Air fryers are revolutionizing the classic act of frying by offering a healthier alternative that doesn't compromise on taste or texture. When it comes to comfort food, chicken tenders have a universal appeal, making them an ideal dish to air fry – the result is a crispy, golden-brown exterior with a juicy, tender interior that everyone adores. If you've recently jumped on the air-frying bandwagon and are looking for a new recipe to try, this guide is here to walk you through creating the perfect air-fried chicken tenders.

air fryer chicken tenders


Here's what you'll need to get started:

  • 1 pound of chicken breast, cut into strips
  • 1 cup of all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 cup of bread crumbs (preferably panko for extra crispiness)
  • 1 teaspoon of paprika
  • 1 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon of onion powder
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Cooking spray or a small amount of oil

For the tangy dipping sauce:

  • ½ cup of mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 teaspoon of lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

The beauty of this recipe is its simplicity; you can have the breading mix ready in minutes, and the air fryer does the rest!


Step 1: Prepare the Chicken

Start with your chicken breasts and slice them into 1-inch strips. It's essential to ensure they're of similar size so they cook evenly.

Step 2: Create the Breading Station

In three separate bowls, prepare your breading mixture. In the first bowl, mix flour with paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. In the second, beat the eggs. In the third, place the breadcrumbs.

Step 3: Bread the Chicken

Dredge each chicken strip in the flour, then the egg wash, and finally the breadcrumbs. For an extra-crispy coating, you can repeat the egg and breadcrumb step.

Step 4: Preheat Your Air Fryer

Set your air fryer to 400°F (200°C) and allow it to preheat for a few minutes.

Step 5: Air Fry the Chicken

Spray the basket of your air fryer with cooking spray to prevent sticking. Place the breaded chicken strips in the basket in a single layer, ensuring they don't touch. You may have to cook them in batches.

Step 6: Cook and Flip

Cook the chicken tenders for about 10 minutes, flipping them halfway through. They should come out perfectly golden and crispy.

Tips and Variations

Enhance the flavor and customize the tenders to your liking by trying out these variations:

  • Spice it Up: Add cayenne pepper or chili flakes to the breading for a kick of heat.
  • Parmesan Style: For an Italian twist, mix grated parmesan cheese into the breadcrumb mixture.
  • Herb-Infused: Chop fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, or rosemary and add them to the breading for a fragrant upgrade.
  • Healthier Coating: Use almond flour or cornmeal for a gluten-free version.
  • Double Drenching: To achieve an ultra-crispy crust, dip the chicken tenders in buttermilk before coating them with the breading mixture.

Nutritional Benefits

Air frying offers the goodness of oil-free cooking while maintaining the crunch that traditionally comes from deep-frying. By air frying your chicken tenders, you'll significantly reduce the calorie and fat content, yet keep all the rich flavors.

There's something undeniably satisfying about a perfectly breaded and crispy chicken tender – especially when you know it's been air-fried to a healthier standard. This recipe is not only simple and delicious; it's adaptable to suit your palate. Don't hesitate to explore additional seasoning or sauce pairings to make it truly your own.

For home cooks looking to adapt their favorite comfort foods into healthier alternatives, the air fryer is a wise investment. The air fryer chicken tenders recipe is just the beginning; the possibilities are endless, and the best part is, that you're making small changes with big health benefits. Next time you're craving some crunchy goodness, power up your air fryer and give this recipe a go. Your taste buds and your waistline will thank you!

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