Air-Fryer Chicken Strips Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Air-Fryer Chicken Tenders

Total Time
Prep/Total Time: 30 min.
When we crave crispy chicken tenders but don't want to deep fry at home, there's only one method that can compare (and cut out a lot of grease!): air-fryer chicken tenders.

Updated: Mar. 11, 2024

A good chicken tender is defined by two factors: moist chicken and a crackled, crispy exterior that holds on to dipping sauce. In any shape and size, they’ll bring smiles to the entire table—especially when paired with air-fryer french fries. Delicious for dinner, lunch or a snack, these air-fryer chicken tenders are low-calorie and have less fat thanks to the air fryer.

Air-Fryer Chicken Tenders Ingredients

Air-Fryer Chicken Tenders IngredientsTMB Studio

  • Chicken tenderloins: The perfect portion size of white and tender chicken meat for even cooking and juicy results.
  • Panko bread crumbs: The gold standard of breadcrumbs, panko is made from crustless bread, resulting in large crisp flakes that fry beautifully.
  • Garlic powder: Use powder instead of fresh garlic cloves for an even consistency.


Step 1: Prepare the air fryer

Set the air fryer to 400°F and allow it to preheat as you prepare the chicken.

Step 2: Prepare the chicken

Chicken pieces layered with mixtureTMB Studio

Sprinkle the chicken with salt and pepper, set aside.

Set up three bowls. In the first bowl, combine the bread crumbs, garlic powder and paprika. In the second bowl, whisk the eggs really well until completely incorporated. Leave the third bowl empty.

Using your less dominant hand, dip a chicken tender into the egg wash, shake it off and then place into the bowl with the bread crumbs. Use your dominant hand to toss additional breadcrumbs from the bowl on top of the tender, and then lightly press them onto the chicken so they adhere. Place the chicken in the empty dish at the end and start again.

Editor’s Tip: By only using one hand to handle the raw chicken and egg, the other remains clean and able to toss the breadcrumbs easily.

Step 3: Fry the chicken

Chicken Tenders Frying in a black panTMB Studio

Place the chicken in a single layer on a greased tray in the air fryer basket. Spray the top of the chicken with cooking spray. Cook seven to eight minutes before flipping the tenders over and repeating on the other side. The goal is a golden brown coating and no pinkness left in the chicken. If you test a tender and find pinkness, return the tenders to the fryer for another one to two minutes per side.

Air-Fryer Chicken Tenders Recipe Variations

  • Add cheese: Add Parmesan to the chicken breading for a cheesy, umami-rich way to elevate a simple tender.
  • Spice things up: Cajun chicken tenders give the nuggets a kick of heat when you’re looking for a little something extra. Simply add homemade cajun seasoning to the bread crumb mixture.
  • Get saucy: Finger-licking good tenders could always use some hot sauce to heat things up. Air fry the chicken tenders as normal and then coat them in sauce. Serve with plenty of napkins!

How to Store Air-Fryer Chicken Tenders

To keep chicken tenders crispy and fresh, layer them in airtight containers with paper towels between the layers. They’ll last four to five days in the refrigerator. When ready to eat, simply reheat them in the air fryer for two to three minutes per side to re-crisp the breading.

How to Freeze Air-Fryer Chicken Tenders

Making a big batch of tenders makes the most sense, so you can always have them on hand for a snack or when a surprise guest shows up. To freeze, lay your tenders on a cookie sheet lined with parchment, uncovered, and then place in the freezer. When the tenders are completely frozen, which should take five to six hours, place them in a large resealable bag. Remove as much air as possible from the bag.

You don’t need to defrost your tenders when you’re ready to heat them up. Simply turn your air fryer to 400°, and once ready, place your tenders back into the air fryer in a single layer and cook for eight minutes. You don’t even need to flip them! Don’t remove the tenders once the time expires; leave them in the basket for an additional five minutes to heat through.

Air-Fryer Chicken Tenders Tips

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders TMB Studio

How can you make sure the air-fryer chicken tenders are crispy?

The key to crispy tenders is removing all moisture. The chicken should be dry before it goes into the egg, and your panko should also be dry. You can let the tenders dry out further by placing the plate with the raw, breaded tenders in front of a fan for five minutes. As long as the air fryer is set to the right temperature, and you spray the basket and top of the tenders with cooking spray, they should get crispy.

What can you serve with air-fryer chicken tenders?

With chicken tenders, the name of the game is dipping sauce. You can lean into a homemade ranch dressing or barbecue sauce of any variety. And you could always try something different like a peanut butter dipping sauce. While it may sound simple, a really delicious homemade ketchup can be a surprisingly comforting choice too.

Besides sauces, a crudités platter, air fried vegetables or even a french fry charcuterie board are delicious sides to serve with chicken tenders.

Air-Fryer Chicken Strips

Prep Time 30 min
Yield 4 servings.


  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 large eggs, room temperature


  1. Preheat air fryer to 400°. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper. In a shallow bowl, combine bread crumbs, garlic powder and paprika. In another shallow bowl, whisk eggs. Dip chicken in eggs, then in crumb mixture, patting to help coating adhere.
  2. In batches, arrange chicken in a single layer on greased tray in air-fryer basket; spritz with cooking spray. Cook until coating is golden brown and chicken is no longer pink, 7-8 minutes on each side.

Nutrition Facts

3 ounces cooked chicken: 161 calories, 2g fat (0 saturated fat), 87mg cholesterol, 618mg sodium, 7g carbohydrate (1g sugars, 1g fiber), 29g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 3 lean meat, 0.500 starch.