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A plate of Nashville hot chicken tenders with pickles and dipping sauce.

Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders

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Created by Mariam E.
Addictively spicy, these Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders are going to make you sweat, in a good way! These golden-brown fried chicken tenders are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, coated with a spicy but sweet sauce your family will love.
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 2 hrs 30 mins
Course Chicken
Cuisine American
Servings 6 tenders


To marinate the chicken

  • 1 lb chicken tenders
  • 1 cups buttermilk
  • ½ cup pickle brine
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

To make coating

  • 1 ½ cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup corn starch
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp black pepper

To make Nashville sauce

  • ½ cup hot oil use the chicken fried oil
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder


  • Vegetable oil to deep fry
  • Crumbled feta cheese to serve (optional)


  • In a large bowl combine the ingredients for the marinade; buttermilk, pickle brine, hot sauce, paprika, cayenne pepper, garlic powder and black pepper. Add in the chicken tenders, cover and marinate for at least 2 hours.
  • In a shallow bowl combine the ingredients to make the coating; flour, corn starch, paprika, salt, cayenne pepper, onion powder, garlic powder.
  • Remove the chicken tenders from the marinade and dredge each piece in the flour mixture and coat them evenly. Repeat the same with all the chicken pieces and set aside.
  • In a large deep pot heat oil on a medium flame to fry the chicken pieces. Once the oil is hot enough, slowly add the chicken pieces and fry for 5-6 minutes until the chicken is cooked through and the outer is crispy and golden.
  • Prepare the Nashville sauce by combining the mentioned ingredients; In a small bowl whisk hot oil (remaining oil from the chicken fried), brown sugar, cayenne pepper, paprika, garlic powder and salt.
  • Brush the prepared Nashville hot sauce over the fried chicken pieces or pour the sauce over the chicken and toss it until evenly coated.
  • Serve the Nashville chicken tenders with a touch of feta cheese on top and ranch as a dipping sauce.


  • A cast-iron Dutch oven retains heat well, so it’s perfect for frying. Try to make sure to use a pot that has high edges to prevent oil splatter. 
  • Do not add too many pieces of chicken to the oil at once as it’ll lower the temperature of the oil.
  • As the chicken is being fried in batches, place the cooked chicken into a 250 degrees F oven to keep the tenders warm and crispy.
  • Don’t skip the buttermilk! Buttermilk is great for tenderizing chicken so the chicken tenders will melt in your mouth.
  • Be sure the temperature of the oil reaches at least 350F. If the chicken is added to the oil too early on, the chicken will be greasy as it absorbs a lot more oil.
  • This dish is best eaten immediately as the chicken does lose its crispiness over time due to the sauce. Leftovers are still just as delicious, just not as crispy!


Calories: 404kcal | Carbohydrates: 32g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Monounsaturated Fat: 13g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 52mg | Sodium: 825mg | Potassium: 438mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 1475IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 2mg
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