There's no need to go to a restaurant for 'fried' chicken tenders! These crispy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders are moist on the inside with a crisp outer coating. Using a healthier method that slims down the calories too.
Chicken Tenders aren't just for kids and one bite will confirm that. These air fried chicken tenders are delicious and can be dipped in sauces, cut up on a salad, in a sandwich or however you love to eat them.
The coating and egg mixture can be changed up with your favorite flavors! Give them a Mexican or Italian flavor. Make them spicy. There are no limits.
Air fryer chicken tenderloins are always a family favorite and a great recipe for dinner on busy weeknights. Any time you feel like delicious chicken tenders.
Oven method included.
- Easy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- Why use an Air Fryer?
- What makes this skinny?
- Recipe Ingredients + Notes
- Homemade vs Prepared Cornflakes Crumbs
- How to make Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- Oven method
- Pro Tips
- Skinny dipping sauce ideas
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Storing leftovers
- More recipes you'll love!
Easy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
Chicken tenders, chicken fingers, chicken strips or chicken fillets are all the same thing. Chicken tenderloins are a cut of chicken that lies next to the breast. They are thinner and more tender than chicken breast meat.
They are long and slender making the cooked chicken easy for finger food and dipping.
Once you make these homemade chicken strips you'll love them. As easy to make as buying them at the store but they taste better.
Why use an Air Fryer?
Despite the name Air Fryers really aren't frying food. They use a convection method to circulate hot air around the food to yield a fried type end result without dunking the food in load of oil.
They are especially great for foods with a coating which crisps up during cooking.
Unlike frying you don't have to stand over the air fryer during its cooking cycle other than to check the food when it's done or needs to be turned.
What makes this skinny?
- using cornflakes crumbs has slightly fewer calories than traditional breadcrumbs or panko breadcrumbs
- no all purpose flour is used
- cooking in the air fryer eliminates extra fats but still gives a fried texture
Recipe Ingredients + Notes
Chicken tenderloins. You'll need one pound of chicken tenders found with the other chicken cuts in the meat department of the grocery store.
Eggs. Used to dip the chicken before coating it. You'll need two eggs but will have some leftover (so really the equivalent of one egg is used). It's easier to coat the chicken with more volume of egg.
Cornflakes crumbs. These add a wonderful crisp coating similar to traditional fried chicken. They are available in both regular and gluten-free and either can be used. Run the cornflakes through a mini chopper or food processer to turn into fine crumbs.
Kosher salt. We recommend kosher salt because it tastes better than regular salt.
Non-aluminum Baking Powder. This is a fried chicken trick to make the coating crisper! You won't taste it.
Spices: Paprika, Garlic Powder, Onion Powder, Mustard Powder and Black Pepper.
Avocado spray or olive oil spray. Just a spritz of this spray oil on both sides crisps the chicken up while cooking.
Homemade vs Prepared Cornflakes Crumbs
Kellogg's makes cornflakes crumbs however they have more WW SmartPoints than making the crumbs yourself (for the equivalent amount). Also Kellogg's are not gluten-free if that is a consideration for your eating needs.
This recipe is a perfect staple. It's great as is but can be changed up in so many ways.
Use different spices. Change the coating flavors but using favorite spices. Italian Seasoning, chili powder, curry powder, smoked paprika, herbes de Provence.
Add flavors to the egg. Stir in some dijon mustard or sriracha sauce into the eggs for a boost of flavor. Adobo sauce will add some smoky heat too.
How to make Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
Note: every air fryer cooks slightly differently temperature wise. These were cooked in a Cosori 5.8 qt Air Fryer. Always check for doneness with an instant read thermometer if unsure.
STEP 1. Preparation
Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F for 5 minutes (photo 1).
Place the eggs in a small shallow bowl and whisk together (photo 2).
In a second separate bowl (medium size bowl) combine the cornflakes crumbs and the spices (photo 3). Mix well (photo 4).
STEP 2. Dipping the chicken tenders
Pat each tender with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture.
Dip the chicken tenderloins one at a time.
Dip one into the the egg mixture to coat. Allow any excess egg drip back into the bowl.
Add to the coating bowl and coat on both sides (this can be done by sprinkling on the coating or gently rolling the chicken)(photos 6-7).
Place on a clean plate or parchment paper and complete the remaining chicken tenders (photos 7-9).
NOTE: stir the coating between each tender to ensure all ingredients are mixed in.
STEP 3. Cook
Place half of the coated tenderloins in the basket of the air fryer in a single layer leaving room in between them (photo 10).
Lightly spray with the oil spray.
Cook at 400 degrees for 6 minutes. Remove the air fryer basket and gently flip over taking care not to disturb the coating.
Lightly spray the tops with the oil spray and cook an additional 6 minutes until golden brown and cooked through (photo 11).
Remove and repeat for the remaining tenders. NOTE: the number of batches will be determined by the size of your air fryer.
The internal temperature should reach 165 degrees F.
Allow to cool a few minutes and serve warm.
To make the chicken tenders in the oven, line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Place the coated tenders on the prepared pan with space in between. Cooke at 400 degrees for 20 minutes.
The two hand method. Use one hand to dip the chicken into the egg and the other hand to dip it into the dry coating. When mixing hands things get messy.
Skinny dipping sauce ideas
- Marinara Sauce
- Skinny Blue Cheese Dressing
- Yogurt dips. Adding herbs and seasonings to non-fat plain Greek yogurt is a delicious favorite dip method that's lower calorie too. Try tzatziki sauce for a cool refreshing dip.
Frequently Asked Questions
Chicken tenders are a different cut of chicken to using boneless chicken breasts won't cook in the same way or yield the same exact result. You could use this coating method and cook boneless chicken breasts in the air fryer adjusting the cook time accordingly.
Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the air fryer to crisp the outer coating or in the microwave.