipe Variations

Best Sauces for Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders

spicy tenderloins dipped in blue cheese dressing

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I make Nashville Chicken tenders without buttermilk?

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.

Can I make Nashville Chicken tenders with chicken breasts?

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.

What goes well with Nashville hot chicken?

Nashville hot chicken is often served with a side of bread and pickles. Because this allows you to enjoy the crispy, juicy chicken. Also, other sides that go well include mashed potatoes, tater tots, coleslaw, and green beans.

Get the Full Nashville Chicken Tenders Recipe Here

a white serving platter with Nashville Chicken Tenders with a basting brush and spicy hot butter sauce in the background
Print Pin
5 from 1 vote

Nashville Chicken Tenders

Everyone loves this Nashville Chicken Tenders recipe, inspired by KFC! We'll show you how to make them at home, using simple ingredients. They're so mild that kids love them, or add extra spice to make them hot & spicy.
Course Main Course
Cuisine American, Southern
Keyword Chicken, easy chicken breasts, chicken tenders, chicken tenderloins, chicken recipes, chicken strips, cajun chicken tenders
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 395kcal

Equipment

  • 11″ – 12″ cast iron skillet (or heavy skillet)
  • 2 shallow bowls or dipping trays
  • instant-read thermometer
  • small saucepan
  • basting brush

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 pounds raw chicken tenderloins (or frozen and thawed) (to use chicken breasts see notes below)
  • cups canola oil or vegetable cooking oil

Seasoned flour batter

  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper

Buttermilk batter

  • 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

Instructions

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.

Notes

Cut chicken breasts 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 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.
Variations:
You might notice that the ingredients do not include brown sugar. I designed this Nashville Chicken Tenders copycat recipe without sugar. However, if you prefer a sweeter spicy sauce add 2 tablespoons of brown sugar to the butter basting sauce at the end.
*Nutritional facts include a small portion of the cooking oil as most of it is discarded and not consumed*

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 395kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 5g | Trans Fat: 0.3g | Cholesterol: 91mg | Sodium: 1011mg | Potassium: 516mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 590IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 50mg | Iron: 2mg

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