Air fryer chicken tenders are one of the simplest recipes that you can make if you own an air fryer without all the extra grease! With the method I will show you today, you will get crispy, juicy and super flavorful chicken tenders. So good, that everyone else wouldn’t believe these were not deep-fried.
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The start of this year was extremely hard for my family and I. Suffering from a great it was hard to stick to the new year’s resolution that I planned on working on.
Fast forward a month later, I’m in full gears, heading toward my goals for the year. One of them was to eat better and to actually have real meals.
Believe it or not, last year I developed the horrible habit of not eating regular meals and instead snacking on cakes and cookies that I made throughout the day. That left me feeling super sluggish and tired all the time.
This is the best air fryer chicken tenders recipe ever!
So in an effort to make healthier meals, and get in a lot more protein, I started making these air fried chicken tenders because they are definitely healthier than the ones made in the deep fryer and they allow me to get in more protein.
I am the kind of person that only likes chicken that I can get from somewhere else. In my mind fast food or restaurant chicken tastes so much better. But we all know why it tastes so much better… FAT! And maybe a few other things.
So I figured out those few other things and I worked them into this air fryer chicken recipe and OH MY GOD! These were the best chicken tenders I’ve made at home!
More amazing air fryer recipes you will love!
What makes these air fryer chicken tenders so special?
These chicken tenders are a hit in our house and I’m sure they will be a hit in your house as well, here is exactly why you need to give them a try:
- Each chicken tender is perfectly crispy, so crispy you wouldn’t even be able to tell it wasn’t deep fried.
- The actual chicken itself is not dry at all. Soaking it in buttermilk makes all the difference.
- You can easily customize these air fried chicken tenders by adding different spices in the breading mixture to fit your liking.
- This air fried chicken tender recipe can be made in the Ninja Foodi too!
Are air fryer chicken tenders healthy?
Honestly, the word healthy varies depending on each individual but in this case I would say that this recipe is pretty healthy because it is not deep fried. So by making these chicken tenders in your air fryer you are saving up on a ton of calories.
These chicken tenders are made with bread crumbs though so that might not fit some people’s needs (aka those on the keto diet) I will make sure to make chicken tenders in the air fryer without breading next!
Ingredients for air fryer chicken tender?
Here are the ingredients you will need for these homemade chicken tenders, make sure to scroll down to the recipe card for the exact ingredient list.
- Chicken tenders- You can either purchase the chicken tenders already cut up or you can cut your own chicken breast at home. It’s whatever you prefer.
- Buttermilk– The buttermilk is crucial to keep you chicken moist and tender. If you don’t have buttermilk you can make your own by mixing 1 up of milk with 1 tablespoon or vinegar. I tried this recipe using both techniques and they both work wonders.
- Flour– The flour is used to coat the raw chicken first.
- Egg– The eggs are the second coating of the chicken fingers.
- Panko bread crumbs– The panko bread crumbs will be the last thing that will coat our chicken fingers and the thing that will make them super crunchy.
- Salt & pepper– Salt and pepper to taste.
How to make homemade chicken tenders in the air fryer?
Homemade air fryer chicken tenders are super easy to make. Make sure to scroll down to the recipe card to see the full detailed instructions:
- Marinate the chicken tenders in the buttermilk for 30 minutes to 3 hours.
- Prepare the flour, egg, and panko bread crumb mixture and set aside.
- Dry the chicken tenders using a paper towel. Make sure that you dry them well from the buttermilk to avoid having them steam in the air fryer.
- Dredge the chicken in the flour mixture them dip in the egg mixture then coat with the bread crumbs.
- Spray the chicken fingers with cooking spray.
- Place the chicken fingers in the air fryer basket and cook at 390F for 8-10 minutes depending on how large your chicken fingers are. Flip the chicken tenders halfway through the baking time. Make sure to check for doneness with a thermometer. You will know the chicken is ready when it reached 165F in the center of the thickest area.
How long to cook chicken tenders in the air fryer?
The cooking time of chicken tenders depends on how big/ thick each slice is. That’s why making sure that all of the chicken tender pieces are about the same size if crucial. As a rule of thumb I usually cook my chicken tenders at 390F for 8-10 minutes. As always, make sure to heck that the internal temperature of your chicken is at 165F!
Can you freeze homemade chicken tenders?
This is one thing I love doing at home because I get to have an easy weeknight dinner or lunch that’s ready to go and that’s also a whole lot healthier than your regular store bought chicken tenders.
You will want to freeze your chicken tenders on a parchment lined baking sheet then transfer them to an airtight container then back to the freeze for up to 2 months.
To cook your frozen uncooked chicken tenders in the air fryer preheat the air fryer to 375F and cook them for 25-30 minutes or until the internal temperature is at 165F. Make sure to flip them halfway through the baking time so that both sides are equally crispy.
Can you refrigerate fried chicken tenders?
You sure can! I like making extra chicken tenders when I have room in the air fryer and save them to use them as a meal prep option throughout the week.
To store air fried chicken tenders, place them in an airtight container and refrigerate them for up to 4 days. Whenever you’re ready to enjoy them pop them in the air fryer for 5-8 minutes at 350F. They will come out super crispy and delicious this way too!
What to serve with chicken tenders?
Chicken tenders are an awesome thing to make at home because you can serve them with a multitude of sides. Here are a few of my favorite pairings:
- Chicken tenders and air fryer frozen french fries with Spicy Ketchup
- Air fried chicken tenders and A Quick and Healthy Mediterranean Lentil Salad
- Chicken tenders and Air Fryer Broccoli Parmesan| (low calorie, low carb, healthy snack, keto) or Restaurant style Air Fried Brussel Sprouts with Balsamic Glaze
What air fryer should I use for this recipe?
You can honestly use whatever air fryer you prefer. I personally love the Ninja 4 quart air fryer. But you could also use your Ninja foodi air fryer.
Which ever air fryer you decide to go with just make sure that the air fryer basket is large enough to bake a few chicken tenders at a time.
Tips for delicious chicken tenders
Here are a few tips that will ensure that your chicken tenders turn out as good as possible!
- Don’t skip the marinating in buttermilk step- The buttermilk is what will keep your chicken extra tender and moist. Don’t skip this step because your chicken will come out a little tougher.
- Make sure your chicken tenders are all cut up evenly– Cutting the chicken tenders evenly will ensure that they will air fry at the same time too.
- Cook the chicken tenders in batches to not crowd the air fryer– Make sure that you leave enough room between each chicken tender in the air fryer to ensure that they bake evenly. If you crowd your air fryer you might end up with not so crispy chicken.
Crispy air fryer chicken tenders
If you tried and enjoyed these air fried chicken tenders, make sure to give it a 5-star rating by clicking on the 5 stars under the description.
Tender air fryer chicken tenders
- 1 lbs chicken tenders
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ½ cup flour
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- First, start by marinating the chicken tenders in the buttermilk for 30 minutes or up to 4 hours
- Place the flour in a medium bowl. Crack the eggs in a medium bowl and gently whisk with a fork. Place the panko bread crumbs, salt, pepper, and garlic powder in a medium bowl and gently stir to get everything combined together.
- Remove the chicken tenders from the buttermilk and gently pat dry with a paper towel. This will make sure that the chicken tender won't steam up in the air fryer.
- Coat each chicken tender with the flour, then dip in the eggs, then coat with the bread crumb mixture. Spray each chicken tender on both sides with cooking spray or oil and place in the air fryer basket. Make sure to leave enough room between them so they crisp up nicely, you might have to air fry your chicken tenders in batches depending on how large your air fryer is.
- Cook the chicken for 5 minutes on each side at 390F. Making sure that the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165F. You will have to adjust the cooking time depending on how big or small your chicken tenders are. For smaller chicken tenders, bake them for 4 minutes per side, and for larger ones aim for 6-7 minutes per side.
- Serve the chicken tenders with ranch or ketchup and enjoy right away!
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