The Dude Diet: Buffalo Chicken "Fingie" Edition

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Healthy Baked Buffalo Chicken Tenders With RanchAre you still with me, dudes? I know it’s been a while, and I have no excuse, so I’ll just say: I’m sorry. Please forgive me. I sincerely hope your moobs have not returned in my absence.

Truth be told, it’s been a rough summer for The Dude Diet. Logan and I have been on the wedding circuit, and he’s been crushing cocktails and apps with shameless enthusiasm for three terrifying months. I don’t want to get into the dirty details (like the time he asked the wedding planner if he could have the leftover mac and cheese from the children’s meals, or when he practically form tackled a tray of late-night grilled cheese on the dance floor), but you should know I’ve spent a lot of time reenacting the scene from My Best Friend’s Wedding where Julia Roberts chases Dermot Mulroney (who she’s in love with), who’s chasing Cameron Diaz (who he’s in love with) across a giant lawn. In these scenarios, I’m Julia, Logan is Dermot, and Cameron is a poor, unsuspecting finger food server.

Needless to say, it’s been very stressful.

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-2Instead of panicking about Logan’s flagrant Dude Diet disobedience, I’ve been patiently waiting for the season to end, at which point I figured I’d surreptitiously put him on an extended version of this plan. Logan’s wonderland body would be restored without too much permanent damage to his arteries or The Dude Diet brand, and I’d just pretend this wedding weirdness never happened. Onward to glory!

Then last weekend, while casually discussing fall activities with the Dude, Logan stated his intention to host “dope football parties” at our apartment. He immediately launched into a series of 100% batshit food requests, all of which involved mass quantities of beef, cheese, and deep-fried fatness, almost rolling off the bed in his excitement.

As I stared at the beads of anticipatory meat sweat forming on his upper lip, my stomach constricted with dread. How could I have forgotten? Sure, weddings and holiday parties are tough, but they’ve got nothing on The Dude Diet’s most persistent and dangerous threat: FOOTBALL SEASON.

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-3I hate football. Outside of scouting potential Dude Diet ambassadors, I have zero interest in the sport, and I resent the negative effect that it has on Logan’s personality (he’s mostly edgy and hostile because the Eagles and Buffs are always “shitting the bed!”), his social life, and most importantly, his gut.

Logan’s eating habits during football season are every bit as disturbing as you would imagine. He appears to be physically incapable of watching football without getting dirty on the food front, and he tends to mindlessly push things into his mouth (yes, he literally pushes bigger bites into his mouth if they don’t fit) throughout the game with no regard for portion control or Dude Diet decorum. Predictably, such behavior has upsetting consequences, including meat sweat-soaked sheets, teary pleas for Zantac, and prolonged periods of “alone time” in the bathroom. Things get ugly.

I’ve previously discussed how to responsibly indulge on Super Bowl Sunday, but the Super Bowl is just one short day, dudes, and we’ve got at least five months worth of football fanaticism and feasting to deal with. Luckily, The Dude Diet has already tackled some of the most dangerous game day foods (cheesesteaks, burgers, pizza, burritos, subs and mac and cheese), but there’s one fan favorite that I seem to have overlooked: Buffalo Chicken Tenders.

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-4Logan loves him some “buffalo fingies.” In fact, when asked whether he likes them more than regular Buffalo wings, his response was, “FUCK YES. Easier, cleaner, much more meat. And they don’t require as much work for Daddy.” The last reason is actually rather dangerous, as the boneless aspect of chicken fingers means that Logan is able to ingest them more quickly and with less chewing than a standard wing. This exponentially increases both his calorie intake and choking risk, and I worry about him crushing them without supervision. Death by buffalo fingie is a very real risk for the Dude.

I actually had a little bit of a scare last year when Logan inhaled a pile of buffalo tenders in a very short time period, and his entire face swelled/broke out in a strange rash. I told him to stop eating immediately because something was clearly very wrong, and we might need to call a doctor. Unconcerned, the Dude told me to relax, popped a Benadryl with his beer, and shamelessly continued his feast. It was one of the Dude Diet’s darkest days.

The worst part about Logan’s buffalo finger obsession is that despite my Dude Diet tutelage, he doesn’t think they’re “that bad” for him. You know, because chicken is a “healthy meat,” and “spicy things are good for your metabolism.” Dear God.

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-5Based on my extensive field research, I’ve found that many men share Logan’s affinity for buffalo chicken tenders, and the majority of them appear equally “confused” about the nutrition facts of this beloved finger food. Prepare yourselves, dudes. Here come the knowledge bombs…

Buffalo chicken fingers are the devil. Yes, chicken is good for you, but not when it’s dredged in white flour and breadcrumbs (or battered in a similarly nutrition-less manner), deep fried in artery-clogging oil, and then bathed in a Buffalo sauce that is at least 50% butter. For the record, three standard buffalo chicken fingers clock in at around 600 calories and 36 grams of fat, and that’s before you dunk them in copious amounts of the creamy fatness that is ranch dressing. Dude Diet disaster.

If you can limit your fried buffalo chicken finger intake to the occasional No-Calorie Sunday, fine. I’m obviously not proposing some sort of Bloomberg-like ban on chicken tenders, as I believe in all things in moderation. That said, if you must indulge your fingie fetish on the reg, please switch to these Baked Buffalo Chicken Tenders with Dude Diet Ranch immediately.

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-6These fingies are all kinds of epic, dudes. I can honestly say that they’re the juiciest, most insanely flavorful buffalo tenders I’ve ever had (and thanks to Logan, I’ve had a lot). The awesomeness is largely due to the fact that the chicken tenders are marinated in ranch dressing, so each fiery bite has a layer of tangy ranch baked in. I can’t even handle the dankness.

If you’re skeptical as to how the fingers on your screen could possibly be Dude Diet approved, let’s briefly break down the nutritional aspects of these bad boys. First of all, the ranch marinade (/dipping sauce) is made with non-fat Greek yogurt, which provides all the ranch flavor you love with only a fraction of the fat and calories, as well as added protein and a healthy dose of calcium. Booyah. Next, the high protein fingers are lightly breaded with whole wheat Panko, which at least provides more fiber than white breadcrumbs, and then they’re baked to crispy perfection without any oil or added fat. Finally, each badass tender is coated with Frank’s Red Hot Wing Sauce, which by some miracle has 0 calories and fat. (Frank is a magician.)


healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-10Not gonna lie, I briefly questioned the incomparable deliciousness of these tenders when I served them to Logan on Tuesday. He ate silently in front of his computer and didn’t say a single word for TWO HOURS. Not wanting to prompt false compliments, I said nothing and retreated to the kitchen to reevaluate my life.

Then I remembered it was Fantasy Football draft night, and the Dude was simply laser-focused on making “Eli’s Hot Carl” the greatest fantasy team of all time. (Like I said, I hate football.)

Once the draft was over, Logan launched into a glowing review of the fingies, waxing poetic on their tenderness and “buttery undertones” (???). His passionate speech concluded with, “I almost choked on one because I tried to put the whole thing in my mouth!!!” which is one of his best compliments because he is only so reckless when things are really, really bomb.

Happy Football Season, dudes. Let’s keep it tight.

Baked Buffalo Chicken Tenders with Dude Diet Ranch Dressing: (Serves 2-4)

1½ cups non-fat Greek yogurt
1 teaspoon dried parsley, crushed (Just use your fingers to crush the flakes.)
½ teaspoon dried dill weed
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½  teaspoon kosher salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders/tenderloins
1 cup whole wheat Panko breadcrumbs
1 cup Frank’s Red Hot Wing Sauce

Preparing your Baked Buffalo Chicken Tenders with Yogurt Ranch:

-Let’s start with the ranch dressing, shall we? In a medium bowl, mix together the yogurt, parsley, dill, garlic powder, salt, pepper and smoked paprika.

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-step-1-Place the chicken tenders in a large Ziploc bag.

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-step-2– Add ¾ cup of the ranch and seal the bag, removing as much air as possible. Squish the chicken and dressing around, making sure that each tender is well coated. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. Pop that extra ranch in the fridge too.

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-step-3-Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a wire rack with cooking spray and place it on top of a baking sheet. Set aside. (If you don’t have a wire rack, it’s not the end of the world, dudes. You can cook your fingies on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil if you must.)

-Place the breadcrumbs in a shallow bowl with a good pinch of kosher salt. Set this bowl next to the prepared baking sheet and get your marinated chicken from the fridge. You want to set up a little assembly line to make your life easier.

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-step-4-One at a time, remove the chicken tenderloins from the bag and dredge them in the bowl of breadcrumbs. (Using tongs makes this process less messy.)

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-step-5-Use your fingers to gently press the breadcrumbs onto the chicken tenders. (You want each tender to be realllly well coated, capiche?) Transfer the breaded tenders to the prepared wire rack.

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-step-6-Bake your tenders for 25 minutes until golden and cooked through.

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-step-7-Meanwhile, heat the wing sauce in a medium saucepan.

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-step-8-When hot, remove from the heat and add a few chicken tenders at a time.

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-step-9-Use tongs to make sure they get completely coated in the sauce.

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-step-10-Transfer to a plate(s) and serve immediately with the reserved ranch for shameless dipping.

healthy-baked-buffalo-chicken-tenders-with-yogurt-ranch-dressing-8Get as weird with these as you like, dudes. I’ve got your back.


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  1. Kiara Sexton on December 20, 2015 at 7:58 pm

    I made these today and they were divine. I used them in chicken wraps. Sigh.. take me back

    • Serena Wolf on December 24, 2015 at 8:05 am

      YAS. Thrilled these were a success! (And wraps were an excellent call.) God bless Buffalo chicken.

  2. ShiverBreeTimbers on July 7, 2015 at 11:44 am

    I made these last night and they were amazing! Awesome recipe!!

  3. Dan Colaneri on April 6, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    Oh my God.. Dude, frickin awesome recipe!! I’m a dude trying to eat healthier (I’ve lost 13 pounds in 3 weeks), and these were so perfect! Absolutely delicious!!

    • Serena_Wolf on April 8, 2015 at 9:06 am

      Dude, very pumped that these were a hit, and thrilled that you may be climbing aboard the Dude Diet bandwagon! And congrats on the weight-loss–13 lbs in 2 weeks is seriously impressive!!

  4. Shannon on January 12, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    I have made these several times and my husband and I LOVE them! Tonight, I’m going to try making Buffalo Shrimp same way (but with shorter cooking time) and see how they turn out. Thanks for all of your hilarious stories and awesome recipes!

    • Serena_Wolf on January 12, 2015 at 3:48 pm

      Psyched to hear these fingies have become a regular in your rotation! And excellent call with the shrimp (please let me know if it’s a great success…I will need to try it ASAP). Thank YOU for reading!

      • Shannon on January 13, 2015 at 12:42 pm

        They were awesome! We both loved them and will be adding to our rotation. The only difference to the recipe you have is that I had the oven at 400 and put them in for 11 minutes flipping them half way through (and I used a paper towel to dry the shrimp before putting in the Ziploc with the ranch).

        • Serena_Wolf on January 13, 2015 at 1:18 pm

          AMAZING. Can’t wait to get on this, thank you!

  5. Erin on January 3, 2015 at 7:44 pm

    I finally got around to making these after being reminded in your top posts of 2014 post. And they were SO GOOD. I’m a college kid home on Christmas vacation and my mom told me they were restaurant quality, so… win.

    • Serena Wolf on January 5, 2015 at 9:44 am

      AH, this is excellent news, Erin! So glad these were a win and that they given a mom’s seal of approval. (Mom compliments are the best kind of compliments.)

  6. Katelyn on December 27, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    This is the best chicken finger recipe I have ever made or tasted. I had a bite without the buffalo sauce. Amazing!! I broiled the chicken a little bit just to add a crispiness to it. This recipe is a keeper! 🙂 Thank you so much!!

  7. Crappy Midwest Housewife on September 28, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    Made them w/o the hot sauce for my kid… Excellent!
    I messed up the batch for my Mr. and marinated them in ranch AND hot sauce before breading and baking them – I’ll let you know how they turn out. They’re in the oven now. .. I’m predicting hot based on results of a previously mis-read recipe but should be good!

    • Serena_Wolf on September 29, 2014 at 8:37 pm

      First of all, seeing a comment from “Crappy Midwest Housewife” made my day. Second, thrilled that these were a success with a child (love to hear that), and I actually think a hot sauce in the marinade might be delicious? Fingers crossed…

  8. Alexandra Ray Airitam on September 25, 2014 at 11:16 pm

    Made this tonight in honor of TNF, and the hubby loved it! I used Franks Hot Buffalo Sauce and it was super spicy (if you like that sort of thing). I also made a half batch, without the sauce and used half panko-half coconut flakes, for my little one. Yummy!

  9. DianaChacra on September 24, 2014 at 12:12 am

    I love this! I’ve literally spent hours just scrolling through your recipes and funny stories. Amazing job, so glad I came across you on instagram. Keep it up:)

    • Serena Wolf on September 24, 2014 at 10:27 am

      Thank you, Diana! So happy you found the site!

  10. Karen Higgins on September 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm

    Hey Serena, big fan…gonna try these bad boys tonight – one comment, though. I live outside Toronto in Southern Ontario, Canada, but grew up in Buffalo and lived there til my 20’s – I must say, these would be much more appealing to me if the dipping sauce was bleu cheese flavored, not ranch – Buffalonians don’t dip their wings and fingers in Ranch dressing, always bleu cheese!!!!! Would love it if you could come up with a healthy yogurt-based bleu cheese dipping sauce!!

    • Serena_Wolf on September 10, 2014 at 2:37 pm

      Hi, Karen! So glad you’re making these fingies tonight. I know I know, bleu cheese is traditional (I was waiting for someone to call me out!), but the Dude is partial to ranch, so I selfishly went that route. I would definitely still marinate the chicken in the ranch as directed (you can 1/2 the recipe, or just save the rest for salads). And then for a yogurt-based bleu cheese dipping sauce, you could try: 1/2 cup non-fat greek yogurt, 1/4 cup bleu cheese crumbles, 1 tablespoon milk, 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, salt and fresh ground pepper. Hope you LOVES it.

      • Lauren Anne on September 18, 2014 at 7:10 pm

        I grew up in Buffalo too (currently live in DC) so I was a twinge skeptical (but I love your previous recipes I’ve tried) when I first started reading. But I think you’ve nailed it and I can’t wait to try them! Thankfully being a Buffalo girl through and through I always keep a big bottle of Frank’s in my pantry!

        • Serena Wolf on September 20, 2014 at 5:15 pm

          Hahah, I knew I would ruffle some Buffalo feathers with my ranch, and my non-traditional ways. But psyched that you plan to give these bad boys a try. Hope you love them as much as Logan did!

  11. Casey on September 8, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    where do you find the recipe?

    • Serena_Wolf on September 8, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      So sorry, there was a glitch with the blog, but the post is restored now, and you’ll find the recipe above!!

  12. wetwillie on September 8, 2014 at 11:19 am

    The Buffs do always shit the bed. damnit

  13. Karen | on September 5, 2014 at 5:48 pm

    These chicken tenders look delicious! I love the idea of marinating them in ranch dressing…yummy! 🙂

    • Serena_Wolf on September 8, 2014 at 10:03 am

      Thanks, Karen! Hope you try them!!

  14. Dixya Bhattarai RD on September 5, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    our dudes should meet up and do their fantasy football and what not together – i have no interest for football either. i think junk food gets all glamorous during football season. thank god for these healthier take on chicken tenders. i will have to make this sometime soon.

    • Serena_Wolf on September 8, 2014 at 10:04 am

      Fantasy football is legit the strangest things ever, but I’m glad to know you’re in the same boat. You have to try these…if for no other reason than to distract yourself while your dude watches endless hours of football.