Thursday, April 14, 2011

Crunchy Saltine Chicken Tenders

Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips, seasoned and dusted with flour, dipped into beaten egg, and rolled into well crushed saltine crackers - a southern favorite!

Crunchy Saltine Chicken Tenders

I guess we all have a go-to chicken strip recipe since you can really stretch out a chicken breast by cutting it into strips. Two or three large chicken breasts literally will make a huge platter of strips. When made at home with whole chicken breasts purchased on sale, they are economical and a super thumbs-up kid favorite (even for us big kids)!

Crunchy chicken tenders can be done in a number of ways - coated with plain self rising flour, or dusted and then rolled in panko bread crumbs, corn flake cereal, and even potato chips - but I think my most favorite way to cook them is this one. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts, sliced into tenders and seasoned, lightly dusted in flour and then dipped in beaten egg and rolled in crushed up saltine crackers. My mama used to love to use finely crushed crackers and cracker meal, so it's old school I guess, but then so am I!

I love using my deep fryer, which cooks them quickly and evenly and doesn't leave them greasy. I've also baked them first, then flash fried them, which cuts down on fat absorption but adds another step that a lot of folks don't care to deal with.

You can also still use the cracker coating but change this up a bit by flattening the breast for a chicken fried chicken, or by cutting them into larger tenders or planks. Add variety by using your favorite seasonings or adding different herbs to the flour.

Serve these tenders with a glass of iced tea, a nice mixed garden salad, and the always fabulous Mississippi Comeback Sauce, the lovely spicy honey mustard dipping sauce I just featured, or a dressed up store-bought barbecue sauce, or homemade marinara dipping sauce.

Check out more of my fried chicken recipes on Pinterest!

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Recipe: Crunchy Saltine Chicken Tenders

©From the Kitchen of Deep South Dish
Prep time: 10 min |Cook time: 35 min | Yield: About 4 to 6 servings

  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder, or to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon Cajun seasoning (like Slap Ya Mama), or to taste
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup self-rising flour
  • 2 sleeves saltine crackers, crushed (about 4 cups, Nabisco Original recommended)
  • Cooking oil, for frying

Cut chicken breasts into strips and season both sides lightly with salt, pepper, garlic powder and Cajun seasoning. Dredge each piece into the flour to coat lightly; shake off excess. Dip each strip into the egg, then roll in the crushed saltines, pressing crumbs into the strips; set aside.

Heat 1 inch oil in a large skillet over medium to medium high heat or preheat deep fryer to 375 degrees. Carefully slide the tenders in the oil, frying until browned and cooked through, turning at least once.

Serve with Mississippi Comeback Sauce, barbecue sauce, spicy honey mustard, homemade marinara, jalapeno dipping sauce, or your favorite dipping sauce, a nice side salad, and a glass of southern iced tea.

Variations: Also works well with pork chops and a firm white fish - catfish, grouper, haddock, cod, halibut and swordfish are good options. May also substitute panko bread crumbs, crushed corn flake cereal, pretzels or potato chips for the saltines. A couple of additional coating suggestions from our Facebook readers - try cheesy crackers like Hot and Spicy Cheez-its or Goldfish crackers, coat them with crushed French fried onions (like French's), or try a combination of saltines, goldfish cracker, and a little Parmesan cheese for a change! May also cut the tenders into nuggets.

Tailgate Tip: Cut chicken into thin strips and fry as above. Thread chicken on wooden skewers for an easy handle. Serve cold, or toss on grill over indirect heat, just to warm through if desired. Serve with one of the above dipping sauces.


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©Deep South Dish
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Posted by on April 14, 2011

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  1. I may try this very soon; I have boneless chicken breasts in the freeaer!

  2. oh, that is some yummy deliciousness right there! And I love the bake/deep fry method, never would of thunk it! anne

  3. I love oven baked chicken tenders. They are so quick and easy after work. I don't think I've made them with just yummy saltine crackers. I will be trying these soon!

  4. Mary - I can almost feel the crunchiness from here.

  5. I love chicken tenders--makes me feel like a little kid when I eat them. I'll have to try your method of baking first then a flash fry for color.

  6. its so hard to actually get chicken to stay crisp in the oven but it looks like you did the perfect job! I love this version using saltines and will be trying it soon for my 2 yr old son!

  7. I don't know why I haven't tried saltine coating on chicken before now. I cook pork chops this way, pan fried all the way and they are fabulous. So now I have to try your chicken strips! Thanks Mary!

  8. This sounds wonderful, I'll try it this week!

    Thank you!

    Have a wonderful day!

  9. I made this AGAIN for dinner tonight & my husband just loves these saltine chicken tenders! Thanks so much for sharing the recipe:))))

  10. You're so welcome!! And thanks so much for taking the time to come back & leave a comment - I appreciate that!

  11. I like using a combination of saltine crackers, goldfish crackers, and Parmesan cheese :)

  12. For supper tonight!!!! Love your site! I use it frequently!!!

  13. Hope you enjoyed the crunchy tenders Jess!

  14. Replies
    1. Of course! In the notes I included "May also substitute panko bread crumbs, crushed corn flake cereal, pretzels or potato chips for the saltines." They are all good!!

  15. I've been making these at least 2x a month for the last year or so! They are so good! There is very little foods that get children of any age along with adults of any age excited the way chicken tenders can! Last week I used half Saltines and half finely crushed French's Fried Onion Straws for a Lil xtra sumn sumn...Spectacular!!!

    1. Oh yes indeed - those fried onions are awesome as a coating!

  16. These are great! I just made them for the second time, by request! Has anyone tried coating the and then freezing? My thought was that I could then bake and flash fry. Any thoughts?

    1. Thanks so much! I have not personally prepared them for the freezer but I see no reason why you couldn't! Just prepare and coat, then put them on a baking sheet lined with non stick aluminum foil or parchment and flash freeze. Transfer to a freezer bag or freezer container. You should be able to bake them straight from frozen, though you may need to go a tad longer - just be sure to check them so as not to overcook them!

  17. Mary, I’ve been making chicken tenders for God knows how long. I’ve coated them with a lot of things, from Panko to Corn Flakes, but I’ve never tried making a cracker meal. It seems like a natural to me. Now I have to convince my wife that it’s not full of carbs. We’ve both lost a lot of weight, but her more so than me. She’s now almost 20 lbs. lighter than when we wed 16 years ago this coming Friday.
    Recently, I’ve shied away from a lot of frying (except for okra), and tried to bring a healthier spin on things. I’ll either make a traditional dredge and then bake, or for something lighter and actually tastier, in my opinion, I’ll brush the chicken, or whatever, with mayonnaise and then dip it in the coating; and then bake it.
    I’d like to share this with you and I’ll send you the full recipe by e-mail if you’d like. It’s very simple, light and tasty and took a while for me to perfect. I simply coat chicken tenders with mayo and then ground pistachios (that have been seasoned), and bake them. I briefly warm an 8”-10” flour tortilla in a dry pan, remove and add some baby greens to the tortilla, then place 3-4 tenders on top, then close, roll and fold the ends, and slice on the bias. That’s served with spring greens and a homemade honey mustard sauce on the side; for dipping and as a dressing. Have a great day.
    God bless

    1. Reducing those carbs is a great way to shed 20-30 pounds fairly quick, I've done it too! My problem is I just love those darned carbs so much that I can't sustain it. That pistachio coating does seem to ring a bell. I've still got lots of those low carb cookbooks around - not that I've used them since starting this blog LOL! I do love the way that wrap sounds Chris - I'll have to give it a try sometime!

  18. I had to leave a reply. I know this recipe is old, but these tenders are delicious! I found this recipe last year and have been cooking these for my family ever since. Thank you!

  19. I was making chicken, but was out of breadcrumbs, looked up a substitute and stumbled upon the saltines-which I had a whole box of. I decided to try it, only I used about 2 tbs of brown mustard and about 1 1/2 tbs of ranch dressing to my egg wash, along with the cajun, salt, garlic. Mixed it real well and I have to say, it came out phenomenal. I'm not certain I will ever buy breadcrumbs again. Thank you!

    1. I'm so glad that you enjoyed the cracker coating & love what you did with it Ashley!


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