Wylie Dufresne's Popeyes-Style Chicken Tenders

Main Course

Recipe excerpted from Fried and True, by Lee Brian Schrager and Adeena Sussman, published by Clarkson Potter

Serves 4 to 6



  • 1 ½ pounds skinless, boneless chicken breasts, cut into 12 2-ounce chicken tenders
  • 4 cups buttermilk
  • 1 teaspoon Louisiana-style hot sauce, such as Crystal (or more to taste)


  • 3 cups (13.5 ounces) self-rising flour
  • ½ cup (2 ¼ ounces) cornstarch
  • ½ cup (2 ¼ ounces) potato starch
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) sea salt, plus more for seasoning
  • 4 tablespoons (1 ounce) paprika
  • 1 teaspoon (.176 ounce) baking soda
  • 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) onion soup base, ground in spice grinder until fine
  • 7 teaspoons (1 ounce) Italian Herb Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning Mix (see Note), finely ground
  • Canola oil for frying

Referee Chicken

Referee Chicken

Click image to enlarge

Image courtesy Popeyes Chicken


Editor's Note: The blurred picture featured here, titled "Referee Chicken", was emailed to us by a Popeyes representative after the atrocious missed calls that cost the Saints the playoff game against the Los Angeles Rams, denying them a second trip to the Superbowl. The refs admitted they missed the call, the Rams player admitted he made the foul--- but nothing was done. We decided to go off in search of the best Fake Popeyes Chicken recipe, for our readers to serve while not watching the Fake Division Champions (AKA LA Rams) play in our spot in the Superbowl. This recipe was developed by Chef Wylie Dufresne, and was published in Fried and True.

BRINE THE CHICKEN: In a large, nonreactive bowl or Ziploc bag combine the chicken, buttermilk, and hot sauce; cover and refrigerate overnight.

BREAD THE CHICKEN: Sift all breading ingredients 3 times through a flour tamis or very fine mesh strainer into a large bowl, discarding any lumps. Working in batches, remove 4 or 5 tenders at a time from the buttermilk marinade and toss in the breading, coating well. Transfer to a baking sheet and let rest until the breading adheres, 15 to 20 minutes.

FRY THE CHICKEN: While the chicken rests, add 2 inches of oil to a large (at least 6-quart) pot and heat to 300°F. Working in batches, fry 4 to 5 tenders at a time until brown and crisp, 5 minutes per batch. Remove to a paper towel to drain. Once all the chicken is fried, season lightly with salt and serve with biscuits.

Note: Dufresne found the flavor combination in McCormick's Italian Herb Spaghetti Sauce Seasoning Mix (available in most grocery stores and online) to be the most pleasing for its blend of traditional chicken breading spices. If you can't.find it, grind 2 teaspoons each sugar, salt, and dehydrated onions with 1 teaspoon each dried basil and oregano and ½ teaspoon each chile flakes, black pepper, and garlic powder.


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