Cracker Barrel Fried Chicken Tenders

Experience true Southern comfort with Cracker Barrel Fried Chicken Tenders! Hand-breaded with love, each chicken tenderloin is coated in rich buttermilk batter and then fried to crispy perfection. Crunchy on the outside and juicy within, every bite transports you to a homestyle haven. Dip into dill pickle ranch or your favorite sauce for an extra layer of deliciousness.

Copycat Cracker Barrel fried chicken tenders on two plates.

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What Makes Cracker Barrel’s Deep Fried Chicken Tenders So Good? 

Do you think you’re too old for fried chicken fingers? Think again. These authentic-tasting Southern fried chicken tenders aren’t some kid’s meal. They are real food and really delicious to boot.

The buttermilk and seasoned flour coating is seriously crunchy and lets the chicken thoroughly cook while remaining wonderfully tender inside. It’s the best Southern fried chicken recipe especially for those who prefer chicken strips over bone-in fried chicken.

Make a bunch for dinner or your next get-together!

Why You Should Try This Cracker Barrel Fried Chicken Tender Recipe 

This is the kind of recipe that is easy to scale up and feed a lot of people, and that is a good thing because these tenders are a real crowd-pleaser. Cracker Barrel hand breaded chicken tenders are not only perfect for serving buffet-style with a variety of dipping, but you can use them in many other ways.

Check the “What to Serve With Fried Chicken Tenders” section below for more ideas.

Chicken Tender Ingredients

For a copycat version of the Fried Chicken Tenders from Cracker Barrel, you’ll need:

  • All-purpose flour
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Buttermilk
  • Water
  • Chicken tenderloins
  • Neutral oil such as vegetable oil or peanut oil

If you want to add more spices to the breading, you can sprinkle in some onion powder, garlic powder, or cayenne pepper. Some dried herbs such as oregano and thyme will also work.

Copycat Cracker Barrel fried chicken tenders ingredients.

How to Make This Cracker Barrel Fried Chicken Tenders Recipe

To set up for breading the chicken tenders:

  1. Create a breading station by placing two wide shallow containers (pie tins work well) side by side. Line a rimmed baking tray with parchment paper or set a wire rack on top and place it next to the containers.
  2. Fill the first container with the flour, salt, and freshly ground pepper. Whisk to combine the flour with the spices. 
  3. Fill the other container with the buttermilk and water. Stir. 

To bread the chicken tenders:

  1. Use one hand to coat a chicken tender in the seasoned flour mixture and shake off the excess. 
  2. Drop the floured chicken into the buttermilk mixture.
  3. Use your other to remove the chicken tender and drop it back in the seasoned flour. With your dry hand, transfer the breaded chicken tender to the baking tray. 
  4. Repeat with the remaining chicken tenders. Let the chicken tenders rest on the wire rack for at least 20 minutes before frying. 
Collage of breading chicken tenderloins to make Cracker Barrel fried chicken tenders.

To fry the chicken tenders:

  1. Pour the oil into a heavy-bottom pot. If you have a deep-fryer, now is the perfect time to use it. 
  2. Heat the oil over medium-high heat to 350 degrees F. Use an attachable deep-fry thermometer to ensure you are at the proper temp. 
  3. To prevent the oil from lowering too much, deep fry the chicken in batches for four to six minutes, depending on the size of your tenders. Flip the tenders after about three minutes. 
  4. Drain the excess oil from fried chicken by placing the fried tenders on a clean wire rack over a baking sheet. Use an instant-read thermometer to check if the chicken is at least 165 degrees F.
Copycat Cracker Barrel fried chicken tenders over mashed potatoes and topped with gravy.

What to Dunk Your Fried Chicken Tenders Into

Cracker Barrel hand breaded chicken tenders are good on their own but better when dipped. Use your favorite sauce or try one of these tasty opinions:

  • Brown Gravy. This rich sauce made from pan-dripping and roasted veggies adds a new level of flavor to the chicken. Don’t want to make it from scratch? Use a mix!
  • White Gravy. Don’t have the ingredients on hand for Brown Gravy? You can make white gravy with everyday staples. 
  • Honey Mustard Sauce. Sweet and tangy is a great way to describe honey mustard sauce, a classic complement to deep-fried chicken. 
  • BBQ Sauce. Whether you love Kansas City BBQ sauce or Alabama’s famous white BBQ sauce, it’s going to be great with these tenders.

What to Serve With Fried Chicken Tenders 

French fries are the most common side dish for chicken tenders, but there are many more options. 

How to Store Southern Fried Chicken Tenders

You can keep extras in the fridge for up to three days. Once the tenders are cool, layer them on paper towels and put them in a food-safe bag or wrap them with several layers of plastic wrap and store them in the refrigerator. 

For longer storage, lay the cooled chicken tender in a single layer on a lightly greased baking tray and freeze. Once the chicken is frozen, transfer the tenders to a freezer bag and store them for up to a month. Thaw the tenders overnight in the fridge before reheating. 

What Is the Best Way to Reheat Them

An air fryer is ideal for reheating deep fried chicken tenders. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can use your regular oven:

  1. Preheat the air fryer or oven to 350°F.
  2. Place the chicken tenders into the air fryer. If you use an oven, lay the chicken on a wire rack over a baking tray before reheating. 
  3. Heat the chicken for about 7 minutes (15 minutes if using a regular oven). Flip the chicken tenders halfway through the cooking time. 
  4. Serve hot. 
Copycat Cracker Barrel fried chicken tenders, mashed potatoes, and gravy on two plates.

Love Cracker Barrel? Try these copycat recipes!

Favorite Chicken Recipes

Check out more of my easy chicken dinner recipes and the best copycat Cracker Barrel recipes on CopyKat!

Copycat Cracker Barrel fried chicken tenders on two plates.

Cracker Barrel Fried Chicken Tenders

Make crispy Cracker Barrel fried chicken tenders at home with this easy copycat recipe.
5 from 1 vote
Print Pin Rate Add to Collection
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Cracker Barrel Recipes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 325kcal


  • oil for frying
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 pound chicken tenders


  • Pour 3 to 4 inches of oil into a deep fryer or large pot and heat the oil to 350°F.
  • Set up a dredging station: Combine the flour, salt, and pepper in one bowl and the buttermilk and water in another.
  • Pat the chicken tenders dry with a paper towel and season with salt and pepper.
  • Dredge the chicken tenders in the seasoned flour, dip them in the buttermilk mixture, and dredge again in the seasoned flour.
  • Deep-fry the chicken tenders in the hot oil until done, about 7 to 8 minutes. Flip once while frying to make sure both sides are golden brown. Remove the chicken from the oil and drain on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet.


Calories: 325kcal | Carbohydrates: 26g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 6g | Trans Fat: 0.04g | Cholesterol: 76mg | Sodium: 746mg | Potassium: 500mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 86IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 48mg | Iron: 2mg

About Stephanie Manley

I recreate your favorite restaurant recipes, so you can prepare these dishes at home. I help you cook dinner, and serve up dishes you know your family will love. You can find most of the ingredients for all of the recipes in your local grocery store.

Stephanie is the author of's Dining Out in the Home, and's Dining Out in the Home 2.

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