January 8, 2022
Craving crispy chicken tenders? Try this Cane’s chicken recipe. You can easily bread and fry this recipe at home for perfect golden strips you’ll want to dunk in the homemade Cane’s sauce.
Outside of chocolate, Cane’s chicken strips are at the top of my 3 kids’ favorite food list. If they could get mom to make one copycat recipe on repeat, this would be it!
The top reason I love making these at home is that it’s a lot more economical to feed my family of 5 with this recipe and, with a little ingenuity, turn it into a mom-made Cane’s kids meal.
And if you’ve never had a Cane’s chicken finger, allow me to briefly explain. Cane’s is a southern restaurant chain known for their delectable white-meat chicken breaded and fried until golden and crispy.
The meal is served with crinkle-cut fries, buttered Texas toast, the infamous Cane’s sauce, and washed down with ice-cold sweet tea or lemonade. It’s heaven for anyone who loves chicken tenders and something you have to try at least once -and now you can with this recipe!
Copycat Cane’s Chicken Recipe
Even the person that is not the biggest fan of drive-thru’s and fast food has a thing for Cane’s chicken tenders. If they say no, they are lying!
This copycat recipe is a very close match you’ll appreciate. The step-by-step directions and tips help create the perfect chicken batch with tender meat and a perfect crunchy coating that’s pretty close to the original.
Bonus: my copycat Cane’s sauce recipe is also below!
Copycat Canes Chicken Ingredients
Here’s everything you’ll need to make Cane’s style chicken:
- boneless, skinless chicken breasts: you can either slice the chicken breasts into 1 ½-inch strips or use chicken breast tenderloins.
- buttermilk: tenderizes the chicken. If you don’t keep buttermilk on hand, check out a substitute in the recipe card below.
- Cajun or Creole seasoning: adds Southern flavor to the breading.
- flour: for coating. You can also use a 1:1 gluten-free all-purpose flour.
- cornstarch: since it’s a starch it gives the fried breading that ‘extra crunch’.
- baking soda: works with the acid in the buttermilk to give the fried coating a light texture.
- breadcrumbs: use seasoned or traditional breadcrumbs.
- oil, for frying: use a neutral oil such as vegetable, canola, or peanut oil. You’ll need about 4 cups.
If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, you can make your own by combining 1 tablespoon white vinegar with 1 cup of regular milk. If you need a dairy-free alternative, this best option is unsweetened, unflavored soy milk with white vinegar.
How to Make Cane’s Chicken at Home
Alright, grab those ingredients, a large frying pan or cast-iron skillet and let’s make the best, fried chicken tenders:
Inside a zip bag, combine 1 cup of buttermilk and 1 tablespoon of Cajun or Creole seasoning. Add the chicken strips and marinate for 3 hours or overnight.
- Create a breading station
In a shallow dish, combine the dry ingredients: flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and breadcrumbs. In a second shallow dish or medium bowl, combine the buttermilk and ½ tablespoon seasoning.
- Dry, wet, dry
Remove the chicken from the zip bag into a plate and discard the marinade.
First, dredge (coat) the chicken strips with the dry mixture on all sides. Then, transfer each piece into the buttermilk mixture, coat well, and go back to the dry station to re-coat the chicken strips.
- Let them dry
Place coated chicken strips on a wire rack for 5 minutes, so the breading has time to dry onto the chicken. This step is important and will help your chicken get a Cane’s-like texture.
- Heat the oil
Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil to 375F in a medium frying pan with sides. Once the oil is hot, drop a 3 to 4 strips at a time and fry, about 4 minutes per side.
Transfer each batch of chicken strips on a paper-towel-lined tray and serve immediately with the homemade Cane’s sauce (below) or your favorite dipping sauce.
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Can I Prep Chicken Tenders Ahead?
You can prep the recipe, start to right-before-frying up to 24 hours ahead. Make sure to remove the breaded chicken pieces from the refrigerator and bring them to room temperature, about 20 minutes, before frying.
Leftovers can be refrigerated and reheated in an air fryer, in the reheat setting, or in the oven at 350F for 10 minutes.
Due to the thick coating, I do not recommend freezing leftover chicken tenders. These are best enjoyed at the moment.
How to Make Cane’s Sauce Recipe
This recipe is the closest you’ll get to the iconic Cane’s dipping sauce. It has the perfect balance of creamy, savory, and spicy, here’s what you’ll need to make it:
- Worcestershire sauce
- black pepper, ground
- garlic powder
- creole seasoning
Combine the ingredients in a medium bowl and whisk until smooth. Refrigerate for up to 1 week and serve with chicken fingers and anything else your heart desires.
I’ve also included these ingredients and the measurements in the recipe card below.
Dipping Options for Copycat Cane’s Kids Meal
Now, to serve this chicken Cane’s style, just add a side of these New Orlean’s Food Truck Fries and dipping sauce for a true, Cane’s-at-home experience.
If the Homemade Cane’s Sauce recipe above is a no go, try one of these homemade dipping sauces below:
Copycat Cane’s Chicken and Sauce
- 3 chicken breasts, cut into strips or 1.5 pounds chicken strips
- 1 ¾ cup buttermilk, divided*
- 1 ½ tablespoons cajun or creole seasoning, divided
- 1 ½ cups flour
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 cup breadcrumbs, seasoned or traditional
- 4 cups oil, for frying
For the Cane’s Sauce
- ½ cup mayonnaise
- ¼ cup ketchup
- ¼ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, ground
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon creole seasoning
- Inside a zip bag, combine 1 cup of buttermilk and 1 tablespoon of cajun or creole seasoning. Add the chicken strips into the bag and marinate for 3 hours or overnight.
- Create a breading station with two shallow dishes. In the first dish, combine the dry ingredients: flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and breadcrumbs. In the second dish or medium bowl, combine the remaining ¾ cup buttermilk and ½ tablespoon (1.5 teaspoons) seasoning.
- Remove the chicken from the zip bag into a plate and discard the marinade.
- First, dredge (coat) the chicken strips with the dry mixture on all sides. Then, transfer each piece into the buttermilk mixture, coat well, and go back to the dry station to re-coat the chicken strips. Dry, wet, dry is the order before frying.
- Place coated chicken strips on a wire rack for 5 minutes, so the breading has time to dry onto the chicken. This will help your chicken get a Cane’s-like texture so don’t skip that step.
- Meanwhile, heat your vegetable oil in a medium frying pan with sides. Once the oil is hot (approx. 375F), drop a few strips at a time and fry them, about 4 minutes per side, until golden brown and fully cooked. Transfer each batch of chicken strips on a paper-towel-lined tray and serve.
For the Cane’s Sauce:
- Mix dip ingredients in a bowl until well blended. Serve on the side to dip.