Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Tenders

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders that taste just as good as the deep fried restaurant version but so much better for you. Oven baked option as well. Jump to Recipe keyboard_arrow_down


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There are so many things to love about these crispy Chicken Tenders made in the air fryer. They come out crispy and crunchy, just like they would in a restaurant but they are so much healthier. Plus they are freezer friendly and easy to make. Serve them with some Baked Potato Chips and homemade coleslaw for a meal everyone will love.

If you are someone who loves deep fried food but is trying to eat healthier, you need an air fryer. They create healthier versions of your favorite fried foods, like these air fryer chicken strips, while maintaining all the flavor and crunch. 

Lately, I have been continuing to make restaurant type dishes at home and after trying lots of versions of a chicken tender, this air fryer version is my favorite. They come out super crispy and honestly, no one will miss the fact that they aren’t deep fried. We served our tenders with some baked fries and homemade honey mustard. The kids were already asking me to make them again before we finished dinner.

The other great thing about this recipe is that you can make a bunch and freeze them for future meals. They can be frozen raw or cooked. Then just pop them in the air fryer for an easy meal. 

Crispy air fryer chicken tenders with honey mustard on two blue plates and a wooden cutting board.

Recipe Ideas and Tips

  • These tenders will work with any combination of breadcrumbs. You can use plain, whole wheat, or seasoned. You can also play with the ratio of regular breadcrumbs and Panko breadcrumbs and try out different spices and herbs. 
  • To add more flavor to the tenders, consider adding some flavor to the egg wash. Try adding hot sauce, lemon juice, buttermilk, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or mustard. You can also marinate the chicken in the egg wash for up to 30 minutes to add extra flavor. This works best when you are also adding an additional flavor like lemon juice or hot sauce. 
  • These chicken tenders can also be cooked in the oven at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. Flip them after 10 minutes. 
  • Since these chicken strips need to be cooked in batches in the air fryer, consider starting the first batch while you continue to bread the remaining tenders. 

What to serve with chicken tenders?

Anytime I am serving a “fried” style dish like these chicken strips, I like to serve healthier versions of other restaurant style dishes like fries or onion rings. However, I almost always cook the side dish in the oven since the air fryer only holds so much at one time. I also love these air fryer chicken tenders served over a big green salad. 

How long to cook chicken tenders in the air fryer? 

When you are making homemade chicken tenders, they usually take about 8-10 minutes in the air fryer when cooked at 375 degrees. This assumes you are using fresh raw chicken and making your own tenders homemade.

If you are using pre-cooked frozen chicken strips (either homemade or store-bought), they will take about 10-15 minutes. Bump the temperature up to 400 degrees and flip the tenders halfway through cooking. 

If you are cooking frozen raw chicken tenders, plan on cooking them for 20-25 minutes at 375 degrees. You do not have to defrost them first, just add them to the air fryer frozen. 

Would this work for chicken nuggets?

This recipe works great for chicken nuggets as well. Start by cutting either full chicken breasts or chicken breast tenders into nugget sized pieces. The following the same instructions for breading the chicken. Cook at 400 degrees for 6-8 minutes depending on the thickness of the nuggets.

Make sure to preheat the air fryer before cooking the nuggets and spray the air fryer and nuggets with cooking spray to ensure they don’t stick. This also helps brown the outside. 

Can I make these in the oven?

If you don’t have an air fryer, these turn out great in the oven. Make sure to preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Then place the chicken strips on a wire rack. Place this on a foil covered baking sheet. Spray the tenders with cooking spray.

Bake for 10 minutes. Then flip the tenders over and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes until cooked through. If desired, you can broil for the last couple minutes for a crispier breading. 

Breaded chicken tenders made in the air fryer on a cutting board with one chicken strip cut in half.

How to freeze air fryer chicken tenders?

These chicken tenders can be made ahead of time and stored in the freezer. There are two options for freezing precooked tenders or raw tenders. For either option, start by breading the chicken and placing on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Then place in the freezer for 2 hours until frozen on the outside. Add to a freezer bag or container. 

To cook frozen tenders, preheat the air fryer to 375 and cook for 20-25 minutes. For frozen cooked tenders, preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees. Then cook for 10-15 minutes. 

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Post Author: MNS Master

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