BEST HOMEMADE CHICKEN STRIPS RECIPE

Chicken Strips made from scratch- so tender, juicy & flavorful. 2 simple tips to take your chicken tenders from good to great!

Chicken Strips are a favorite at our house! I’ve made homemade chicken strips many, many times over the years but until recently, they’ve just been mediocre. There are 2 small things you can do that really take homemade chicken up a notch or two. Add in some homemade fry sauce and you’ve got yourself an incredible batch of tender, juicy chicken! To show you the process, I created a video for this recipe that helps show just how to do it.

What do you serve with a Chicken Tenders Recipe?

I love to serve these Homemade Chicken Tenders with some classic comfort food favorites like our Fried Cinnamon Apples, Loaded Baked Potato Rounds, Sour Cream Biscuits and Roasted Ranch Potatoes. Finish off the meal with our Easy Peach Pie. Yum!

How do you make Homemade Chicken Strips?

It’s really simple! You start with some fresh chicken. I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts but you’re welcome to use boneless thighs instead. Getting  super tender, juicy chicken strips comes down to a couple of easy steps- cutting the chicken across the grain and adding in cornstarch to the quick marinade. Yep- corn starch! Trust me it works. Follow the recipe below and you’ll see for yourself.

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Chicken Strips made from scratch- so tender, juicy & flavorful. Simple tips to take your chicken tenders from good to great! BEST Homemade Chicken Strips

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 TBSP cornstarch
  • 1 TBSP Frank’s Red Hot Sauce
  • 1/4 tsp pepper

Coating:

  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup regular breadcrumbs (or Italian)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt or garlic salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups shortening or oil, for frying (omit if baking)

How do you make Deep Fried Chicken Strips?

  1. These Homemade Chicken Strips are tender, juicy & flavorful. Easy to make at home as I share 2 tips on how to take chicken tenders from good to great!To cut chicken into strips: This is one of the tips behind better chicken strips! To get a more tender strip, you need to cut against the grain of the chicken. Don’t just cut the chicken any way you like- notice where the grain lines are and be sure to cut opposite them. This makes the cooked fibers of the chicken shorter, so they tear apart easier. Cut strips as big or small as you’d like, just cut against the grain! Place chicken in a ziplock bag and set aside.
  2. Next, combine milk, lemon juice and sugar in a small bowl or 2-cup measuring cup.
  3. Whisk in the cornstarch. This is the 2nd tip I use to make better chicken! I first noticed asian recipes calling for cornstarch in the marinade. When I researched it, it turns out adding cornstarch to chicken prior to cooking it gives it a protective coating that locks in juices. You know what?! It works! It’s amazing actually! The trick is to not let it marinate for too long.
  4. Add in the hot sauce (feel free to add more if you’d like!) and the pepper and whisk to combine. Pour marinade in the ziplock with the chicken and gently shake until chicken is coated. Place bag in the fridge and let marinate for at least 20 minutes, but no longer than 1 hour.
  5. Heat about 2 cups of oil to 365 degrees in a frying pan. Frying the chicken in Crisco (plain shortening) yields the crispiest tenders!
  6. While the oil is heating, combine all ingredients for the coating in a shallow bowl. Remove chicken pieces from bag a few at a time and thoroughly coat them in the breadcrumb mixture. I like to place them in the breadcrumbs, then spoon some on the top of the chicken, then press the chicken down- then flip and repeat the process. Repeat until all chicken is coated.
  7. Once oil is hot, fry chicken pieces for anywhere from 2-4 minutes per side, depending on how big they are. The small pieces cook quickly! If you’re unsure if the chicken is done, by all means use a meat thermometer. It should register 165 degrees F. (I use one all the time! I have 5 kids- getting distracted while cooking is a common occurrence for me and I detest overcooked chicken!)
  8. Remove cooked chicken and place on a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat until all chicken is cooked. Serve hot, with Homemade Fry Sauce (it’s a Utah thing- SO good!) alongside.

Chicken Strips made from scratch- so tender, juicy & flavorful. 2 simple tips to take your chicken tenders from good to great!How long do you bake chicken strips?

**To bake chicken strips: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and arrange chicken tenders. Spray chicken tenders lightly with a couple sprays of oil (non stick spray.) Cook 12-15 minutes, until tenders register 165 degrees on a meat thermometer. (Cooking time varies depending on the size of your chicken tenders! Pay attention and check often as to not overcook them!) Note that my recommendation is to fry these tenders (the photos are of fried tenders), but if you opt to bake them, they will look different as you’re not submerging them in oil. To add a little moisture, I like to spray my baked tenders with a little olive oil spray prior to baking, after you bread them. It’s a lot less oil than frying but I like the way they taste better that way.

Homemade Fry Sauce recipe

  • 1/4 cup mayo
  • 2 TBSP ketchup
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • dash of Worcestershire sauce
  • a couple dashes of salt & pepper

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and whisk. Serve alongside Homemade Chicken Strips or french fries. Or chicken AND french fries- even better!

Like these Homemade Chicken Strips? Try more of our favorite chicken recipes here: 

These Homemade Chicken Strips are tender, juicy & flavorful. Easy to make at home as I share 2 tips on how to take #chicken strips from good to great! Chicken #dinner #recipe from Butter With A Side of Bread #appetizers #gameday #chickentenders

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THE BEST HOMEMADE CHICKEN STRIPS EVER

Prep Time 1 hour
Cook Time 8 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 8 minutes
Servings 6
Author Butter With A Side of Bread

Ingredients

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp cornstarch
  • 1 TBSP Frank's Red Hot Sauce
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • Coating:
  • 1/2 cup Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup regular breadcrumbs or Italian
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 TBSP onion powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 2 cups shortening or oil for frying (omit if baking)

Instructions

  1. To cut chicken into strips: This is one of the tips behind better chicken strips! To get a more tender strip, you need to cut against the grain of the chicken. Don't just cut the chicken any way you like- notice where the grain lines are and be sure to cut opposite them. This makes the cooked fibers of the chicken shorter, so they tear apart easier. Cut strips as big or small as you'd like, just cut against the grain! Place chicken in a ziplock bag and set aside.
  2. Next, combine milk, lemon juice and sugar in a small bowl or 2-cup measuring cup.
  3. Whisk in the cornstarch. This is the 2nd tip I use to make better chicken! I first noticed asian recipes calling for cornstarch in the marinade. When I researched it, it turns out adding cornstarch to chicken prior to cooking it gives it a protective coating that locks in juices. You know what?! It works! It's amazing actually! The trick is to not let it marinate for too long.
  4. Add in the hot sauce (feel free to add more if you'd like!) and the pepper and whisk to combine. Pour marinade in the ziplock with the chicken and gently shake until chicken is coated. Place bag in the fridge and let marinate for at least 20 minutes, but no longer than 1 hour.
  5. Heat about 2 cups of oil to 365 degrees in a frying pan. Frying the chicken in Crisco (plain shortening) yields the crispiest tenders!
  6. While the oil is heating, combine all ingredients for the coating in a shallow bowl. Remove chicken pieces from bag a few at a time and thoroughly coat them in the breadcrumb mixture. I like to place them in the breadcrumbs, then spoon some on the top of the chicken, then press the chicken down- then flip and repeat the process. Repeat until all chicken is coated.
  7. Once oil is hot, fry chicken pieces for anywhere from 2-4 minutes per side, depending on how big they are. The small pieces cook quickly! If you're unsure if the chicken is done, by all means use a meat thermometer. It should register 165 degrees F. (I use one all the time! I have 5 kids- getting distracted while cooking is a common occurrence for me and I detest overcooked chicken!)
  8. Remove cooked chicken and place on a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat until all chicken is cooked. Serve hot, with Homemade Fry Sauce (it's a Utah thing- SO good!) alongside.
  9. To Bake Chicken Strips: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and arrange chicken tenders. Cook 12-15 minutes, until tenders register 165 degrees on a meat thermometer. (Cooking time varies depending on the size of your chicken tenders! Pay attention and check often as to not overcook them!) Note that my recommendation is to fry these tenders (the photos are of fried tenders), but if you opt to bake them, they will look different as you're not submerging them in oil. To add a little moisture, I like to spray my baked tenders with a little olive oil spray prior to baking, after you bread them. It's a lot less oil than frying but I like the way they taste better that way.

What’s the difference between chicken tenders, chicken strips and chicken fingers?

Really, I think they’re all a variation of the same type of recipe! I do think they vary a bit in size though. Chicken Strips and Chicken Tenders are larger than Chicken Fingers. There is a cut of chicken called the tenderloin that I think works really well for this recipe. It’s naturally incredibly tender! There is a thin silvery membrane that runs along the length of the chicken tenderloin. You can remove it if you’d prefer, but it’s not easy since the rest of the tenderloin can be damaged in the process. You might end up with chicken nuggets instead!

Can chicken tender recipes be made ahead of time?

Yes, chicken tenders can be made ahead of time! If you are cooking chicken tenders with the plan of freezing them and then reheating them, be sure to fry just until the chicken reaches 160 degrees F. Cool on a paper towel, then freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Transfer to a freezer bag to store for up to 1 month. To reheat, place frozen chicken tenders on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.

Can you freeze chicken tenders?

Yes! Freeze in a single layer on a cookie sheet. Transfer to a freezer bag to store for up to 1 month. To reheat, place frozen chicken tenders on a cookie sheet and bake at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes.

How to tenderize chicken

I use two different methods to yield super tender, juicy chicken strips. First is to cut chicken breasts against the grain. Don’t just cut the chicken any way you like- notice where the grain lines are and be sure to cut opposite them. This makes the cooked fibers of the chicken shorter, so they tear apart easier. Cut strips as big or small as you’d like, just cut against the grain! The second method is to add cornstarch to the chicken marinade. I first noticed asian recipes calling for cornstarch in the marinade. When I researched it, it turns out adding cornstarch to chicken prior to cooking it gives it a protective coating that locks in juices. It works so well!

Chicken Strips made from scratch- so tender, juicy & flavorful. 2 simple tips to take your chicken tenders from good to great! #chicken #dinner #tenders #friedchicken #tenderize #food #meal #maindish #cooking #recipe from BUTTER WITH A SIDE OF BREAD

112 COMMENTS

  1. These look delicious. Any idea if they would hold together/taste good being cooked then frozen for a later meal?

    • I’ve not tried freezing them, but it’s worth a shot! I’d barely fully cook them, that way they don’t dry out when reheating. Tell me how it goes!

  2. Tried this recipe for dinner with my boyfriend tonight. They looked great, but I’m sure we will both be sick for days to come. This recipe calls for way too much sugar. Literally all I can taste from this bland concoction is sugar. We’re totally disappointed. After the first few bites we realized we couldn’t eat it as is. So we attempted adding dashes of pickle juice for flavor, hot sauce and ranch. Nothing could mask the sugary flavor. If this is how people up north season their food, I don’t think I ever want to leave Louisiana. I do NOT recommend.

  3. I made this for dinner tonight and everyone (4 boys and a husband) loved it. I also made me a couple with gluten free bread crumbs and they were great. The fry sauce is delicious!

  4. G’Day,
    I cooked this recipe last night and I was certainly impressed.! I usually only cook with chicken thigh fillets as breasts tend to be dry and lack flavour. These chicken strips were moist, tender and full of flavour and so easy to make. I baked the chicken in the oven. They came out with a crisp crumb as if I had indeed fried them. I have tried many recipes from several blog sites, the pictures always look promising but the end result is usually dull and boring and generally a waste of time and ingredients. But this recipe certainly delivered. This is the first recipe I have commented on as I felt it worthy of praise.
    Keep up the good work!

    • You can find them next to the regular breadcrumbs at the grocery store- they give it a crunchier texture. They’ve gotten more popular in recent years- they’re larger and lighter than regular breadcrumbs so it adds a wonderful texture!

  5. The search is over!!! These really are THE BEST! It is rare to get a “5 thumbs up meal” in this family — but this did the trick. The sauce was a nice compliment, but the chicken strips were so delicious, they didn’t need it. 🙂 Thank you so much for sharing.

  6. Ok, I just made these and they were a winner!!!! I had everything but the lemon juice but they were still delicious! I have picky teenage boy who are brutally honest and they loved them. YEAH!!!! Thank you for the recipe. Oh, and the dipping sauce? WONDERFUL!!!!! I could go to town on that sauce with some fries.

  7. I made this for the 2nd time tonight. I am so glad to have finally replaced the Bisquick chicken strip recipie forever. This is delicious and the hubby and kids gobble them up. Also love this dipping sauce.
    Thank you!!!

  8. Hi
    Followed and double checked ingredients.
    Oven temp checked by thermometer and spit in. Things won’t brown. Any suggestions?
    Os….pushing 30 min in oven right now????

    • I fried mine- that’s the reason why they’re the color they are. None of the instructions mention anything about browning. If you’re trying to achieve the exact color I had with mine, I suggest making them like I made mine- frying them. Here is the instructions for baking again- as per the recipe- To Bake Chicken Strips: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and arrange chicken tenders. Cook 12-15 minutes, until tenders register 165 degrees on a meat thermometer. (Cooking time varies depending on the size of your chicken tenders! Pay attention and check often as to not overcook them!)

    • So, it’s interesting, if you marinate them longer, the meat almost gets TOO tender- it’s strange! If you do want to marinate them for longer, just leave out the cornstarch, then add that 30 or so minutes before you cook them. 🙂

  9. Horrible experience! Spent an hour working on these and they sucked. Don’t bake! It doesn’t work. They looked like flour covered chicken. Pinterest fail!

    • I’m sorry you didn’t have a good experience Stephanie. When you leave rude comments on the internet, please remember there is a person behind the screen- my name is Jessica. The recipe photos and video were of the traditional fried chicken tenders. Yes, they’re going to look different if you bake them, but I’ve done that- and they tasted great. Generally speaking, food that is baked instead of fried will look different, just FYI.

    • One final tidbit Stephanie- although your comment didn’t offer any constructive criticism, it did prompt me to add a little more info to the section where it gives info on how long to bake the chicken for. Hopefully that helps others. I also added a little tip for adding moisture to baked chicken tenders. Good luck in your cooking endeavors in the future too. Remember, Pinterest is made of recipes from PEOPLE. Real people like me who are working hard give you access to completely FREE recipes.

  10. I just have a quick question before I make these. I’m concerned about using Frank’s Red Hot. My family doesn’t like spicy food. Does the Frank’s Red Hot add much spice? Thanks for the wonderful recipes!!

    • Hi Shannon, The Frank’s just adds flavor. If you want some real heat, you’ll have to add more. My husband mixed Frank’s with Ranch and dipped his in that. So don’t worry- they’re not spicy!

  11. I find that draining the chicken or any fried food on a brown or white paper sack is better than paper towel. Paper towels let the cooked meat cause the paper towel to get wet and soften the crust. Try it – I think you’ll like this hint.

  12. I want to know how much sugar brook put into her’s, I think she added a cup of sugar, Oh if that is how Southerners Prepare food I think I will stay up North. LOL Just kidding brook but, I would be nice if you said Sorry :O

  13. I absolutely love how you responded to Stephanie’s hateful comment. It was so easy for her to hide behind her phone/computer. I admire you so much!! I can’t wait to try your recipe! Thank you!

  14. I have been looking for a recipe for chicken tenders and this one sounded great. Got my chicken breasts unthawing now. Thanks for sharing your recipe.

  15. Have made these twice now and both times came out amazing, I oven baked as had not enough oil to properly fry them, I drizzled them with oil, cooked in about 20 mins and to make them golden threw them in the pan for about 20 seconds (there should be enough oil on them to brown nicely) definitely recommend this recipe to anyone wanting to make there own strips

  16. This marinade is really great. This is the second time making and had no breadcrumbs or planko so I used crushed ritz crackers. They turned out great! I also switched onion powder for 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. of garlic powder because of allergy.

  17. I made these yesterday and can only assume they were a hit since my family ate them all while I went to the gym. I had all of the ingredients on hand other than the Panko. They were easy to put together and I look forward to making them again, with the sauce nect time.

    • I’m glad your family liked them Jami! Next time make sure to stick around so you get one or two as well! The sauce is so good- you’ve got to try it!

  18. Lol- Brady is a troll! and Brooke! Really? I love when people don’t follow the directions, sub ingredients and then give bad reviews! What the heck people? Jessica, I can’t wait to make these tonight!

  19. Fry sauce is not a Utah thing…but your strip recipe is good if you have good hot sauce.

    Germans have been breading meats and frying them before America was formed.

    Fry sauce has been around before Utah was a state. I lived in Logan when I went to school, and that’s all I heard was fry sauce is a Utah thing. Fortunately I visited France in the military and saw fry sauce used commonly throughout towns, and depending on the mustard they used depended on the taste.

    Not to be a negative nanny, thank you for the recipe because it was a go to to help guide me in making delicious strips.

  20. I made these tonight. They were excellent! Perfect ratio for breading the chicken. Great instructions on how slicing the chicken and making the marinade help to keep it moist. I put them on wax paper once they were fried. I didn’t make the dipping sauce, but I will next time! There will definitely be a next time, I loved them and so did my family.

    • So glad you like them Renee! Oooh- you’ve got to try the sauce next time! We love it! IT’s actually sold in stores where I live!

  21. Just wondering why you should not let marinate for longer than an hr?

    I’ve made these a few times now and I literally can no longer get my kids to eat any other type or brand of chicken strips. Sooooo good.

    • The cornstarch in the chicken marinade works fast- and it will continue to work until literally your cooked chicken has an odd texture to it, hence the recommendation to not marinate longer than an hour. I’m so glad your kids love them!!

  22. Hi Jessica! I’m going to make this over the weekend in an effort to get my kids on board with chicken tenders not made of ground chicken! I have 2 pounds of tenders I plan to use. Should I just double all the measurements? Thank you!

  23. Hey, so I did the recipe down to a “T”. With two exceptions. Instead of Cornstarch, I used Flour (I had no Cornstarch) and we had no breadcrumbs. I’ve made tenders without breadcrumbs so I thought it would be fine. I also have oven cooked it beforehand and it’s been fine. However when I put it in the oven at 400 and set it for 15 minutes, it wasn’t brown at all. It still kind of looked soggy and you could see some bits of flour. The bits with the flour were nice and crispy, but the rest of the skin was basically unbatable (I must add that I put it in the oven for another 10-15 minutes and the chicken itself was good and cooked). I have no doubt that this is a good recipe because I see so much praise for it, So I am convinced I did something wrong, but I just can’t tell what I did wrong. I would like to try to make it right next time because I really want to taste it, so is it possible that you can tell me what went wrong?

    • So, the cornstarch in the marinade is a tenderizer and isn’t part of the chicken tender coating. It will not work to replace it with flour. Essentially, you created a gummy coating on the chicken, hence the “soggy” texture on the outside. It’s a pretty simple recipe, so making any variations will make a difference! So… add some cornstarch and breadcrumbs to the grocery list! 😉

  24. LOVE the hot sauce in here. And the cornstarch! Thanks for the tips and tricks on making these the best chicken strips ever. 🙂

  25. These were so tasty! I was hesitant using both panko and bread crumbs but I was so glad I followed your recipe, I LOVED the two textures it gave in every bite! Cutting them across the grain as you suggested was so easy to follow- and made them so tender!!

  26. I have to say that the title of this recipe is very accurate – these are some of the best homemade chicken strips I’ve tasted! I loved that you included instructions on baking them. They were wonderful!

  27. Thank You Jessica! This was my first attempt at frying chicken tenders and they came out absolutely amazing! Crispy, Flavorful and Juicy! It was a hit and now I am begged to make these once a week! Thank you so much! Yours was the BEST recipe I have found that matched just what I was looking for!

  28. The recipe was very good. I had chicken tenders from Aldi and may have had more tenders than the recipe called for. The only thing I would do different is add a little more salt and some garlic powder. They were so tender, crispy and delicious. Thanks for sharing.

  29. I was wondering what I can use to replace the hot sauce? Like maybe ranch ? Smaller kids do not like hot sauce even though I totally disagree! Just wanted to see if you or anyone else has tried something different thanks!

    • Hi Cheryl! So I serve these to my kids with the small amount of hot sauce. At that ratio, it just adds flavor, not heat. You can try adding some dry ranch mix. That actually sounds really good!

  30. Found this recipe by accident, I can say a happy accident. My family loved them, even mixed a bit of the red hot sauce into the ranch dip….yumm Will make them again for sure

  31. What a great recommendation for making chicken tenders absolutely delicious! I put cornstarch in my waffle batter to make them crispier but I never thought to add them to the chicken marinade. Great idea! Those tenders look fantastic and I can’t wait to try out the recipe.

  32. My boyfriend worked as a short order cook for years and he didn’t think they would turn out but boy was he wrong. They were so juicy and tender and few chicken breasts go a long way. I told him this was far cheaper than buying pre packages ones and somewhat healthier than chemical filled ones in a box. We have enough for another meal and I’ll be making these for the kids when they come over and there won’t be any fussing going on.

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