Buttermilk-Thyme Chicken Tenders with Cranberry Mustard and Sweet Potato Fries Recipe

Yvonne Ruperti

Dip crispy fried chicken fingers in a tangy cranberry mustard sauce with a side of crunch-coated sweet potato string potato fries.

Notes: If using table salt, decrease the salt by half. Serve immediately for best results.

Recipe Facts

Active: 60 mins
Total: 2 hrs
Serves: 4 servings

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  • For the Chicken Tenders:
  • Kosher salt
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder, divided
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Pinch ground white pepper
  • 2 cups buttermilk, divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup whole berry cranberry sauce
  • 1/4 cup whole grain mustard
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 cups rice flour
  • 2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch sticks
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 quarts vegetable or peanut oil for frying


  1. Dissolve 1/2 cup salt and sugar in 1 quart of cold water. Place chicken tenders in zipper-lock bag and add brine. Transfer to refrigerator and let sit for 1 hour. Combine flour, thyme, 2 teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon baking powder, black pepper, cayenne, garlic powder, and white pepper in a large bowl. Whisk together 1 cup buttermilk and eggs in a small bowl. Set both bowls aside.

  2. Meanwhile, make the dipping sauce: In small bowl, stir cranberry sauce, mustard, honey, thyme, and vinegar to combine.

  3. Prepare the fries: In large bowl, combine rice flour, 2 teaspoons salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder. Drizzle 3 tablespoons buttermilk into rice flour mixture and rub with fingertips until the mixture is coarse like wet sand; set aside. Combine the potato sticks and remaining 13 tabkespoons buttermilk in large bowl; set aside.

  4. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of the buttermilk/egg mixture into flour mixture and rub with fingertips until the flour mixture is coarse like wet sand. Remove chicken breasts from brine and pat dry with paper towels. Transfer to buttermilk/egg mixture.

  5. In a Dutch oven or deep fryer over medium heat, heat oil to 350°F. Working one tender at a time, allow excess buttermilk to drip off and then transfer to flour mixture to coat well, pressing coating into tender. Shake off excess flour and transfer to plate. Repeat with remaining tenders.

  6. Frying in batches of 5 tenders at a time, carefully lower tenders into hot oil. Cook, turning tenders occasionally, until golden brown and crisp on all sides, and the chicken is cooked through, 3 to 4 minutes total. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Return oil to temperature and repeat with remaining tenders.

  7. Increase oil temperature to 375°F. Working in three batches, lift 1/3 of the potato sticks from the buttermilk and let excess liquid drip off. Drop into rice flour mixture and toss to coat.

  8. Carefully drop in hot oil and fry until tender and golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Repeat with remaining potatoes. Sprinkle with chopped thyme and salt to taste. Serve immediately.

Special equipment

large dutch oven or heavy duty pot for frying, instant read thermometer