Air fryer chicken tenders are completely mouthwatering with a tender and juicy inside and a crispy outside coating. A quick to make, perfect weeknight meal recipe your family will love. Healthy to make with less oil and the fried recipe!
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Move over Tyson! This homemade version has become a weekly staple meal for us. They are surprisingly easy to make and can even be prepped ahead of time and frozen!
Why This Recipe Works
- Easy weeknight meal kids will love! Perfect to pair with french fries and green beans.
- Can be made adaptable to different dietary restrictions including Keto, Whole30, Paleo and Gluten Free!
- Made with less oil making them healthy and lower in fat compared to the classic fried version.
- Super crispy with great texture! This recipe reminds me of Shake and Bake chicken.
Here are the ingredients you need to make this recipe. Reference the recipe card at the bottom for exact measurements and the notes below for substitution ideas.
- Breadcrumbs: Panko or homemade breadcrumbs work the best for this recipe.
- Pancake Mix: I like using Kodiak Cakes pancake mix but have also used oat flour and it works well also.
- Seasoning: The best seasoning to use is equal parts onion powder, garlic powder and paprika. Everything bagel seasoning would also be a good seasoning to use.
- Egg: Two eggs are all you need for an egg wash but you can also add in a bit of buttermilk if you want to.
- Parmesan: cheese is optional - you can make this recipe dairy free if you want, but I love the flavor that the parmesan cheese adds.
How to Make This Recipe
Below are step-by-step instructions for how to cook this recipe. The recipe card at the bottom shows the exact cooking time and temperatures.
Begin making these from scratch by setting up the bowls for breading. I season the pancake mix and breadcrumbs and then line up my bowls.
Pat chicken dry and season with salt and pepper prior to breading.
The breading process is pancake mix, egg, Panko breadcrumbs. Repeat that with each of the tenderloins and move them to a plate.
Air fry (in batches if needed) for 5 minutes per side at 360F. Thicker cuts may need 6 minutes per side. Check that the temperature is 165F (I use an instant read thermometer) prior to serving.
- Be sure to pat the tenderloins dry before seasoning.
- Cook in a single layer and cook in multiple batches if needed.
- Be sure to not overcrowd the basket, allowing space between pieces.
- One serving is generally 2-3 tenders depending on how many are in your two pound package.
- Storage Instructions: Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- Reheating Instructions: Reheat by cooking at 360F for 5 minutes.
- Swap breadcrumbs for almond flour or crushed pork rinds and pancake mix for keto pancake mix to make a keto version.
- Serve with sauce to dip in like ketchup, ranch dressing, Chick Fil A sauce, honey mustard, bbq sauce or Frank's Red Hot buffalo sauce for a hot & spicy kick.
- Serve on top of a salad, in a wrap or on their own.
Yes, they may be cooked at 425F on a baking sheet for 8 minutes per side or until inside reaches 165F.
Yes! Freeze uncooked tenderloins in a freezer safe container for up to 3 months. When cooking ones that are frozen, add a few more minutes per side and be sure it temps to 165F.
Yes, you can bread them and cover with plastic wrap for later air frying. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 day prior to cooking
I made these in the Instant Pot Duo Crisp and have also made them in the Ninja Foodi and Ultrean and they all work well.
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Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- Pat chicken dry with paper towels. Season with salt & pepper
- Season pancake mix with ½ teaspoon each salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika and garlic powder.
- Season breadcrumbs with ½ teaspoon each salt, pepper, onion powder, paprika and garlic powder.
- Whisk egg. Line up three bowls to begin coating.
- Dip chicken tenders into flour, egg, then breadcrumbs. Move to a side plate.
- Place tenders into the basket. Cook at 360F for 6 minutes. Flip chicken tenders and cook for an additional 6 minutes. Cook until temperature reaches 165F.