5 from 1 votes

Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders

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These Nashville Chicken Tenders are so delicious they’re dangerous!

There’s something addictive about spicy chicken.  Maybe it’s the satisfying crunch, followed by the steaming, tender white meat, topped with the not-unpleasant burning sensation that no amount of milk will quell. 

No matter how ridiculously hot it is, we keep coming back for more, almost daring ourselves to take another bite.  It’s just that good.  Thanks to TikTok, this KFC Copycat recipe is making the rounds, and it’s so hot it’s viral!

pile of hot chicken tenders on a plate.

Why you will love making Spicy Chicken

Spicy chicken tenders have been on the KFC menu for 5 years, but never before have they been as popular as now.  In fact, thanks to the social media buzz surrounding Nashville Chicken Tenders, people have been scrambling to get their hands on them, and some KFC locations have actually run out of the spicy sauce used to make the hot chicken tenders. 

Lucky for us, we don’t need to live in the south or go to a KFC to enjoy our own spicy chicken dinner, because now we can make it ourselves!

These Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders are as easy as the TikTok videos make them out to be, and they can be made on the stovetop, baked in the oven, or made using an air fryer.  For more sensitive taste buds, you can lessen the amount of cayenne pepper (I promise not to tell!).

While this recipe may seem overwhelming, it just has a lot of seasoning steps, so I have broken it down easily for you to follow: Marinade or Dry Rub, Batter, Fry, Smother in Nashville Hot Sauce. 

Ingredients

Marinade

  • chicken breasts, sliced into 6 pieces each or 12 chicken tenders
  • salt
  • garlic powder
  • onion powder
  • ground black pepper

Chicken Dipping Batter

  • Bowl 1 : Flour Only.
  • Bowl 2: Egg, Flour and Water Blend.
  • Bowl 3: Flour, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, mustard and paprika.

Hot Sauce Coating

  • cayenne 
  • paprika
  • brown sugar
  • black pepper
  • garlic powder
  • salt
  • 1 cup hot oil (from frying chicken) 

How to make Nashville Tenders

Seasoning the Chicken

Steps Shown 1-6:

Get started first with Marinade and allow the chicken to sit in spices for the best flavor. Place chicken tenders onto a plate and season with the above spices. Cover and refrigerate for 1 hour. 

6 image collage with plate of chicken being seasoned with each separate seasoning.

Prep Batter Bowls/Plates

Steps Shown 7-10:

  • Plate 1: Place 1/2 cup of flour into a shallow dish.
  • Plate 2: Place egg, 1/3 cup flour, and water into a separate shallow dish and whisk well.
  • Plate 3: In a third shallow dish, place 2 cups of flour, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, mustard, and paprika, and mix well. 
4 image collage of how to batter chicken with each dish laid out.

Cook/Fry Chicken

Steps Shown 1-6:

Heat oil over medium-high heat. I had about 1-2″ in a skillet. 

Remove chicken from the refrigerator and dredge in flour, egg, and finally seasoned flour, coating all sides.

Fry in oil for 5 minutes. Flip halfway if the oil does not completely cover the chicken. Drain on paper towels.

Repeat if working in batches with chicken.

Turn oil to high heat and add more if necessary. Heat for 5 minutes. Return chicken to the oil and fry again for 2 minutes, flipping halfway if the oil doesn’t coat the chicken completely.  The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.

Drain on paper towels. 

collage of 6 images with battering and frying chicken breasts.

Coat with Hot Sauce 

Steps are shown 7-10

Mix all the spices together in a bowl and pour one cup of hot oil from frying the chicken into the bowl. I’d recommend using a plastic or metal measuring cup to remove oil from the pan. If you use glass, it could break. Use caution as the oil is very hot.

Coat each chicken piece with sauce and serve.

4 collage images of KFC copycat chicken being dipped into Nashville hot sauce.

Best Dipping Sauce

These bad boys are perfect all on their own, but I get it: sometimes you need to slather your chicken in sauce. Here are my favorite dipping sauces with these spicy tenders:

Copycat Cane’s Sauce: I recently made a copycat recipe for Raising Cane’s sauce, and I think it’s the ultimate dip for these chicken tenders.  Because the chicken is already so spicy, the sweetness of the Cane’s sauce is really amazing.  

Ranch: Of course, good ‘ole ranch is always good with spicy chicken, and these Nashville tenders taste great with it.  

Buffalo Blue Cheese: There’s a reason hot chicken is often paired with blue cheese sauce.  The creamy cheese cuts through the spiciness and gives your taste buds a welcome, palette-clearing change.

Honey Mustard: I’m also partial to honey mustard sauce, again because the sweetness compliments the hot chicken so wonderfully.

fingers holding a chicken tender with bite out of it.

How to Oven Bake

You will never get closer to the crunch without pan frying. However, if you want an alternative way to cook in the oven, this is what I do.

  1. Start by preheating your oven to 400 degrees F.  Prepare the chicken by following the same basic recipe, starting with seasoning and chilling the chicken for an hour.  Dip the seasoned chicken in the egg mixture, dunk in the flour and spices, and shake off any excess. 
  2. Place chicken on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and drizzle with a high-heat oil such as canola, coating the chicken.  This will help your tenders get crispy as they bake. 
  3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.  While the chicken is cooking, prepare your hot Nashville sauce by heating the oil on the stovetop and then adding your spices. 
  4. Once the chicken is finished baking, remove them from the oven and dip them in the hot, spicy oil mixture. 

How to Air Fry

Many people love prepping chicken using an Air Fryer. Like the baking method, the air fryer is also healthier than the stovetop method because it uses less oil, but in my opinion, doesn’t come close to the copycat (its hard to substitute that greasy chicken!).

To air fry, set the temperature to 375 degrees F and cook the chicken for about 15 minutes, turning once halfway through.  While the chicken cooks in the fryer, prepare your spicy sauce.  After the chicken is done, place it in a bowl and pour the sauce mixture over them, then turn the pieces so they coat evenly.

  • Be sure to let air fryer preheat fully before adding your chicken, otherwise, you may wind up with less-than-crunchy tenders.
  • Only cook as many tenders in your air fryer as can fit on a single layer.  You may have to do multiple batches, but I almost think it’s better that way because they are always fresh from the fryer and as crispy as possible.
pile of chicken on a white plate.

FAQ’S

How to reheat leftovers.

While leftovers with these Nashville Chicken Tenders are a rare occurrence (they’re just THAT good), it has been known to happen from time to time.  Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.  Reheat in the air fryer at 375 degrees for approximately 4 minutes. 

If I think I am going to have enough to warrant leftovers, I try to only coat the chicken I know I will use with the spicy sauce and save the rest for when I reheat the chicken.

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5 from 1 votes

TikTok Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders


Prep Time 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time 8 minutes
Copycat KFC Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders are golden brown extra crispy chicken tenders with mouthwatering heat that are perfect for dipping into ranch. This TikTok Viral recipe brings your taste buds to life with flavorful seasoned chicken smothered in the best homemade hot sauce – maybe ever!

Ingredients
 

  • vegetable oil for frying
  • 12 chicken tenders or 2 large chicken breasts cut into 6 pieces a breast

Dry Rub Marinade

Chicken Batter

Bowl 1

  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour

Bowl 2

  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 4 oz. water

Bowl 3

  • 2 cups flour
  • 3 tbsp. poultry seasoning
  • 1 tbsp. garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp. paprika

Hot Sauce Coating

  • 2 tbsp. cayenne
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup vegetable oil saved hot from the frying

Instructions

Seasoning Chicken – Prior to Frying

  • Place chicken tenders onto a plate and season with spices listed in seasoning rub. Cover chicken and refrigerate for 1 hour. 

Battering Chicken

  • Plate 1: Place 1/2 cup of flour into a shallow dish.
  • Plate 2: Place egg, 1/3 cup flour and water into a separate shallow dish and whisk well.
  • Plate 3: In a third shallow dish, place 2 cups of flour, poultry seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, mustard and paprika and mix well. 

Frying Chicken

  • Heat oil vegetable over medium high heat. I had about 1-2″ in a skillet. 
    Remove chicken from the refrigerator and dredge in flour, egg and finally seasoned flour, coating all sides.
  • Fry in oil for 5 minutes. Flip half way if the oil does not completely cover the chicken. Drain on paper towels. Repeat if working in batches with chicken.
  • Turn oil to high heat and add more if necessary. Heat for 5 minutes.
  • Return chicken to oil and fry again for 2 minutes, flipping halfway if the oil doesn’t coat the chicken completely.  Chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Drain on paper towels. 

Hot Sauce

  • Mix all the spices together in a bowl and pour one cup of hot oil from frying the chicken into the bowl. I’d recommend using a plastic or metal measuring cup to remove oil from the pan. If you use glass, it could break. Use caution as the oil is very hot.
  • Coat each chicken piece with sauce and serve.

Notes

Best Dipping Sauce 

Ranch, Copycat Canes, Buffalo Blue Cheese, or Honey Mustard

How to Air Fry

To air fry, set temperature to 375 degrees F and cook the chicken for about 15 minutes, turning once halfway through.  While the chicken cooks in the fryer, prepare your spicy sauce.  After the chicken is done, place in a bowl and pour the sauce mixture over them, then turn the pieces so they coat evenly.
  • Be sure to let air fryer preheat fully before adding your chicken, otherwise you may wind up with less-than-crunchy tenders.
  • Only cook as many tenders in your air fryer as can fit on a single layer.  You may have to do multiple batches, but I almost think it’s better that way because they are always fresh from the fryer and as crispy as possible.

Nutrition

Calories: 1110kcal | Carbohydrates: 95g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 63g | Saturated Fat: 46g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 137mg | Sodium: 1879mg | Potassium: 1100mg | Fiber: 8g | Sugar: 6g | Vitamin A: 3510IU | Vitamin C: 11mg | Calcium: 197mg | Iron: 11mg

Nutritional Disclaimer: The nutritional data provided here is auto-calculated and intended for your convenience only. As it’s generated via automation, its accuracy may be compromised. For precise nutritional insight, please compute the values utilizing the actual ingredients in your recipe through your chosen nutrition calculator or application.

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5 from 1 votes
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