Kid-Approved Homemade Chicken Tenders

Chicken tenders (and chicken fingers, and chicken nuggets) are ubiquitous on the plates of most American children… and the same could be said for many adults! Many rely on the convenience of fast food restaurants and frozen packages from the grocery store. There is no denying the convenience of those options, but if you have a little more time to spare, why not give these a try? They are simple, not overpowering for a young palate, and don’t use many ingredients. If you are able to eat peanuts, I strongly recommend peanut oil for superior taste and frying, but feel free to use whatever frying oil works best for you.

I have not added very specific quantities for this recipe because it varies so much from batch to batch, and personal taste. I have estimated as best as I can, but this can serve as a great base for your own experimentation. I was inspired to use self-rising flour for frying after trying some Lenten recipes from The Festive Fast, by Marigoula Kokkinou and Georgia Kofinas. I enjoyed several recipes from this book and highly recommend it!


  • Chicken breasts, sliced no more than 1 inch thick (I used three large breasts in this photo)
  • garlic salt (or plain salt or seasoning of choice)
  • self-rising flour (several cups, but it’s hard to measure exactly so have plenty extra!)
  • water
  • peanut oil, to fry (enough to be at least 2 inches deep in your pot)

Lay out the sliced chicken in a single layer, and sprinkle liberally with garlic salt on all sides. Allow chicken to sit for about 30 minutes while the salt absorbs.

Pour frying oil into your pot and begin heating over medium high. It is very convenient to have a candy thermometer for this, especially if you are unfamiliar with how hot the oil should be. We are aiming for about 350-375°F (I believe that’s about 175°C).

Make a runny batter of about 1 cup of self-rising flour to 2 cups of water, whisked thoroughly to remove lumps.

Pour a cup or two of self-rising flour onto a large plate or bowl for dredging the chicken. You may choose to add additional seasonings here, but I refrain in order to keep the salt content down, and the flavor mild… it’s for my kids after all.

You will likely need to fry the chicken in batches, so take the first batch of sliced chicken and gently press it into the dredging flour, and leave it for a minute or so to let the flour absorb excess moisture. Lift the slices and gently shake or tap off excess flour, then quickly dunk into the batter. Lift the slices up and hold them over the bowl for a moment so excess batter can drip off, then return to the dredging plate and turn the slices gently once or twice to absorb moisture.

Returning the chicken to the dredging plate after a quick dunk into the batter.

When the oil has reached the right temperature, gently place the slices in, being careful not to overcrowd. They should sizzle and bubble immediately. Fry until golden brown, turning gently once or twice, this should take only a few minutes if you sliced them thinly.

Remove them from the oil with tongs or a slotted spoon, and place on a rack (or plate with paper towels) to drain.

Repeat this process until all the slices are cooked.

We enjoy ours with plain old ketchup, but you can go as gourmet as you want and try just about any sauce you can think of! This recipe is almost absurdly simple, and I wouldn’t have thought to share it if it wasn’t for the fact that my children (and husband) become absolutely ecstatic when they find I am making this for dinner. Sometimes, simple is best!

Sometimes, it really doesn’t take much to please a hungry family!



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