Home Healthy meals Upgrade Frozen Chicken Tenders with the Air Fryer

Upgrade Frozen Chicken Tenders with the Air Fryer

by Contributing Author

A childhood favorite meets a healthy weeknight dinner via extra crispy air fryer chicken tenders!

A plate of crispy air fryer chicken tenders and sauce

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A homemade version of the meal I most wanted as a kid, these healthy fried chicken tenders are made with simple ingredients, from the frozen stuff my mom once prayed for dinner every night. Significantly upgraded.

From about age 4 to 14, chicken tenders (and their first cousins, chicken nuggets) were the pinnacle of culinary perfection for me.

I ordered at every drive-thru and tried to sneak the freezer box into my mom’s grocery cart. If dining out for a “fancy” dinner (Ahem, Chili’s), order from the appetizer menu as an entree. .

On a recent road trip, we went through the drive-thru, and for some reason I wanted chicken fingers and honey, the dipping sauce of my childhood (inspired by freshly baked honey mustard chicken tenders). ration).

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders with Dipping Sauce

Just hooked, I unearthed my new go-to weapon for making healthy versions of my favorite fried foods. my flyer.

Watch out for the golden arches, you’ve been defeated!

Like air-fried shrimp or air-fried mozzarella sticks, they’re crunchy and crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, allowing them to be completely soaked.

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders Soaked in Sauce

How to make air fryer chicken tenders

The key to making the fillet crispy is the combination of regular bread crumbs and bread crumbs.

  • Ordinary bread crumbs easily stick to the chicken, so it will coat evenly.
  • Large bread crumbs add essential texture and crunchiness.

Some recipes call for air fryer chicken tenders with flour, but using breadcrumbs (as with air fryer fried chicken breast) yields better breadcrumbs, more reminiscent of the frozen variety (in a good way). you know what you get.

We have suggested some light seasonings that give chicken tenders flavor without losing the simplicity of their charm.

Feel free to switch between them to suit yourself and your family’s tastes.


  • chicken tendersLoved by kids and adults alike, chicken tenders are a delicious quick-cooking option for lean protein. You can find pre-cut chicken tenders at most grocery stores.

cut your own chicken tenders

If your grocery store doesn’t sell chicken tenderloin, you can make your own from chicken breasts. Slice boneless and skinless chicken breast lengthwise into strips (about 1/2 inch thick).

  • eggAllow the bread crumbs to stick to the chicken tenders.
  • Panko bread crumbsPanko provides a light crumb coating and is perfectly crisped in the air fryer.
  • whole grain bread crumbsRegular breadcrumbs help coat the chicken tenders completely with the breadcrumbs, filling in any gaps the breadcrumbs may leave behind.
  • paprikaAdds a mellow and fragrant earthiness.
  • garlic powderFor the garlic goodness you need.
  • salt + pepper. Necessities.


  1. Dry and salt the chicken strips.
A bowl of bread crumbs and a bowl of eggs next to a plate of chicken tenders
  1. Beat the eggs in one bowl and mix the bread crumbs and spices in another bowl.
raw meat in breadcrumbs
  1. Brush the chicken with the egg and then the breadcrumbs.
Raw chicken tenders on a baking sheet
  1. Place the tenders on a parchment-lined baking sheet.
Breaded raw meat in an air fryer basket
  1. Place one layer of tenders in the air fryer. Coat with olive oil spray.
crispy air fryer chicken tenders
  1. Fry chicken tenders at 400 degrees F for 7-8 minutes, flipping halfway through. Repeat with remaining chicken. fun!


The time you put the chicken tenders in the air fryer depends on your model and how crispy you want them.

of my model At 400 degrees Fahrenheit (400 degrees Fahrenheit is the perfect temperature for air frying chicken), the chicken will cook in 7 to 8 minutes.

A plate of crispy air fryer chicken tenders and sauce

Air Fryer Chicken Tender Sauce Suggestion

Because dipping in your favorite dipping sauce is half the fun!

storage tips

  • to the storeRefrigerate chicken tenders in air fryers in an airtight storage container for up to 3 days.
  • reheatReheat leftovers in a 350-degree Fahrenheit oven, air fryer, or (if you’re desperate and don’t care about texture) in the microwave.
  • To freezeArrange the cooked air fryer chicken tenders in one layer on the baking sheet. Freeze until firm and transfer frozen tenders to airtight freezer-safe storage containers for up to 3 months. Reheat from frozen.

storage tips

Skip the microwave for crispy reheated frozen air fryer chicken tenders. Reheating in the oven or air fryer will bring back crispness.

Air fryer healthy chicken tenders

What to Accompany Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

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Recommended tools for making this recipe

best air fryer

This air fryer model comes in a variety of configurations and includes a rack for grilling. The accessories are also dishwasher safe.

air fryer chicken tenders on white plate

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Frequently Asked Questions

Can I air fry frozen raw chicken tenders?

You can put frozen chicken tenders in your air fryer, but only if you’re making air fryer chicken tenders without breading. This recipe is breaded, so the chicken needs to be thawed for breading. Thawed raw chicken is safe to put in the air fryer.

Can you make chicken tenders without bread crumbs?

For unbreaded chicken tenders (say, if you’re on a keto or low-carb diet), use air fryer chicken breast seasoning without breading, and heat the chicken tenders to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Cook as directed for 7-8 minutes. with this recipe. (These grilled chicken tenders are another delicious option.)

Can I use different seasonings for air fryer chicken tenders?

Yes, you can swap different spices in this recipe. If you like spicy chicken tenders, add cayenne pepper to the breading mixture. To make it Italian, replace the paprika with an Italian seasoning.

For air fryer chicken tenders:

  • 2 lb chicken tenders about 14
  • 2 tea spoon kosher salt Divided
  • 2 big egg
  • 1/3 cup bread crumbs
  • 1/3 cup whole grain bread crumbs
  • 2 tea spoon paprika
  • 1 tea spoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 tea spoon ground black pepper
  • olive oil spray

  • Pat the chicken tenders dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt.

  • Beat the eggs together in a shallow bowl (a pie plate works well). In a second shallow bowl, stir in bread crumbs, bread crumbs, paprika, garlic powder, pepper, and remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and keep it nearby.

  • Coat the chicken tenders: Working a few chickens at a time, dip each piece of chicken into the egg and then into the breadcrumb mixture, tapping if necessary to adhere.

  • Transfer chicken to prepared baking sheet. Repeat with remaining pieces.

  • Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. If you want to keep the chicken warm until the next batch, set your regular oven to 250 degrees Fahrenheit. Coat air fryer basket with olive oil cooking spray and add chicken tenders all at once. Stack them so they don’t touch (you can bake 4 at a time). Brush the top of the chicken tenders with oil spray.

  • Pull out the air fryer basket and cook the chicken for 7 to 8 minutes, flipping it once halfway through. (Chicken should register at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit on an instant-read thermometer and will be golden brown and crisp on the outside.) Repeat with remaining chicken tenders, keeping warm in oven between batches if needed. Enjoy it hot.

  • store: Keep chicken tenders refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 3 days.
  • reheat: Reheat leftovers in the oven, air fryer, or microwave.
  • To freeze: Arrange the cooked chicken tenders on a baking sheet. Freeze until firm and transfer frozen tenders to airtight freezer-safe storage containers for up to 3 months. Reheat from frozen.

Serving: 1(out of 4)calorie: 343kcalcarbohydrates: 12gprotein: 53gobesity: 9gsaturated fat: 2gPolyunsaturated fat: 2gMonounsaturated fat: 3gTrans fat: 1gcholesterol: 227mgpotassium: 913mgfiber: 2gsugar: 1gVitamin A: 680IUVitamin C: Fivemgcalcium: 37mgiron: 2mg

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