Air Fryer Chicken Tenders Are A Healthier Twist on a Classic

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Air fryer chicken tenders are a tried-and-true, family-approved recipe. They are crispy on the outside, tender on the inside, and are all-around deliciousness that even the pickiest of eaters in your family won’t be able to resist.

Now I know the drive-thru is appealing when it has been a long week and the kids (or you) are cranky. But these air fryer chicken tenders will make you forget all about those fast food joints.

Since these are air-fried, not deep-fried, they give you all the crispy taste you love without any of the guilt. With just a few simple ingredients, you can whip up a quick dinner of homemade chicken fingers and serve them with all your favorite dipping sauces.

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In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know to become an air fryer chicken tender expert. We’re talking about the right kind of chicken to use, the secrets to a perfectly crispy coating, and, of course, my favorite dipping sauces to serve on the side. Bring some crispy, crunchy, air-fried magic to your dinner table.

Are you looking for more of your favorite air fryer recipes? Try air fryer chicken wings, fried chicken, and garlic parmesan drumsticks for more delicious weeknight dinner ideas.

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🥘Ingredient Notes

For exact amounts needed see the recipe card below

  • Chicken tenders: You can buy chicken tenders or boneless chicken breasts and cut them into strips. I get whichever one is cheaper.
  • Buttermilk: The buttermilk tenderizes the chicken. If you don’t have buttermilk, use milk with a teaspoon of vinegar added.
  • Egg
  • Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Breadcrumbs: Either panko breadcrumbs or regular breadcrumbs work fine.
  • Garlic powder
  • Paprika
  • Black pepper
  • Salt
Ingredients for chicken tikka masala.

🥣How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

  1. Combine a cup of buttermilk and an egg in a medium bowl. Submerge your chicken pieces in the mixture and refrigerate them for 20 minutes to 2 hours.
  2. Add 1/2 cup of buttermilk to one shallow bowl. In a separate bowl, combine flour, cornstarch, breadcrumbs, garlic powder, salt, pepper, and a dash of paprika for warmth.
  3. Take a chicken strip from the marinade and pat it dry with a paper towel. Dunk it into the flour mixture, then a quick dip in the buttermilk, and then back into the flour. Now, set it on a wire rack to rest for a bit. The breading will stick better if the chicken rests for 10 minutes before air frying.
  4. Preheat the air fryer to 370 degrees F for about 3 minutes.
  5. Once it is done preheating, spray the basket with a bit of oil. Then, arrange your chicken pieces in the basket. Remember, no stacking! You need that air to circulate, even for cooking. Give the chicken a quick spritz of oil, and let the air fry for 5 minutes.
  6. If you see any visible flour on top, spray it with more oil. Flip the tenders over and let them cook for another 5 minutes.
  7. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. If the tenders have reached 165 degrees F, they are done. If not, air fry them for a few more minutes and check again.
A bowl of chicken, eggs, flour and other ingredients on a counter.
Marinate the chicken
A bowl with a piece of chicken in it.
Dip in flour
A person putting flour into a bowl.
Second dip in flour
Fried chicken wings on a cooling rack.
After breading
Fried chicken in an air fryer.
Before air frying
Fried chicken wings in an air fryer.
After air frying

🍴Serving Ideas for Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

These golden brown chicken tenders are versatile, and you can serve them in many ways. My family’s favorite is to dip them in a variety of sauces. We love a good honey mustard, Buffalo sauce, barbecue sauce, ranch, or a spicy boom boom sauce.

You can even have a little sauce-tasting party if you’re feeling adventurous! Another great idea is to pair them with a side of fries, roasted carrots, or coleslaw for a classic meal that always satisfies.

How about creating a salad with crispy chicken strips? Just toss your air fryer chicken tenders on top of some fresh greens, sprinkle on your favorite toppings, and have a tasty and nutritious meal.

A person is dipping chicken fingers in a sauce.

💭How to Store

To store your leftover tenders, let them cool completely first. This is super important because storing them while they’re still hot might get them soggy, and nobody wants a soggy chicken tender.

Once cool, place them in an airtight container and pop them in the fridge. They’ll keep for about three days. If you want to reheat and get that crispy texture back, throw them back in the air fryer for a few minutes at 350°F.

A piece of fried chicken being pulled out of an air fryer.

⭐Tips

Be sure to check out the step by step instructions

  • Experiment with the bread crumbs. You can use regular bread crumbs, Panko breadcrumbs, pork rinds, crushed-up Doritos, or Cheetos. Try some different things and figure out what you like best.
  • Marinating the chicken in buttermilk for at least 20 minutes helps make it tender and delicious.
  • Don’t skip preheating the air fryer for this recipe. Preheating helps ensure golden and crispy chicken tenders.
  • Spritz the tenders lightly with oil from a spray bottle. Air frying allows you to use much less oil than deep frying. But a little bit will enhance the golden-brown color we all love and make the coating crispier. So use a little; don’t drench the tenders in oil.

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A piece of chicken being pulled out of an air fryer.
5 from 1 vote

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders Recipe

Published By Anne
Skip greasy takeout and make homemade Air Fryer Chicken Tenders! Crispy outside and juicy inside, these tenders are perfect for a family meal.
Prep Time25 minutes
Cook Time15 minutes
Total Time40 minutes
Servings: 3
Print Save Rate Pin

Ingredients
 

For the chicken

  • 1 pound chicken tenders or boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced thin

For the marinade

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg

For dipping and coating

  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • ¾ cup flour
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Instructions

  • Pat the chicken tenders dry with a paper towel.
    1 pound chicken tenders
  • Mix the cup of buttermilk and egg in a medium bowl. Add the chicken pieces and refrigerate for 20 minutes to 2 hours.
    1 cup buttermilk, 1 egg
  • Mix the flour, cornstarch, bread crumbs, salt, pepper, paprika, and garlic powder in a bowl.
    2 tablespoons cornstarch, ¾ cup flour, ½ cup breadcrumbs, 2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon black pepper, 1 teaspoon salt
  • Put ½ cup buttermilk in a shallow dish.
    ½ cup buttermilk
  • Take a piece of chicken from the marinade. Dip it into the breadcrumb mixture, then the buttermilk mixture, then the flour again. Set it on a wire rack.
  • Continue to dip the chicken. The breading will stick better if the pieces rest on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes before air frying.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 370 degrees F for 3 minutes. Then, spray the air fryer basket with some oil to prevent sticking.
  • Put the chicken in the basket. Don’t stack it, and make sure there is room for air to circulate.
  • Spray the chicken with oil to coat the top. Air fry at 370 F for 5 minutes.
  • Check the chicken. If there is visible flour on top, spray it with a little more oil.
  • Flip the chicken with tongs and air fry it for another 5 minutes until golden brown.
  • Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer and verify it has reached 165 F. If not, air fry it for another few minutes until it is done.

Notes

  • If you don’t have buttermilk, use regular milk with 1 teaspoon of vinegar added.
  • Experiment with the bread crumbs. You can use regular bread crumbs, Panko breadcrumbs, pork rinds, crushed-up Doritos, or Cheetos. Try some different things and figure out what you like best.
  • Don’t skip preheating the air fryer for this recipe. Preheating helps ensure golden and crispy chicken tenders.
  • Spritz the tenders lightly with oil from a spray bottle. Air frying allows you to use much less oil than deep frying. But a little oil will enhance the golden-brown color and make the coating crispier. So use a little; just don’t drench the tenders in oil.

As an Amazon Associate and member of other affiliate programs, I earn from qualifying purchases.

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Nutrition Information

Calories: 483kcal | Carbohydrates: 50g | Protein: 44g | Fat: 11g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 3g | Trans Fat: 0.02g | Cholesterol: 165mg | Sodium: 1232mg | Potassium: 859mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 655IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 198mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutrition facts are estimates.

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Fried chicken fingers on a plate with ketchup.
anne

Hi, I’m Anne!

I love to cook and I want to share my recipes with you. I believe cooking should be approachable and fun, not a chore. I want to make simple recipes using everyday ingredients that you can make again and again, whether it is for a busy weeknight, a summer cookout or a special dessert. Read more...

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