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Baked Nashville Hot Chicken Tender Tacos

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Nashville Hot Chicken tender tacos on cutting board

Description

Getting spicy with Nashville hot chicken… tenders. In taco form! Nashville hot chicken tender tacos, if you will! I baked my chicken tenders to make things easier, and they still came out crispy and delicious. You can totally fry your chicken based on this same recipe, but baking was so much easier this time. The tenders still come out perfect, crispy, and deliciously tender!

This recipe is inspired by a local chicken place, Royals Hot Chicken, and this is how they dress their tacos. But as a disclaimer, their chicken is saucier, hotter, and usually better than mine. They also make an in-house ranch that is to die for. So, no mine aren’t exactly the same, but in my opinion, they are the next best thing! If you are familiar with hot chicken in the area, I would say the style of my chicken is more along the lines of Loui’s or Joella’s. Anyway… 

If you’ve never had Nashville hot chicken, now is the time. It’s a style where you whisk together the oil you use to fry your chicken with dry herbs, and then you put that seasoned oil on your chicken – it’s magical. It can be done with bone-in chicken, but I prefer boneless because it’s less messy and easier to cook. And you don’t need to go to Nashville to get it (though you should some day). 

Since boneless chicken can get dry, DO NOT skip the buttermilk process. You can buy some store-made, or make a simple one using a cup of milk and a tablespoon of acid. I like to use a tbs of lemon juice, a splash of red wine vinger, a tbs of pickle juice, and a dash of Dan-O’s in mine when I make hot chicken. This buttermilk will help your chicken come out tender and delicious and makes a huge difference.

The one thing I wish I did differently in this recipe is using a better ranch dressing. If you can, get some kind of GOOD Dill ranch from the store or maybe even a restaurant. I just used what I had per usual, and was definitely missing that Royal’s ranch when I ate mines. Also note, if you want hotter chicken, use more cayenne pepper! For less hot, use more brown sugar (there you have the secret of Nashville Hot).

So, there you are, Baked Nashville Hot Chicken Tender Tacos. Serve with slaw and some form of potato. Enjoy! 

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken tenderloins 
  • 1 cup buttermilk 
  • 2 eggs
  • Panko bread crumbs 
  • Flour 
  • ¼ stick of butter 
  • ½ cup oil 
  • 4 tbs cayenne pepper 
  • 1 tbs chili powder 
  • 2 tbs spicy Dan-O’s seasoning 
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbs salt 
  • 2 tbs honey 
  • 1 cup vinegar 
  • 1 cup water 
  • 1 red onion 
  • Shredded lettuce 
  • Pack of flour tortillas 
  • Ranch (preferably dill ranch)

Prep Time

4 Hours

Cook Time

20-22 Mins

Serving Size

4-6

Instructions

  1. Add your chicken to buttermilk and let soak for about 4 hours. Remove from buttermilk and shake off any excess. 
  2. Make pickled onions by thinly cutting a red onion in long strips and placing in a jar. In a saucepan, mix together equal parts vinegar and water (about a ½ cup of each), a tbs of salt, and 2 tbs honey over medium heat. Mix until salt and sugar are dissolved and it begins to boil. Pour overtop onions in the jar, submerging them and set to the side. 
  3. Set out 2 plates and 1 bowl. Add panko bread crumbs to one plate, and equal parts spicy Dan-O’s and flour on the other plate. Crack 2 eggs in the bowl and whisk together. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
  4. Make tenders by dredging a single tenderloin in flour, dipping in egg (shaking off excess), and then rolling panko in breadcrumbs. Add coated tender to an oiled baking sheet, and repeat until all are coated. 
  5. Apply a light coating of vegetable oil spray on tenders before baking. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes flipping halfway, until they reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Broil your tenders the last few minutes to help them crisp up. 
  6. In a saucepan whisk together oil, butter, and dry seasonings over medium heat. Allow to come to a slight boil/bubble, then turn down to low heat. Keep whisking until seasonings and oil are well-mixed. 
  7. Remove tenders from oven, and brush on a hearty amount of hot oil and seasoning mix over each. You may also toss the tenders in the oil for extra heat, but they might get a little soggy. Place tenders back in oven for extra crispiness, or eat right away. 
  8. Make tacos by adding lettuce to your flour tortilla, 1 tender, a pinch of red onion, and a drizzle of ranch dressing. Enjoy! 

Contributed by Chuck in Louisville, KY.

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