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Crispy Ranch Chicken Tenders | Cookies and Cups


Flavor-packed ranch chicken is juicy buttermilk chicken tenders coated in crispy Doritos chips with zesty ranch seasoning. Pan-fried on the stovetop for extra crunch!

Looking for more weeknight-ready chicken recipes? Try my pecan crusted chicken tenders and crispy popcorn chicken, too.

Crispy ranch chicken tenders arranged around a small metal ramekin of ranch dressing on a white platter.

Why You’ll Love This Crispy Ranch Chicken Recipe

Level up your chicken dinners with this cool and crunchy ranch chicken recipe. Ranch chicken is juicy chicken strips marinated in buttermilk, then dipped in crispy Cool Ranch Doritos crumbs and fried until golden. It’s about to become a family favorite, here’s why:

  • Zesty ranch flavor. Cool Ranch Doritos come with all that savory ranch flavor already included! But you can use any corn chips you’d like, and add ranch seasoning for flavor.
  • Extra crunchy. Ranch chicken is delightfully crispy on the outside and super juicy on the inside. Deep frying gets the crispiest results, but if you’d prefer to bake your chicken instead, I’ve included oven directions, too.
  • Kid-friendly. The whole family goes crazy for these savory, zesty homemade ranch chicken tenders! Serve them on a weeknight with your favorite sides, or make them on game day to pair with yummy dipping sauces.
The ingredients for ranch chicken with a text label overlaying each ingredient.

Ingredients You’ll Need

This recipe uses simple ingredients, yet packs loads of flavor into each juicy ranch chicken tender! Below are some notes on what you’ll need. Scroll to the recipe card after the post for a printable ingredients list.

  • Chicken – Boneless, skinless chicken breasts (or thighs), sliced into strips. You can also buy pre-cut chicken tenderloins from the grocery store.
  • Buttermilk – To marinate the chicken. If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a homemade buttermilk substitute from regular milk and white vinegar or lemon juice.
  • Doritos – Doritos corn chips are my hack for big flavor in everything from casseroles to chicken tenders. You’ll crush Cool Ranch Doritos into crumbs and combine them with flour for the breading.
  • Ranch Seasoning – Optional, but feel free to add 1-2 spoonfuls of your favorite Ranch seasoning mix to boost the flavor.
  • Oil – For frying. You’ll want to use vegetable oil or another cooking oil with a high smoke point, like canola oil. 

How to Make Ranch Chicken

This crispy ranch chicken takes a bit of time to marinate before frying, but it’s 100% worth it. The buttermilk tenderizes the chicken and makes it super flavorful. Follow the step-by-step below, and scroll down to the recipe card for printable instructions.

  • Marinate the chicken. First, place your chicken tenders in a bowl of buttermilk. Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least 2-3 hours. You can also do this the day before and let the chicken soak overnight.
  • Make the breading. Next, crush up the Doritos inside the bag, and add the pieces to a blender with flour. Pulse until the Doritos resemble Panko crumbs (large breadcrumbs). I like to sprinkle in extra Ranch seasoning for flavor.

Coat the chicken. Now, you’ll take your marinated chicken out of the fridge and dip the buttermilk chicken strips into the Doritos mixture. Place the coated chicken onto a plate.

  • Fry. Finally, fry the breaded chicken in hot oil, about 3-4 minutes per side. You’ll likely need to fry the chicken in batches. Place the finished chicken onto a baking sheet lined with paper towels to drain.
  • Serve! Enjoy your crispy ranch chicken right away with a side of dipping sauce. See below for more easy serving suggestions.

Can I Make Baked Ranch Chicken Instead?

Yes! While frying gets this ranch chicken especially crunchy, you can absolutely bake your chicken in the oven if you prefer. Arrange the breaded chicken on a lined baking sheet. Bake at 400ºF for 20 minutes. The chicken is done when the outside is golden and the internal temperature reads 165ºF on an instant-read thermometer.

Overhead view of crispy ranch chicken tenders arranged around a small metal ramekin of ranch dressing on a white platter.

Tips for Success

Follow these helpful tips for perfectly crispy ranch chicken:

  • Keep the oil at the right temperature. Make sure that the cooking oil reaches 350ºF and stays at that temperature while you’re frying. If the oil isn’t hot enough, the outside of the breading won’t brown nicely. A candy thermometer makes it easy to check the temperature of the oil.
  • Pay attention when deep frying. Don’t leave your stove unattended while deep frying, and gently lower the chicken into the hot oil to avoid splatters.
  • Check that the chicken is done. Your chicken is done cooking when the internal temperature reads 165ºF on an instant-read thermometer.
  • Use the air fryer. You can make extra crispy ranch chicken in the air fryer with less oil (and less mess) than deep frying. Follow the cooking directions for my crispy air fryer chicken tenders
A pile of ranch chicken tenders next to a small metal ramekin with ranch dressing, with a bite missing from one of the chicken tenders.

What to Serve With Ranch Chicken Tenders

Ranch chicken is delicious served as an entree or as an appetizer, paired with homemade Ranch dressing for dipping. We also love crispy chicken dunked in homemade BBQ sauce, honey mustard, or the best-ever chicken dipping sauce. Pair this chicken with a pile of mashed potatoes and fluffy air fryer biscuits for a satisfying comfort food meal.

Get creative and enjoy this crispy chicken wrapped in a soft tortilla for ranch chicken tacos, or chop the chicken up to serve over a Southwestern Cobb salad.

A crispy ranch chicken tender dipped in ranch dressing, held above a metal ramekin surrounded by more chicken on a white platter.

Storing and Reheating Leftovers

  • Refrigerate. As with anything that’s fried, this ranch chicken is best enjoyed right away. However, you can store any leftover chicken airtight in the fridge for up to 3 days. 
  • Reheat. I recommend reheating the chicken in the oven for the crispiest results.
  • Freeze. To freeze crispy ranch chicken, flash-freeze the cooked tenders on a baking sheet and then transfer them to a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months. Reheat the chicken in the oven straight from frozen until it’s hot throughout.

More Easy Chicken Recipes

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Description

Ranch chicken is juicy buttermilk chicken tenders coated in crispy Doritos chips with zesty ranch seasoning. Serve this flavor-packed fried chicken recipe as an appetizer or easy dinner!


  • 2 lbs boneless chicken breasts, cut into “tenderloin” strips
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 (12 oz) bag of Cool Ranch Doritos (or whatever flavor you prefer)
  • 1 cup flour
  • *optional 1-2 Tbsp Ranch seasoning mix for extra Ranch flavor
  • vegetable oil to fry

  1. In a medium bowl, marinate the chicken strips in buttermilk for at LEAST 2-3 hours (you can soak overnight).
  2. Take bag of Doritos and crush the chips inside. Now transfer Dorito pieces and flour into food processor or blender to crush and blend until the Doritos are the size of panko bread crumbs. Add in Ranch seasoning if desired.
  3. Transfer crumbs into a medium bowl.
  4. Set up a “coating station” and remove each chicken strip from the buttermilk, allowing excess to drip off and coat the chicken in the Dorito/Flour mixture. Transfer to a plate and continue with all chicken.
  5. Fill a large skillet at least 1/2- inch deep with oil and heat over medium until the oil reaches 350°F, In batches cook the chicken for 3 – 4 minutes on each side, until golden. Transfer to a paper towel lined baking sheet and repeat until all the chicken is cooked. *see notes for baking instructions. 
  6. Serve immediately with Ranch dressing!

Notes

  • Baking instructions: Bake at 400°F on a parchment lined baking sheet for 20 minutes until golden and chicken reaches 165° on a meat thermometer. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 plate
  • Calories: 590
  • Sugar: 4.7 g
  • Sodium: 330.2 mg
  • Fat: 19.5 g
  • Carbohydrates: 58.2 g
  • Protein: 42.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 119.3 mg

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