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Longhorn Spicy Chicken Bites Recipe 

Longhorn Steakhouse is known for its delicious steaks and side dishes, but its appetizer menu is filled with excellent options.

To me, the sleeper hit of their appetizer menu is without question their Spicy Chicken Bites. 

A riff on Buffalo chicken bites, these fresh juicy chicken bites are fried to perfection and then tossed in a sweet chili-ginger sauce. 

Sweet, spicy, and crunchy, these bites are perfect for any occasion and surprisingly easy to replicate at home!

longhorn spicy chicken bites recipe

How to make Longhorn Spicy Chicken Bites 

Longhorn Spicy Chicken Bites use a standard chicken frying method. You simply soak the chicken in buttermilk and salt for several hours. 

Buttermilk brining tenderizes the meat and keeps it moist during the frying process, and the salt seasons the chicken bites from the inside out. 

There is no need to use egg in this recipe as the buttermilk residue will bind the batter to the chicken. 

You’ll then toss the chicken in a mixture of all-purpose flour and panko breadcrumbs, seasoned with black pepper and cayenne pepper.

To fry the chicken, you’ll need a Dutch oven or a heavy-bottomed pot that is at least 3 inches deep.

Preheat the old to 350°F and keep it at that temperature zone.

Use a kitchen thermometer to keep tabs on the oil temp, since too much fluctuation will cause the oil to soak into the flour making for a more greasy piece of chicken.

You’ll fry the chicken bites in batches to prevent overcrowding. Too much chicken in the frying oil causes the temperature to drop, and the chicken won’t fry properly. 

Drain fried chicken on a wire rack before generously coating it in the sweet chili-ginger sauce. 

The sauce is a mixture of rice vinegar, sambal oelek hot sauce, fresh ginger, fresh garlic, sugar, soy sauce, and chili flake that is brought to a light simmer and then thickened with a slurry of cornstarch and water. 

The sauce comes together quickly. You can definitely make it in advance. If you do just gently warm it through before tossing the chicken. 


(4 servings)

For the chicken:

  • 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken tender strips cut into 1-inch cubes 
  • 1 quart of buttermilk 
  • 2 tbsp of kosher salt
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1.5 cups panko bread crumbs 
  • 1 tsp black pepper 
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (use more or less depending on preferred spice levels) 
  • 2 quarts of peanut oil or other neutral oil for frying
  • Crushed peanuts for garnish- optional 
  • Fresh cilantro for garnish – optional 

For the sauce:

  • ½ cup rice vinegar 
  • ½ cup water 
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp sambal oelek hot sauce (more or less depending on spice preference)
  • 2 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 1.5 inches fresh ginger, peeled and finely minced 
  • 1.5 tsp light soy sauce 
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water 


Not you’ll want to marinate the chicken for at least 2 hours, but you can soak it for up to 24. The longer it marinates the more flavor it will have, but don’t overdo it! 

If you’re making the sauce a few hours ahead of time, store it covered in the fridge until ready to use. 

This is the process that I follow, but you can definitely adjust it to your own timeline!

Step 1:

In a large bowl, whisk together buttermilk and salt until well combined. 

Toss the chicken tender strips in the buttermilk until evenly coated. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the fridge to marinate for at least 2 hours and up to 24. 

Step 2:

When the chicken is done marinating, remove it from the buttermilk. Dab off any excess liquid with a paper towel. The chicken pieces should have a thin coating of buttermilk.

Place in the fridge until ready to use. 

Line a large baking sheet with foil and place a cooling rack on top. Set aside. 

Step 3:

Heat the oil. 

Add oil to a Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed bottom pot fitted with a kitchen thermometer. Place over medium-high heat and bring up to 350°F. If it goes over 350 it’s fine, but if it goes over 375°F lower the heat to prevent burning. 

You can also check the oil temperature after 10 minutes by placing 1 piece of coated chicken in the pot. If it bubbles and sputters it’s ready.

Step 4:

While the oil is heating, prepare the flour and panko mixture. 

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, panko, black pepper, and cayenne. 

Transfer the chicken pieces to the flour mixture and toss.

Step 5:

Fry the chicken bites. 

Using a kitchen spider or fine-mesh sieve, pick up ¼ of the chicken bites and gently shake to remove any excess flour mixture. 

Carefully lower the chicken into the hot oil, making sure the spider and chicken are facing away from you to prevent burning yourself in the event of oil splatter. 

Fry the chicken, stirring occasionally, until it’s golden brown and cooked through. About 5 minutes. 

When the chicken bites are done frying, shake off any excess oil and transfer them to the prepared draining rack. 

Repeat until all of the chicken bites are cooked. 

Step 6:

While the chicken is cooling, prepare the sauce. 

In a small saucepan, mix together vinegar, water, sugar, sambal, garlic, ginger, and soy sauce. Place over medium heat and, stirring regularly, bring to a low boil. 

Once boiling, stop stirring and let the mixture boil undisturbed for one minute until all the sugar has dissolved and the sauce is fragrant. 

Remove from heat and immediately add the cornstarch slurry to the sauce. Stir vigorously until the chili sauce has thickened and lightened slightly in color. 

Let cool for 5 minutes. 

ginger chili sauce for chicken dish

Step 7:

Transfer the chicken bites to a large bowl and cover in the sauce. Toss until all of the chicken is fully and evenly coated. 

Shake off any excess sauce and transfer to a serving plate. If you’d like, garnish with crushed peanuts and cilantro. 

Serve warm and enjoy! 

Ingredients Substitutions

There are plenty of ingredients that can be substituted and still get a delicious spicy chicken bite. 

Here are some suggestions I use for substitutions, but it is by no means a comprehensive list! 

1. Calamari 

It may sound bizarre to substitute seafood for chicken tenders but it totally works here!

Fried calamari is the perfect vehicle for the chili dipping sauce, as it has a mild flavor and is less salty than other sea-dwelling creatures. 

If you use calamari, soak it in regular milk instead of buttermilk to prevent it from becoming tough and chewy. 

2. Sriracha 

Sambal is an excellent hot sauce, but not necessarily one you’ll find in every pantry. If you don’t have sambal on hand, sriracha is a great swap! 

Sriracha and sambal are in the same flavor family, but sriracha is the more recognizable of the two and it’s likely you already have it in your hot sauce cabinet.

Substitute it 1 to 1 and feel free to drizzle it on the finished product for an extra punch of heat! 

3. Brown Sugar

If you like a richer flavored sauce, brown sugar can absolutely be swapped for granulated sugar.

Reach for light brown sugar instead of dark to avoid overpowering the dish with an intense molasses quality. 

4. Garlic Powder 

If you like a more subtle garlic flavor or don’t have fresh garlic on hand, garlic powder can easily be used in its place. 

Garlic powder isn’t quite as intense as fresh garlic, but it certainly isn’t mild either.

To prevent an overwhelming amount of garlic flavor, start with ½ teaspoon and increase the amount if you think it’s necessary. 

Now that we have a good idea of how the recipe comes together and some options for substitutions, let’s explore the best ways to eat these delicious spicy chicken bites. 

How to Store and Reheat Longhorn Spicy Chicken Bites 

To store in the fridge, make sure the spicy chicken bites have cooled down completely.

Transfer to an airtight container, ideally one big enough so they don’t overlap. 

Store in the fridge for up to 3 days.

Leftover chicken bites reheat well, and they’re just as delicious the next day if you follow these easy steps. 

The most important thing about reheating spicy chicken bites is reanimating their crunchiness with high heat and air circulation.

The best way is in the air fryer at 375°F for up to 5 minutes.

longhorn spicy chicken bites recipe

Longhorn Spicy Chicken Bites Recipe

Longhorn Steakhouse's spicy chicken bites are a popular, savory, sweet, and crunchy appetizer that's easy to make. They're perfect for gatherings or weeknight dinners.
4.60 from 25 votes
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Marinating Time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 55 minutes
Course Appetizer, Main Course, Side Dish, Snack
Cuisine American, Asian Fusion
Servings 4 people
Calories 740 kcal
  • dutch oven
  • kitchen thermometer
  • kitchen spider
  • cooling rack
For the chicken:
  • 1.5 lbs boneless skinless chicken tender strips cut into 1-inch cubes 
  • 1 quart buttermilk 
  • 2 tbsp kosher salt
  • 1.5 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1.5 cups panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp black pepper 
  • ½ tsp cayenne pepper (more or less depending on spice preference)
  • 2 quarts peanut oil or other neutral oil for frying
  • crushed peanuts for garnish optional
  • fresh cilantro for garnish optional
For the sauce:
  • ½ cup rice vinegar 
  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tbsp sambal oelek hot sauce (more or less depending on spice preference)
  • 2 cloves finely minced garlic
  • 1.5 inches fresh ginger peeled and finely minced 
  • 1.5 tsp light soy sauce 
  • 1 tbsp cornstarch dissolved in 2 tbsp water 
  • Whisk buttermilk and salt in a large bowl. Toss chicken in the mixture. Cover tightly, refrigerate, and marinate for a minimum of 2 hours, or up to 24 hours.
  • After marinating, remove chicken from buttermilk, wipe off excess. Keep thin buttermilk coating. Refrigerate until use. Line baking sheet with foil, add cooling rack on top. Set aside.
  • Heat oil in Dutch oven or heavy-bottomed pot to 350°F. If it exceeds 375°F, lower heat to avoid burning. Without thermometer, test after 10 mins with a chicken piece. If it bubbles, it's ready; if not, wait.
  • As oil heats, mix flour, panko, pepper, cayenne in a bowl. Coat chicken with the mixture evenly.
  • Fry chicken bites in batches. Shake off excess flour, carefully lower into hot oil using a kitchen spider. Fry until golden brown and cooked (about 5 mins). Drain on prepared rack. Repeat.
  • As chicken cools, make sauce. In a saucepan, mix vinegar, water, sugar, sambal, garlic, ginger, soy sauce. Bring to low boil, dissolve sugar. Add cornstarch slurry, stir till thickened. Cool 5 mins.
  • Coat chicken bites with sauce in a bowl. Shake off excess and place on serving plate. Optionally, garnish with crushed peanuts and cilantro.
Calories: 740kcalCarbohydrates: 53gProtein: 43gFat: 39gSaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 110mgSodium: 1420mgSugar: 17g


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