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All-time childhood favorite meets healthy weeknight dinner via extra crispy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders! With just 8 minutes of cook time, they’re a fast, family-friendly recipe that kids of all ages (and kids at heart!) will adore.

a plate of crispy air fryer chicken tenders with dipping sauce

Why You’ll Love These Air Fryer Chicken Fingers

  • Homemade is Better. A from-scratch version of the boxed frozen chicken strips and fast food chicken fingers I loved as a kid, these air fried chicken tenders are made with simple ingredients. They’re nutritious, delicious upgrade from their processed counterparts.
  • Healthy. Thanks to the air fryer, you can enjoy crispy breaded chicken, with very little oil (same with other breaded favorites like Air Fryer Shrimp and Air Fryer Mozzarella Sticks!).
  • Crispy AND Juicy. These chicken fingers are gratifyingly crunchy outside, juicy inside, and perfectly dippable (see sauce ideas below).
  • Freezer Friendly. Make a big batch for the freezer, then air fryer frozen chicken tenders directly from frozen, adding a few minutes to the baking time.
  • Goes with Anything. Serve them alongside a simple Arugula Salad or have some fun with Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries, and you have a simple, healthy dinner that’s a shoo-in for your greatest hits list.
A plate of air fryer chicken tenders with dipping sauce

How to Make the Best Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

The Ingredients

  • Chicken Tenders. Beloved by children and adults alike, chicken tenders are a delicious, quick-cooking option for lean protein. You can find pre-cut chicken tenders (also called chicken tenderloins) at most grocery stores, or cut your own from chicken breasts.
  • Eggs. To help the breadcrumbs adhere to the chicken tenders.
  • Panko Breadcrumbs. Panko provides a lighter breadcrumb coating that crisps up perfectly in the air fryer.
  • Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs. Regular breadcrumbs help fully coat the chicken tenders in breading, filling in any gaps that the panko might leave behind.
  • Paprika. Adds a mild, savory earthiness.
  • Garlic Powder. For necessary garlicky goodness.
  • Salt + Pepper. The essentials.

The Directions

A bowl of eggs next to a bowl of breadcrumbs and a plate of chicken tenders
  1. Set Up Your Dredging Station. Eggs in one bowl, breadcrumbs and spices in another.
Raw meat being dipped in breadcrumbs
  1. Bread the Chicken. Dip chicken in the eggs, then dredge in the breadcrumb mixture.
Raw chicken tenders on a baking sheet
  1. Get Ready to Air Fry. Lay the tenders on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Breaded raw meat in an air fryer basket
  1. Arrange the Chicken in Your Air Fryer. Make sure they’re in a single layer; you will probably need to cook the chicken batches.
Crispy air fryer chicken tenders
  1. Air Fry at 400°F, Flipping Halfway Through. At 400 degrees F, chicken tenders cook in the air fryer in 7 to 8 minutes.
  2. Cook Remaining Batches. You can keep prior batches warm in the oven. ENJOY!
Air fryer chicken tenders being dipped in sauce

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders Sauce Suggestions

Because dunking in your favorite dipping sauce is half of the fun!

Dipping Sauce Suggestions

Because dunking your air fryer chicken tenders in your favorite dipping sauce is half of the fun!

Air fryer chicken tenders on a white plate

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate air fryer chicken tenders in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
  • To Reheat Chicken Tenders in the Air Fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees F and add the chicken tenders in a single layer. Cook until warmed through. You can also reheat in the oven at 350 degrees F; avoid the microwave if possible as it will make your chicken tenders soggy.
  • To Freeze. Lay cooked air fryer chicken tenders in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze until solid, then transfer the frozen tenders to an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Reheat directly from frozen.

Storage Tips

To ensure your frozen air fryer chicken tenders are crispy once reheated, skip the microwave. Rewarming them in the oven or air fryer will help crisp them back up.

Leftover Ideas

Leftover air fryer chicken tenderloins make a fabulous addition to your favorite salad. I love swapping them for the chicken in this Chicken Caesar Pasta Salad, using them in this copycat Applebee’s Oriental Chicken Salad, or adding them to this Spinach Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Poppy Seed Dressing.

Healthy chicken tenders in an air fryer

What to Serve with Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

Recipe Tips and Tricks

  • Regular AND Panko Breadcrumbs. A combination of both coarse Panko and finger regular breadcrumbs is the key to making chicken tenders crispy. I find these result in a crispier, more satisfying tenders than recipes made with flour.
  • Have Fun with the Seasonings. I’ve suggested some light seasoning that gives the chicken tenders flavor without losing the simplicity of their appeal. Feel free to add cayenne to make them spicy or swap in Cajun seasoning for a twist.
  • You Can Make Your Own Tenders. If your store doesn’t carry chicken tenderloins, make your own by slicing a boneless, skinless chicken breast lengthwise into strips (about a 1/2-inch thick).
  • Cooking Times Vary by Model. How long chicken tenders stay in the air fryer will depend upon your model, as well as how crisp you would like them to be. In my model at 400 degrees F, the chicken tenders cook in 7 to 8 minutes.

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

4.73 from 97 votes
Healthy, extra crispy air fryer chicken tenders. Made with simple ingredients, they taste far better (and are better for you!) than frozen or fried!

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 25 minutes

Servings: 4 servings (about 14 tenders)

Ingredients
  

FOR THE AIR FRYER CHICKEN TENDERS:

  • 2 pounds chicken tenders about 14
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/3 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Olive oil spray

FOR DIPPING (optional):


Instructions
 

  • With paper towels, pat the chicken tenders dry. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.
  • In a shallow bowl (a pie dish works well) beat the eggs together. In a second shallow bowl, stir together the panko, breadcrumbs, paprika, garlic powder, pepper, and remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and keep it nearby.
  • Coat the chicken tenders: Working a few at a time, dip each piece of chicken into the egg, then into the breadcrumb mixture, patting it gently as needed to adhere. Shake off excess.
  • Transfer the chicken to the prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pieces.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F. If you’d like to keep the chicken warm between batches, turn a regular oven to 250 degrees F. Coat the air fryer basket with the olive oil cooking spray, then add chicken tenders in a single layer so that they are not touching (I can cook 4 at a time). Coat the top of the chicken tenders with oil spray.
  • Cook the chicken for 7 to 8 minutes, pulling out the air fryer basket and flipping the pieces over once halfway through. (The chicken should register at least 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer and the outsides will be golden brown and crisp.) Repeat with remaining chicken tenders, keeping them warm in the oven between batches as desired. Enjoy hot.

Video

Notes

  • TO STORE: Refrigerate chicken tenders in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
  • TO REHEAT: Rewarm leftovers in the oven at 350 degrees F, in the air fryer, or in the microwave.
  • TO FREEZE: Lay cooked chicken tenders in a single layer on a baking sheet. Freeze until solid, then transfer the frozen tenders to an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Reheat from frozen.

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 343kcalCarbohydrates: 12gProtein: 53gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 2gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 227mgPotassium: 913mgFiber: 2gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 680IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 37mgIron: 2mg

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I Air Fry Frozen Raw Chicken Tenders?

You can certainly put frozen chicken tenders in the air fryer, but only if you are making air fryer chicken tenders with no breading. Because this recipe is breaded, you will need to thaw the chicken first in order for the bread crumbs to adhere. Thawed, raw chicken is completely safe to put in an air fryer.

Can I Make Chicken Tenders without Breading?

For chicken tenders without breading (say you are following a keto or low-carbohydrates diet), skip the breading, use the seasoning from my Air Fryer Chicken Breast and cook the chicken tenders at 400 degrees F for 7 to 8 minutes cooking time as directed in this recipe. (These Grilled Chicken Tenders are another delicious option.)

Can I Make Chicken Tenders Without an Air Fryer?

No air fryer? No problem! Follow this Chicken Tenders Recipe. You also can bake these chicken strips on a wire rack set on top of a rimmed baking sheet. Use convection heat if your oven has it.

Or, for other excellent crispy baked chicken recipes, check out my Baked Chicken Parmesan or this buttermilk marinaded Baked Fried Chicken.

More Scrumptious Air Fryer Recipes

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Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

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69 Comments

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  1. I was hesitant to try this at home cause I felt like the chicken would turn out dry but I gave it a try and to my surprise it was perfect, in fact it comes out juicy. Thank you for the recipe5 stars

  2. These air fryer chicken tenders were a real game-changer in our household! Not only were they incredibly delicious, but the best part was that my kids and I made them together at home.5 stars

  3. This is the first meal I made in my new air fryer and it came out perfectly. Loved the breading mixture and the Ranch dressing was perfect.5 stars

  4. This was my first time making chicken tenders in the air fryer, I usually fried them. It turn out crispy and juicy. I will definitely try it again. Thank you!5 stars

  5. I love that I can make these air fryer chicken tenders in just a few minutes. They’re the perfect quick and easy meal.5 stars

  6. My picky eater son who doesn’t usually like chicken made at home, likes these! But he likes this chicken tenders. Thank you for the recipe!5 stars

  7. My husband and I both loved this! I usually make chicken tenders in oil which is messy and unhealthy. These were crunchy, tender and juicy.

    I didn’t use the paprika (didn’t have any) and I think it affects the final color, they were a little pale with some toasted spots, but we didn’t care! Will become a regular in our rotation!

    I have a Cuisinart Air Fryer/Toaster Oven5 stars

  8. I am making these for the fourth time! We love them. I am doing extra to save for my salad this morning. I highly recommend this recipe.5 stars

  9. My husband and I really enjoyed these. They were quick and easy to make. Delicious! So moist and tender with a crispy crust! Will definitely use this recipe again.5 stars

  10. Loved this. So easy and delicious! I subbed dry ranch dressing for the salt pepper and garlic powder. This recipe is a winner for sure!!5 stars

  11. I added some Italian seasoning and a dash of cayenne pepper, plus cut the salt in half. They turned out perfectly and will become a regular on the rotation. So tasty and easy to make.5 stars

  12. These came out so good, both my kids enjoyed them. For some reason my Air Fryer doesn’t allow you to choose a temperature when using the air fryer option. I did cook a bit longer because mine didn’t seem done and flipped them over the last 4 minutes. Super easy delicious recipe.5 stars

    1. Hi Janet! Yes, we love using chicken thighs! Here is our recipe for them: https://www.wellplated.com/air-fryer-chicken-thighs/ Enjoy!

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