To cut chicken into strips: This is one of the tips behind better chicken strips! To get a more tender strip, you need to cut against the grain of the chicken. Don't just cut the chicken any way you like- notice where the grain lines are and be sure to cut opposite them. This makes the cooked fibers of the chicken shorter, so they tear apart easier. Cut strips as big or small as you'd like, just cut against the grain! Place chicken in a ziplock bag and set aside.
Next, combine milk, lemon juice and sugar in a small bowl or 2-cup measuring cup.
Whisk in the cornstarch. This is the 2nd tip I use to make better chicken! I first noticed asian recipes calling for cornstarch in the marinade. When I researched it, it turns out adding cornstarch to chicken prior to cooking it gives it a protective coating that locks in juices. You know what?! It works! It's amazing actually! The trick is to not let it marinate for too long.
Add in the hot sauce (feel free to add more if you'd like!) and the pepper and whisk to combine. Pour marinade in the ziplock with the chicken and gently shake until chicken is coated. Place bag in the fridge and let marinate for at least 20 minutes, but no longer than 1 hour.
Heat about 2 cups of oil to 365 degrees in a frying pan. Frying the chicken in Crisco (plain shortening) yields the crispiest tenders!
While the oil is heating, combine all ingredients for the coating in a shallow bowl. Remove chicken pieces from bag a few at a time and thoroughly coat them in the breadcrumb mixture. I like to place them in the breadcrumbs, then spoon some on the top of the chicken, then press the chicken down- then flip and repeat the process. Repeat until all chicken is coated.
Once oil is hot, fry chicken pieces for anywhere from 2-4 minutes per side, depending on how big they are. The small pieces cook quickly! If you're unsure if the chicken is done, by all means use a meat thermometer. It should register 165 degrees F. (I use one all the time! I have 5 kids- getting distracted while cooking is a common occurrence for me and I detest overcooked chicken!)
Remove cooked chicken and place on a plate lined with a paper towel. Repeat until all chicken is cooked. Serve hot, with Homemade Fry Sauce (it's a Utah thing- SO good!) alongside.
To Bake Chicken Strips: Heat oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a cookie sheet with non-stick spray and arrange chicken tenders. Cook 12-15 minutes, until tenders register 165 degrees on a meat thermometer. (Cooking time varies depending on the size of your chicken tenders! Pay attention and check often as to not overcook them!) Note that my recommendation is to fry these tenders (the photos are of fried tenders), but if you opt to bake them, they will look different as you're not submerging them in oil. To add a little moisture, I like to spray my baked tenders with a little olive oil spray prior to baking, after you bread them. It's a lot less oil than frying but I like the way they taste better that way.