These homemade Lemon Pepper Chicken Tenders are insanely delicious! They’re bursting with bright & zippy, lemony-flavor and then coated/dipped in a dreamy honey butter sauce…marinated in seasoned buttermilk for the juiciest tenders. Psst, skip that chicken spot and make a batch of these crazy-good tenders at home!
- 2 lbs chicken tenderloins (about 14 tenders)
- 1 cup whole buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning, divided
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, divided
- 1 cup all-purpose flour (see notes for gluten-free needs)
- peanut or vegetable oil, for frying
For the honey butter sauce:
- 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 1/2 cup pure honey
- 1 1/2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning
- 1 tablespoon lemon zest
- 1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Then place the tenders in a large resealable plastic bag or a large container that can be fitted with a lid. Cover the tenders with buttermilk, 1 tablespoon lemon pepper seasoning, lemon zest, lemon juice, hot sauce, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika.
- Use your hands (fitted with disposable gloves, if desired) to massage everything together, making sure all chicken is fully coated in the mixture, and then seal/cover. Transfer the vessel into the refrigerator to let marinate for at least 3 hours or overnight for best results.
- In a shallow pie plate, combine the remaining 2 teaspoons lemon pepper seasoning, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika, and flour. Whisk the mixture together to thoroughly combine- then set the seasoned flour aside.
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat. For optimal precision, use a deep fry thermometer to heat the oil up to 350-370°F.
- Back to the chicken, set a baking sheet aside. Take a piece of chicken from the buttermilk brine, shaking off any excess, and coat the chicken into the seasoned flour mixture. Be sure to generously coat the chicken, filling in all un-floured gaps and crevices. Shake off any excess and set the dredged chicken onto the baking sheet. Repeat this process until all chicken tenders are fully coated.
- While the oil is heating, allow the chicken to rest on the baking sheet.
- Once the temperature is reached, carefully place the chicken into the hot oil. Note: I like to add about 4-5 chicken tenders in at a time to avoid overcrowding. Fry the chicken until golden brown and crispy, about 2-3 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches at least 165°F. Then place the fried chicken onto a clean baking sheet fitted with a wire rack (or lined with paper towel).
- Repeat the process until all chicken tenders have been fried. Make sure the oil is back up to 350°F in between each batch of frying chicken. Let the chicken tenders rest while you prepare the sauce.
- To make the honey butter sauce: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter has melted through, pour in the honey. Add in the lemon pepper seasoning, lemon zest, and minced garlic. Stir the mixture well to combine and allow the pan to come up to a slight boil. Once achieved, remove from heat.
- Place the chicken tenders into a large bowl and pour the honey butter sauce over them, toss to coat. Alternatively, you can serve the sauce in small bowls for individual-style, dipping pleasure instead. Serve the lemon pepper chicken tenders immediately. Enjoy!
- Please read the blog post in its entirety for more tips + tricks.
- Gluten-free flour can be substituted for all-purpose flour.
- If using lemon pepper seasoning that does *not* contain any salt, use some kosher salt- to taste, in the flour dredge.
Keywords: lemon pepper, lemon pepper chicken, chicken tenders, honey butter sauce, lemon pepper chicken tenders, homemade chicken tenders