Copycat Popeye's Chicken Tenders


Copycat Popeye's Chicken Tenders

Learn to make a homemade version of the delicious spicy chicken strips

Copycat Popeyes Chicken Tenders
Copycat Popeyes Chicken Tenders

These chicken tenders are better than any you'll find at a fast food place. Nothing can truly beat homemade fried chicken. This chicken has a crispy, homemade breading with a kick of perfectly flavorful cayenne and paprika. But don't let that crackling exterior fool you, the chicken is so tender and juicy on the inside that you won't believe your taste buds.

Serve these tenders with a side of ranch or another favorite sauce and you are good to go. The combination of hot sauce and cool ranch is amazing for summer cookouts or any other time you feel the craving for delicious breaded chicken. This fried chicken recipe is especially great for an outdoor family gathering. It's a real crowd-pleaser that will be requested again time after time.



  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 12 chicken tenders (about 1 1/2 pounds)
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup hot sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • vegetable oil to fill skillet to 2-inch depth
  • blue cheese dressing, ranch dressing or your preferred sauce for dipping


  1. Place buttermilk and hot sauce into a thick zip-top bag and add the chicken.  Massage with your fingers to coat all the pieces well and chill several hours or overnight.

  2. In another zip-top bag, combine flour, cayenne, black pepper and paprika.  In a flat bowl or deep plate combine egg with buttermilk, hot sauce and salt and beat well.  

  3. Using a deep skillet or wok, add vegetable oil to a 2 inch depth and heat over medium hot heat until it reaches 350º F on an instant read or deep fry thermometer. While oil is heating, arrange 2 wire cooling racks on bake sheets lined with foil. Remove chicken from its overnight marinade and place on one of the racks to drip and drain several minutes.   When oil reaches 350º F, dip pieces of chicken into the buttermilk mixture, then back into the bag of flour, shaking to remove excess. Set on the wire rack to drip and dry again a few minutes before frying.

  4. Fry pieces of chicken about 5 minutes (depending on size of the strips) turning with tongs until the chicken is evenly browned and cooked through. Drain on the second (clean) wire rack for a few minutes before serving with your desired dipping sauce.

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This my go to recipe for good chicken tenders. For crispier tenders, I double dip. Dip the chicken in the flour mixture, then dip them in milk/egg mixture. Then dip in flour mixture again. Voila! Crispy chicken! Also, I use self-rising flour and double the seasonings.

I also love Popeye's chicken and don't have one close to home. I love the spicy kick it has and after looking through the recipe, I can't wait to try it. I think I will borrow my son's airfryer though! I love fried food but don't like making it at home!

Love Popeye's. I haven't tried this recipe yet, but I'm definitely adding it to the list for when I have that itch. D

I love chicken tenders. These look really delicious. Thanks for the great recipe!

Love Popeyes Chicken of any kind but if you are taking your whole family and grand kids it gets pricey so I am so glad to see a recipe for it. I like when you can make it yourself because you can control the heat. Some like it real spicy some spicy and some not spicy at all. I make fried chicken a lot and I will try this recipe next. My grand kids ask me every time they see me bring out chicken "are you going to fry it." Thanks for recipe. Any other dipping sauce recipes?

I don't live near a Popeye's so I am grateful for this recipe! Thanks!!

The chicken stays nice and moist, and the flavor is very like Popeye's; however, the batter wasn't as thick as at the restaurant, and wasn't crispy or crunchy at all. I'll need to tweak that a bit for next time.

Yeah, these were good. Good flavor, moist chicken. I like things spicy - so would add some heat to the batter or chicken before doing. Would try to get a little crispier on the outside. The blue cheese dressing was good too!

This chicken was pretty tender. Next time I will add some hot sauce to the coating to spice it up.

I loved these tenders. The outside wasn't crispy, but I thought the taste made up for it.

I really enjoyed these. I LOVE homemade chicken tenders, and these had a good taste.

These chicken tenders had a wonderfully airy exterior. They could have used a little more flavor and I would add more spices next time.

They were okay. The coating doesn't stick to the chicken, but I think with a little testing it'd be perfect.

I find that if you coat the chicken, then place on a baking rack refrigerate for 30 minutes, they cook beautifully and the coating always stays on. Good luck.


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