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Spicy Buttermilk Baked Chicken Tenderloins

Chicken tenderloins are one of my favorite protein sources to cook. They’re easy to work with, fast cooking, and just as lean as whole chicken breasts. And once you try these buttermilk baked chicken tenderloins, you’ll know how flavorful they can be!

This recipe makes 10 spicy buttermilk chicken tenders, each with 16 grams of protein, 1 gram of carbs, virtually zero fat, and 0 WW Smart Points! I’ll walk you through the recipe (it’s super easy) and how to make the Greek yogurt ranch dipping sauce below. And you can find the printable recipe card at the end of the post.

chicken tenderloins on a baking sheet beside Greek yogurt ranch dip

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Baked Chicken Tenderloins Recipe Walkthrough

Similar to my pan fried naked chicken tenders recipe, marinating is the key to juicy and flavorful chicken tenderloins. If you’re marinade averse, not all hope is lost.

Marinating for as little as 30 minutes will go a long way! Since chicken tenderloins are smaller, marinades work their magic faster than in recipes like my crispy buttermilk pan fried chicken breast.

Spicy Buttermilk Marinade Ingredients

  • low fat buttermilk
  • hot sauce of your choice (I used Cholula)
  • paprika, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper*

*If you’re spice sensitive, you can swap the cayenne for equal parts paprika.

buttermilk, hot sauce, and spices in a bowl

Stir everything together and go straight in with the chicken tenderloins. Give it all a whirl to fully coat the chicken, cover, and refrigerate for about 2 hours.

chicken tenderloins marinating in the buttermilk and hot sauce mixture

Once the chicken tenderloins and marinade have gotten to know one another, it’s time to bake. Add the chicken to a baking sheet with a wire rack and sprinkle with additional salt, pepper, and cayenne (or paprika to reduce the heat).

If you don’t have a wire rack, no worries! Bake them directly on the sheet. This may slightly accelerate the cook time so check them a bit earlier. 

spicy buttermilk chicken tenderloins on a wire rack before baking

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the chicken tenderloins reach an internal temperature of 165F. Like a good marinade, having a food thermometer on hand is another key to juicy chicken that’s never over cooked, dry, and tough. You can check out the food thermometer I use, along with all my other kitchen tools, on my Amazon storefront.

More Flavor Ideas

If you’d like to make your baked chicken tenderloins with a different seasoning blend, check out my buffalo chicken thighs, pulled BBQ chicken, or post with 7 ways to make air fryer chicken nuggets. These recipes have seasoning blends you could just rub on chicken tenderloins and bake.

buffalo chicken thighs, bbq chicken, and air fryer chicken nuggets

Important Chicken Tenderloins Note 

I’ll add that chicken tenderloins can vary in size. You’ll notice this recipe calls for 1 1/2 pounds of chicken tenderloins and yields 10 chicken tenders. Go by weight, not the number of tenders. And if you have more tenderloins, that means they’re smaller and will cook a bit faster.

And that’s it! You’re ready to serve.

spicy baked chicken tenderloins on a wire rack with low fat ranch dipping sauce

If you’re not a fan of chicken tenderloins, you can cut chicken breast into strips or use a pre-cut chicken breast option like I used for my garlic parmesan air fryer chicken tenders.

Homemade Greek Yogurt Ranch Dipping Sauce

Speaking of serving, here’s a quick and easy ranch dip that goes great with these baked chicken tenders:

  • 1/2 C (113g) Fat Free Greek Yogurt
  • 2 Tbsp (30mL) Skim Milk (or any milk)
  • 1 Tbsp Ranch Seasoning

Mix it up and serve! You can easily scale the recipe up and save some for later in the refrigerator.

hidden valley ranch seasoning with Greek yogurt and milk

And since you’ll have ranch seasoning on hand, you might as well make my air fryer ranch potato wedges or the wedges from my spicy baked chicken thighs and potatoes recipe as a side dish.

baked chicken thighs and ranch potatoes on a baking sheet

Other Side Dish Ideas

Here’s a shortlist of my favorite sides for chicken:

And that should cover it. If you have questions about these spicy buttermilk baked chicken tenderloins, drop a comment below or join my Facebook group along with 17,000+ other home cooks who’d be happy to help! 

Spicy Buttermilk Baked Chicken Tenderloins

Spicy Buttermilk Baked Chicken Tenderloins

Yield: 10 Tenders
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 15 minutes
Marinate: 2 hours
Total Time: 2 hours 20 minutes

A quick buttermilk and spicy hot sauce marinade for juicy chicken tenders that are essentially carb and fat free!

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 lb Boneless Skinless Chicken Tenderloins*
  • 3/4 C (180mL) Low Fat Buttermilk
  • 2 Tbsp (30g) Hot Sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Kosher Salt, divided
  • 1 tsp Black Pepper, divided
  • 1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper, divided (optional)

Instructions

For the Marinade

  1. Whisk the buttermilk, hot sauce, paprika, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, and 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper together in a resealable container. Add the chicken tenderloins and marinate for at least 2 hours.

Baking the Chicken Tenderloins

  1. Preheat oven to 400F.
  2. Transfer the chicken tenderloins from the marinade to a baking sheet with a wire rack.** Discard the remaining marinade.
  3. Mix the remaining 1/2 tsp of salt and pepper with the remaining 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper to sprinkle on top of the tenderloins.
  4. Bake for 15-18 minutes or until the chicken tenderloins reach an internal temperature of 165F. Remove from the oven and let the chicken rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

*Chicken tenderloins vary in size. Use 1 1/2 pounds of chicken. Smaller tenderloins will cook a bit faster and affect nutrition information.

**If you don't have a wire rack, bake directly on the sheet. This may accelerate cooking so check on them earlier.

For Air Fried Chicken Tenders

Using my Nashville Hot Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets as a guide, 8-10 minutes at 400ºF should do the trick. Though you'll likely need to cut the recipe in half or cook in two batches unless you have a BIG air fryer.

Nutrition Facts Notes

  • Each chicken tenderloin has 0 Smart Points.
  • The nutrition facts include the marinade (even though it's discarded) since there's no way to accurately track what's absorbed/discarded. As always, nutrition facts are an estimate.
Nutrition Information:
Yield: 10 Chicken Tenders Serving Size: 1 Tender
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 81Total Fat: 0.8gCarbohydrates: 1.1gProtein: 16.3g

Nutrition information includes the remaining marinade even though it's discarded as it's difficult to calculate what's left behind.

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Similar Chicken Recipes You Might Like

Nash

Wednesday 14th of April 2021

This is it. This is THE chicken recipe. No hyperbole, I never cooked stand-alone chicken at home before this. I had no idea I even could cook chicken this good. It comes out juicy and crisp and tender every. single. time.

I almost always forget to add the seasoning on top half way and it's never been a problem. I do usually drizzle a little more marinade on when I pop into the air fryer. If you are not a slob and like your air fryer to be clean, don't do this.

Jenn

Tuesday 13th of April 2021

I've made these several times because it's so easy yet so, so tasty. We eat a LOT of chicken, so I love a recipe that has a good spice kick. I've used buttermilk if we've had it for other things, but I've also added greek yogurt or sour cream if it's the only thing I've had handy. Both worked just fine as a way to balance the hot sauce. 10/10!

Joanna Lodato

Wednesday 29th of April 2020

I made these tonight and they were stellar!! But i did not have low-fat buttermilk so i subbed it for Two Good Plain Greek yogurt in the marinade! Same super amazing and also added more protein so extra bonus!!

Amanda

Wednesday 15th of April 2020

Subbing for Celiac

For this one, do not be afraid to salt the chicken! I didn't salt this well enough, but they still turned out very well! I could not find low fat buttermilk so I just used regular. I see now you could use greek yogurt and milk and I feel like that would work great! No gluten free subbing needed here!

Karen

Tuesday 14th of April 2020

What can you use in this recipe if you don’t have buttermilk?

Mason Woodruff

Tuesday 14th of April 2020

You could mix some fat free Greek yogurt with any type of milk. I'd go half and half to equal the 3/4 C of buttermilk so about 90mL of milk and 90g of yogurt.

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