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Firecracker Chicken Strips

Firecracker chicken strips

By now y’all know how strongly I believe in giving credit where it’s due, so I have to start by saying that the basic idea behind these Firecracker Chicken Strips is not mine! I’ve been making them since my kids were toddlers and I know I first saw it online, but I can’t remember where! All of my Googling was in vain, but if you know please tell me.

That basic idea is chicken marinated in buffalo sauce, then breaded and fried like normal. Buffalo wings without the bones and the messy fingers: what’s not to love? If you ask my youngest kid, these are the best chicken tenders of all time! Note: we only call them Firecrackers around here, but I figured that was too vague for the title of a written recipe.

I mentioned in my latest Instagram introduction post that I’m a picky eater and when asked what my favorite food is the answer is always chicken tenders! I am not a foodie but even if I was I feel like tenders get a bad rap. They are delicious!

Firecracker Chicken Strips Ingredients

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

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts: Cut into the thinnest strips possible. They will likely be unevenly sized, too. We call them Firecrackers and the different shapes and sizes are part of the fun!
  • Buttermilk, egg: The foundation of our wet batter. We’ll combine these with hot sauce and flour to make a loose batter that coats each piece of chicken and seals in the hot sauce flavor before we dredge it in the dry mix.
  • All-purpose flour, cornstarch: Cornstarch + flour equals light and crispy breading. Undefeated combo for frying if you like crunchy-craggies. Flour also helps thicken the batter mentioned above.
  • Buffalo sauce: I always use Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce when I make these Firecracker Chicken Strips. It’s what I like to make my actual buffalo sauce out of, too. I’m sorry Texas Pete, I still love you the most!!
  • Seasoned salt, cayenne pepper: If you need to consider omitting the cayenne you likely won’t enjoy these anyway, just saying. Might I recommend you try my Bloomin’ Fried Chicken for flavor without the heat?
  • Oil: I like to fry in peanut because it imparts no flavor and can be strained and reused. For the Firecracker Chicken Strips pictured in this post I used grapeseed oil. We want something with a high smoke point since this chicken will be fried at a higher temperature than my other chicken recipes.
ingredients for Firecracker chicken strips

How to Make Firecracker Chicken Strips 

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 Firecracker Chicken Strips recipe:

  • Marinate the Firecracker Chicken Strips. Place your chicken in a bowl and season with 1 1/2 tsp of the seasoned salt. Mix, making sure each piece is thoroughly seasoned. Pour the cup of hot sauce over the chicken and stir that in. Cover the bowl tightly and place it in the fridge for at least 30 minutes but no longer than four or the vinegar in the hot sauce will really seep into the meat and throw the taste off.
  • Make the breading and batter. Grab two more medum-sized mixing bowls. Whisk together the flour (except the reserved tablespoon), cornstarch, cayenne pepper, and remaining seasoned salt in one. In the other whisk together the buttermilk, egg, and reserved hot sauce and flour. Set this aside.
  • Get ready to fry. Fill a large pot with high sides about halfway with oil. I used grapeseed oil this last time, but I normally use peanut oil. Place the pot over medium-high heat, then set up your breading station: the bowl of chicken, the flour dredge, the buttermilk mixture, and a plate or tray to hold the breaded Firecracker Chicken Strips. Also go ahead and preheat your oven to 175° F just in case you you need to keep them warm during or after frying.
  • Dredge the strips. There shouldn’t be much excess hot sauce in the bowl of chicken but if there is let it drip off. Trasnfer the chicken to the buttermilk mixture, let the excess drip off and drop into the flour. Coat the piece thoroughly, pressing the flour into the sides. Shake off the excess flour and let rest on the plate. Continue until all of the Firecracker Chicken Strips are breaded.
  • Ready, set… We’re going to preheat the oil to a higher temperature than normal, around 375°F. These pieces are small but the breading + batter combo can be thick, so a higher temp will ensure they get nice and crispy but don’t dry out inside. If you don’t have a thermometer you can check using a wooden spoon (stick in the handle, it should sizzle immediately) or spinkle over a light dusting of flour. It should brown and disappate – but not burn – pretty quickly.
  • OK now actually fry. Once the oil has reached the correct temp, go ahead and start adding strips. Drag them across the top of the oil before letting them go to prevent any splatter. Don’t add too many – you want them to be able to dance around in the oil without knocking into each other too much. Use tongs or a chopstick to turn the pieces occasionally while they fry. Cook them for 8-12 minutes, until golden browned, cooked through, and floating on top of the oil. Most likely the chicken will be unevenly sized so keep this mind and consider removing some pieces more quickly than others. I don’t, but I also like my chicken on the dry side so I pick out the smallest pieces for my plate.
  • Drain and serve. Use a spider strainer to gently lift the Firecracker Chicken Strips from the oil and transfer them to a wire rack over a baking sheet.
Firecracker chicken strips

What To Serve With Firecracker Chicken Strips

There aren’t many foods these Firecracker Chicken Strips recipe wouldn’t pair well with. I’d love to know what you made a meal out of them with! Here are some ideas to get you started:

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Firecracker Chicken Strips


  • Author: María
  • Total Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x

Description

They’re like boneless buffalo wings but without the messy fingers. 


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into thin strips
  • 2 C + 1 tbsp all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 C + 2 tbsp Frank’s RedHot Original Cayenne Pepper Sauce, divided
  • 1 C buttermilk
  • 1/2 C cornstarch 
  • 1 1/2 tsp + 1 tsp seasoned salt, to taste
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper 
  • 1 large egg
  • oil, for frying 

Instructions

  1. Place your chicken in a bowl and season with 1 1/2 tsp of the seasoned salt. Mix, making sure each piece is thoroughly seasoned. Next, pour in the hot sauce – reserving the two tablespoons – and stir that in. Cover the bowl tightly and place it in the fridge for at least an hour. 
  2. In another mixing bowl whisk together the flour (reserving the lone tablespoon), cornstarch, cayenne pepper, and remaining seasoned salt. 
  3. About 30 minutes before you’re ready to fry pull the chicken from the fridge to allow it to start to come up in temperature (so it cooks evenly). Grab yet another bowl – I know I’m sorry – and in this one whisk together the buttermilk and egg. After there are no more streaks of egg remaining, whisk in the reserved flour and hot sauce.
  4. Fill a 5-qt dutch oven about halfway with oil and place over medium-high heat, then set up your breading station: the bowl of chicken, the flour dredge, the buttermilk mixture, and a plate or tray to hold the breaded chicken strips. 
  5. There shouldn’t be much excess hot sauce but if there is let it drip off each piece, then dip it into the buttermilk. Let it drip clean and then drop into the flour. Coat the piece thoroughly, pressing the flour into the sides. Shake off the excess flour and let rest on the plate. Continue until all of the chicken is breaded.
  6. Once the oil has reached around 375°F go ahead and start adding strips. Drag them across the top of the oil before letting them go to prevent any splatter. Don’t add too many – you want them to be able to dance around in the oil without knocking into each other too much. It usually takes me 3-4 batches. 
  7. Use a chopstick or the edge of a spider strainer to turn the pieces occasionally while they fry. Cook them for 8-12 minutes, until golden browned and cooked through. They’ll be floating on top of the oil at this point. 
  8. Use a spider strainer to gently lift the strips from the oil and transfer them to a wire rack over a baking sheet. If you need to keep them warm place the baking sheet in a 175° F oven. Continue until all of the chicken strips have been cooked and serve with your favorite cooling sauce (that’s ranch around here). Dassit! 

Notes

  • Check out the post above the recipe for all my tips and suggestions! 
  • Prep Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
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