These KFC Oven Fried Chicken Tenders are my homemade version of KFC’s famous recipe! They’re baked in the oven, delivering that KFC flavor and satisfying crunch with just a fraction of the calories. These Baked Fried Chicken Tenders are sure to be a hit with any crowd!
I have a confession to make: I have a soft spot for KFC. While I don’t indulge in it regularly (thankfully), every few months or so, I get that irresistible craving. I must admit, though, that I feel guilty afterward. KFC tends to be heavy and excessively greasy, and it leaves me feeling less than great.
Despite my occasional regret, I find myself in the drive-through because I’m too embarrassed to be seen inside KFC. It’s a love-hate relationship, for sure.
I’ve pondered the absurdity of craving something that doesn’t sit well with me afterward. Then it dawned on me: it’s like champagne. So enjoyable while you’re sipping it, but the next morning, not so much fun (unless it’s genuine French champagne – did you know that? It’s true!).
So, I set out on a mission early this year to create the “ultimate” oven-baked KFC-style chicken. I’ve experimented with about ten different recipes I found online and tried some of my variations.
Here’s what I’ve come to accept: you can never replicate the taste of deep-fried chicken in the oven. You can achieve truly crispy oven-baked wings using a unique technique I learned from America’s Test Kitchen (Have you tried my Truly Crispy Baked Buffalo Wings and Truly Crispy Baked Wings with Honey Garlic Sauce?). But to get that thick, craggy crust that defines KFC and Southern Fried Chicken, you need to fry it. In a significant amount of oil, where the chicken floats rather than sits in a thin layer.
So, I’ve reluctantly surrendered to this fact.
However, there’s a silver lining to every cloud! Just because you can’t recreate an exact KFC copycat in the oven doesn’t mean you can’t make something similar.
And that’s precisely what I’m sharing with you today. This chicken truly captures the KFC flavor! It’s a blend of two outstanding recipes I discovered from two talented bloggers:
- The “11 Secret Herbs & Spices” from Jo’s Homemade KFC recipe on Every Nook and Cranny. After trying various spice mixes, I believe hers comes the closest!
- The coating mixture from Jen’s Best Baked “Fried” Chicken on Carlsbad Cravings. Jen has perfected the ratios of flour, panko, and cornmeal (polenta/yellow corn) for the crunchiest coating I’ve encountered.
So, I’ve combined these two recipes with a few of my tweaks because, well, I have my way of doing things.
I hope you enjoy it! I’m genuinely obsessed with this recipe and happily made it multiple times to get it just right before sharing it with you!