Chicken and waffles get a picnic-ready upgrade with this recipe for Waffle Batter Fried Chicken! Now you can pack up this classic treat, and easily take it wherever you want to go.
I originally shared this recipe in 2014. I've recently updated this post with additional information, including a recipe card complete with nutritional information, but the recipe itself has remained unchanged.
**Please Note - The printable recipe card with detailed instructions and complete ingredient measurements for making Waffle Batter Fried Chicken Tenders with Maple Mustard Dipping Sauce is available near the end of this post. OR click on the "Jump to Recipe" found below to be taken directly to the recipe.
The ingredient list:
**Note - The following lists of ingredients plus kitchen tools and equipment contain affiliate links (highlighted in blue) for your consideration and shopping convenience. #CommissionsEarned
- chicken tenders
- pure maple syrup
- balsamic vinegar
- all-purpose flour
- granulated sugar
- baking powder
- salt and pepper
- light-colored oil for frying (I used peanut oil)
- stone-ground mustard
Kitchen tools and equipment needed:
- large, deep-sided skillet or Dutch oven (for frying)
- mixing bowls
- spider or large slotted spoon
- measuring cups and spoons
- frying thermometer
- instant-read thermometer
- gallon zip-top bag
- paper towels
- baking sheet with rack
- kitchen timer
- air-tight container (for storage)
How this recipe came to be:
Chicken and waffles have been on my list of things to make for a long, long time but somehow they just kept getting pushed back to the end of the list of things I've wanted to cook and share with you.
Then, a few weeks ago while we were out to dinner with my sister and her husband, the subject of chicken and waffles came up (go figure that we'd be discussing food, haha) and my brother-in-law mentioned that Popeye's Chicken has a new waffle batter chicken commercial he'd seen on TV.
Right then and there, I knew what I needed to make. Pronto! No more pussyfooting around. We've got chicken to fry!!
This is my original recipe (sounds a little like KFC, don't you think?) which was inspired by the idea of Popeye's waffle batter chicken.
I've never had, Popeye's chicken, and now I won't need to, because I think my waffle batter-fried chicken tenders probably blows Popeye's chicken right out of the water!
Why this recipe works?
In my mind, you can't go on a picnic without fried chicken. It's un-American!
I've whipped up these amazing Waffle Batter Fried Chicken Tenders just for you, because why not put an ordinary fried chicken picnic over the top with awesome sauciness?!
Can the oil be saved and reused after frying?
Cool the oil completely after frying.
Then, use a funnel (along with a strainer) to filter it back into its original container (or one specifically designated for frying oil).
Store it in a cool, dry, dark area.
The frying oil can be reused 4 or 5 times.
However, I wouldn't suggest using the same frying oil to fry donuts as you would fish. Keep your sweet and savory frying oils separate.
How to store waffle batter chicken tenders:
Store them in an air-tight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
How to reheat fried chicken tenders:
I like to preheat an oven to 350-degrees Fahrenheit and then heat the tenders on a baking sheet fitted with a rack (for good heat circulation) for about 10-12 minutes.
This way they say crispy and crunchy.
What is the proper oil temperature when frying chicken tenders?
I like to fry at 325-350 degrees Fahrenheit.
That way the waffle batter chicken won't brown too quickly on the outside and still have plenty of time to fully cook on the inside.
How much oil is necessary to fry these tenders?
It really all depends on the size pan you're using.
That said, NEVER fill the pan to the top with oil. ALWAYS allow at least 2-3 inches of space between the hot oil and the top of the pan to allow for hot oil expansion, and so the oil won't bubble up and over the pan and become a danger.
What is the proper internal temperature for cooked chicken tenders?
165-degrees Fahrenheit in the plumpest part of the meat.
Don't forget to season directly after they come out of the fryer...
For extra flavor, don't forget to lightly season the waffle batter-fried chicken tenders with a light pinch of salt immediately after they come out of the fryer.
Trust me. It's a must, and you'll be glad you did!
How to transport fried chicken tenders:
Add the tenders to an air-tight, water-tight container, and pack into a cooler with ice.
Waffle-Batter Chicken Tenders are delicious served hot, warm, or cold.
The step-by-step photo instructions for making Waffle Batter Fried Chicken Tenders:
- Place the chicken tenders in a zip-top bag along with pure maple syrup and balsamic vinegar.
- Set aside to marinate for 30-40 minutes.
- Meanwhile stir together the flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper.
- In a small bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, melted butter, and maple syrup.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until blended.
- Remove the chicken tenders from the marinade and dry them with paper towels.
- Dip the marinated chicken tenders into the waffle batter allowing the excess to drip off before frying them in hot oil (325-350 degrees).
- Carefully fry the tenders on both sides until golden brown (approximately 8-10 minutes) and the chicken is no longer pink in the middle.
- Carefully remove the chicken tenders from the hot oil using a large slotted spoon and place them on a rack to drain.
- Season lightly with additional salt, if desired.
- Continue the same process with the remaining chicken tenders.
- To make the dipping sauce stir the maple syrup, mustard, and honey together in a small bowl.
- Serve the tenders with the sauce.
- Enjoy cold or hot!
Can store-bought waffle be used in a pinch?
Yep!! No problem...
For this recipe, I made my own waffle batter from scratch, but feel free to use your favorite variety of boxed waffle mix (I won't tell).
However, when you do make the Waffle Batter Fried Chicken Tenders using a boxed waffle batter, make sure to add the maple syrup into the batter along and the melted butter. You won't be sorry!
Additional summertime picnic foods:
*Crunchy Baked Italian Chicken Legs (pictured below and featured in the video)
Crunchy Breaded Baked Italian Chicken Legs are juicy and flavorful. Pack them in your summertime picnic basket and everyone will be happy!
*Chicken Avocado Picnic Wraps (not shown)
What I love about this recipe for Chicken Avocado Wraps for Picnics & On-The-Go Eating is that it’s not really a recipe at all. It’s more a method for wrapping and rolling sandwiches. I just happen to love the combination of chicken and avocado, and hopefully, you do too.
*Strawberry Basil Salad (shown below)
Sweet strawberries, tart sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil mingle together nicely in this sweet and savory Strawberry Basil Salad. They’re then dressed with light and tasty balsamic vanilla vinegar and topped with almond slices.
*Creamy Dijon Potato Salad (not shown)
Crowd-Pleasing Dijon Potato Salad will be the first thing to disappear from the picnic table this summer. It’s cool, creamy, and refreshing with just the right amount of tang from the Dijon, and the perfect amount of crunch to balance all that creaminess.
*Waffle Battered Fried Chicken Tenders (shown below) THIS IS THE PLACE!!
Below is the printable recipe card along with the exact ingredient measurements and nutritional information for making today's Waffle Batter Fried Chicken Tenders with Maple Mustard Dipping Sauce.
If you've made this recipe, or are excited to make this recipe, I'd appreciate it if you'd take a moment to leave it a star rating in the recipe card, along with a comment if you're so inclined. Thank you. 🙂
Waffle Batter Fried Chicken Tenders
To marinate the chicken tenders:
- ½ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 3 pounds chicken tenders
- 1 gallon zip-top bag
- 2½-3 cups light oil for frying, I used peanut
To make the waffle batter;
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 teaspoons baking powder
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- ½ teaspoons black pepper
- 1½ cups milk
- 2 large eggs
- 4 tablespoons butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
To make the maple mustard dipping sauce:
- ¼ - ½ cup pure maple syrup
- 2 tablespoons stone ground mustard
- 2 tablespoons honey
To marinate the chicken tenders:
- Place the chicken tenders, maple syrup, and balsamic vinegar in the zip-top bag. Massage the bag to coat all the chicken. Allow the tenders to marinate at least 30 minutes, but no longer than 1 hour.
- After the chicken has marinated, dry the tenders on paper towels. Discard the remaining marinade.
To make the waffle batter (or use store-bought):
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar, salt, pepper, and baking powder.In a small bowl, whisk together the melted butter, eggs, milk, maple syrup.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk until combined. Allow the waffle batter to sit for 10 minutes before coating the tenders.
- In a large, high-sided pan, bring the oil up to a temperature of 325-350 degrees.*Note - if you dip the handle of a wooden spoon into the oil and small bubbles happen around the base of the spoon (think champagne bubbles), the oil is ready for frying.
- Dip the chicken tenders into the waffle batter and allow some to drip off before carefully adding the waffle coated tenders to the hot oil.Fry the tenders on both sides until golden brown (approximately 8-10 minutes) and the center is no longer pink.
- Carefully remove the fried tenders from the oil using a large slotted spoon. Drain the fried tenders on paper towels and season immediately with additional salt, if desired.Continue the same process with the remaining chicken tenders.
To make the sauce:
- Combine all the sauce ingredients in a small bowl and serve with the waffle batter fried chicken tenders. Serve hot or cold.
Want more chicken and waffles? Check out Nomageddon's post inspired by my chicken and waffles recipe!
I hope you've enjoyed this recipe for Waffle Batter Fried Chicken Tenders with Maple Mustard Dipping Sauce as much as I've enjoyed bringing it to you!!