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Crispy Hot Honey Chicken Tenders

Feb 5, 2024 | 0 comments

Ultra juicy, ultra crispy fried chicken tenders are easier to make than you’d think and use cupboard staples. Toss with sticky hot honey sauce, for a serious crowd-pleasing winner perfect for entertaining, game day or a fakeaway night in.

Plate of crispy hot honey chicken tenders with hot honey sauce on the side.

I like to think of these lovely chicken tenders as elevated chicken nuggets. They’re just so incredibly moreish – as fried chicken tends to be. These are wonderful for entertaining because they’re easy enough to eat casually with your fingers and always go down a storm. Plus, because tenders are small, they cook quickly so are less fussy than making regular fried chicken.

The sweet, spicy, sticky, sour hot honey sauce takes them to another level and is so easy to make yourself – you just need three ingredients and you can make it as the chicken cooks.

I’m also sharing my tips for foolproof deep-frying at home (I promise it’s not scary!) AND how to make the tenders ahead of time.

Prefer not to deep-fry? You can make them in the air fryer! Cook for 10 minutes at 400F/200C, flipping halfway through and drizzling them liberally with oil.

Ingredients

Ingredients for hot honey chicken tenders laid out and labelled.
  • Chicken tenders. If you can’t find chicken tenders, use chicken breasts (or thighs) and slice them into strips. Always use free-range.
  • Yogurt. Typically, chicken tenders are marinated in buttermilk, but I find plain natural or Greek yogurt to be a perfect alternative. It’s something I tend to have on hand anyway, and there’s no wastage (like there often is with buttermilk as it’s not a versatile ingredient).
  • Flour + baking powder. Regular plain flour is fine, or you could use self-raising flour and skip the baking powder. You can also use gluten-free flour.
  • Oil. You want to use oil with a high smoke point for deep-frying (so not olive oil). Vegetable oil like avocado, rapeseed or canola oil is great.
  • Spices. The dried thyme, ground turmeric, paprika and salt are used to season both the marinade AND the crispy coating.

If you’re making your own hot honey sauce, you’ll need honey, chilli flakes and lemon juice.

How to make them

Mix your yogurt marinade in a large bowl, then add the chicken tenders and toss to completely coat them. Set aside while you prep the crispy coating (you can marinate the chicken in the fridge for up to 24 hours if you like).

Mix the ingredients for your crispy coating, then toss the chicken through, making sure to cover every part with the flour mixture. You can get your hands in there and kind of scrunch up the chicken into the flour mixture – this will give you lots of lovely craggy bits which will get super crispy when you fry them.

Heat your oil to 390F/180C – the best and easiest way to check your oil is at the right temperature is to use a thermometer. They’re cheap and readily available from Amazon and are one of my most-used kitchen pieces. Set yourself up with a wire rack set over a baking tray. Carefully lower your tenders into the hot oil.

Fry the chicken for about 5 minutes, using a fish slice to move the pieces around in the oil to ensure even cooking. Carefully transfer the cooked chicken to the rack. Depending on the size of your pot, you can fry 3 to 4 pieces at once but it’s important to not overcrowd the pot – this will help to keep the coating nice and crispy. Make the hot honey sauce while the chicken is cooking, then toss the crispy chicken with the sauce, plate up and serve.

Tips for foolproof deep-frying at home

I know that deep-frying can feel a little scary, but I promise it’s a lot easier than you might think, especially if you follow these tips.

  • Monitor the temperature of your oil. This is why it’s SUPER helpful to have a probe thermometer. You can guess that the oil is at the right temperature by doing the wooden spoon in the oil trick (place the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil and if it bubbles up rapidly around it, it’s good to go). But you’ll get the best results if you know for sure. This is because if the oil is too cold, the coating won’t crisp up and you’ll end up with soggy tenders. And if it’s too hot, the coating will burn before the chicken has a chance to cook.
  • Don’t overcrowd your pot. This is tied to the temperature of the oil too. Adding the chicken into the oil will lower the temperature, so if you put too many pieces in at once, the temperature will drop too far and by the time it comes back to temperature, the soggy damage will already be done. Even if it takes a little longer, it’s worth just frying a few pieces at a time.
  • Move your chicken around in the oil. I like to use a fish slice to do this. It will help the chicken cook evenly and ensure it’s lovely and crispy all over.

Watch how to make them

Got a question?

How can I tell the chicken is cooked?

If your oil is at 390F/180C – it SHOULD be perfectly cooked through in 5 or so minutes. If you’re worried, just cut into a piece to check it’s white all the way through. Or, use your probe thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken – when cooked, it should be at least 165F/75C.

What can I serve with the tenders?

I love to pair them with some pickles and a dipping sauce (aioli or gochujang aioli are great choices), along with some loaded wedges or a crunchy slaw.

Can I make them ahead of time?

You can! I’ve done this while catering for a party of 40, and it worked perfectly. Fry the chicken as per the recipe, but don’t toss it with the hot honey sauce. Let the fried chicken cool completely on the wire rack, then transfer it to containers and pop into the fridge. The next day, you can reheat it for 8 minutes at 350F/150C fan on a wire rack set over a baking tray in the oven (this will let the air circulate and crisp up the coating). After that, continue with the recipe and serve.

Do you have your free Fakeaway Favourites e-book?

Fakeaway Favourites book cover superimposed over a bowl of colourful salad.

It’s filled with my absolute favourite takeaway dishes you can make at home!

From a quick pad thai and saag paneer, to Korean fried chicken, beef rendang and chicken satay, you’ll love exploring the book.

Like this recipe? You might enjoy these chicken ideas too

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Plate of crispy hot honey chicken tenders with hot honey sauce on the side.

Crispy Hot Honey Chicken Tenders


Description

Ultra juicy, ultra crispy fried chicken tenders are easier to make than you’d think and use cupboard staples. Toss with sticky hot honey sauce, for a serious crowd-pleasing winner for entertaining, game day or a fakeaway night in.


Ingredients

Units Scale

For the chicken tenders –

  • 1 cup Greek yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1lb/500g chicken tenders
  • 1 cup plain flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • Vegetable oil, for frying

For the hot honey sauce –

  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 teaspoons chilli flakes
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice

Instructions

  1. Marinate the chicken. Add 1 cup of yogurt, 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of dried thyme, 1 teaspoon of ground turmeric, 1 teaspoon of salt and the crushed garlic to a mixing bowl, then mix to combine. Add the chicken tenders and mix through the marinade, making sure every piece is well coated. Set aside while you prepare the coating (you can marinate it for up to 24 hours in the fridge).
  2. Prepare the coating. While the chicken marinates, combine 1 cup of flour with 1 teaspoon each of salt, paprika, turmeric, dried thyme and baking powder in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Dredge the chicken. Prepare a plate or tray to place the dredged chicken on. Dunk each chicken tender into the flour mixture, using your hands to completely coat the pieces. You can kind of scrunch the flour into the chicken – this will create those lovely craggy bits that help create the lovely crunchy coating.
  4. Heat the oil. Pour enough oil into a large, heavy-bottomed pot to come roughly halfway up the sides. Turn the heat to high and heat the oil to 390F/180C. The easiest way to do this is to use a thermometer, or you can place the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil. If the oil bubbles up around the handle, it’s good to go. 
  5. Fry the chicken. Place a wire rack over a baking tray to put the freshly fried chicken on to keep it crispy. Once the oil is at the right temperature, carefully lower 3 – 4 pieces of chicken into the oil (this will depend on the size of your pot – make sure you’re not overcrowding it). Use a fish slice to move the chicken gently around in the oil, and fry for 5 minutes, until the coating is super golden and crispy. Transfer the fried chicken to the wire rack, then repeat with the rest of the chicken tenders.
  6. Make the hot honey sauce. While the chicken is frying, add the honey, chilli flakes and lemon juice to a small pot over medium heat. Mix for a couple of minutes, as the honey bubbles up and becomes much more runny. Remove from the heat.
  7. Toss with the sauce and serve. Transfer the chicken tenders to a large bowl, then pour the hot honey sauce all over the top. Toss the bowl (or carefully use tongs) to coat the chicken in the sauce, then transfer to a plate to serve. Enjoy while hot and crispy.

Notes

MAKE AHEAD: Follow the recipe up until tossing the chicken in the sauce, then leave the tenders to cool completely on the wire rack. Transfer to containers and store in the fridge. The next day, you can reheat them in the oven on a wire rack (to make sure the hot air can circulate and evenly crisp up the chicken) for 8 minutes at 300F/150C fan. Once hot and crispy, toss with the sauce and serve.

STORAGE INSTRUCTIONS: The tenders will keep well for 3 days in the fridge – reheat in the microwave, in the air fryer or in the oven (8 minutes at 300F/150C fan). 

AIR FRYER? Skip the deep frying and cook them in the air fryer instead if you like. Cook the tenders for 10 minutes at 400F/200C, turning them over halfway through and spraying them liberally with oil.

SERVING SUGGESTIONS: I love pairing the tenders with a pile of pickles, loaded crispy wedges and crunchy slaw, maybe with some aioli or gochujang aioli on the side for dipping.

  • Prep Time: 30
  • Cook Time: 15
  • Category: fakeaways
  • Method: deep frying
  • Cuisine: american

Keywords: chicken tenders, fried chicken

Welcome!

I’m Kate, the creator behind Dished. I love creating flavour packed, simple (ish) recipes for you, designed for every day and special occasions.

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