These flavorful chicken tenders are tossed in a delicious seasoning, coated in crushed saltine crackers, and fried to a beautiful golden brown!
Some folks think of chicken tenders as “kid food.” But not at our house. We love to splurge on the deliciousness of a perfectly crafted fried chicken finger served with the perfect dipping sauce – like my honey mustard, ranch, or comeback sauce.
But making them doesn’t have to be complicated.
One of my favorite ways to make this dish involves seasoning the chicken tenderloins with salt, pepper, garlic powder, some poultry seasoning, and my secret weapon… chicken bouillon for a punch of flavor.
While I do often make chicken tenders using the same buttermilk marinade as my Almost Famous Fried Chicken, the wet marinade adds a degree of difficulty when it comes to getting the breading to stick to the chicken. So, for this recipe I like to use dry seasoning and a quick 3-part dredge.
After seasoning the chicken, I toss it in plain all-purpose flour. This helps create a dry foundation for our breading to stick.
Next, it’s a quick dip in egg wash. This is the glue that’s going to hold our breading on.
Then it’s a generous coating in crushed saltine crackers – often pressing a little to get the coating thick enough.
After a short rest, they’re ready to be fried.
Saltine Crusted Chicken Tenders
- 2 pounds chicken tenderloins (tenders)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon poultry seasoning
- 1 chicken bouillon cube, crushed (or 1 teaspoon chicken bouillon powder)
- 2 sleeves saltine crackers (about 72 crackers)
- 2 large eggs, beaten until smooth
- 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
- vegetable or peanut oil for frying
- In a small bowl, whisk the salt, pepper, garlic powder, poultry seasoning, and chicken bouillon together. Add the chicken tenders to a large bowl or zip-top bag. Add the seasoning and toss to coat. Set aside and allow to marinate for about 20 minutes.
- Finely crush the saltine crackers using a food processor, food chopper, or by placing the crackers in a zip-top bag and crushing with a rolling pin.
- Set up a dredging station by placing the flour, beaten eggs, and crushed crackers in three separate, similarly-sized shallow dishes.
- Toss each chicken tender in flour. Dip in the egg wash, coating both sides, then allow the excess egg to drip away. Coat in the cracker crumbs pressing a little to get the crumbs to stick. Place the prepared tenders on a large baking sheet.
- Pour 2 to 3 inches of cooking oil into the bottom of a deep dutch oven. Heat over medium heat to about 365°F. Once at temperature, cook 3 to 4 tenders at a time in the oil for about 4 minutes, or until golden brown and the center reads 165°F on an instant read thermometer. The exact cook time will vary based on the thickness of the chicken. Drain on a large pan lined with a cooling rack. Adjust the heat to maintain the oil temperature at about 365°F. Work in batches keeping the cooked tenders in a warm oven until serving.