These crispy, spicy buffalo chicken tenders are baked instead of fried for a healthier take on classic buffalo wings. This easy appetizer has all the flavor with way less fat.
Buffalo wings are one of my favorite indulgences, but honestly what’s the best thing about buffalo wings? The sauce, right?
Of course. So good news! That sauce is just as good on lean healthy BAKED chicken breast pieces as it is on fried chicken wings! (But if wings are what you’re in the mood for, you must try these baked garlic Parmesan chicken wings!).
That being said, turns out it’s not easy to get baked chicken to be as crispy as fried, especially when you’re drenching it in sauce. I had to test this recipe multiple times to get results I was happy with. But it was so worth it!
So, after a lot of trial and error, here are my top keys to crispy baked chicken.
Tips for CRISPY baked buffalo chicken tenders
- Double-Breading: These chicken tenders are double-breaded using two types of breadcrumbs. Usually breaded chicken is coated first in flour, but I used regular breadcrumbs instead for extra crunch. I used plain breadcrumbs, but you can use seasoned if you like. Then they are coated a second time in…
- Panko breadcrumbs: Panko breadcrumbs are lighter and crispier than regular breadcrumbs, so they’re perfect for the outer coating.
- Cooking spray: Before baking, the breaded chicken tenders are sprayed with cooking spray on one side, flipped halfway through baking, and sprayed again on the other side. The oil helps them crisp up as they bake and also creates a barrier which keeps the breading from getting mushy after they’re tossed in buffalo sauce.
- Toss in buffalo sauce right out of the oven: If you allow the chicken tenders to sit on the baking sheet after removing from the oven, moisture will cause the undersides to get soft. For best results, remove them from the baking sheet immediately when they come out of the oven and toss them quickly in the buffalo sauce.
- Serve right away: This may go without saying, but baked chicken tenders will be at their crispiest right out of the oven, so be sure to serve them right away.
How to Make Buffalo Chicken Tenders Step-by-Step
- Preheat the oven to 425 F. Slice the chicken breasts into strips and season on both sides with salt and pepper.
- In one shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk. Place the regular breadcrumbs in a second bowl and the panko breadcrumbs in a third bowl.
3. Working with one chicken strip at a time, dunk in the egg mixture, shaking off the excess.
4. Roll it around in the regular breadcrumbs, making sure to coat completely.
5. Dunk again in the egg mixture.
6. Finally, roll it in the panko breadcrumbs making sure to coat completely.
7. Place the strips in one layer on a large baking sheet coated with cooking spray, or lined with a baking mat, parchment or foil. Spray evenly with cooking spray and bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes.
Flip the strips, spray the second side with cooking spray and return to the oven for an additional 5-10 minutes, until chicken is cooked through.
8. While the chicken is in the oven, in a medium bowl, whisk together the hot sauce, melted butter, and garlic powder. I would describe this sauce as a “medium” heat level. If you prefer a milder buffalo sauce, taste and add an extra tablespoon or more of butter, or reduce the butter if you prefer a spicier version.
9. Remove the chicken strips from the baking sheet as soon as they come out of the oven, and transfer to a large bowl.
10. Add as much buffalo sauce as desired (I use almost all of it!) and toss gently to coat.
Options for serving buffalo chicken tenders
If you prefer, you can also serve the buffalo sauce as a dipping sauce on the side instead of coating the tenders.
And if you have kids at your table too, and those kids, like mine, prefer ketchup to buffalo sauce, just keep a few aside for them before tossing in the sauce.
Definitely serve these buffalo chicken tenders with cool blue cheese or ranch dressing on the side! Carrot and celery sticks are great too.
Can I freeze these chicken tenders?
Yes! The best time to freeze them is after breading, but before baking. So go ahead with steps 1 through 7 above, then freeze the uncooked chicken strips in a single layer on the baking sheet. Transfer the frozen tenders to a freezer bag, taking as mush air out as you can, and freeze for up to 6 months.
Bake from frozen, adding about 5-10 minutes to the cooking time, and toss in buffalo sauce straight out of the oven.
Crispy Baked Buffalo Chicken Tenders
- 1 1/2 lbs chicken breast sliced lengthwise into strips
- 2 eggs
- 1/4 cup milk
- salt and pepper
- 1 cup plain regular breadcrumbs or use seasoned breadcrumbs
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- 3/4 cup cayenne pepper hot sauce such as Frank’s Red Hot
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter melted (*see note)
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- ranch or blue cheese for dipping
- Preheat the oven to 425. Grease a large baking sheet with olive oil, or line with a silicone baking mat, parchment or greased aluminum foil.
- In a shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs and milk.
- In another shallow bowl, spread out the plain regular bread crumbs.
- In a third bowl, spread out the panko bread crumbs.
- Season the chicken breast strips with salt and pepper and, one by one, dredge them first in the egg mixture, then in the regular bread crumbs, then back in the egg mixture, and then last in the panko bread crumbs, pressing to adhere.
- Place the coated chicken strips on the prepared baking sheet and spray evenly with cooking spray.
- Bake in the preheated oven for 10 minutes, flip, spray the other side with cooking spray, and bake an additional 5-10 minutes until golden and cooked through.
- While the chicken is baking, make the Buffalo wing sauce. In a small bowl, whisk together the hot sauce, butter and garlic powder.
- As soon as the chicken tenders come out of the oven, place the tenders in a large bowl, pour the desired quantity of hot sauce over them (I use it all!) and toss gently to coat.
- Serve immediately with ranch or blue cheese dressing for dipping.
Hi! I’m Ann and I blog at Our Happy Mess. I’m all about fast, fresh, and family-friendly recipes. I believe cooking from scratch can not only be doable but FUN, no matter how busy life gets!
You can find more of my recipes at Our Happy Mess.