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KFC Baked Oven Fried Chicken Tenders

30 mins Cook
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Copy of NomNom Recipes 1 24

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!

 Fried Chicken KFC Baked Oven Fried Chicken Tenders

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:

  1. 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!
  2. 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!

KFC Baked Oven Fried Chicken Tenders

KFC Baked Oven Fried Chicken Tenders

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!
prep time
10 mins
cooking time
30 mins
total time
40 mins




  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1 tbsp celery salt (Note 1)

  • 2 tsp garlic powder

  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme

  • 1/2 tsp dried basil

  • 1/2 tsp dried oregano

  • 1/2 tbsp coarsely ground black pepper

  • 1 tbsp mustard powder

  • 2 tbsp paprika (not smoked, use sweet or plain)

  • 1 tsp ground ginger

  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper or ground pure chili (optional - for KFC "Zinger" flavour!)


  • 1.2 - 1.4 lb / 600 - 700 g chicken tenderloin (10 - 12 pieces) (Note 2)

  • 1 cup buttermilk OR 1/3 cup plain yoghurt + 2/3 cup milk (Note 3)

  • 1 cup flour

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

  • 1/4 cup cornmeal (Note 4)

  • 2 tbsp butter (unsalted)

  • 1 tbsp vegetable or canola oil

  • Oil spray



Mix the Spice Mix in a bowl.

Take 1 tablespoon of the Spice Mix and put it in a ziplock bag along with the chicken and buttermilk. Allow it to marinate for at least 2 hours, preferably 3, but overnight marination is the best.


Preheat your oven to 400°F (200°C).
Place the butter and oil onto a large rimmed baking tray. Put the tray in the oven for a few minutes until the butter melts. Remove it and tilt the tray to ensure the oil and butter coat the entire surface.
In another bowl, combine the remaining Spice Mix, flour, panko, and cornmeal, and mix them together. Place half of this mixture in a large ziplock bag.
Drain the chicken, removing any excess marinade, using a colander.
Transfer half of the chicken into the ziplock bag, sealing it while leaving some air inside to puff it up like a balloon. Shake the bag to coat the chicken with the seasoning. Press the coating onto the chicken firmly through the bag. Then, place the coated chicken pieces onto the baking tray.
Put the remaining coating mixture into the ziplock bag and repeat the coating process with the remaining chicken.
Spray the top of the chicken with oil and place it in the oven. Bake for 12 minutes, then flip the chicken, spray it again, and bake for an additional 8 to 10 minutes or until it becomes golden. Make sure not to exceed 25 minutes of baking, as this can cause the chicken to become dry.
Serve your oven-baked chicken tenders with your favorite dipping sauce. In this case, a Honey Mustard Sauce was used (see Note 7 for details).


While celery salt is a common ingredient in America, it may not be as widely recognized in Australia. However, you can easily find it in the herb section of Coles and Woolworths supermarkets. Alternatively, you can make your own celery salt by gently baking celery leaves until they are just dried (not burned), then crumbling them and combining equal parts of celery leaf dust and salt in a jar. If celery salt isn't available, you can use 3/4 tablespoon of regular salt as a substitute. If you can't find chicken tenderloins, you can use chicken breast cut into strips of similar size. This recipe also works well with small boneless thigh fillets, approximately 100 grams (3.5 ounces) each, or any other chicken cut that can cook within 20 to 25 minutes. If you're short on time and can't marinate, you can use 1 to 2 eggs (enough to coat all the chicken). Add 1 tablespoon of the Spice Mix to the eggs, dredge the chicken in the egg mixture, then drain and follow the remaining recipe instructions. Cornmeal consists of small, fine yellow grains and is sometimes referred to as yellow corn. It's also sold as "polenta" in supermarkets, although technically polenta is a dish made from cornmeal. The cornmeal adds extra crunch to the coating, but if you can't find it, it's okay to skip it; the chicken will still be quite crunchy. Using a bit of oil in addition to butter helps prevent the butter from browning and burning, which can happen depending on your oven's strength. While this recipe doesn't replicate the thick, craggy coating of deep-fried KFC or southern fried chicken, it comes quite close. To achieve that signature texture, deep frying or baking in a substantial amount of oil is necessary. However, this coating is still crunchy and truly captures the KFC flavor! For a Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce, simply whisk together equal amounts of Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, and honey, adding salt and pepper to taste. Nutritional information for KFC Oven Baked Chicken Tenderloins
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