Crispy air fryer chicken tenders are juicy, flavorful, and so much tastier than store-bought! Simple to prepare, requires very little oil, and devoured by kids.
The air fryer is one of my favorite ways to cook chicken: from air fryer chicken breast to chicken wings, they get nice and crispy, with barely any oil!
These chicken tenders are super simple to prep and have delicious seasoned breading that gets slightly crispy in the air fryer. It gives them so much flavor- similar to KFC!
Made with simple ingredients that you probably already have lurking in your pantry, this recipe is devoured by my kids, and I love that I know exactly what goes into them!
Reasons you'll ♡ air fryer chicken tenders
- they are ready in 25 minutes or less
- they are made with simple ingredients you probably already have in your pantry
- they taste similar to KFC, but are not too heavy thanks to a light seasoned breading mixture
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Choosing the right breading
When testing this recipe, I experimented with three different types of breading:
- all purpose flour ended up quite soggy
- panko breadcrumbs didn't mix well with the seasonings and ended up tasting bland
- regular breadcrumbs had the best compromise between crispy texture and taste
To regular breadcrumbs, we add a seasoning blend of salt, paprika, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and cayenne. Mix to combine, and you can even make this ahead of time and keep in your pantry (it keeps for up to 6 months- check the expiry date on your breadcrumbs!).
Brush with olive oil
Traditional breaded chicken recipes first dredge the chicken in flour, then egg, then the breading mixture. For this recipe, we skip the flour and egg and simply brush with olive oil. We found this to be sufficient for the breading to stick, and it was significantly easier than dredging in the flour and egg mixture.
Use a high heat
When experimenting with oven-baked chicken breast and chicken thighs, I found a high temperature really helped achieve perfectly juicy chicken. The same is true for this recipe!
Most air fryers max out at 390°F/200°C, and that's what we use for this recipe.
My experience has taught me that the air fryer does not cook evenly on the top and bottom, so it's important to flip the chicken over halfway through to ensure that they cook through evenly.
After cooking for 3 minutes, flip the chicken tenders carefully using tongs, and cook for another 2 minutes. Check using a digital thermometer that they have reached an internal temperature of 165°F.
Chicken tenders go so well with a dip. Here are some tasty ideas:
- Healthy Homemade Ranch Dressing
- One of these 7 Amazing Hummus Recipes
- Super Speedy Tzatziki
- Healthier Caesar Dressing
Storage + Reheat Tips
If you were wondering if you can make this recipe ahead, you are in luck! Here's how to do it:
- fridge- store cooked chicken tenders in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 4 days
- reheat- heat back up in a 390°F/200°C air fryer for 2-3 minutes (until warmed through)
- freezer- you can bread them ahead and freeze raw: first freeze on a baking sheet 2-3 hours, then transfer to a freezer bag. Freeze for up to 3 months
- thaw- thaw in the fridge overnight...you may want to place the tenders onto a plate to thaw (cover with plastic or beeswax wrap) so you don't disrupt the breading while removing the thawed tenders from a bag.
More Air Fryer Recipes
- Air Fryer Zucchini Fries
- Air Fryer Tofu
- Air Fryer Honey Lime Shrimp
- Ultra Crispy Air Fryer Chickpeas
- Air Fryer Thai Salmon Patties
Did you make this? Tag me on social @sweetpeasandsaffron and be sure to leave a comment and rate the recipe!
Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- 1 lb chicken tenders
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup bread crumbs
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon onion powder
- 1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Heat air fryer to 390°F / 200°C.
- Brush chicken tenders lightly with olive oil on both sides.
- Stir together the breading. Using tongs, dredge the chicken in the breading, flipping over and repeating multiple times until the tenders are completely coated. Shake off excess breading and place in the air fryer right away.
- Cook in batches of 3-4 at a time, making sure the chicken strips don't touch each other. Cook for 3 minutes, flip, and 2 minutes on other side before checking that they've reached an internal temperature of 165°F and removing from the air fryer.
To prepare ahead
- These chicken tenders can be cooked 2-3 days ahead and stored in the fridge. To re-heat, place in the air fryer and heat for 2-3 minutes until they are crispy again.
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