Air Fryer Chicken Tenders: The Ultimate Guilt-Free Comfort Food

  • By: Linda Simpson
  • Date: December 12, 2023
  • Time to read: 6 min.

I’m about to spill the beans on one of my all-time favorite air fryer recipes – the irresistible Air Fryer Chicken Tenders. Picture this: crispy, golden-brown tenders that are not only a total crowd-pleaser but also guilt-free. Yep, you read that right! It’s like having your favorite comfort food without any of the usual guilt. This recipe is part of our Delicious Anti-inflammatory & Allergen-Free Recipes Series.

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders Recipe

What You’ll Need:

Before we get into the nitty-gritty of this recipe, let’s gather our tools and ingredients. Here’s what you’ll need:

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders Ingredients:

  • 1 pound of boneless, skinless chicken tenders
  • 1 cup of breadcrumbs (Panko breadcrumbs work wonders)
  • 1/2 cup of grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 large eggs

For Dipping Sauce (Optional):

  • Ketchup
  • Honey mustard
  • BBQ sauce
  • Ranch dressing
  • Whatever tickles your taste buds!

Equipment:

  • An air fryer (if you don’t have one yet, this might be the moment to invest in this kitchen wizard – it’s a game-changer!)
  • Two shallow dishes (for your breadcrumb mixture and eggs)
  • Tongs (for flipping those tenders)
  • A wire rack (for that extra crispiness)
Close-up of golden and crunchy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders.

Let’s Get Cookin’:

  1. Preheat Your Air Fryer: First things first, preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C). It’s like giving it a warm-up exercise before the main event.
  2. Mix Your Breadcrumbs and Spices: In one shallow dish, combine your breadcrumbs, grated Parmesan cheese, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. This is where the magic happens, and you’ll be amazed at how these simple seasonings transform your tenders.
  3. Whisk Up Those Eggs: In another shallow dish, beat the two large eggs. Think of this as your tender’s luxurious bath before they get coated in that crunchy goodness.
  4. Dip and Coat: Now, comes the fun part! Take a chicken tender and dip it into the beaten eggs, ensuring it’s thoroughly coated. Then, gently roll it in the breadcrumb mixture, making sure it’s evenly covered. Repeat this for all your tenders.
  5. Air Fry to Perfection: Place your beautifully coated tenders in the air fryer basket. Make sure to leave some space between them so that they can get that perfect crisp all around. You may need to cook them in batches depending on the size of your air fryer. Pop ’em in for about 10-12 minutes, turning them halfway through. Keep a close eye – we want them golden, not burnt!
  6. Serve ‘Em Up: Once your chicken tenders are golden and crispy, remove them from the air fryer. A wire rack is your best friend here; it keeps that crunch intact. Serve them up hot and ready to dip in your favorite sauce.
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Air Fryer Chicken Tenders are still on the fryer, steam rising, with a golden exterior.

Notes and anecdotes:

  • Why air frying? Well, my friend, it’s a healthier alternative to deep frying. The air fryer uses hot air to create that crispy exterior while keeping the inside tender and juicy. Less oil, less guilt, more flavor!
  • For extra flavor: Don’t be shy with the seasonings! Feel free to experiment with different spices and herbs. Want them spicy? Add some cayenne pepper. Feeling adventurous? Try a hint of smoked paprika for that BBQ vibe.
  • A dipper’s paradise: Chicken tenders are like a blank canvas for sauces. Whether you’re a ketchup connoisseur or a honey mustard enthusiast, these tenders are the perfect vehicle for your favorite dips.

Q&A: All Your Air Fryer Chicken Tender Questions Answered

Q1: Why should I choose the air fryer over traditional frying for chicken tenders?

A1: Great question! The air fryer is a healthier choice because it uses hot air circulation to cook your food, reducing the need for oil. This means you’ll get the crispy exterior you love without all the extra fat and calories of deep frying.

Q2: Can I use different seasonings for the breadcrumb mixture?

A2: Absolutely! Don’t hesitate to get creative. You can experiment with different herbs and spices to match your taste preferences. Some people love adding a pinch of cayenne for a spicy kick, while others opt for herbs like rosemary or thyme for a more aromatic flavor.

Q3: How do I prevent my chicken tenders from sticking to the air fryer basket?

A3: To avoid sticking, it’s a good idea to lightly spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray or oil before placing the tenders in it. You can also use parchment paper or a non-stick cooking mat to make clean-up a breeze.

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Q4: What dipping sauces pair best with these chicken tenders?

A4: The beauty of chicken tenders is that they’re versatile when it comes to dipping sauces. Classic choices include ketchup, honey mustard, BBQ sauce, and ranch dressing. But feel free to explore – tzatziki, sriracha mayo, or even a homemade aioli can take your tenders to the next level.

Q5: Can I prepare these chicken tenders ahead of time?

A5: You can definitely prepare the breadcrumb mixture and coat the chicken tenders in advance. Just store them in an airtight container in the fridge until you’re ready to air fry. This is a fantastic time-saving tip for busy weekdays or when you have guests over.

Q6: Can I use frozen chicken tenders in the air fryer?

A6: Yes, you can! If you’re using frozen tenders, follow the same steps but add a few extra minutes to the cooking time. Make sure to check for doneness by cutting into one tender to ensure it’s thoroughly cooked.

Q7: How can I keep my chicken tenders warm while cooking in batches?

A7: To keep the first batch of tenders warm while you cook the second, preheat your oven to its lowest setting and place a wire rack on a baking sheet. As you finish each batch in the air fryer, transfer them to the wire rack in the oven to keep them warm without losing their crispiness.

Q8: Are these chicken tenders suitable for kids?

A8: Absolutely! Kids tend to adore these chicken tenders because they’re crispy and delicious. Plus, they’re a healthier alternative to the typical deep-fried options. Just be mindful of the spice level in the breadcrumb mixture if your little ones are sensitive to heat.

Extra Tips for Perfect Air Fryer Chicken Tenders:

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders, showcasing their crunchy texture and golden color.
  1. Trim the Tenders: Before you start, make sure to trim any excess fat from the chicken tenders. This helps prevent excess smoke and ensures that your tenders cook evenly.
  2. Preheat for Success: Just like an oven, preheating your air fryer is essential for even cooking and that coveted crispy texture. Give it a few minutes to heat up before you start frying.
  3. Use Cooking Spray Sparingly: While a light spritz of cooking spray can prevent sticking, don’t overdo it. Too much oil can make your tenders greasier than you’d like.
  4. Don’t Crowd the Basket: To get the crispiest results, arrange your tenders in a single layer with a little space between them. Overcrowding can lead to uneven cooking.
  5. Keep an Eye on Cooking Time: Cooking times can vary slightly depending on your specific air fryer model and the thickness of your tenders. Check for doneness by cutting into one tender to ensure it’s cooked through.
  6. Flip for Evenness: Halfway through the cooking time, use tongs to flip the tenders. This ensures that both sides get that perfect golden-brown finish.
  7. Use a Thermometer: For extra precision, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the tenders. They should reach 165°F (74°C) to be fully cooked.
  8. Serve Immediately: Air-fried tenders are at their best when served right away. That way, you’ll enjoy that delightful crunch that everyone loves.
  9. Experiment with Dips: Don’t be afraid to get creative with dipping sauces. From sriracha mayo to tzatziki, there’s a world of flavor waiting to be discovered.
  10. Customize Your Spice Level: Adjust the seasonings in the breadcrumb mixture to match your heat preference. Add more or less paprika, cayenne, or black pepper to make them as mild or spicy as you like.
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Now you have it – a mouthwatering journey through the world of guilt-free comfort food with our Air Fryer Chicken Tenders recipe. Go ahead, fire up that air fryer, and let the aroma of crispy perfection fill your kitchen. Here’s to savoring every moment and every bite on your path to delicious, nourishing living.

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