Fried Chicken Tacos – A crispy buttermilk fried chicken tender wrapped in leafy lettuce and a flour tortilla and finished with juicy diced tomatoes and a lemon garlic mayo. A simple, yet delicious new way to get your taco fix on Taco Tuesday!
Tacos are a funny thing for me… I rarely ate them growing up and when I did, they were the hard shell tacos with ground beef and the basics. It wasn’t until college that I tried different kinds of tacos. But even then, they weren’t too exciting. Why get a taco when I can get a burrito that has beans and rice, too?!
But this taco, ladies and gentlemen, changed the game for me. The minute I tasted it, I FINALLY found the taco I’ve been searching for my whole life, the taco that spoke my language, the taco that was meant to be eaten by me.
Say hello to the Fried Chicken Taco!
I first had a fried chicken taco at a local restaurant here in Atlanta when I first moved here. It was a huge lunch spot with my coworkers so they took me there during my first week on the job to try it out. There were only four kinds of tacos so choices were limited. Fried anything is typically a safe choice so the fried chicken taco was what I went with.
And, man, what a great choice that was! The chicken was a super-crispy chicken tender and placed in a flour tortilla with lettuce, tomato, and just enough mayo. So simple but so delicious.
The taco I’ve created for you guys is similar to the one I had that momentous day, but I’m using heartier lettuce for some crunch and an aioli-type mayo instead of a basic mayo. I think the lemon and garlic in my mayo add another layer of depth to this otherwise simple dish.
If you’ve never fried anything before, have no fear – I am here to give you some tips to make sure you get these tenders fried perfectly, plus some other tips:
- This recipe calls for you to marinate the chicken in a buttermilk mixture before frying. So keep this in mind when prepping your meals. If eating this during the week, I recommend marinading in the morning so they’re ready for dinner that night. If you’re in a rush, 30 mins – 1 hour will be good enough, but just know that they’ll be even better when given some more time to marinade!
- Make sure the oil is hot before adding the chicken. The fried crust will get oily and soggy if it’s not fried in hot oil. This may mean that you have to let the oil back heat up in between batches. Ah, and speaking of batches…
- Make sure you are frying no more than 4 tenders at a time. If you crowd the frying pan, the oil temperature will drop and cause your chicken to get soggy. So you’ll probably need to fry the tenders in about 3 batches.
- When breading the chicken, make sure you cover completely with flour and press it into the chicken tender. This will help the breading stick on during the frying process.
- And lastly, if you’re unsure about the cooking time, test one chicken tender using the times I suggest below and then check to make sure the center is cooked. I always do this because cooking time can differ based on what kind of pan or stovetop you have.
There you have it – you’re new favorite taco! I hope you have a chance to try it soon. You’re gonna love them!
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Fried Chicken Tacos
For the chicken marinade:
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken tenders raw
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
For the chicken breading:
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 3/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
For the tacos:
- 8 small flour tortillas
- 8 leaves leafy lettuce
- 2 tomatoes diced
- 1 cup light mayo
- 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/8 teaspoon paprika
- First, we have to marinade the chicken in the buttermilk mixture. Add chicken tenders and marinade ingredients together in a large ziplock bag. Close bag and shake together to combine ingredients. Place in refrigerator to marinate for at least 1 hour and up to 8 hours.
- Prepare mayo spread by mixing mayo, lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1/8 teaspoon paprika together in a medium bowl. Set aside until we assemble the tacos.
- Prepare the chicken breading by stirring all ingredients together in a shallow bowl. Remove chicken from refrigerator. Remove one tender from the bag and shake off excess marinade and place in flour mixture. Coat completely in flour and shake off excess. Place on clean plate and repeat with rest of the tenders.
- Heat 2-3 cups of oil in a large skillet on medium heat. I used my cast iron one. Once it gets hot, add chicken tenders one at a time, cooking a maximum of 4 tenders at a time. You don't want to crowd the pan or else the oil will cool down too much. Cook for 3 minutes on one side, flip and then cook for another 1 1/2 minutes or until deep golden brown. Drain on paper towels. Repeat with rest of chicken tenders until complete.
- To assemble the tacos, spread a little mayo on the flour tortilla. Place one leaf of lettuce on top of mayo, then add 1 or 2 chicken tenders, depending on the size of the tenders. Top with more mayo and diced tomatoes. Repeat with remaining tortillas. Serve immediately.
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