Mmm…deep-fried chicken tenders. Can you picture and taste them in your mind?
There’s a way of getting deep-fried flavor chicken tenders without having to deep fry them. That would be through an air fryer. Before the days of owning one, I would have to deep-fry chicken tenders.
With the air fryer, chicken tenders come out just as crunchy and flavorful as if fried, with only a fraction of the oil and calories to boot.
Air fryer chicken tenders are so good and easy to make. Always a family and crowd-pleaser, give these air fryer chicken strips a try and you’ll see what I mean.
When chicken tenders are crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside, you know the air fryer has done its job well.
Ideal for lunch, dinner or as an after-school snack, crispy air fryer chicken tenders feels like your indulging in a guilty-pleasure, but they’re really guilt-free.
Air Fryer Chicken Tenders Recipe
Air fryer chicken tenders recipe is a cinch to follow. The only challenge is deciding which homemade sauce you plan on serving them with.
Meaty, crispy chicken with a side of sauce. Now that’s a three-time winner. The ultimate trifecta in my opinion.
I make chicken tenders for my family all the time, because they insist on it. And I oblige as they’re fast, easy and so darn good.
If I can make a dish that everyone loves and that gets me in and out of the kitchen in a flash, I’m excited. After all, I may love to cook, but cooking isn’t the only thing I love to do!
Air Fryer Chicken Tenders – For Dinner or Snacks
What I love about these tasty chicken strips is that they’ll fit any occasion.
Whipping them up for a quick and easy weeknight dinner is one thing. Serving them on game nights or when binge-watching those favorite shows or movies is quite another. Popcorn or chips have nothing over air fryer chicken tenders. Put them in front of people and watch their faces light up. Puts a bit a different spin on entertainment.
When the craving hits, whipping up a batch takes next to little time at all. And that’s what makes them such a fabulous go-to snack, any time of day or night.
From start to finish, you can have air fryer chicken strips sitting on the table in 25 minutes. Now that’s quick.
Serve these chicken tenderloins plain or toss them in a barbecue sauce, buffalo sauce, honey glaze, teriyaki sauce or creamy garlic Parmesan. Quite a choice there. Whatever option you choose, it’s going to be the right one.
Follow this recipe and you’ll know what all the fuss is about. So let’s get into it, shall we?
Just a handful of ingredients is all it takes to make tasty chicken tenders. Ingredients that are likely sitting in your pantry anyway.
Maybe the only thing to buy is the chicken. And even that may be sitting in your freezer waiting to be cooked your way.
Here’s what you need to make these super simple chicken tenders.
- all-purpose flour
- kosher or sea salt
- black pepper
- garlic powder
- onion powder
- hot sauce
- chicken tenderloins
- olive oil spray or cooking spray
Not an exhaustive list by any means. And we can’t forget the vehicle that does it – the handy, dandy air fryer!
Making the Tenders
Making the tenders is a simple process. A little mixing and dredging and then pop those puppies into the air fryer. There’s nothing to it really.
A great beginner recipe for anyone that hasn’t done much cooking, or who just recently got an air fryer. Here’s what to do:
- If the air fryer requires preheating, then preheat to 400°F.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Set aside.
- In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs, water, and hot sauce until fully combined and set that aside.
- One at a time, dredge the tenders into the flour mixture and coat all sides, shaking off any excess.
- Place tenders into the egg mixture until fully coated, letting any excess egg drip off.
- Coat tenders again in the flour mixture, packing the flour to form a crust. Shake off the excess.
- Spray the air fryer basket with olive oil or spray and place tenders into the basket without them touching. They may need to done in batches.
- Spray the tops of them with more cooking spray, and make there are no dry patches.
- Air fry for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. After flipping, give them another spray.
- Chicken tenders are ready when they’re golden brown and the internal temperature reaches at least 165°F.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce.
The only thing left to do is dive in and enjoy!
Air Fryer Chicken Tender Tips
Given this is an incredibly straightforward air fryer recipe to follow, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when making air fryer chicken strips. Just want to ensure all the bases are covered.
Don’t Overdo the Coating
While making chicken tenders in an air fryer, it’s important to remember not to overcoat them.
When dredging chicken in flour, shake off the excess. As they’re being dipped in the egg mixture, allow them to drip off.
After the second flour dredge, let the excess fall away, as well. Putting a thick and drippy coating on the chicken will make them less crispy; not mention it will make a mess in the air fryer.
Thoroughly Coat the Air Fryer Basket
Although I’ve said it before, it’s bears worth repeating; before cooking the tenders, evenly coat the air fryer basket with cooking or olive oil spray.
Not using enough spray will result in the tenders sticking. Too much spray and the tenders will be a drippy mess.
Coat the basket like you’re spray painting. Use a measured, back and forth motion without overcoating the basket.
Use a Spatula for Flipping
Even after well-coating the air fryer basket with olive oil spray, the tenders tend to stick a little during the mid-way flip. Instead of tongs, suggest using a spatula to turn the tenders over.
This will ensure that most, if not all of the coating stays on the chicken tenders. Tongs can cause the coating to stick to the basket.
Serving Air Fryer Chicken Tenders – Dip or Dipped
Air fryer chicken tenders are the healthier version of my all-time classic favorite, and as such, we serve them in the same manner. Pile on some French fries or potato chips on the side and go to town!
Put that air fryer to good use by making the fries in it also. That way, you get an entire plate of comfort food with the comfort of knowing you’re not eating a greasy mess.
Serve with Dip
To dip or not to dip? That is the question. And there’s no question dipping sauce is made for chicken tenders. This dipping sauce is a MUST have in my books. I take great pleasure in dipping chicken tenders in any of these sauces. Trouble is, I can never make up my mind which one.
As long as I make chicken tenders, my husband and son don’t care which dipping sauce I use. So I make a different dipping sauce every time I make them. Keeps life a little interesting.
Here are just some of the many sauces you can use when serving air fryer chicken strips. All my favorite dips are right here and so I urge you to have a look!
- Honey Mustard
- Sweet and Sour Sauce
- Buffalo Sauce
- Ranch Dressing
- Sriracha Sauce
- BBQ Sauce
- Guac – It’s not a sauce, but try it. You won’t be sorry and you’ll thank me later.
Serve Already Dipped
For those that follow my blog, it will come as know surprise how much I LOVE to immerse many different foods in sauces and use dips on the side.
Once the chicken tenders are cooked, toss them into a bowl with 3 or 4 tablespoons of sauce of choice, just before serving.
Use homemade or store-bought barbecue sauce, Buffalo sauce, Caesar salad dressing with Parmesan cheese or teriyaki. I’ve never had a sauce I didn’t like.
And, for what it’s worth, I always serve air fryer chicken tenderloins with dips on the side too.
Creamy Garlic Parmesan
Without hesitation my favorite is Creamy Caesar salad dressing with a generous sprinkling of grated Parmesan cheese. Flavors that go together so well, I simply can’t get enough of the stuff.
Buffalo sauce or Buffalo wing sauce is most popular with my son, as he loves the heat. Use hot sauce, unsalted butter, molasses and a touch of cornstarch. That’s all it takes to make one of the best Buffalo sauces around.
When it comes to making a quick barbecue sauce, there are lots of options. If not homemade, then store-bought will work just fine.
My basic barbecue sauce consists of ketchup, molasses, apple cider vinegar, hot sauce, liquid smoke, salt, pepper or cayenne.
Options include mustard, honey, Worcestershire sauce, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, crushed red pepper flakes and a jalapeno, seeded and minced.
Again, store-bought or homemade teriyaki sauce gives air fried chicken tenderloins a delightful finishing touch.
Homemade teriyaki sauce includes soy sauce, brown sugar, garlic, ginger, honey, cornstarch and Mirin. Substitute the latter with dry white wine, sherry or rice wine vinegar, and add 2 teaspoons of sugar to balance out the tartness. Teriyaki at its finest.
Super easy to make, this honey glaze consists of liquid honey and cider vinegar. Made in minutes and is oh, so AMAZING!
Storing Air Fryer Chicken Strips
Air fryer chicken strips are good for three to four days stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. For longer storage, place the chicken strips in an air-tight, freezer-safe container or heavy-duty freezer bag for up to a year.
For a recipe as simple as this, there’s not a lot to say here. But these FAQs and answers just might give you a heads up before cooking.
Q: My chicken tenders didn’t crisp well. What happened?
A: You probably went too heavy with the batter. The key to crispy air fryer chicken tenders is to coat them just enough to cover them well, but not drown them. Too much batter leads to a soggy coating and a possible mess in the air fryer.
Q: What can I serve these air fryer chicken tenders?
A: Chicken tenders, French fries or potato chips are made for each other. Put that air fryer to good use by making a batch of fries in it as well.
Q: I don’t like a lot of heat. Do I have to use the hot sauce?
A: Not at all! The hot sauce are for those love that little extra kick, like my son. And leaving it out of the recipe won’t negatively impact it. Don’t forget there are other dipping sauces to choose from. All of them enhance chicken tenders.
Q: How long will these tenders last?
A: These tenders will keep in an air-tight container for three to four days in the fridge. You can freeze them in an air-tight freezer-safe container or a heavy-duty freezer bag for about a year.
Try These Air Fryer Chicken Tenders Today
Refer to this easiest fried chicken recipe often. It’s one that I keep handy because I know these chicken tenders are in great demand.
Whip up a batch of these air fryer chicken tenders today for your favorite people, and they’ll be more than happy to oblige.
Whether game night, movie night, or part of a weeknight meal, those who indulge, will be begging for more.
And you can take that to the bank!
Thanks for dropping by. See you next time.
Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- 2 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon water
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- 1 pound chicken tenderloins
- Olive Oil or Cooking Spray
- 1 cup Caesar salad dressing
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese; more or less to taste
- ½ cup honey
- 5 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
- ½ cup hot sauce
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 2 tablespoons molasses
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1 cup soy sauce
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
- 2-4 tablespoons honey
- ¼ cup Mirin (or substitute with dry white wine, sherry or rice wine vinegar, but add 2 teaspoons of sugar to balance out tartness)
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
Quick Barbecue Sauce
- ¾-1 cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- ⅛-1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
- pepper or cayenne
Barbecue Sauce Options
- ⅛-1/4 teaspoon liquid smoke
- 1-2 tablespoons mustard, yellow or Dijon
- 2-4 tablespoons honey
- 1-2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1-2 teaspoons onion powder
- 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 jalapeño, seeded, and minced
- 1-2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
- 1-2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 1-2 teaspoons chipotle chile in adobo, minced
- Gather and measure all of the ingredients.
- If air fryer requires preheating, preheat to 400°F.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. Set aside.
- Place eggs, water, and hot sauce in a medium-sized bowl.
- Whisk egg mixture until scrambled.
- One at a time, dredge the tenders into the flour mixture, coating all sides and shake off any excess.
- Place the tender into the egg mixture until fully coated and let any excess egg drip off.
- Put tender back into the flour mixture and pack it on to form a crust. Shake off the excess.
- Spray the air fryer basket with olive oil spray, place tenders in the basket and make sure they're not touching. They may need to be done in batches. Spray the tops of the tenders well with more olive oil spray, as you want to ensure there are no dry patches.
- Air fry for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. After flipping, spray them with more olive oil spray.
- Chicken tenders are ready when they're golden brown and the internal temperature reaches at least 165°F.
- Serve with your favorite dipping sauce. If looking for suggestions, here is a roundup of all of our favorite dips.
- Don't forget you can toss chicken tenders in sauce! Simply mix chicken tenders in the sauce of your choice or have a look at our suggestions below. We LOVE them ALL!
Creamy Garlic Parmesan
- Place wings in a large bowl and squeeze Caesar salad dressing on top of the tenders. Toss until coated and sprinkle with grated Parmesan.
- In a large bowl, combine hot sauce, melted butter, cornstarch and molasses until combined. Gently toss chicken to coat.
- Start by using ¾ cup ketchup. In a small bowl, whisk all ingredients together. Add salt and pepper to taste. Don't be afraid to try and add something new. If you add too much of something, remember you can always add up to another ¼ cup of ketchup to dilute an overwhelming flavor. The sauce makes between 1 ¼ and 1 ½ cups total and can be refrigerated for up to 3 days in an airtight container.
- Combine cornstarch and water in a bowl until dissolved. Set aside. In a small saucepan, over medium high heat, bring honey and 4 tablespoons of vinegar to a boil. Once boiling, reduce temperature to medium low and continue to simmer, stirring periodically, until mixture is reduced to about ½ cup. Usually between 4 or 5 minutes. Add cornstarch mixture. Whisk until blended and continue to simmer for a 2 to 3 more minutes. The mixture will thicken. Keep warm over low heat until needed to toss with tenders. Enjoy!
- In a small saucepan combine soy sauce, sugar, ginger and garlic. Combine mirin and cornstarch in a small bowl. Stir until cornstarch is dissolved. Then add to soy mixture. Bring sauce to boil over medium high heat, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally until sauce is reduced and becomes syrupy; between 5 and 7 minutes. Add honey and stir. Taste mixture to see if more honey is needed. Cover and set aside until needed to toss tenders. Dive in!
- Whatever sauce you choose, it will be the right one. Bon Appetit!
- The tenders are very flavorful due to the added hot sauce and spices. They are very very lightly spicy, if you do not like spice at all, leave out the hot sauce and use an additional 1 tablespoon of water.
- Even after spraying the air fryer basket well with olive oil spray they tend to stick a little during the mid-way flip. I suggest using a spatula to turn the tenders over instead of a tongs.