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Blackened Chicken Tenders

Blackened Chicken Tenders

I’m new to Popeyes Blackened Chicken Tenders. For good reason in my opinion, like who goes to Popeyes and gets not-fried chicken?! Not me, that’s for sure. Until the Blackened Chicken Sandwich made its debut at least. My youngest kid tried it, raved about it, and suggested I try it. I’ll try anything she suggests because she knows me and my finicky tastebuds very well, and she was so right. It was delicious! So much so that I decided to try the Blackened tenders on my next visit, and I loved those too, which brings us to this recipe!

Obviously, I don’t have access to Popeyes’ proprietary spice blend so I can’t claim these are exact knockoffs of the real thing, but I do think my Blackened Chicken Tenders are just as delicious as theirs. Make a meal with these, my Gas Station Potato Wedges, and Small Batch Buttermilk Biscuits!

Blackened Chicken Tenders

Blackened Chicken Tenders Ingredients

Feel free to jump to the full recipe, but here are useful notes about the ingredients you will need to make this Blackened Chicken Tenders recipe:

  • Chicken tenderloins: Or, chicken breasts cut into strips, which is my general preference, because I hate having to remove the tendons from each one. Either or will work. You could use thighs too, but you’ll want to cook them longer.
  • Paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, seasoned salt, dark red chili powder, smoked paprika, freshly cracked black pepper, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, rubbed sage, dried thyme, granulated sugar: Our seasoning blend. You can opt for your favorite cajun, creole, or blackening seasoning instead. Remember to add salt if your blend doesn’t have any.
  • Vegetable oil: For frying. Any high smoke point oil will work.

How to Make Blackened Chicken Tenders 

Full instructions are included in the recipe below, but here is a basic overview of what you’ll need to do, along with some important tidbits to help you make the most of this Blackened Chicken Tenders recipe:

  • Make the spice blend. Combine all of the listed ingredients except the chicken and vegetable oil. This is your spice blend! Make a big batch and bottle it if you really like it. I can’t say it’s the same as Popeyes’ amazing proprietary blend, but it’s cajun inspired and it’s really good!
  • Season the chicken. Add the chicken tenders and all of the spice mix to a bowl or Ziploc bag and work them together. You want each tender heavily seasoned and thoroughly coated. No bare spots! They’re supposed to be BLACKENED Chicken Tenders! Cover them tightly and place them in the refrigerator until about 30 minutes prior to frying. 
  • Fry! Fill a large pot up about halfway with oil and preheat it to about 360°F. If you don’t have a thermometer you can test the oil temperature in a few ways: stick the handle of a wooden spoon in. If it starts bubbling, it’s ready (it’s TOO ready if bubbles loudly and vigorously so let it cool off a bit). You can also scatter a small amount of flour over the surface: if it sizzles and browns the oil is ready, but again keep an eye out for TOO ready.
  • Or don’t! Continue reading for alternative cooking methods for these Blackened Chicken Tenders…
Blackened Chicken Tenders

Cooking Blackened Chicken Tenders: Alternative Methods

My recipe calls for deep-frying these tenders – just like Popeyes does – but I know not everyone likes deep frying in their home, so here are instructions for roasting them in the oven, or sauteing them on the stovetop. If you have an air fryer I’m sure this recipe would translate very well since it works in the oven, but I don’t know for sure.

  • Oven Method: Preheat your oven to 425°F and place a wire rack over a baking sheet. Lightly oil the wire rack so the tenders don’t stick while cooking. Arrange the tenders in a single layer, leaving at least a half-inch of space between each one. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
  • Stovetop Method: Place a large (10-12″) skillet over medium-high heat and allow it to preheat for 2 minutes. After two minutes add one teaspoon of vegetable oil to the pan. Swirl it around to coat the surface, then add the chicken tenders in a single layer – cook in batches if you have to – leaving space between each one so they sear instead of steam. Let the Blackened Chicken Tenders cook undisturbed for 3-4 minutes, or until the edges become opaque, then turn them and cook on the other side until cooked through, another 2-5 minutes, depending on how fat they are and your personal preference.

Obligatory Pinterest options – 

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Blackened Chicken Tenders


  • Author: María
  • Total Time: 15 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x

Description

I wonder why Popeyes stopped calling them Naked Tenders…


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken tenderloins, tendons removed
  • 1 tbsp paprika
  • 2 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp seasoned salt, to taste
  • 2 tsp dark red chili powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper, optional
  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano 
  • 1/2 tsp rubbed sage
  • 1/4 tsp dried thyme 
  • 1/8 tsp granulated sugar 
  • vegetable oil, for frying 

Instructions

  1. At least 4 hours – preferably 8  – before you start making dinner make the spice mix by whisking all of the listed seasonings together in a small bowl. Add this mix to a large mixing bowl or Ziploc bag along with the chicken tenderloins and work them together. You want each tender heavily seasoned and thoroughly coated. No bare spots! Cover them tightly and place them in the refrigerator until about 30 minutes prior to frying. 
  2. Fill a large pot up about halfway with vegetable oil – make sure it’s a pot with high sides, we’re deep-frying! – and heat it to 360°F. Check out the post above the recipe if you don’t have a thermometer
  3. Gently drop the tenders into the oil, as many as will fit without crowding them. We want them to have room to dance around. Let them cook for about 7 minutes: when the tenders are deeply brown and floating on the surface of the oil, they’re ready (160-165°F is the right internal temp for chicken). Drain them on a wire rack over a baking sheet and keep warm in a 200°F while you fry the rest of the chicken. Dassit! 

Notes

  • Don’t want to fry them? Oven and stovetop instructions are included in the post above the recipe! 
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Cook Time: 10
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