Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

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These healthy air fryer chicken tenders are coated in breadcrumbs and a blend of spices. They’re crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and loaded with flavor. They’re great for meal prep or a quick weeknight dinner.

Perfectly crispy chicken tenders in under 15 minutes?! You better believe it. If you don’t have an air fryer, this recipe might convince you to purchase one! These tenders are worth the investment.

An overhead view of a plate holding air fryer chicken tenders. There is a bowl of honey mustard dipping sauce on the plate with the tenders.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • Dare I say better than fast food? I love a good chicken strip from time to time and I have to say… these are better than most restaurant versions I’ve had!
  • This is a dinner the entire family will love. No more making different meals for different family members – this is guaranteed to be a family favorite for the kids (and adults).
  • It’s perfect for busy weeknights. Get dinner on the table in under 15 minutes!
Ingredients measured out to make chicken tenders: chicken breast strips, Italian breadcrumbs, panko, egg, salt, pepper, cayenne, paprika and garlic powder.

Ingredients Needed

  • boneless skinless chicken breast – I usually buy organic chicken breasts and cut into strips. It’s cheaper than buying pre-cut chicken tenders and I personally hate dealing with the tendon that you’ll typically find in store-bought tenders. That said, you can totally buy pre-cut chicken tenderloins if you prefer.
  • seasoned Italian style breadcrumbs and panko breadcrumbs – I used a combination of seasoned Italian style breadcrumbs and panko breadcrumbs for the coating on these chicken tenders. I like the flavor the Italian style breadcrumbs add and the crisp texture that the larger panko breadcrumbs provide so the combo is perfect.
  • spices – we’re adding more flavor to the breading with a mixture of paprika, cayenne pepper and garlic powder.
  • sea salt and pepper – to bring all of the flavors together.
  • egg – helps bind the breading to the chicken.
Collage of four photos showing breading chicken tenders, and cooking them in an air fryer basket.

How to Remove the Tendon From Chicken Tenders

Like I mentioned above, I usually but boneless skinless chicken breast and cut them into tenders so I don’t have to deal with the tendons that come in packaged chicken tenders. The tendon is a a thick, white string of fat that goes down the middle or side of the tender. Some people may not mind eating this, but I don’t like the texture so if I do buy chicken tenders I prefer to remove it. There’s a quick hack I learned a few years ago where you use a fork and napkin (for securing hold to the tender) to easily strip with out. Watch a video on how to do it here.

How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

You’ll start by prepping the breading. Mix the breadcrumbs, panko, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, salt and pepper in a small bowl.

In a separate shallow bowl, crack and whisk an egg. Take one piece of chicken and dredge it in egg, wiping off any excess. Dip the coated chicken into the bread crumb mixture and roll until it is completely coated. Place the coated chicken into the air fryer basket.

Repeat with the rest of the chicken tenders, making sure you aren’t overcrowding the air fryer. You want them to be in a single layer so they can get nice and crispy! Work in batches if needed. Cook at 400ºF for 7-8 minutes, flipping halfway. The chicken is ready when the internal temperature is 165ºF.

pro tip!
Make sure that you are air frying your chicken tenders in a single layer and in batches if needed, otherwise they won't cook as evenly and won't crisp up!
Chicken tenders on a plate with a bowl of dipping sauce. A hand is dipping one of the tenders into the sauce.

Dip Pairings

You can’t have chicken tenders without dipping sauce! Here are some of our favorites to dip chicken tenders into:

  • Ranch – my vegan ranch dressing is a great option. If you’re looking for a store-bought version, I recommend Primal Kitchen ranch – it’s allergen-friendly and made with really great ingredients.
  • BBQ my homemade BBQ sauce has the same bold, sweet and spicy flavor that you love from regular BBQ sauce, it’s just made healthier without any corn syrup, refined sugar or added preservatives.
  • Honey Mustard – one of my favorite dips to pair these chicken tenders with! This homemade honey mustard dressing is so good!! It’s creamy, perfectly sweet with a touch of tanginess and only takes 5 minutes to whip up!
  • Chick-Fil-A Sauce – my homemade Chick-Fil-A sauce tastes like the real deal, but uses blended cashews instead of mayo. It’s the perfect sweet and savory sauce to pair with these chicken tenders.
  • Ketchup – can’t go wrong with good ol’ ketchup. Try to buy a version without any added sugar if possible. The Primal Kitchen unsweetened ketchup is my go-to store-bought brand.

What to Serve with Chicken Tenders

These air fryer chicken tenders can be served in so many different ways! Here’s what I would serve them with:

A closeup view of air fryer chicken tenders.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there a way to make this recipe gluten-free?

If you’re looking for a gluten-free option try my recipe for baked chicken tenders instead. They’re breaded with almond flour and coconut so they’re gluten-free and paleo.

What if I don’t have an air fryer? Can I make these in the oven?

Totally! If you don’t have an air fryer, you can bake these chicken tenders in the oven at 400°F for 20 minutes, flipping halfway, until the chicken tenders are golden brown and completely cooked through. Pro tip: line your baking sheet with a wire rack. This will result in a crispier texture.

What can be used as a substitute for the egg?

I haven’t tried an egg substitute with this recipe, but I bet using a flaxseed egg or an egg replacer would work. If you try either of these options let me know in the comments below!

Do I need to preheat my air fryer?

That depends on your air fryer! Some recommend preheating and others do not require it. Check your owners’ manual to see what they recommend. If you don’t have a preheat setting, just set your air fryer to the required temperature about 3 minutes before adding your food.

An overhead view of a plate holding air fryer chicken tenders. There is a bowl of honey mustard dipping sauce on the plate with the tenders.

How to Store Leftovers

Leftover chicken tenders store really well! After allowing them to cool, store in an airtight container for up to 5 days. I haven’t tried freezing these, but I’d imagine they’d freeze just fine! Let the tenders cool completely and store in a freezer-safe container. When you’re ready to use, place tenders in the fridge for about 24 hours before you want to use them so they have time to thaw. To reheat, I like to pop them back in the air fryer for a minute or two so they crisp back up!

More Air Fryer Recipes to Try

Be sure to check out all of the chicken recipes on EBF as well as my full collection of air fryer recipes.

If you enjoyed this recipe, please consider leaving a ⭐ star rating and let me know how it went in the 📝 comments below.

4.86 from 7 votes

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

These healthy air fryer chicken tenders are coated in breadcrumbs and a blend of spices. They're crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and loaded with flavor. They're perfect for meal prep or a quick weeknight dinner.
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 7 minutes
Total Time: 12 minutes
Servings: 4

Ingredients  

  • 1 lb organic boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into strips
  • ½ cup seasoned Italian style breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup panko breadcrumbs
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 egg

Instructions 

  • Place breadcrumbs, panko, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, sea salt and black pepper in a small bowl. Stir to combine.
  • Crack an egg into another shallow bowl and whisk.
  • One by one, dredge each chicken tender in the egg bowl, wiping off any access and then dip each into the breadcrumb mixture. Roll until each tender is covered completely.
    A chicken tender being dredged in seasoning after being coated in an egg wash.
  • Preheat air fryer if required. Add chicken tenders to your air fryer in a single layer and cook at 400°F for 7-8 minutes, flipping once halfway. You may need to do this in batches depending on the size of your air fryer basket. If you have a thermometer, you can check to make sure the tenders have an internal temp of 165°F to ensure they are cooked through. Just know that cook time will vary depending on the size of your tenders.
    5 dredged chicken tenders spaced at the bottom of an air fryer basket.
  • Enjoy chicken immediately with your favorite dipping sauce.
    5 air fried chicken tenders in an air fryer basket.

Notes

  • Chicken breast: I usually buy organic chicken breasts and cut into strips. It’s cheaper than buying pre-cut chicken tenders and I personally hate dealing with the tendon that you’ll typically find in store-bought tenders. That said, you can totally buy pre-cut chicken tenderloins if you prefer.
  • Oven option: If you don’t have an air fryer, you can bake these chicken tenders in the oven at 400°F for 20 minutes, flipping halfway, until the chicken tenders are golden brown and completely cooked through. Pro tip: line your baking sheet with a wire rack. This will result in a crispier texture. 
  • Gluten-free: If you’re looking for a gluten-free option try my recipe for baked chicken tenders instead. They’re breaded with almond flour and coconut so they’re gluten-free and paleo.

Nutrition

Serving: 1/4 of recipe | Calories: 229kcal | Carbohydrates: 15g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Cholesterol: 117mg | Sodium: 575mg | Potassium: 73mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Equipment

Additional Info

Course: Lunch/Dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: air fryer chicken tenders
Did you make this recipe?Mention @eatingbirdfood and tag #eatingbirdfood!

About Brittany

Hey there, I’m Brittany, the creator of Eating Bird Food, cookbook author, health coach and mama of two littles. Here you’ll find quick and easy recipes that make healthy fun and enjoyable for you and your family!

More about Brittany
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Recipe Rating




11 Comments

    1. Yum! Glad you are loving this easy and delicious recipe Ashley. Thank you so much for sharing your review + star rating, I really appreciate it.

  1. Nice Recipe! Can you please share chicken biryani with me because I am a very big fan of chicken biryani.

    1. Woo! I’m so glad to hear that, Maureen! Thanks for making them and coming back to leave a review and star rating, it means the world to me.

  2. Made these tonight and turned out great! Still new to the air fryer but I thought these tasted amazing! So thank you!

    1. Yay! So glad you loved the recipe, Jenny! Thank you so much for trying it and leaving a review! I really appreciate it!

  3. This looks so good! I’m wondering what brand of air fryer you use? I recently went down the rabbit hole of researching the different brands and found that a lot of them use toxic coatings on them. My husband had cancer in 2020 so I get nervous about any coating used in cookware or small appliances like these. I’d love to hear if you have any recommendations because I think we’d get a lot of use out of an air fryer!