Combine chicken strips, pickle juice, hot sauce, and ½ cup buttermilk in a medium bowl. Allow the chicken to marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour or overnight.
Combine flour, salt, and pepper in a shallow dish. Add the remaining ½ cup of buttermilk to another bowl.
Dip chicken in seasoned flour then buttermilk and then dredge in flour once more. Set the chicken strip on a plate and continue with the remaining strips. Mist or brush chicken with olive oil.
Preheat the Air Fryer to 380°F and spray the air fryer basket with olive oil or coconut oil or brush with vegetable oil - do not use regular nonstick cooking spray.
Place 6 chicken strips in the air fryer basket in a single layer making sure not to overlap. Cook for 6 minutes, turn the strips and cook for an additional 6 minutes until an instant-read thermometer reaches 165°F. Repeat with the second batch.
While the chicken is cooking, prepare the hot sauce. In a small saucepan on medium heat combine all sauce ingredients. Stir and cook until the mixture has melted. Serve the sauce brushed over hot chicken strips with a side of pickles and white bread and crinkle cut fries if you like.
Be sure to shake excess buttermilk from chicken to avoid a soggy coating. Also do not skip preheating the air fryer for the best possible texture.
Keep cooked chicken tenders warm in a 200°F oven while preparing the second batch.
Start with 1 teaspoon of Cayenne pepper at a time to ensure it’s not too spicy. Add brown sugar to balance heat if desired. If you choose to add the brown sugar, keep the heat on medium-low, or the sugar will caramelize and turn to a taffy texture and will not coat the chicken properly. Coleslaw is also a nice accompaniment to this chicken to cool down the heat as well.
If you would like to fry the chicken instead, bring 2 cups of vegetable oil to 350°F, fry chicken strips for about 5 to 6 minutes turning halfway through cooking time until it registers 165F° on an instant-read thermometer and is a golden brown color. Drain on paper towels before brushing with spicy sauce.