Best Popeye’s Blackened Chicken Tenders: Copycat Recipe

Have you ever found yourself daydreaming about those incredible Popeyes blackened chicken tenders or that new chicken sandwich? Yeah, I thought so. You’re not alone in this culinary crusade. These delights have taken the world by storm, but their limited availability can make a chicken tender enthusiast feel like they’re on a rollercoaster ride – thrilled, yet wanting more.

Here’s the good news, though! I’m bringing you a step-by-step guide on how to replicate these finger-licking gems at home, anytime you fancy. Who says you can’t have your (chicken) cake and eat it too?

Popeye's blackened chicken tenders on a plate with a small bowl of spicy mayo.
Ready for the dive? These tenders are taking the mayo plunge!

What is Popeye’s Blackening Technique?

Ever heard of the blackening cooking technique? No, it doesn’t involve setting your chicken on fire or making a sacrificial offering to the cooking gods. Instead, it’s an ingenious method that creates a crusty, flavor-packed exterior – a good sear – that makes these chicken tenders totally irresistible.

The technique, which originated in the lively kitchens of Louisiana, involves coating the chicken in a vibrant spice blend (more on that later!) and cooking at medium-high heat. This process yields that toasty exterior that makes your taste buds do the happy dance, while keeping the inside of the chicken moist and tender.

Cooked Popeyes’ style blackened chicken tenders displayed on a white plate, garnished and ready to be served.
Voila! The finale – our Popeyes-inspired blackened chicken tenders.

Whether you’re using a traditional oven, an air fryer, or a good old-fashioned skillet, the blackening technique is a game-changer. It’s like going from watching black and white TV to a 4K Ultra HD experience – there’s just no comparison!

Don’t worry, you don’t need to have the cooking chops of a MasterChef contestant or a magical chicken whisperer to perfect this technique. All you need is a hearty love for chicken tenders, a bit of patience, and the willingness to get a little messy in the kitchen. So, are you ready to bring some Popeyes’ goodness into your home kitchen?

A hand dipping a Popeye's blackened chicken tender into a bowl of tangy, creamy spicy mayo.
Going in for the dip! These tenders can’t resist a quick swim in spicy mayo.


Let’s assemble our band of flavors. If you want to, you can replace the spices I use with a pre-mixed Creole seasoning you can buy at stores.

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins (our lead ingredient)
  • Olive oil 
  • Butter (the bass notes of our recipe)
  • Salt
  • Ground black pepper (a must in any symphony of flavors)
  • Smoked paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder (the rhythm section of our blend)
  • Dried oregano
  • Cayenne pepper
  • Dried thyme
  • Dried basil
  • Chipotle powder (adding some zing)
  • A dash of brown sugar (a sweet little surprise)

Now, you have everything you need to create your delicious Popeye’s blackened chicken tenders at home. Enjoy this easy chicken recipe that brings restaurant flavors to your kitchen.

Assortment of spices including paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, oregano, thyme, and cayenne, assembled for the creation of homemade creole seasoning.
Here’s a line-up of the spice superstars we’ll need for our Creole seasoning. Let’s turn the heat up!


Next up, we need the right equipment for our culinary concert:

  • An air fryer or oven for traditionalists, or a skillet for the adventurers
  • Baking sheet for the oven method
  • Large bowl
  • Paper towels
  • Small pan
  • A reliable meat thermometer (no guessing games here!)
  • An airtight container to keep any delicious leftovers fresh

Preparing Our Stars

First, we must set the stage for our main stars – the chicken tenders.

1. Slicing the Chicken

If you’re using whole chicken breast, you’ll want to slice them into tender-sized pieces. This is usually about 2-inch wide strips. If you’re using chicken tenderloins, they’re already the perfect size! Make sure your knife is sharp to ensure smooth, clean cuts.

Raw chicken tenderloins being prepared and seasoned on a cutting board.
Stage one: Operation slicing! Our tenders are getting prepped for greatness.

2. Creating the Spice Blend

While the chicken awaits its transformation, let’s get the spice blend ready. In a large mixing bowl, combine all the ingredients for the Creole spices. We’re creating a true creole seasoning. This includes paprika, garlic powder, black pepper, onion powder, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, dried thyme, dried basil, white pepper, salt, and the other mainstays such as smoked paprika, a little more garlic powder, and onion powder. 

Then, add a touch of dried oregano, chipotle powder, and that sneaky dash of brown sugar. The scent alone should transport you straight to New Orleans.

3.Coating the Chicken

Now that our spice blend is ready, it’s time to introduce it to the chicken. Drizzle the olive oil over the chicken, making sure it’s lightly but thoroughly coated. This not only helps the spices stick better but also aids in achieving that desirable good sear during cooking. Next, toss the chicken pieces in the spice blend. Use your hands or tongs to ensure each piece is generously coated with the spices. After this step, your chicken should look like it spent a summer vacation in Creole country.

A hand holding a chicken tender, coating it with creole seasoning for Popeye's blackened chicken tenders
Get them dressed up!

4. Resting the Chicken

After the chicken pieces are well-coated, let them rest for about 10-15 minutes. This allows the chicken to absorb the flavors and makes sure the spices don’t just fall off during cooking. Meanwhile, you can start prepping your chosen cooking method – preheat the oven, air fryer, or skillet.

This is also the perfect time to clean up a bit and get any additional equipment ready. With the chicken marinating and the kitchen prepped, you’re all set for the cooking extravaganza that lies ahead. Ready to bring on the heat?

Step-by-Step Cooking Instructions

With everything prepared, it’s showtime!

The Oven Method

  1. Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C)
  2. Arrange the chicken tenders on a baking sheet, and bake for about 15-20 minutes, turning halfway through
  3. Use the meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature is 165°F (74°C)
Seasoned chicken tenders laid out on a baking sheet, ready to be cooked.
Seasoned and set, our chicken tenders are all dressed up and ready for the oven!

The Air Fryer Method

  1. Preheat your air fryer to 400°F (200°C)
  2. Place the chicken tenders in the basket without overlapping, and cook for 10-12 minutes, turning halfway through
  3. Check the internal temperature – it should be 165°F (74°C)

The Skillet Method

  1. Preheat your skillet over medium-high heat and add the chicken tenders, not overcrowding the pan
  2. Cook each side for about 3-4 minutes until beautifully seared
  3. Check the internal temperature – aim for 165°F (74°C)
  4. Let the fried chicken rest on a paper towel to drain excess oil
Close-up shot of fried Popeye's blackened chicken tenders, highlighting the spicy, crispy coating.
Have a closer look at these spicy, crispy delights. Can you hear the crunch?

Enjoy your mouthwatering, homemade Popeye’s blackened chicken tenders!

Serving Suggestions

Phew, after all that cooking, it’s finally time to plate up! But hold on a second – how are we gonna serve these blackened beauties? Well, there’s no shortage of ways to enjoy these Southern-style tenders.

A plate of Popeye's blackened chicken tenders served with spicy mayo and a side of fresh green salad.
Dinner is served! Our blackened tenders are ready to wow your taste buds.
  1. In the Nude: Serve them straight up, maybe with a side of spicy mayo, ranch dressing or your favourite dipping sauce. Who said fried chicken needs to be complicated? Each bite is a flavor bomb that’ll have you shouting ‘Yeehaw!’
  2. Popeye’s Chicken Sandwich: Want to elevate your chicken tenders game? Try slipping a couple of them into a toasted brioche bun. Don’t forget to add some crisp pickles and a drizzle of that spicy sauce or ranch seasoning for an extra kick. Hello, homemade Popeye’s chicken sandwich!
  3. The Fancy Pants Way: For a more gourmet approach, imagine this: a spicy blackened chicken sandwich using Popeye’s new juicy filet as the star. Just replace the tenders with a full filet, and voila! A fancy version of the classic Popeye’s sandwich.

Remember, presentation is key. So, whether it’s a casual dinner or a more formal affair, make sure you serve your masterpiece with style.

A completed Popeye's blackened chicken sandwich on a toasted brioche bun, with fresh crisp pickles and spicy sauce.
Feast your eyes on this! The star of our show – the blackened chicken sandwich!

Fruequently Asked Questions

Can I use bone-in chicken pieces instead of boneless for this recipe?

Of course, you can! However, I’d recommend sticking with boneless if you can, just because it gives you that true Popeyes’ Blackened Chicken Tenders vibe. If you do go the bone-in route, keep an eye on the cooking time and the flavor – they might just take a little longer and have a slightly different taste.

What if I want to pan-fry the chicken instead of using an oven or air fryer?

Absolutely! Pan-frying can work like a charm, especially if you’re more comfortable with it or if you don’t have an air fryer or oven handy. Just keep your pan at a medium-high heat and watch out for overcooking.

Creole seasoning seems hard to find. Can I use something else instead?

Yes, definitely. If you can’t get your hands on Creole seasoning, try using a blend of Cajun seasoning, oregano, paprika, cayenne, and thyme. While this won’t exactly mimic the unique taste of Creole seasoning, it should get you pretty close.

Spicy food isn’t really my thing. Can I make the chicken less spicy?

Of course! This recipe is all about customization. Just cut down on the cayenne pepper and chipotle powder to suit your taste buds.

A beautifully blackened Popeye's chicken filet on a cutting board, coated with spicy seasoning, ready to be sliced.
Here we have a chicken filet, seasoned and blackened to perfection, ready for its close-up.

Can I prepare these chicken tenders in advance? I’ve got a busy week coming up.

Totally! You can prepare the chicken and keep it marinated in the fridge for up to a day before you plan to cook it. And if you cook the tenders in advance, they’ll stay fresh for up to 3 days if you store them in an airtight container in the fridge.

How can I tell if the chicken tenders are properly cooked?

A meat thermometer is your best friend here – you’re looking for an internal temperature of 165°F. If you don’t have one on hand, just cut into the thickest part of a tender – it should be white with no pink left.

Can I freeze the cooked chicken tenders?

Yes, you sure can! Let them cool, pop them in an airtight container, and they can be frozen for up to 3 months. Just make sure you let them thaw in the fridge before reheating them in the oven or air fryer.


Now, let’s talk about leftovers, if you’re lucky enough to have any. Storing your cooked chicken tenders properly means you can enjoy a quick and delicious meal whenever you want!

  1. Fridge Hibernation: Place your tenders in an airtight container, and they’re good to chill in the fridge for up to three days. Then, reheat them in the oven, air fryer, or on the stove when you’re ready to eat.
  2. Deep Freeze: If you want to store your tenders longer, freeze them! Make sure they are cooled completely, then place them in a freezer-safe bag or container. They can last up to 3 months in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat, defrost in the fridge overnight, then reheat.
  3. The Sandwich Shortcut: Have some leftover Popeye’s blackened chicken sandwiches? No problem! Wrap each sandwich in foil and store in the fridge. When hunger strikes, unwrap and reheat in the oven for a quick, delicious meal.
Cooked chicken tenders neatly stored in an airtight container, ready for refrigeration.
Tendies in hibernation mode, ready for tomorrow’s lunch, dinner, or a midnight snack!

​Final Words

So, there you have it, folks! Who knew making Popeye’s blackened chicken tenders at home could be so easy and fun? With this easy chicken recipe, you’re not just bringing the taste of Popeye’s to your kitchen; you’re also creating unforgettable cooking experiences.

Remember, these blackened tenders and the new blackened chicken sandwich are like those limited edition sneakers – they’re around for only a short time, but the memory lasts forever. So why not create that memory right at home?

Now, get your apron on, channel your inner Southern chef, and let the cooking adventure begin! Ready, set, cook!

A mouthwatering header image of Popeyes' style blackened chicken tenders, paired with spicy mayo for dipping.

Best Popeye’s Blackened Chicken Tenders: Copycat Recipe

7737f8c28c2cc5158e14eaf64d376635Apron Ace
Craving the delicious taste of Popeyes' blackened chicken tenders but can't get to the restaurant? We've got you covered! Our recipe has all the spice, crunch, and flavor you love, all from the comfort of your own kitchen. Perfect for a family dinner or when you need to spice up your usual chicken routine!
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Servings 4 people
Calories 729 kcal


  • 1 Large mixing bowl
  • 1 Skillet
  • 1 Small pan
  • 2 paper towels
  • 1 Air fryer (optional, for air fryer method)
  • 1 Baking sheet (optional, for oven mehtod)
  • 1 Small bowl (optional, for preparing spicy mayo)


For the Chicken Tenderloins:

  • 2 lbs chicken tenderloins (boneless, skinless. Or use chicken breasts.)
  • 1 tbsp olive oil

For the Creole Seasoning:

  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 tbsp onion powder
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 pinch brown sugar (a dash of)

For the Spicy Mayo:

  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 tbsp hot sauce
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1 pinch salt (to taste)


Preparing the Chicken

  • Rinse the chicken tenderloins under cold water and pat them dry with a paper towel.
  • Drizzle olive oil over the chicken and rub it in ensuring all pieces are coated. Set it aside.

Group: Making the Creole Seasoning

  • Melt the butter in a small pan over low heat.
  • In a small bowl, combine the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, dried basil, salt, ground black pepper, cayenne pepper, chipotle powder, and brown sugar. Stir until well mixed.
  • Add the melted butter to the spice mix and stir until it forms a paste.

Marinating the Chicken

  • Rub the creole seasoning paste all over the chicken tenderloins. Make sure every piece is well coated. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes.

Cooking the Chicken (Skillet)

  • Preheat your skillet over medium-high heat with a bit of olive oil.
  • Add the seasoned chicken tenders and cook for about 4-5 minutes on each side or until they reach an internal temperature of 165 °F as measured by a meat thermometer.

Optional Cooking Methods

  • Oven: Preheat your oven to 400 °F. Place the chicken tenderloins on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake for 20-25 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 °F.
  • Air Fryer: Preheat your air fryer to 400 °F. Place the chicken tenderloins in the basket and cook for 10-15 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 °F.

Group: Making the Spicy Mayo

  • In a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, hot sauce, lemon juice, and salt. Stir until well mixed.
  • Keep it refrigerated until ready to serve.

Serving the Chicken

  • Serve the blackened chicken tenders hot with the spicy mayo on the side for dipping.



Remember to let the chicken rest for a few minutes after cooking for juicier results! If you want to keep the leftovers, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.


Calories: 729kcalCarbohydrates: 8gProtein: 50gFat: 55gSaturated Fat: 10gPolyunsaturated Fat: 27gMonounsaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 176mgSodium: 1333mgPotassium: 1042mgFiber: 3gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 2326IUVitamin C: 8mgCalcium: 80mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Blackened chicken, Chicken, Chicken tenders, Copycat, Creole, Mayo, Popeyes, Spicy
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