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Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

These Air Fryer Chicken Tenders are crunchy, crispy, and robustly seasoned. These tenders are quick to throw together and sure to be crowd pleasers. Plus, I'm including our favorite honey-mustard dipping sauce for these tenders, and it requires only five ingredients!
Course Appetizer, Dinner, Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine American, Healthy
Keyword Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
Prep Time 25 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Servings 2 -4 servings
Calories 497kcal
Author Chelsea Lords
Cost $9.75

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins Note 1
  • 1 cup buttermilk, optional

Chicken Batter

  • 1/4 cup + 2 tablespoons mayonnaise divided
  • 2 tablespoons white, all-purpose flour
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoon EACH: garlic powder, paprika, fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH: onion powder and pepper

Chicken Breading

  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs Note 2
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1/2 cup white, all-purpose flour
  • Olive oil cooking spray

Dipping Sauce

  • 1 teaspoon yellow mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons honey BBQ sauce

Instructions

  • OPTIONAL MARINADE: Pat chicken tenders with a paper towel and trim any fat and then remove tendons (try this easy hack!). Add to a large bag or container and pour buttermilk over. Cover container or seal bag and place in the fridge for at least 20-30 minutes up to overnight. When done marinating, discard buttermilk and pat chicken tenders to dry with a paper towel.
  • BATTER AND BREAD: Add 2 tablespoons mayo and the rest of the batter ingredients to a large, shallow bowl. Whisk to combine. In a second shallow bowl, add all the chicken breading ingredients; stir to combine. Use kitchen tongs to press the chicken into the batter mixture and evenly coat all sides. Repeat to dredge all the tenders in the batter. They should all be well coated and use all the batter. Next, dredge each tender in the breading. Again, coat them all generously, use most of the breading (there may be a little extra--this extra just ensures there is enough breading). Generously spray the tenders with cooking spray on one side.
  • AIR FRY: Set air fryer heat to 400 degrees F. Add the tenders to the fryer basket in one even layer (you may need to do this in batches; don't overlap chicken). Cook for 5-8 minutes, flip the tenders, spray with cooking spray on the other side, and cook for another 5-8 minutes or until golden brown and cooked to 160 degrees F. (Carryover heat will take them to 165 degrees F.) There will be variation in cooking in the air fryer based on the air fryer model and especially based on the actual size of chicken tenders (smaller/thinner tenders cook much quicker than thicker/larger tenders). Keep an eye on them and test with a thermometer to avoid dry chicken. If using very small & thin tenders, cook time may be even shorter than suggested amounts.
  • OR BAKE: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Follow the recipe exactly as written, but instead of air frying, add all the breaded (and sprayed with cooking spray) tenders to a cooling rack. Place the cooling rack on top of a tray and place it in the oven. Bake for 10 minutes; flip and spray the other side with cooking spray. Bake for another 7-10 minutes or until cooked through (160 degrees F).
  • SAUCE: To make the sauce, add in the remaining 1/4 cup mayo along with the rest of the dipping sauce ingredients. Add a pinch of salt and pepper. (I add 1/4 teaspoon salt and 1/8 teaspoon pepper.) Whisk, taste, and adjust any of the ingredients to personal preference.
  • SERVE: Serve chicken tenders right out of the air fryer or oven with lots of sauce on the side for dipping! These don't stay crispy when stored, so I recommend cooking only enough for one meal.

Video

Notes

Note 1: One pound of tenderloins is about 6-8 pieces. You can also cut chicken breasts into 3/4-inch thick strips.
Note 2: Panko bread crumbs are similar to regular bread crumbs, but they create a much crunchier result. They can be found near breadcrumbs, flour, or cornmeal in the grocery store.

Nutrition

Serving: 1serving | Calories: 497kcal | Carbohydrates: 43.9g | Protein: 35.5g | Fat: 18.2g | Cholesterol: 141.7mg | Sodium: 632.2mg | Fiber: 2.4g | Sugar: 4.8g