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These air fryer chicken tenders are crispy, delicious, and completely reminiscent of the childhood classic!
Air Fryer Chicken Tender Recipe
To say that I love this recipe is an understatement. From an eater’s point of view, these tenders are literal perfection. They’re crispy, crunchy, and the chicken inside is moist and juicy (dried-out tenders are the worst!). The cornflakes lend a perfect crunch and paired with the spices, a really delicious flavor.
From a cook’s perspective, these tenders could *not* be easier. Because they’re cooked in the air fryer, they’re incredibly quick, and truly, the prep process is too.
I have a feeling that whether for a weekend lunch or a quick weeknight meal, these chicken tenders will be a recipe that you come back to time and time again! If you want a slightly different take or don’t have an air fryer check out this Chicken Finger and Fries sheet pan dinner recipe.
Chicken Tender Air Fryer Ingredients
The ingredients are simple. Here’s what you’ll need:
- Chicken Tenders – to start, you’ll need 1½ pounds of chicken breast tenders.
- All-Purpose Flour – to make the breading on the tenders, you’ll need 1 cup of all-purpose flour (feel free to use a 1-for-1 gluten-free all-purpose flour — our favorite is King Arthur’s Measure-for-Measure flour.)
- Seasonings – to season the tenders, you’ll need 2½ teaspoons of salt (divided), 1 teaspoon of paprika, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, a ½ teaspoon of cayenne pepper (don’t worry – this doesn’t make it too spicy!), and a ¼ teaspoon of ground black pepper.
- Eggs – to help everything stick, you’ll need 2 whisked eggs and…
- Milk – 2 tablespoons of milk. Any milk will do just fine here!
- Cornflakes – now this is what makes these chicken tenders super special! 3 cups of crushed cornflakes make for the crunchiest, yummiest breading!
How to make Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
As mentioned above, the recipe for these air fryer chicken tenders is super simple + the cooking process is really fast! Here’s how you’ll pull it all together:
- Combine the flour + seasonings – to start, you’ll need to combine the flour, 1½ teaspoons of salt, paprika, garlic, onion, cayenne, and black pepper in a medium-sized bowl.
- Whisk together the eggs + milk – next, you’ll need to whisk together the eggs and milk in a separate bowl. This wet mixture will help the cornflakes stick!
- Combine the crushed cornflakes + salt – combine the crushed cornflakes and the remaining teaspoon of salt together in a bowl or on a plate.
- Coat the chicken tenders – press each side of the chicken tender into the flour, making sure both sides are fully coated with flour, then dip it into the egg mixture. When you pull the chicken tender out of the egg mixture, let the excess egg drip off of it, then transfer it to the cornflake mixture.
- Place in the air fryer basket – once coated in the flour, egg, and cornflake mixtures, set the tender in the air fryer basket, then repeat for each one, making sure they don’t overlap. You may need to work in two batches depending on the size of your air fryer.
- Air fry the tenders – air fry the chicken tenders for 7 minutes at 375°F, then flip the tenders and fry for an additional 2 minutes to crisp the other side.
- Serve + enjoy!
Air Fryer Chicken Tender FAQ
If you’re talking fast-food chain tenders + nuggets, the difference will likely be the meat that the tenders/nuggets are made with. Chicken tenders are made with strips of breast meat, while nuggets can be made from different parts of the chicken that have been chopped and formed into a small round nugget.
When it comes to OUR recipes, though, the main difference between tenders and nuggets is size and breading. Chicken tenders (sometimes called chicken strips) are long, thin strips of breast meat, while nuggets are smaller chunks of chicken breast meat. As far as the difference in breading goes, our tenders utilize cornflakes for crunch, while our nuggets are breaded more traditionally and are slightly less crunchy!
You can! The air fryer will cook raw meat, but you’ll definitely want to make sure it is fully thawed first.
That’s totally up to you, your preferences, and what your body can tolerate! If you use gluten-free all-purpose flour as we did, the chicken tenders will be gluten-free, so if you’re gluten intolerant, know that you should be good to go in that regard.
While we have absolutely nothing against unbreaded chicken tenders (and most of the chicken that we eat is unbreaded), we personally feel like “chicken tenders” should be breaded. I know that when I’m craving a chicken tender, I’m craving that crunchy, delicious breading too!
Just for You
Want more recipe ideas like this?
For the Chicken Tenders:
- 1 1/2 pounds chicken breast tenders
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons salt divided
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 2 eggs
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 3 cups cornflakes crushed
For the Hot Honey:
- 1/4 cup honey
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Combine the flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, paprika, garlic, onion, cayenne, and black pepper in a medium-sized bowl.
- Whisk together the eggs and milk in a separate bowl.
- Combine the cornflakes and remaining teaspoon of salt together in a bowl or on a plate.
- Press each side of the chicken tender into the flour, making sure it is fully coated with flour, then dip it into the egg mixture. When you pull the chicken tender out of the egg mixture, let the excess egg drip off of it, then transfer it to the cornflake mixture.
- Set the tender in the air fryer basket, then repeat for each one, making sure they don’t overlap. You will likely need to work in two batches depending on the size of your air fryer.
- Air fry the chicken for 7 minutes at 375 F, then flip the tenders and fry for an additional 2 minutes to crisp the other side.