Air Fryer Chicken Tenders are a light healthy dinner recipe that even the pickiest of eaters will love. With this flavorful homemade breading, your whole family will request this easy chicken recipe regularly.
When I ask my readers what is the biggest challenge for them in the kitchen, so often the answer I get is: cooking for picky eaters. Making dinners for picky eaters can feel so draining. This is one of the reasons I’m always trying to create and post recipes that will tempt even the fussiest of eaters.
Tonight, you should put these Air Fryer Chicken Tenders on your table. They are made with a homemade breading that is full of seasoning. It is flavorful enough that you will enjoy it, but not so over the top that your critical dinner companion will notice.
Additionally, this great chicken tender recipe is made in the air fryer, so it crisps up perfectly without being deep fried. It is the healthy and wallet friendly alternative to fast food.
How to Make Chicken Tenders in the Air Fryer
- Preheat Air Fryer: My air fryer takes a while to warm up, and we are cooking these at 400 degrees, so make sure to turn it on and heat it up right away.
- Make the breading: Our homemade breading is made with corn flakes cereal, bread crumbs, and some seasoning. Blend it all together in a food processor or crush it in a plastic bag with a rolling pin.
- Season the chicken: I like to add a little salt and pepper to my chicken before we get going.
- Bread the chicken: Follow the order of flour, eggs, breading laid out below.
- Start cooking: Because we will need to cook these in batches, as soon as you have enough to fill your air fryer, start cooking the first round. Continue breading the rest of the chicken as it cooks.
How Long to Cook Chicken Tenders in Air Fryer
When cooking your chicken tenders at 400 degrees in the air fryer, they will take about 8 to 10 minutes to cook. It is important that they are in a single layer to get that nice crispy exterior.
How to Bread Chicken
Breading chicken can feel like a daunting task, but it really only takes about 10 minutes. Work in batches, adding chicken tenders to the air fryer while you are still breading to speed up this meal.
- Flour them: First stop for the chicken is flour. A light coating will stick to the chicken and you can move it along.
- Egg bath: Next the chicken goes into an egg bath made from 2 eggs and a little milk.
- Breading Mixture: Finally the chicken goes into your homemade breading mixture.
I like to do all of this two or three chicken tenders at a time because it speeds things along nicely.
Cooking in Batches
As mentioned above, in order to get that nice crispy exterior we are going for without deep frying, we want to have the chicken tenders not touch each other. Most air fryers aren’t huge, so you will need to work in batches.
My suggestion is once you have finished breading five or six chicken tenders, throw them in the air fryer while you finish breading the rest. This is what helps keep this a 30 minute meal.
Making Chicken Tenders in the Oven
If you don’t have an air fryer but want to still enjoy this amazing recipe, cook these on a baking sheet at 400 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes or until the chicken registers 165 degrees.
Dipping Sauce for Air Fryer Chicken Strips
I have three recommendations for sauces to go with these chicken strips.
- Chick Fil A Sauce: This recipe is incredibly popular because it tastes just like the real thing and is perfect for dipping. If you’ve never had it, it’s like a creamy honey mustard bbq sauce.
- BBQ Sauce: You will love my bbq sauce recipe on everything, and especially these tenders.
- Ranch Dressing: Call us crazy, but my youngest and I love to dip everything in ranch!
What to Serve with Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
There are so many great side options for this dinner, but here are a few of our favorites:
- Sweet Potato Fries: Keep things lighter with these amazing fries. They are my favorite.
- Baked Potato Wedges: If you need a super simple side dish, these three ingredient potato wedges do the trick.
- Italian Pasta Salad: This pasta salad fills out the dinner table very nicely.
- Parmesan Roasted Broccoli: Add some vegetables with this broccoli recipe; all of my kids love this recipe.
Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- 1 pound chicken tenders
- salt and pepper
- 1/2 cup all purpose flour
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon milk
- 1 1/2 cups corn flakes cereal
- 1/2 cup bread crumbs
- 1/2 tablespoon kosher salt
- 1/2 tablespoon sweet paprika
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees.
- In a food processor or blender, to make the breading mixture, combine the cereal, bread crumbs, salt, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder, and black pepper.
- Pour the flour out onto a large plate. Whisk the eggs with the milk in a medium sized bowl and put it next to the flour. Finally pour the breading mixture on a large plate next to the eggs. Place a large baking sheet next to the breading mixture.
- Season the chicken tenders lightly with salt and pepper and working in batches dip them in the flour, then the eggs, then the breading mixture.
- Spray the basket of the air fryer with cooking spray. Spray one side of the chicken tenders, then add them to the basket sprayed side down, and spray the top lightly. The chicken tenders should not be touching. They will likely need to be cooked in several batches, so start cooking as soon as you have 5 or 6 breaded. Cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until the chicken registers 165 degrees with an instant read thermometer. Remove and place on a plate and tent with foil until all the tenders are done cooking.
Mary ann walsh says
How do you keep the chicken warn while cooking the rest.
Lisa Longley says
You bring up a great point. Tent them with foil. It goes pretty fast that even if you didn’t it would be okay, but this will ensure they are all warm.
Would this recipe work just as well putting the tenders on a large cookie sheet covered with parchment paper?
Lisa Longley says
You can definitely bake them, just follow these instructions: https://www.simplejoy.com/lightened-up-chicken-fingers-and-dipping-sauce/