Man, oh man, do I love fried chicken tenders! There's something so satisfying about the crunch of the crust and the juiciness of the meat! However, an autoimmune disease begged me to go gluten-free a few years ago and fried chicken had to be reinvented. I don't indulge very often, but when I want good gluten-free fried chicken tenders, they have to be perfect! I've made them so many different ways trying to find the best method, and by golly, I think I've got it. Finally.
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UPDATE: January 17, 2023. Since reversing many of the symptoms of my autoimmune disease, I will sometimes use unbleached, all-purpose, organic flour now. I've also made these with cassava flour with good results.
Buttermilk marinade for Fried Chicken Tenders
I start with eggs and buttermilk. I don't always let the tenders marinate in the buttermilk mixture, but it's not a bad idea! The buttermilk tenderizes the meat, but I don't find that a huge necessity … especially with "tenders".
How to get a crunchy coating
To get even more of a crunch in the batter, I add some cornmeal to gluten-free flour blend. I've also used gluten-free panko with good success. I season well with salt and pepper, granulated garlic, and smoked paprika.
After I coat the pieces with the buttermilk mixture, I dredge them in the flour mixture.
Tips for Gluten-free Frying
- Use a cast iron skillet. I think everyone understands the value of these work horses in the kitchen, but if you don't have one, use the heaviest skillet you have … like stainless steel.
- Use avocado oil or tallow. They both have a high smoke point and even though you are frying at medium heat, I think it's the best alternative for healthy frying.
- Don't use much oil. It's simply not needed. Use just enough so that the chicken can fry and not burn. You might have to add a bit as you cook in batches.
- Give the chicken pieces room to fry uncrowded. If you have too much in the skillet, you'll create more steam between the pieces and you won't get as crunchy a crust.
- Gluten-free flour blends tend to brown a bit more quickly than regular flour so be sure to keep the burner set at about medium.
My favorite sauce with gluten-free fried chicken tenders is Sriracha Mayonnaise, but feel free to offer BBQ sauce, Ranch Dressing, Honey Mustard, or ketchup. And just like that, your gluten-free world just got tastier!
Other recipes you might like:
Gluten-free Fried Chicken Tenders
- 1-1½ pounds chicken tenders
- 2 eggs
- ⅓ cup buttermilk
- ¾ cup 1:1 gluten-free flour blend
- ½ cup cornmeal medium grind
- 1½ teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- salt and pepper to taste
- avocado oil for frying
- Whisk the eggs and buttermilk together in a medium size bowl.
- Mix the gluten-free flour blend, cornmeal, granulated garlic, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper together on a platter.
- Put the tenders in the egg/buttermilk mixture, turning them around so they are well coated.
- One by one, remove the tenders from the egg/buttermilk mixture and lay them in the flour mixture on the platter. Using a pair of tongs or your hands, coat the tenders generously with the flour.
- Heat a skillet over medium heat. When it is hot, add enough avocado oil to amply cover the bottom of the skillet. Lay the tenders in carefully to avoid splashing hot oil. Only put as many tenders as will fit comfortably with space around each. You'll probably have to fry in batches.
- Fry on one side until golden and until you can see the chicken turning white around the edges, 8-10 minutes. Flip to the other side and fry till golden, 8-10 minutes.
- Serve with Sriracha Mayonnaise, ketchup, BBQ sauce, Ranch dressing, or honey mustard.