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Homemade chicken fingers are a homestyle family favorite!! They fry up in about 20 minutes and are finger-licking good.

Fried chicken fingers are a perfect dinner or appetizer. Crispy chicken fingers, Chicken Tenders, and Chicken Nuggets are some of our kids (and my) favorites!!

Close up of crispy chicken fingers recipe on a white plate with dipping sauce.

Made at Home!

What’s the difference between chicken fingers and chicken tenders? Chicken fingers and chicken tenderloins are almost identical and the terms are often used interchangeably, but there is one difference. 

  • Chicken tenders are meat taken from the tender strip of meat that is attached to a spot under the chicken breast. 
  • Chicken fingers are simply any part of the breast meat cut into strips. The strips resemble long thick human fingers, which is where the name comes from, not because they use actual chicken fingers in the dish. 😉  They are also referred to as chicken strips.

Either way, this crispy chicken fingers recipe is sure to be a favorite chicken dish in your house, right up there with our Baked Chicken Nuggets. The kids LOVE to dip these into their favorite sauces like Ranch Dressing. They taste so much better than any restaurant or store-bought version, and they are simple to whip up!

Process for dredging chicken fingers.

how to Make Chicken Fingers

This chicken fingers recipe does require a few steps, but is quite simple and worth the effort!

SOAK. Add buttermilk to a bowl and let chicken strips sit in buttermilk for about 20 minutes.

PREP. Heat oil on medium-high heat in a pan (about 350°F).

SEASONING. While oil is heating, add flour, garlic salt, pepper, and baking powder to another bowl (and mix together) and the beaten eggs to a third bowl.

DREDGE. Take chicken strips out of the buttermilk bowl and then place into the flour mixture, then into the egg mix, and then back into the flour mix.

FRY. Fry chicken pieces in hot oil for 7-9 minutes on each side (or until golden brown). The internal temperature of the chicken should be 165°F.

DRAIN + SERVE. Place on a paper towel-lined plate or a wire rack to drain excess oil. Serve warm with dipping sauce.

Making your own buttermilk.

Recipe Tips

Homemade chicken fingers are fried in oil. Use these tips to make them finger-licking crisp!

How to cut even strips of chicken. The easiest way to cut even strips of chicken is to partially freeze the chicken breasts for 30-60 minutes. This helps firm the meat up enough to make slicing a breeze. 

Buttermilk. Soaking the chicken in buttermilk tenderizes them and helps the flour coating stick to the chicken strips.  If you don’t have any you can Make Your Own Buttermilk using milk and lemon juice.  

Add extra flavor. You can easily add more seasoning to give this more flavor. Mix some salt with the flour or sprinkle on the salt after you pull them out of the frying pan or stir in some Italian seasoning.

If you love spicy chicken tenders mix ½ cup of hot sauce with the buttermilk. As well as add some paprika, onion powder, and cayenne pepper to the flour. The amounts you use will depend on how spicy you like it, but I would start with 1-2 teaspoons. 

Frying chicken fingers in a skillet of oil.

Oil Frying

You don’t need a special appliance to deep fry your chicken. A large heavy-bottomed skillet will work. Fill it with 1-2 inches of vegetable oil. Heat the oil to about 350°F. Fry for 5-7 minutes on each side. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165°F.

  • Oil temperature. If you don’t have a thermometer, then I like to test the oil with the end of a wooden spoon. Stick the tip into the oil. The oil should immediately begin to bubble around the spoon. If it doesn’t bubble or the bubbles are slow, then the oil isn’t hot enough. If the bubbles are very vigorous and splatter, then the oil is too hot. 
  • Type of oil. Vegetable oil is wonderful to fry different foods in various ways. It has a high smoking point and does not easily burn and set off your smoke detectors. It also has a neutral flavor. I always have some on hand and it’s my first choice when frying foods. Some other oils that you can use include canola oil, peanut oil, corn oil, or a high temp olive oil.
Chicken fingers frying in a skillet of oil.

other Cooking Methods

If you don’t want to pan-fry chicken fingers, try our recipe for Baked Chicken Fingers.

Air fry. You can also air fry the chicken fingers, though I would add about 1 cup of regular breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs to the list of ingredients.

  1. Soak the chicken in buttermilk
  2. Mix the all-purpose flour & seasonings and the eggs as directed in step 3. 
  3. Prepare another bowl with bread crumbs and season it with garlic and pepper.
  4. Coat the chicken with the flour mixture. Dip into the egg mixture and then coat with the bread crumbs. 
  5. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
  6. Spray both sides of the strips with cooking oil, then place them in the air fryer basket.
  7. Cook for 5-6 minutes. Flip and cook for another 5-6 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and has a golden crisp crust. 
  8. Repeat with the other batches of chicken fingers.
BBQ sauce in a glass jar.

perfect for Dipping!

What goes with chicken fingers? Not only do fried chicken fingers get their name because of their shape, but they can easily be eaten with your fingers without needing any utensils. In my family, this also means that they are dippable.

Aside from classic ketchup some of our favorite dipping sauces include:

Dipping fried chicken in bbq sauce.

Storing + Serving

Make ahead of time. Coat the best chicken fingers a few hours before you wish to fry them. Simply place the prepared chicken on a plate, cover it with plastic, and store it in the fridge for 1-2 days.

If you wish to make them further ahead of time, place them on a baking sheet and into the freezer. Once the strips are solid, transfer them to a freezer Ziploc and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. Allow them to thaw before you fry them in oil.

STORE. Keep leftovers for 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

FREEZE. They can also be frozen for up to 4 months. I place each strip into a fold-top sandwich bag and then store them together in a freezer Ziploc.

To reheat. Heat them up in the microwave, toaster oven, or regular oven. Bake them at 425°F for 12-15 minutes or until warm and crisp. They are also great to slice and use in salads or wraps.

Serve chicken fingers with:

Fried homemade chicken fingers recipe served with dipping sauce.

Recipe FAQ

Why are my chicken fingers rubbery?

One reason that chicken turns out rubbery is due to over or under-cooking it. Another reason is that the chicken breast themselves have fatty stripes that run along the muscle fibers. This is called woody breast or white striping.

How do I get breading to stick to chicken fingers?

There are a few things to keep in mind to help the breading stick to the chicken fingers. First, the chicken needs to be at room temperature, not cold. Second, don’t pat the chicken dry. The moisture will help the first coating of flour stick. Third, be sure you have the correct oil temperature.

How do I keep chicken fingers warm and crisp before serving them?

The easiest way to keep your chicken warm and crisp is to place a wire rack on a baking sheet, place the baking sheet in the oven and heat it to 225°F. As you finish frying the pieces, place them on the rack. The low temperature will keep them warm without drying them out.

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5 from 44 votes

Chicken Fingers Recipe

By: Lil’ Luna
Homemade chicken fingers are a homestyle family favorite!! They fry up in about 20 minutes and are finger-licking good.
Servings: 6
Prep: 20 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 40 minutes

Ingredients 

  • vegetable oil
  • 2 pounds chicken breast cut into strips
  • cups buttermilk
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons garlic salt (with parsley flakes)
  • dash pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon baking powder
  • 3 eggs
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Instructions 

  • Add buttermilk to a bowl and let chicken strips sit in buttermilk for about 20 minutes.
  • Heat oil on medium-high heat in a pan (about 350°F).
  • While oil is heating, add flour, garlic salt, pepper, and baking powder to another bowl (and mix together) and the beaten eggs to a third bowl.
  • Take chicken strips out of the buttermilk bowl and then place into the flour mixture, then into the egg mix, and then back into the flour mix.
  • Fry chicken pieces in oil for 7-9 minutes on each side (or until golden brown). The internal temperature of the chicken should be 165°F.
  • Place on a paper towel-lined plate to drain excess oil. Serve warm with dipping sauce.

Video

Nutrition

Calories: 393kcal, Carbohydrates: 35g, Protein: 41g, Fat: 8g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 185mg, Sodium: 1046mg, Potassium: 732mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 3g, Vitamin A: 263IU, Vitamin C: 2mg, Calcium: 103mg, Iron: 3mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
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About Kristyn

My name is Kristyn and I’m the mom of SIX stinkin’ cute kids and the wife to my smokin’ hot hubby, Lo. My mom’s maiden name is Luna, and I’m one of the many crafty “Lil’ Lunas” in the fam. On this site I like to share all things creative - from recipes to home decor to gifts and home decor ideas. Welcome!

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Recipe Rating




11 Comments

  1. Debra says:

    Definitely needed more seasoning and the frying time is way too long.

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      Thanks for the feedback and for giving the recipe a try.

  2. Kitcrazy says:

    Tasteless! Watch temp of oil. 7-9 minutes each side was way too long. Tenders did not have any taste to them.

  3. Ashelle says:

    Chicken is fine but there’s no flavor there. It’s so so bland, not even well-salted… If you could, please edit the recipe to include more seasonings or even to direct us to put our own seasonings in.

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      Thanks for the feedback and for giving the recipe a try!

  4. Alyssa says:

    Have you ever made these using an air fryer? I’m kind of new to mine but I would love to try making these in it. 🙂

    1. Lil'Luna Team says:

      Yes you can definitely use an air fryer! So if you scroll down in the post, we have included instructions for doing it in the air fryer. It’s underneath a picture of the chicken fingers being fried.

  5. Sue says:

    5 stars
    Ive been making chicken fingers “wrong” all this time. I thought soaking them in the buttermilk really makes a difference and I’ll never go back to my old ways.

  6. Louis Tanner says:

    Looks delicious very interesting

  7. Joy says:

    5 stars
    These are my family’s all-time favorite chicken fingers!! We make them regularly! They are crispy & delicious!

  8. Olivia says:

    5 stars
    The grandkids love chicken tenders. Great recipe to make them all happy!