Every find yourself craving chicken tenders but feel they aren't in your plan? These Air Fryer Chicken Tenders without breading are a fantastic low calorie, low carb choice the whole family will love! Cooking time just 10 minutes (no marinating or preheating the air fryer).
This Air Fryer Chicken Tenders recipe will quickly become a favorite. The chicken is moist and juicy, it's fast and easy to make. The seasonings can be switched up to go with any meal. Only five simple ingredients are used and they have so much flavor! This easy recipe is great for meal prep, a main dish for a quick dinner or to use in other recipes.
Also called Air Fryer Naked Chicken Tenders due to the lack of bread crumbs, an egg wash or other coating, you can enjoy these healthy air fryer chicken tenders as is or with your favorite dipping sauce.
What makes this skinny?
No breading. No deep frying. It's as simple as that! The chicken tenderloins are a small long piece of white meat that is attached to the underside of the chicken breast. There are two per chicken. White meat has fewer calories than dark meat so once you get rid of the breading and deep frying they are a juicy, perfect protein choice for so many uses.
Air frying is a perfect way to cook this chicken to keep it juicy and flavorful without using excess fat to do so. It cooks with convection cooking circulating hot air around the food to cook it. It can create a fried result without oil or deep frying.
Normally we'd use olive oil spray for the purpose of spices adhering to chicken before cooking it. However tenderloins are so small that we felt using olive oil both allows the spices to coat the chicken as well as provides a light barrier to keep it from drying out. The calorie difference per serving for using olive oil vs. olive oil spray is only 30 calories which seemed reasonable to end up with these juicy chicken strips.
Recipe Ingredients Notes
Olive oil. You'll use only 1 tablespoon.
Kosher salt. This type of salt has a less salty flavor and is what we recommend for cooking and baking.
Herbes de Provence. This aromatic spice blend is full of earthy spices like thyme, basil, rosemary, tarragon, savory, marjoram, oregano, and bay leaf. As the name suggests they are herbs from from the Provence region of France and were created by chefs as an all purpose seasoning blend. The spice blend is available in all grocery stores where other spices are sold.
Freshly ground black pepper. Freshly ground pepper gives a bolder flavor. Always grind it fresh if possible.
Chicken tenderloins. You'll need 1 pound of chicken tenderloins. They can be fresh or frozen and thawed.
How to make Air Fryer Chicken Tenders (no breading)
STEP 1. Season the chicken
In a gallon Ziploc bag, combine the olive oil, kosher salt, herbes de provence, black pepper and chicken tenderloins (photos 1-3).
Seal the bag, squeezing out most of the air before sealing. From the outside of the bag massage the seasonings into the chicken to coat (photo 4).
STEP 2. Air Fry
Place chicken tenders in the basket of the air fryer in a single layer, leaving some space in between (photo 5).
Cook at 390 degrees for 10 minutes (they do not need to be flipped over during cooking).
The internal temperature of the air fryer chicken tenderloins should register 165 degrees in the thickest part of the chicken (photo 6).
Using olive oil spray vs olive oil. If preferred you can place the chicken fingers in a bowl, spritz with olive oil spray, sprinkled with the seasoning and toss to coat. The calorie difference will be 30 calories (less) per serving.
Use different spices. We love this sophisticated blend of herbs BUT that's only the start! Consider trying: Italian seasoning, poultry seasoning, taco seasoning, smoked paprika with some garlic powder, cumin with some chili powder or cayenne pepper, onion powder. Experiment with your favorite spice flavors.
How to use them
The ways to use this delicious recipe is truly endless. A healthy alternative with the best results!
- As a main dish with some side dishes
- On salads
- In bowl recipes or in wraps or sandwiches
- homemade chicken salad chopped with light mayo, celery, green onion, salt and pepper
- For meal prepping
- In an omelet or frittata or egg bites
- Add a dipping sauce. Try with our low calorie ranch dressing or skinny blue cheese dressing. BBQ sauce and buffalo sauce are also favorites but watch the calories!
All air fryers cook differently. Each type, brand and size of air fryer cook slightly differently. This recipe was developed using a Cosori 5.8 quart Air Fryer which has a larger basket and is a more powerful air fryer.
Always monitor the food you are preparing to adjust cooking times and cook in batches (if you have a smaller air fryer basket). Measuring the internal temperature of the chicken with a meat thermometer or an instant read food thermometer (our recommendation) is the best method to ensure the chicken is fully cooked.
Chicken tender size. The exact cook time will vary depending on the size of the chicken tenders. This recipe used 1 pound which has 5-6 tenders. If the tenders are smaller they will cook faster.
Serving size. The standard recommended serving size for chicken is 3-4 ounces which is what we used as a recommendation and to calculate the nutrition facts. You may choose to eat more and you may find the number of naked tenders is not enough for 4 people. They often are a larger size and can be cut in half lengthwise after cooking too.
Frequently Asked Questions
Boneless chicken breasts tend to be thicker and more dense than raw chicken tenders. Even is sliced into smaller strips the chicken breast may not cook the same. We recommend using our air fryer boneless chicken breast recipe instead.
How to store
Allow the cooked chicken to cool slightly then store any leftover chicken tenders in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. They can be rewarmed in the microwave or eaten cold.
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Air Fryer Chicken Tenders (no breading)
- 1 pound chicken tenderloins
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon herbes de provence
- ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Combine the chicken tenderloins, olive oil, kosher salt, herbes de provence and black pepper together in a 1 gallon Ziploc bag.
- Squeeze out the air and seal. From outside the bag massage the seasonings into the chicken to coat.
- Place the chicken tenderloins in a single layer in the air fryer basket with room in between.
- Cook at 390 degrees F for 10 minutes. The internal temperature of the chicken should reach 165 degrees f.