Popeyes Blackened Tenders Recipe Best Copycat How To

Blackened chicken tenders have become a fast favorite for those looking to enjoy the bold flavors of Popeyes without the breading and frying associated with their classic menu items. These tenders get their distinctive taste from a blend of spices that create a robust flavor profile characterized by a smoky, peppery kick that’s hard to resist. I’ve spent time in the kitchen perfecting the art of creating these tender, juicy pieces of chicken with a homemade seasoning mix that rivals the savory punch of the Popeyes version. If you want to make these in your own home, you have come to the right place! Today I will walk you through the best Popeyes Blackened Tenders recipe.

The appeal of blackened chicken tends toward its versatility. Whether it’s the desire for something that’s both tasty and health-conscious, or the need for a protein-packed component that can be added to salads, sandwiches, or enjoyed on its own, blackened chicken tenders fit the bill. In my recipe, the chicken maintains its moisture while the outside develops that sought-after spicy crust. The result is a dish that’s deceptively simple yet packed with flavor, and best of all, it only takes about 30 minutes from start to finish.

Cooking blackened chicken tenders is a straightforward process that requires minimal ingredients, but the end product is something that impresses with its depth of flavor. I’ve found that the key lies in the combination of spices used and the cooking technique that gives the chicken its signature dark, crispy coating. The homemade seasoning used in this dish is a symphony of ingredients that can be easily modified to suit individual heat preferences, making it an excellent recipe for anyone looking to recreate the Popeyes experience at home.

Essential Ingredients

To create the authentic flavor of Popeyes Blackened Chicken Tenders at home, pay close attention to the ingredients list. Quality chicken tenderloins are the heart of this dish; they’re lean, quick to cook, and absorb the blend of spices nicely.

The spice blend is critical—it’s what gives the tenders their characteristic blackened crust and flavor. My recipe includes a mix of garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, chili powder, and black pepper. I use:

  • Garlic powder and onion powder: each 1 teaspoon
  • Cayenne pepper: 1/2 teaspoon for heat
  • Chili powder: 1 teaspoon for a smoky touch
  • Black pepper: 1 teaspoon for sharpness

Olive oil is my choice for pan-frying the tenders. It has a higher smoke point than butter and adds a subtle, savory note. Make sure to use a good quality olive oil for the best results. Kosher salt, about 1/2 teaspoon, is used to enhance the natural flavors of the chicken and spices.

Lastly, I always recommend tasting the spice mix. Adjust the level of heat to your preference—more cayenne pepper for a fiercer kick or less if you prefer a milder version. The blend should be confident and robust to create that beautiful blackened crust that’s a hallmark of the recipe.

Remember, the accurate proportion and quality of these ingredients will make your Popeyes Blackened Chicken Tenders stand out. Keep everything fresh and measured precisely for a dish that I’m sure will become one of your favorites to enjoy.

Preparation and Cooking Techniques

I understand the allure of perfectly seasoned and cooked blackened tenders, and I’m here to guide you through the process. These steps will ensure your tenders are bursting with flavor and cooked to perfection.

Creating the Spice Mix For Your Popeyes Blackened Tenders Recipe

First, I gather all my spices and combine them in a small bowl. For the uninitiated, creating a spice mix is straightforward – the finesse lies in finding the right balance of flavors. My mix typically includes smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and a few other key ingredients. I whisk them together until they’re well-combined, resulting in an aromatic and homogeneous spice mix.

Marinating the Chicken

Once my spice mix is ready, it’s time to prepare the chicken. I place the tenders in an airtight container, sprinkling them generously with the spice mixture, ensuring they’re evenly coated. I prefer letting them marinate for at least 30 minutes to absorb the flavors fully. Some prefer to marinate longer, but I find that even a brief period imparts a robust taste to the blackened tenders.

Cooking Methods

Cooking the tenders properly is crucial for achieving that sought-after blackened crust without sacrificing juiciness. I preheat my cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat or a large skillet over medium heat, depending on the utensil available. I then cook the chicken for 3-4 minutes per side, making sure the internal temperature reaches 165°F – this is when a meat thermometer proves invaluable. If an air fryer is more your style, I arrange the tenders in the air fryer basket and cook them for 5-7 minutes, ensuring they’re not crowded. For those favoring an oven, I place the tenders on a baking sheet or sheet pan and bake them until they’re properly cooked through. Whether in a hot skillet or a heated oven, the right cooking time and temperature are key to mouthwatering results.

Recipe Instructions and Tips

I’ve found that precision and attention to detail make all the difference when preparing this dish. Here, I detail the steps to recreate the Popeyes blackened tenders, achieving that signature sear, and the best practices for storage and reheating.

Step-by-Step Recipe Card For the Popeyes Blackened Tenders

Before you start cooking, gather all ingredients and have your recipe card ready. I ensure that my spices are measured accurately to match Popeyes’ iconic flavor. My recipe card lists smoked paprika, salt, garlic powder, ground black pepper, onion powder, dried oregano, brown sugar, and chipotle powder. Mixing these ingredients in the right quantities yields the bold and spicy coating Popeyes is known for.

Achieving the Perfect Sear

A perfect sear is essential. I pat the chicken tenders dry with a paper towel before seasoning to ensure no excess moisture prevents a good sear. Next, I preheat my cast-iron skillet until it’s very hot—the key to achieving that beautifully blackened crust. Carefully place the seasoned chicken in a single layer; overcrowding will steam instead of sear the tenders, preventing that desirable texture.

Storing and Reheating

Storing and reheating blackened chicken can be done without sacrificing flavor or texture. I cool down the tenders, then place them in a large freezer bag in a single layer for storage—this makes for an easy way to enjoy a good meal the next time without starting from scratch. For meal prep, it’s a great option. To reheat, use an oven or air fryer to maintain the crispness. I always refer to the full instructions on my recipe card to remind me of the correct oven temperature and duration.

Serving Suggestions

When I prepare Popeyes Blackened Tenders, I always consider what to serve alongside them to complement their flavor. Selecting the right side dishes and dips can turn this main course into a well-rounded meal.

Recommended Side Dishes

  • Green Beans: A classic choice, green beans are a fresh and crunchy contrast to the tenders’ spice.
  • Salads: To balance the richness, a crisp salad with a variety of greens rounds out the meal.

In a table format for visualization:

Side DishDescription
Green BeansLightly seasoned to complement the bold flavors of the chicken
SaladFresh greens with a light vinaigrette to offset the heat

Dipping Sauces and Condiments

  • Ranch Dressing: My go-to dip for blackened tenders, ranch dressing offers a cool, creamy reprieve from the heat.
  • Sour Cream: A dollop can tame the spiciness while adding a tangy twist.

Here’s how I categorize the sauces:

SauceFlavor ProfileHeat Level
RanchCreamy and herbaceousCooling
Sour CreamTangy and smoothHeat-diffusing

These sides and sauces ensure that every bite of Popeyes Blackened Tenders is both delicious and balanced.

Frequently Asked Questions

In this section, I’ll provide specific answers to common queries about recreating Popeyes’ famous blackened tenders. These tips will help you replicate the flavor and cooking style of this popular menu item right in your own kitchen.

How can I adapt the Popeyes blackened tenders recipe for an oven?

To emulate Popeyes blackened tenders in an oven, start by preheating your oven to a high temperature, around 450°F (232°C), which aids in achieving the characteristic char. Arrange the seasoned tenders on a wire rack placed over a baking sheet for even heat circulation and bake until cooked through.

What are some tips for baking blackened chicken tenders similar to Popeyes’ recipe?

For baking blackened chicken tenders, you want to create a similar intense heat as you would in a skillet. Use a high oven temperature to sear the seasoning onto the tenders quickly, and don’t overlook the importance of a wire rack which allows for air flow and even cooking.

Is it possible to prepare blackened chicken tenders in an air fryer, and if so, how?

Yes, making blackened chicken tenders in an air fryer is quite straightforward. The air fryer excels at circulating hot air around the tenders, crisping them up without excessive oil. Generally, cook the seasoned tenders at a high temperature, usually 400°F (204°C), until they’re cooked through and crispy.

What’s the best way to mimic the seasoning used in Popeyes blackened tenders?

To mimic Popeyes’ seasoning, you’ll need a blend of smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne, and a few other herbs and spices. Mixing these ingredients in the right proportions is key to achieving that signature flavor.

Are there any nutritional information available for Popeyes blackened chicken tenders?

Nutritional information for Popeyes blackened chicken tenders can be found on their official website or by inquiring at their restaurants. The tenders are known to be a lower-calorie option compared to their fried chicken, primarily emphasizing protein content.

How can I achieve the taste of Popeyes chicken tenders through marination methods?

Marinating your chicken tenders in a mixture of buttermilk and Cajun-inspired spices for several hours can tenderize them and infuse deep flavors. This pre-cooking step is crucial for mimicking the taste profile of Popeyes chicken tenders before applying the signature blackened seasoning.

Popeyes Blackened Tenders Copycat

Recipe by kitcheneasylifeCourse: Dinner


Prep time


Cooking time



These chicken tenders are juicy and flavorful and so easy to make!


  • 1 pound chicken tenders

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika

  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder

  • 1 teaspoon onion powder

  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 teaspoon white pepper

  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme

  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil


  • In a small bowl, mix together the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, black pepper, white pepper, dried thyme, dried oregano, and salt to create the blackened seasoning.
  • Rub the blackened seasoning onto the chicken tenders, ensuring they are evenly coated.
  • Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet over medium-high heat.
  • Once the oil is hot, add the seasoned chicken tenders to the skillet.
  • Cook the tenders for 3-4 minutes on each side, or until they are cooked through and have a blackened crust.
  • Once cooked, remove the tenders from the skillet and place them on a plate lined with paper towels to absorb any excess oil.
  • Serve the blackened tenders with your favorite dipping sauce and enjoy!

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