Fried Chicken Strips Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 20 min.
Here's how to deep-fry or bake crispy, golden chicken strips, plus tons of ideas for how to serve them.

Updated: May 23, 2024

Everyone should know how to make fried chicken strips. For one, who doesn’t love fried (or baked) crispy chicken? Two, chicken strips are sneakily versatile, something you can serve as easy party appetizers, a weeknight dinner or meal-prep for lunches. And they’re so easy to pull together, that you’ll wonder why you ever bought the frozen bagged stuff.

All you need for this fried chicken strips recipe is boneless, skinless chicken breast, an egg mixture for dipping, seasonings and saltine crackers, which become the crunchiest coating. Our recipe calls for deep-frying the chicken, but you can easily bake these in the oven. They’ll still be super crispy.

From there, the possibilities are endless: Fold chicken strips into a sandwich wrap, slice them for a salad topping, slather ’em with red sauce and melted cheese, use on top of pizza or dip them into barbecue sauce. And, yes, they’re kid-friendly, just like homemade chicken tenders, but decidedly more grown-up thanks to the (mild) seasoning and larger size.

Ingredients for Chicken Strips

  • Chicken: Boneless, skinless chicken breasts is the best cut of chicken for strips. They cook quickly and stay super tender and juicy with the crunchy coating. Slice the chicken in thin strips before cooking to ensure that the meat cooks evenly, and each bite is nicely coated.
  • Saltines: Saltines a super crunchy when crushed and come pre-seasoned with salt. You may use panko, another kind of crushed cracker or one of these other substitutes for bread crumbs.
  • Spices: Seasoning the breading adds lots of savory flavor to these chicken strips. This recipe calls for a simple, all-purpose blend of garlic salt, dried basil, paprika and pepper.
  • Eggs and milk: Milk contains lactic acid, which helps to tenderize the chicken, while the egg’s thickness helps the crumbs adhere, and its high protein content browns nicely.
  • Oil for frying: Like other deep-fryer recipes, make sure to use an oil with a high smoke point. Canola, safflower, peanut, corn, soybean and sunflower oils are all good choices.

Directions

Step 1: Prepare the breading

Overhead shot of crushed saltines, garlic salt, dried basil, paprika and pepper in a bowl on grey marble backgroundTMB Studio

In a shallow bowl, combine the crushed saltines, garlic salt, dried basil, paprika and pepper. In another shallow bowl, beat the egg and milk until combined.

Overhead shot of beating egg and milk in a bowl using whisk on grey marble backgroundTMB Studio

Step 2: Bread the chicken

Overhead shot of dipping chicken into egg mixture; then cracker mixture; keeping it on side tray using tongs; grey marble background;TMB Studio

Dip each piece of chicken into the egg mixture, then dip into the cracker mixture, making sure to coat both sides with breading.

Step 3: Fry

Overhead shot of deep-fat frying chicken strips in an electric skillet on grey marble backgroundTMB Studio

In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375°F. Fry chicken, a few strips at a time, for two to three minutes on each side, or until golden brown.

Editor’s Tip: Don’t crowd the pan with the chicken strips, or the oil temperature will drop, resulting in soggy chicken. Fry in batches and allow the oil to come back up to temperature before adding more chicken.

Step 4: Drain

Drain the chicken strips on paper towels, keeping them warm, while you repeat Step 2 with the remaining chicken strips. Serve hot for the crispiest coating.

Fried Chicken Strips in Wire Mesh Basket on a Wooden Surface and Fried Chicken Strips in Two Small Plates with French Fries and Tomato Ketchup Next to it.TMB Studio

Recipe Variations

  • Change up the breading: Switch the Saltines for plain bread crumbs (store-bought or homemade bread crumbs work great), panko or gluten-free bread crumbs.
  • Try a different cut of chicken: If you prefer a richer chicken tender, try using boneless, skinless thigh meat. Be sure to slice the thighs so they’ll cook evenly, and expect them to take a few extra minutes to cook through.
  • Spice it up: While the recipe includes a versatile spice mix, you can change it up to suit your tastes or your recipe. Spicy cayenne pepper, taco seasoning, chili powder, smoked paprika and Old Bay seasoning are great options.
  • Add Parmesan cheese: Toss shredded Parmesan into the bread crumbs to add extra umami flavor.

How to Store Chicken Strips

Leftover chicken strips should be kept in the refrigerator. Transfer them to an airtight container and store for up to four days. They taste delicious reheated in an oven or toaster oven, or enjoyed cold.

Can you freeze chicken strips?

Yes, you can freeze fried chicken strips. Allow the chicken to cool completely before transferring to an airtight container or freezer bag. Seal and freeze for three to four months. When ready to eat, defrost in the fridge overnight. To crisp up the breading, we suggest baking the strips rather than microwaving them. Bake at 375° until heated through.

Chicken Strips Tips

Fried Chicken Strips Served In A White Plate with Some French Fries and Tomato KetchupTMB Studio

What’s the best way to cut chicken breast for chicken strips?

Slicing the chicken breasts into thin strips allows the meat to cook quickly and evenly. To easily cut chicken breasts, lie them flat on a cutting board. Place your non-dominant hand flat on top of the breast to keep it still. Working carefully, slice a horizontal line from the thickest part of the breast toward the thinnest. Since raw chicken can be slippery, this process is easier if you freeze the chicken breasts for a half hour before slicing; that will firm them up without freezing them solid.

Can you use chicken tenderloins for chicken strips?

While chicken tenders commonly refer to any thinly sliced chicken strip, chicken tenderloin also exists! It’s a separate muscle that sits just behind the breast of a chicken. (When you buy whole chicken breasts, the tenderloin is sometimes included; there will be a white “string” where the two muscles meet.) You may use chicken tenderloin in this recipe: it will be quite tender and cook quickly.

What’s the best oil to fry chicken strips?

To deep-fry, you must use a cooking oil with a high smoke point, which is a technical term for the temperature at which the oil begins to break down (which causes a rancid flavor) and, even worse, to smoke and burn. The best oils for frying include peanut oil, safflower oil and canola oil. These oils also have a neutral flavor that lets the flavors of your fried foods shine. Here are more tips to learn how to deep-fry like a pro.

Can you bake chicken strips?

Yes, you can definitely bake breaded chicken strips! While deep-frying results in extra-rich chicken, oven chicken strips are still crunchy and delicious. They’re also a bit healthier, as they’re lower in fat. After breading the chicken as in Step 1, place the strips on a greased or lined baking sheet. Bake at 375° until golden brown, about 20 to 25 minutes.

Can you make chicken strips in an air fryer?

The air fryer makes especially crispy chicken strips quickly. As a bonus, since air fryers are smaller than ovens, they’ll heat up faster and won’t make the kitchen feel quite as hot if you’re cooking in the summer.

To make chicken strips in an air fryer (similar to these air-fryer chicken tenders) bread the chicken as in Step 1. Heat the air fryer to 400°. Arrange the chicken in a single layer on a greased tray in the air-fryer basket and spritz the strips with cooking spray. Cook for about seven to eight minutes, until the coating is golden brown. Then flip the tenders over and repeat on the other side. Check for pinkness inside the chicken: if you find any, return the tenders to the fryer for another one to two minutes per side.

What do you serve with chicken strips?

There are so many ways to eat chicken strips! For an easy-peasy meal or appetizer, just serve them with your favorite dipping sauce, such as barbecue, green goddess dip, ranch or aioli. Leftover chicken strips make an excellent filling for sandwich wraps or add protein to healthy salad suppers.

Watch how to Make Fried Chicken Strips

Fried Chicken Strips

Prep Time 20 min
Yield 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2-2/3 cups crushed saltines (about 80 crackers)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 1-1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch strips
  • Oil for frying

Directions

  1. In a shallow bowl, combine the first 5 ingredients. In another shallow bowl, beat egg and milk. Dip chicken into egg mixture, then cracker mixture.
  2. In an electric skillet or deep-fat fryer, heat oil to 375°. Fry chicken, a few strips at a time, for 2-3 minutes on each side or until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.

Nutrition Facts

4 ounces cooked chicken: 388 calories, 19g fat (3g saturated fat), 98mg cholesterol, 704mg sodium, 25g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 1g fiber), 28g protein.