Air fryer chicken tenders recipe! The BEST, easy-to-make comfort food that’s healthy, with no deep-frying required. You can whip these up in 30 minutes from start to finish.
Air fryer chicken tenders recipe, anyone? You wouldn’t believe how simple it is to whip these up entirely from scratch using chicken, eggs, flour, breadcrumbs and herbs/spices. You just can’t beat homemade chicken tenders in the air fryer!
Recipes like this are exactly why I bought an air fryer in the first place. Usually, I’d shallow fry these in oil to get a crispy, golden coating.
Of course – they’ve always tasted amazing that way! And even though I love anything fried, we enjoy these on such a regular basis that reducing the amount of oil used is only a positive for us, health-wise.
And that’s where the air fryer steps in! It does a near identical job using a *tiny* amount of oil compared to shallow frying or deep-frying.
So now, we can enjoy these as often as we like!
Why make my air fryer chicken tenders?
- It’s miles healthier than shallow frying with far better results than baking in the oven. You only need to spray on enough oil to cover the chicken and that’s it!
- It also results in far less mess and oily pans/surfaces to clean up.
- This recipe is also gluten-free and also happens to be low FODMAP and dairy-free. See the FAQ section on how to make a vegan version.
- You would NEVER know that this chicken isn’t deep fried. You’d swear that it was!
- It’s super crispy, crunchy and the chicken is lovely and tender beneath.
So, what do my air fryer chicken tenders taste like?
They’re super crisp on the outside, with tons of tender chicken concealed underneath. The golden breadcrumbs are insanely crispy, packed with tons of ‘Southern-fried’-style chicken flavour.
You’d swear it was deep-fried… but I can promise you that it most definitely isn’t!!
If I can make this, then you definitely can. So get your air fryers preheated and let’s do this…
(ok, maybe don’t preheat it this early!)
Here’s everything you’ll need for this recipe, keep scrolling until you see the recipe card for the measurements and method 👇🏻
Air fryer chicken tenders recipe: Ingredients
- chicken breast mini fillets
- plain flour (gluten-free)
- garlic-infused oil (ideally in a spray bottle)
For the southern fried chicken coating
- breadcrumbs (gluten-free)
- dried chilli flakes
- smoked paprika
- black pepper
So I thought I’d kick things off with a little frequently asked questions section – if you just want the recipe, then keep scrolling.
But I’ve thrown in some tips here that will be really helpful if this is your first time making this, or you want to adapt it. So here they are!
Air fryer chicken tenders recipe: Frequently asked questions
Can I make this recipe gluten-free?
It is gluten-free, though nobody would know just by tasting it – trust me!
Bear in mind that minimising cross-contamination is hugely important if you’re Coeliac or making this for someone who is. Here’s some tips from Coeliac UK on minimising the risk of cross contamination.
Also, make sure that all ingredients used don’t have any gluten-containing ingredients. Then make that that they also don’t have a ‘may contain’ warning for gluten, wheat, rye, barley, oats (which aren’t gf), spelt and khorasan wheat (aka Kamut).
Here’s some more info from Coeliac UK on identifying safe gluten-free products.
Can I make your air fryer chicken tenders recipe dairy free?
They are dairy-free! Just ensure any products used don’t have a ‘may contain’ warning for milk.
Can I make your air fryer chicken tenders recipe vegan?
You might not believe this, but you can easily use this recipe to make vegan fried ‘chicken’ tenders.
Instead of using chicken, use nice big ‘meaty’ strips of king oyster mushroom.
Then, coat your chicken in 120ml of dairy-free milk combined with 1 tsp of lemon juice – allow this mixture to rest for 10 minutes before using in place of the eggs.
These won’t take half as long to cook, so pop them in your air fryer for around 7 minutes, turning half way and of course, spraying with oil to achieve a golden, crispy coating.
Is your air fryer chicken tenders recipe nut-free?
Yep, this is a nut-free recipe as far as ingredients go, BUT make sure you check the ingredients label on ALL the products you use just to be safe.
Even if the products don’t contain nuts, they may have a ‘may contain nuts’ warning due to being produced in a factory that handles nuts.
You can never be too careful so always read the labels on everything first.
Is your air fryer chicken tenders recipe low FODMAP?
Yes – this recipe is low FODMAP! Just ensure none of your spices contain onion/garlic and that your breadcrumbs don’t contain any high FODMAP ingredients.
Which air fryer do you use?
I use the Ninja Foodi Max (also known as the Ninja Foodi XL) which is not only an air fryer, but a health grill too (shown in the photo below).
Of course, though I use this specific machine, any air fryer will do! Just remember that they all vary slightly so keep in mind that:
- Some air fryers have smaller frying compartments than others (mine is 3.8L) so if yours is considerably smaller, you’ll need to fry your chicken strips in multiple batches.
- Some air fryers don’t go up to 200C / 400F – in that case, just use the highest temperature possible.
- Some air fryers have a paddle that turns the food as it cooks. It’s not required for this recipe.
- Cooking times may vary from air fryer to air fryer. So use your own judgement to know when your chicken is done!
Which air fryer should I buy?
Of course, I can whole heartedly recommend mine (link here) – it’s amazing! But of course, the decision is entirely up to you.
Mine is more expensive as it has the health grill aspect too (it basically doubles up as a George Foreman which is awesome when we can’t BBQ in the winter months). It’s also a little on the larger size due to the extra grill function.
But whatever you buy, I’d recommending getting one that has around a 4 litre capacity. You simply can’t cook much in anything smaller and you’ll end up having to cook everything in loads of small batches!
Are air-fried chicken tenders healthier?
Yes, definitely! Compared to deep-frying, air frying your fried chicken always comes out on top in terms of being the most healthy cooking method.
Why? Well, instead of submerging your chicken in a boatload of oil, you’re literally just spraying the chicken with enough cooking oil to achieve a crispy finish.
But you’d never notice the difference – promise!
What chicken pieces should I use for your air fryer chicken tenders? Can I use chicken breast, or thighs instead?
Use whatever you like! This recipe uses chicken mini fillets, but you always use chicken breast or skinless, boneless thighs, cut into strips.
I find that skinless, boneless thighs make better nuggets than chicken tenders or strips.
Can I make your air fryer chicken tenders without oil / zero oil at all?
You can get away with using ZERO oil with this one, but the result won’t be close to regular fried chicken tenders at all.
It’ll be much drier and won’t colour as well, but of course, it’ll still be crispy. If you want my opinion, trust me, a few sprays of oil are well worth it when it comes to air frying chicken!
Can I simply make these in the oven instead? I don’t have an air fryer!
You can, but the result will be far from what you see in the pictures. An air fryer has the magical ability to almost pressure cook the chicken so it’s super crispy, but with minimal oil.
The oven is much less intensive and whilst it will produce a decent result – it won’t taste like chicken that was deep-fried.
If you were going down the oven route, I would personally shallow fry the tenders on both sides first until slightly golden, then finish them off in the oven for 5-8 minutes at 200C (390F).
That way, you’ll get very similar results to what you’d get in an air fryer or deep-frying. But obviously, it’s more effort and more washing up, with more oil required!
Can I deep fry your chicken tenders instead?
Of course! You can actually use this recipe right up to the point of cooking, then deep fry your chicken instead. It’s totally up to you!
Simply bring a large, half-filled pot of vegetable oil to 170C (340F) and carefully submerge your chicken pieces.
Fry for 5-8 minutes until cooked through, then transfer to a wire rack over a baking tray to drain.
How can I tell when my air fryer chicken tenders are done?
Ideally, you’d have a cooking thermometer so you can check that the internal temperature of the chicken registers at 74C.
Failing this, don’t just look for a crispy coating – you need to ensure the middle is cooked! The most obvious way to check this is cut one of your chicken pieces open.
Can I print your air fryer chicken tenders recipe?
Of course! Just hit the print button located on the recipe below 👇🏻 (otherwise you might end up printing this entire post which would probably make your printer go into early retirement)
Air fryer chicken tenders recipe: Method
Grab three bowls. In one, crack in your eggs and beat until nicely mixed. In the other, add your gluten-free plain flour. In the final bowl, add your breadcrumbs and spices, mixing thoroughly.
Take your chicken breast mini fillets and first dredge them in the bowl of plain flour.
Then dredge them in the beaten egg bowl.
Then finally dredge them in the breadcrumb/spice mix bowl.
Preheat your air fryer to 200C (390F). Once preheated, add your coated chicken, ensuring they’re touching as little as possible.
Spray a little with oil so all the coating is a little glossy.
Cook for 10-12 minutes, turning over after 5 minutes and spraying (sparingly) once again with oil.
Serve with your favourite dips, in a wrap, salad or in a sandwich!
Ok, so here’s a printable version of my air fryer chicken tenders recipe. Please remember to give it 5 stars if you tried it and enjoyed it as it helps people know it’s worth trying too! ⭐️ Feel free to leave your written reviews in the comments below this post.
Air fryer chicken tenders recipe - SUPER crispy, easy to make in the air fryer and healthier than deep-frying too.
- 350g (12oz) chicken breast mini fillets
- 2 eggs
- 30g (4 tbsp) plain flour (gluten-free)
- garlic-infused oil (ideally in a spray bottle)
For the southern fried chicken coating
- 70g (1/2 cup) breadcrumbs (gluten-free)
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp dried chilli flakes
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Grab three bowls. In one, crack in your eggs and beat until nicely mixed. In the other, add your gluten free plain flour. In the final bowl, add your breadcrumbs and spices, mixing thoroughly.
- Take your chicken breast mini fillets and first dredge them in the bowl of plain flour.
- Then dredge them in the beaten egg bowl.
- Then finally dredge them in the breadcrumb/spice mix bowl.
- Preheat your air fryer to 200C (390F). Once preheated, add your coated chicken, ensuring they're touching as little as possible.
- Spray a little with oil so all the coating is a little glossy.
- Cook for 10-12 minutes, turning over after 5 minutes and spraying (sparingly) once again with oil.
- Serve with your favourite dips, in a wrap, salad or in a sandwich!
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 419Total Fat: 14gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 224mgSodium: 1088mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 2gSugar: 2gProtein: 45g
Nutritional info is estimated and not always accurate.
Thanks for reading all about my air fryer chicken tenders recipe! If you make it, I’d love to see how it turned out so don’t forget to take a snap of your creations and tag me on Instagram!
Any questions about the recipe? Please do let me know by following me on Instagram and leaving me a comment on a recent photo!
Thanks for reading,
Don’t forget to pin this for later!