Our air fryer chicken tenders recipe can help you recreate exactly what you love, but minus all the grease.
If you love crispy, juicy chicken tenders but hate to deep-fry your food, an air fryer is what you need. With just a little bit of oil (or none at all ), they will still come out crisp and won’t grease a finger.
You can click Jump to Recipe for quick access to the full ingredients list and detailed instructions. Or, read on to learn more about how air-fried chicken tenders are better for your health.
Are Air-Fried Chicken Tenders Healthy?
Air-fried chicken tenders are better than the original deep-fried version: they are cooked in hot air instead of hot oil. Any present fat will melt and stay at the bottom of the air fryer, cutting out plenty of calories (and saturated fat) from your food.
Our air fryer Mongolian chicken recipe is a quick and easy chicken stir fry that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. Everything is air-fried first, then tossed just briefly in the sticky Mongolian sauce made with soy sauce, sugar, paprika, and sesame oil.
With this recipe, a delicious dinner will come together in no time at all. We air-fry breaded chicken breasts to perfection and serve it with white rice and vegetables. We’ll show you how to make katsu sauce from scratch.
How Our Recipe Is Healthier
At Healthy Recipes 101, we make sure your favorite dishes have nutritional profiles that comply with the USDA’s dietary guidelines. Specifically, we adjust the ingredients, so the calories, sodium, and saturated fat content stay within moderate levels:
The seasoning: We only seasoned the chicken tenders with 1/8 tsp salt, to keep the sodium within allowance.
The coating: Most of the saturated fat comes from the eggs, butter, and parmesan cheese. We adjusted the amount, so the tenders turn out fragrant, crispy, and have a moderate amount of saturated fat.
The oil: We could spray a little oil on top, but we tried a no-oil version instead, and the chicken still came out crispy. This significantly reduced the calorie content.
The dipping sauce: Dips like mayonnaise are rich in saturated fat and sodium, so we only serve the chicken tenders with 2 tbsp of mayonnaise.
As a result, each serving has three large chicken strips and dip, but only yields 250 calories and moderate levels of sodium and saturated fat.
To learn more about the USDA’s allowance (and ours) for different meal courses, click here.
Let’s have a look at your to-be grocery list:
1. Chicken Tenders
Chicken tenders are the white meat located on either side of the breastbone, under the breast meat. They are shaped like fingers and hence, are also called chicken fingers or chicken strips.
Since chickens don’t have plenty of chicken tenders, some restaurants use chicken breast or finger-shaped pulverized chicken meat instead. You can use either — your chicken tender will still be juicy and crispy.
Firstly, we seasoned the chicken with salt and pepper — the musts.
Then, we added onion and garlic powder instead of fresh onions and garlic cloves. They are concentrated with flavor and have no problems sticking to the meat.
To give them a little bit of heat, we used paprika and chili powder. Some recipes also call for Cajun powder, and we think it’s a lovely addition.
We also added dried oregano for aroma. Oregano complements chicken the way thyme does a steak.
Like other fried treats, chicken tenders have a simple breadcrumb coating. They’re first floured, then dipped into beaten eggs, and finally into the breadcrumb mixture.
For a thicker and more flavorful coat, we double-breaded the chicken and added parmesan and butter to the breading. This is the secret to crisp, finger-licking good chicken tenders.
Besides mayonnaise, you can serve chicken tenders with one of these dips:
Chick-fil-A sauce: a salty-sweet dipping sauce with a hint of smoky flavor. Make by combining 2 parts mayonnaise, 2 parts BBQ sauce, 1 part Dijon mustard, and 1 part honey.
Honey mustard sauce: sweet, tangy, and pungent. Make by combining 1 part honey, 2 parts Dijon mustard, and a little bit of red wine vinegar to taste.
Pesto sauce: a refreshing dip that preserves the pure flavor of the chicken. Make by blitzing 1 part olive oil, 1 part garlic, 2 parts parmesan, and 4 parts basil until smooth.
Thousand island sauce: a simple dip that works for most snacks. Make by combining 2 parts mayonnaise, 2 parts ketchup, and 1 part honey.
Since sauces are often high in sodium and saturated fat, we recommend having only 2 tbsp of sauce for 4 servings.
You can place frozen chicken tenders in your air fryer and cook them without thawing them first. They only need 10 minutes in a 350°F preheated air fryer.
You can get frozen chicken tenders in stores, or make them yourself. Simply follow our recipe, place the breaded tenders into a Ziploc bag, and you can store them for months in the freezer.
Storing and Reheating
If you have leftover chicken tenders, you can refrigerate or freeze them and reheat them using your air fryer. However, since the coating is already cooked, you won’t achieve the crispy coating after reheating.
We highly recommend that you just make enough chicken tenders and then freeze the rest. Frozen chicken tenders only take 10 minutes to cook.
10 oz chicken tenders (or chicken breast cut into strips)
0.25 oz parmesan cheese (shredded)
1 cup plain panko breadcrumbs
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tbsp unsalted butter (melted)
2 small eggs
1/8 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder
1 tbsp parsley (finely chopped)
2 tbsp Japanese mayonnaise
Place 10 oz chicken tenders in a plate. Add 1/8 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp pepper, 1/4 tsp onion powder, 1/4 tsp garlic powder, 1/4 tsp dried oregano, 1/4 tsp paprika, and 1/4 tsp chili powder. Mix everything together and allow to marinate.
Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (skip if you’re making chicken tenders to freeze).
In another plate, mix 1 cup breadcrumbs with 0.25 oz parmesan, 1 tbsp parsley, and 1/2 tbsp melted butter. Crack 2 small eggs into another plate.
Coat the seasoned chicken in 2 tbsp flour. Dip each piece into the eggs, then the breadcrumbs, then eggs one more time, and the breadcrumbs again. Place the coated pieces on a plate.
Open the air fryer. Place the chicken tenders in the frying chamber on one layer (we cooked them in 2 batches) and cook for 7 minutes. If you’re using frozen chicken tenders, cook for 10 minutes instead.
Serve with 2 tbsp mayonnaise or any dip you fancy.
Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 254Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat 3g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 1g
Vitamin A 343IU
Vitamin C 1mg
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.
Luna Regina is an accomplished writer and author who dedicates her career to empowering home cooks and making cooking effortless for everyone. She is the founder of HealthyKitchen101.com and HealthyRecipes101.com, where she works with her team to develop easy, nutritious recipes and help aspiring cooks choose the right kitchen appliances.
Lizzie Streit is a Minneapolis-based dietitian and founder of It’s a Veg World After All. She completed her MS in Human Nutrition from Drexel University, and is an expert in culinary nutrition, recipe development, and nutrition communications. Lizzie’s philosophy is centered around making nutrition recommendations, and especially the advice to eat more vegetables, approachable and realistic. She is excited to be working with the team at Healthy Recipes 101 to ensure that their recipes are both nutritious and delicious.