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Cajun Chicken Tenders

Cajun Chicken Tenders are kid and adult approved! These tender chicken strips are full of flavor and perfect for dunking in your favorite dipping sauce. 

Whether you call them chicken tenders, chicken fingers or chicken strips, there is no doubt that deep fried pieces of chicken is always a favorite. Kids love them because they are finger food and fun to eat. Adults love them because…well for the same reasons. They are just plain fun to eat! Not to mention delicious. 

Especially when the chicken strips are seasoned every step of the way like they are in this recipe. They are first marinated in a cajun buttermilk mixture, then double coated in a cajun seasoned flour mixture before being deep fried to perfection. The result is a crunchy, tender, flavorful bite that the whole family is sure to love. 

What ingredients you’ll need to make Cajun Chicken Tenders: 

ingredients for cajun chicken tenders on white background.

CHICKEN TENDERLOINS: Chicken tenderloins are the long muscle strip beneath the breast. For this recipe, you can use chicken breasts that you’ve cut into strips as well.

BUTTERMILK: Buttermilk helps to tenderize the chicken which is why it is used so often when making fried chicken. 

HOT SAUCE: To give a little kick to the marinade. I use Crystal for this but you could also use something similar, like Franks.

FLOUR/CORNSTARCH: A combo of the two is what is going to give you that crispy exterior. 

EGG/MILK: This will give the flour something to stick to. 

CAJUN SEASONING: You can make your own DIY cajun seasoning or you can use your favorite. 

BLACK PEPPER: Adds a touch of smoky heat to the flour. 

Step by Step Photos and Instructions: 

Whenever I make coated fried food I like to set up an assembly line of sorts. It helps keep things moving smoothly. Just follow along in the step by step photos to see just how I do it. 

STEP #1: Marinate your chicken in buttermilk and cajun seasoning. You’ll want to do this for at least 2 hours. After it has marinated pat it dry. 

STEP #2: Set up your assembly line with the dried chicken tenders, seasoned flour and an egg wash.

STEP #3: Coat the chicken. First dredge the chicken in flour, then dip in the egg wash and then once more into the flour mixture.

STEP #4 Fry chicken, in batches so you don’t overcrowd the pan, at 350 degrees F until browned and cooked through. Transfer to a paper towel lined plate. Sprinkle with salt as soon as your remove them from the oil.

What dip do you use with chicken tenders?

The dip you choose when you’re eating chicken tenders is almost just as important as the tenders themselves. After all, dunking food in a sauce is also part of the fun. Around here we like to dip ours in homemade honey mustard, creamy ranch dip, and garlic aioli.

Dipping Cajun Chicken Tender in honey mustard dressing.

When it comes to sides, I like to serve these with air fryer french fries or homemade mashed potatoes like they do when you get the Cajun Chicken Littles at the Cheesecake Factory!

Storage and Leftovers:

These are best eaten the day that they are made but will crisp up in the air fryer!


What is a chicken tenderloin?

It is the long muscle underneath the breast of the chicken and is the most tender part of the bird.

Do you have to remove the tendon from chicken tenderloins?

You do not need to remove the tendon! It is a personal preference but the tendon is edible. I’ve done it both ways and honestly, removing the tendon can be more effort than it’s worth.

Where is cajun spice from?

Cajun spice hails from Louisiana. It’s a blend of spices that usually includes paprika, cayenne, garlic, onion and

Can’t get enough cajun flavor? Try these other Cajun recipes:

Note: This post was originally published in 2009. It was updated with a modified recipe, new photos and nutrition information in 2022. 

Cajun Chicken Tenders

Chicken Tenders are kid and adult approved! These tender chicken strips are full of flavor and perfect for dunking in your favorite dipping sauce. 
Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Marinade Time 2 hrs
Total Time 30 mins
Course Main Dishes
Cuisine Southern
Servings 6 Servings
Calories 751 kcal



  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning divided
  • 2 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 - 2 pounds chicken tenders
  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 tablespoon black pepper
  • 1 1/4 cup canola oil for frying


  • In a bowl whisk buttermilk and 1 tablespoon of Cajun seasoning. Add chicken tenders and mix them around until they are all coated. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Once chicken is done marinating, remove from buttermilk mixture and pat dry.
  • In one bowl whisk together eggs with 1/4 cup milk. In another bowl combine flour, corn starch, remaining Cajun seasoning and black pepper.
  • Working in an assembly line dredge the dried chicken in the flour mixture then dip in the egg then dredge once more in the flour to "double coat" the chicken.
  • In a large pan, heat oil over medium heat to 350 degrees F. Once the oil is hot add chicken tenders and fry until golden brown. Don't overcrowd the pan! Fry in batches if needed, about 3 minutes per side. Once browned, remove from fryer, lay on paper towels sprinkle with a little salt. Serve immediately.


Please plan ahead as the chicken tenders do need to marinate for 2 hours. 
My number one rule when frying anything: DON'T OVER CROWD THE PAN. If you do this temperature of the oil will drop and your chicken won't get as crispy as you like as it will steam rather than fry. If your pan isn't big enough to fit all of the chicken without overcrowding simply cook the chicken in batches. 
You do not need to remove the tendon from the tenderloin. It is a personal texture preference. 
Nutrition information is for estimation purposes only. 


Calories: 751kcalCarbohydrates: 37gProtein: 32gFat: 53gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 14gMonounsaturated Fat: 31gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 131mgSodium: 198mgPotassium: 588mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 1316IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 63mgIron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @lifesambrosia or tag #lifesambrosia!
Keywords: cajun chicken littles, cajun seasoning, chicken, chicken tenderoloin, honey mustard

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Recipe Rating

  • Reply
    June 2, 2024 at 3:03 pm

    Nevermind. It’s above instead of in the printable instructions.

  • Reply
    Serena J
    June 2, 2024 at 3:00 pm

    Why has no one asked where the hot sauce goes? It was left out of the instructions.

    Please advise.

    Thank you

  • Reply
    October 5, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Today was my second time cooking these. My family love these chicken tenders. Mine weren’t cajun even though I used McCormmick cajun seasoning. But they were still very delicious. I really like this recipe.

  • Reply
    May 15, 2013 at 5:45 am

    There are several cajun seasonings on the market. Which one did you use in the recipe? I am looking forward to making these over the weekend.

    • Reply
      May 15, 2013 at 7:07 am

      Hi Joyce, I use King of the Cajun. Enjoy these!

  • Reply
    June 29, 2012 at 9:34 am

    I love honey mustard dressing but I have never had one as good as the one I had at a community meatball and spaghetti day on a trip to the US. It was home made and unfortunately I never got the recipe. I am so going to try this :) But Des, which vinegar do you use for it?

    • Reply
      June 29, 2012 at 7:08 pm

      Hi Katie- I am glad to read that you are finding so much inspiration in the blog. I hope your bf enjoys the Mac N’ Cheese. For the honey mustard dressing in this recipe, I use distilled white vinegar or white wine vinegar. Hope this helps! and thanks for reading :)

  • Reply
    February 22, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I’m sorry if this is a stupid question, but do you do anything to the chicken tenders first? Or do you take them straight out of the pack and coat them?

    • Reply
      February 22, 2012 at 8:31 pm

      No question is stupid Victoria :) I just took them out of the package and then proceeded with the buttermilk marinade.

  • Reply
    March 28, 2009 at 10:37 am

    Emily: I am so happy to hear that you enjoyed these! And the fact that a former vegetarian also enjoyed them is pretty awesome too :)

  • Reply
    March 27, 2009 at 11:06 pm

    I made this chicken for my boyfriend who recently started to eat meat again after being a vegetarian for some years, and it was definitely enough to convince him that meat is great! the chicken was tender and flavorful with an amazing crunch!

  • Reply
    March 5, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Brilliant! I love chicken tenders and I love cajun food. I can’t believe I never though to put them together before.

    • Reply
      March 9, 2009 at 5:49 pm

      Thanks Desmoine!

  • Reply
    March 5, 2009 at 9:08 am

    I LOVE the cajun kick to these!!!

    • Reply
      March 5, 2009 at 12:26 pm

      Thanks Rosa and Jennifer!

  • Reply
    March 5, 2009 at 6:41 am

    That chicken and it’s dip look extremely scrumptious! Wonderful!



  • Reply
    February 24, 2009 at 7:09 pm

    With two little ones, we are huge chicken strip eaters in our house. Great to see a new recipe to switch things up again! Thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    February 24, 2009 at 1:43 pm

    How funny – I made chicken tenders for dinner last night! Mine weren’t cajun but still pretty tasty. I’m bookmarking your recipe for next time. Thanks!

    • Reply
      February 25, 2009 at 3:33 pm

      Michelle: How funny! I bet yours were good too! :)
      finsmom: You’re welcome! I hope the little ones like them! :)


    Hey! I'm Des!

    Welcome to Life’s Ambrosia where Dinner is served and memories are made. Here you will find over 1000 tried and true recipes for every possible occasion. In the last 10 years, this blog has helped millions of families put dinner on the table and create food memories. Let me help you too.

    Read more »

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