I think most of us would agree that limited time offer menu items are usually the best menu items. They are the ones I long for months and years after they are gone. Like the Five Cheese Fonduta and Chicken Alfredo Fritta from Olive Garden. I always wonder why restaurants don’t ever make them staple items when they are such a success?!
These Voodoo chicken tenders from Popeye’s are one of those recipes I can’t stop thinking about. Perfect crisp tenders, drizzled in a garlicky sweet chili sauce and topped with green onions – which add the perfect texture and finish!
What are Popeye’s Voodoo Chicken Tenders?
The Popeye’s Voodoo Chicken Tenders were a Limited Time Offering (LTO) during the Halloween of 2019. They feature their white meat chicken breast tenders lathered in “Voodoo sauce” for an intoxicating sticky, sweet, and spicy flavor. VooDoo sauce, for all those wondering, is a sweet chili based sauce with lots of garlic, a little ginger and chili pepper.
These tenders are not unbearably spicy if you tend to opt for something a little more mild. They are more sweet than spicy. Fresh scallions are sprinkled on top as an added touch to complement the spice and add a slight refreshing crunch.
Serve these babies up with sides like coleslaw, fries, mashed potatoes, red beans and rice, etc.!
How to Make Popeye’s Voodoo Chicken Tenders?
This recipes starts with authentic Popeye’s chicken. I’ll be the first to admit, the list of ingredients and steps can be a little intimidatingly if you are wanting instant gratification. See my list below for some easy shortcuts to make this faster.
- Marinade Chicken Tenders: we brine these tenders overnight for incredibly juicy results. No, I don’t always do this. There are many weekends where I’ll stick it in the marinade for an hour or two, and that’s certainly better than nothing.
- Season Tenders: a hefty amount of flavorful seasoning (just like what Popeye’s uses) are sprinkled directly onto the chicken tenders and also added into the flour dredge, ensuring these tenders are loaded with flavor.
- Batter Chicken: this recipe uses a shaking technique to bread the chicken. It’s ideal to use a clean, large paper sack but a gallon sized zip top bag works too.
- Fry Chicken: a candy thermometer is always beneficial to ensuring perfect temp throughout the frying process. We fry the chicken in a cast iron skillet, but you can also use a heavy bottom pan.
- Coat with Sweet Chili Sauce and Scallions: super garlicky homemade sweet chili sauce is the star of this show! Don’t skip the homemade sauce. It’s incredibly delicious. Sprinkle with sliced scallions for the perfect crunch.
Shortcuts for Making Popeye’s Voodoo Chicken Tenders Copycat Recipe?
- Make Sweet Chili Sauce Ahead: the easiest way to not overwhelm your cooking experience is to have this condiment ready to go in the fridge!
- Read the full recipe: this may not sound like a shortcut, but not reading the recipe in full ahead of time can really mess you up and cost you more time once you’re already started.
- Make-ahead the seasoning: getting a million different spices out of the cabinet can be quite annoying. It takes up counter space and is just a hassle. Make your spice mix ahead of time!
- Make-ahead the flour drudge: just like with the spices, save yourself time by having your flour mix already prepped and ready to go. You’ll be shocked at how much time this saves you.
- Buy Popeye’s tenders or frozen tenders: I mean, I don’t even know why I am writing this haha. The whole point of the recipe is making these from scratch at home. But if you’re craving the flavors THAT badly, I suppose you can just use the sweet chili and scallions to dress up store-bought tenders. 🙂
Looking for other delish copycat recipes?
I truly hope you enjoy this Popeye’s Voodoo Chicken Tenders copycat recipe. I look forward to your questions and feedback below. Please be sure to tag me @BadBatchBaking using hashtag #badbatchbaking if you made this recipe and I will feature you on my story! Plus, I LOVE to see your baking accomplishments.
Popeye's Voodoo Chicken Tenders Copycat Recipe
- Brown Paper Bag (clean) OR large zip-top bags for shaking chicken breading
- Candy thermometer for frying
Chicken Tender Marinade
- 2 pounds chicken tenders, tendons removed
- 2 cups whole buttermilk- full fat to marinate the chicken
- 1/3 cup Louisiana hot sauce
- 1 tablespoons Kosher salt
Chicken Tender Seasoning
- 1 tablespoon Paprika
- 1 teaspoon Sugar
- 1 teaspoon Coleman’s Dry Mustard Powder
- 1 teaspoon Onion powder
- 1 teaspoon Garlic Powder
- 1 teaspoon Cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon Dried Dill
- 1 teaspoon White pepper
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
Chicken Tender Batter
- 3 cups All-purpose flour
- ½ cup Cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon Baking soda
- ½ Spice mixture from the above list
- 3 large egg whites, lightly beaten
- 3 tablespoons Water
- ¼ tablespoon Cayenne pepper
- Peanut oil or vegetable oil for frying
- 1 cup prepared homemade sweet chili sauce
- 2 green onions, thinly sliced
Marinate the Chicken
- In a large bowl or heavy duty zip top bag, combine buttermilk, Louisiana hot sauce, kosher salt with a small whisk. Add the prepared tenders and submerge the chicken in the mixture completely. Refrigerate overnight or 8 hours for the best results (a quick hour works in a pinch). Pour off the chicken marinade, shake off excess buttermilk mixture from the chicken. Do not rinse the chicken.
Season the Chicken
- In a small bowl, combine all the spices. Use ½ of seasoning to generously season both sides of the chicken. Then reserve ½ of the seasoning mix for the dredge mixture below. If you prefer a spicier fried chicken add more cayenne pepper and white pepper to the seasoning.
Batter the Chicken
- Combine all-purpose flour, cornstarch, baking soda, and remaining spice mixture from above. Place the flour mixture into a large paper bag or zip top bag. Add the brined/seasoned chicken to the bag and seal tightly. Shake gently to coat. Remove the chicken from the paper sack, then shake off the excess batter.
- In a medium glass dish, combine the egg whites, cayenne pepper, and water. Dunk each piece of the coated chicken into the egg mixture and place dripping chicken back into the paper sack and then shake gently to coat the chicken evenly.
- Remove the chicken from the paper sack and place it on a non-stick baking sheet lined with foil or paper towels. Refrigerate for about 1 hour to dry the batter. Trust me; the batter becomes so much more crispy after doing this. Allow to chicken to rest on counter for 30 minutes before frying so it doesn't drop the oil temp too significantly.
To Fry the Chicken
- Add the oil to a cast-iron skillet or heavy bottom pan. Bring the oil mixture to 340° before adding the battered chicken. Add the chicken to a cast-iron kettle and cook the chicken until golden brown. Do not overcrowd the cast-iron kettle if need be make in batches. The meat's internal temperature; the temperature should read 165° degrees when done.
- Place the fried chicken on cooling rack sitting atop a baking sheet lined with paper towels to catch the oil that drops below the cooling rack.
Serving Voodoo Chicken Tenders
- Plate the tenders you're serving on a platter and add a heavy drizzle of prepared sweet chili sauce, and sprinkle the sliced scallions evenly over all the tenders. Serve immediately.