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Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders


Crispy air fryer chicken tenders are juicy, flavorful, and so much tastier than store-bought! Simple to prepare, requires very small oil, and devoured by kids.

The air fryer is one of my favorite ways to cook chicken: from air fryer chicken breast to chicken wings, they obtain kind and crispy, with barely any oil!

air fryer chicken tenders on a plate with one cut open

These air fryer chicken tenders are super simple to prep and have delicious seasoned breading that gets slightly crispy in the air fryer. It gives them so much flavor- similar to KFC!

Made with simple ingredients that you probably already have lurking in your pantry, these chicken tenders are devoured by my kids, and I love that I cognize exactly what goes into them!

Reasons you’ll ♡ air fryer chicken tenders

  • they are alert in 25 minutes or less
  • they are made with simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry
  • they taste similar to KFC, but are not too heavy thanks to a light seasoned breading mixture

Don’t forget to pin this post to save it for later!

overhead view of a bowl with breadcrumbs and spices for breading chicken tenders

Choosing the right breading

When testing this recipe, I experimented with three different types of breading:

  • all purpose flour ended up quite soggy
  • panko breadcrumbs didn’t mix well with the seasonings and ended up tasting bland
  • regular breadcrumbs had the top compromise between crispy texture and taste

To regular breadcrumbs, we add a seasoning blend of salt, paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne. Mix to combine, and you can even make this ahead of time and keep in your pantry (it keeps for up to 6 months- check the expiry date on your breadcrumbs!).

Brush with olive oil

Traditional breaded chicken recipes first dredge the chicken in flour, then egg, then the breading mixture. For this recipe, we skip the flour and egg and simply brush with olive oil. We found this to be sufficient for the breading to stick, and it was significantly easier than dredging in the flour and egg mixture.

Use a high heat

When experimenting with oven-baked chicken breast and chicken thighs, I found a high temperature really helped achieve perfectly juicy chicken. The same is true for air fryer chicken tenders!

Most air fryers max out at 390°F/200°C, and that’s what we use for air fryer chicken tenders.

Flip halfway

My experience has taught me that the air fryer does not cook evenly on the top and bottom, so it’s important to flip the chicken tenders over halfway through to ensure that they cook through evenly.

After cooking for 3 minutes, flip the chicken tenders carefully using tongs, and cook for another 2 minutes. Check using a digital thermometer that they have reached an internal temperature of 165°F.

chicken tenders in air fryer before cooking through

Serve with

Chicken tenders go so well with a dip. Here are some tasty ideas:

Storage + Reheat Tips

If you were wondering if you can make these air fryer chicken tenders ahead, you are in luck! Here’s how to do it:

  • fridge– store cooked chicken tenders in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days
  • reheat– heat back up in a 390°F/200°C air fryer for 2-3 minutes (until warmed through)
  • freezer– you can bread them ahead and freeze raw: first freeze on a baking sheet 2-3 hours, then transfer to a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months
  • thaw– thaw in the fridge overnight…you may want to place the chicken tenders onto a plate to thaw (cover with plastic or beeswax wrap) so you don’t disrupt the breading while removing the thawed chicken tenders from a bag.

hand holding an air fryer chicken tender cut in two

More Air Fryer Recipes

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

Course: Dinner

Cuisine: American

Keyword: air fryer, chicken, kid-friendly

Calories: 188kcal

Author: WPOPT

Servings: 4

Crispy air fryer chicken tenders are juicy, flavorful, and so much tastier than store-bought! Simple to prepare, requires very small oil, and devoured by kids.

Prep Time15 mins

Cook Time10 mins

Total Time25 mins

Instructions

  • Heat air fryer to 390°F / 200°C.

  • Brush chicken tenders lightly with olive oil on both sides.

  • Stir together the breading. Using tongs, dredge the chicken tenders in the breading, flipping over and repeating multiple times until chicken tenders are completely coated. Shake off excess breading and place in the air fryer right away.

  • Cook in batches of 3-4 at a time, making sure the chicken tenders don’t touch each other. Cook for 3 minutes, flip, and 2 minutes on other side before checking that they’ve reached an internal temperature of 165°F and removing from the air fryer.

Notes

Storage Chicken may be cooked up to 3 days ahead, and re-heated in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes until heated through and crispy. Freezer Chicken may be breaded ahead and frozen raw: first freeze on a baking sheet 2-3 hours, then transfer to a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months Thaw in the fridge overnight. It would be smart to transfer frozen chicken tenders to a plate so the breading doesn’t obtain disrupted when removing raw chicken tenders from the bag.  

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 batch | Calories: 188kcal | Carbohydrates: 5g | Protein: 25g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 72mg | Sodium: 472mg | Potassium: 432mg | Vitamin A: 170IU | Vitamin C: 1.3mg | Calcium: 18mg | Iron: 0.8mg

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