Best Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

By: Cassy Joy Garcia
Fed & Fit
Fed & Fit

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These air fryer chicken tenders are crispy, delicious, and completely reminiscent of the childhood classic!

a plate of crispy air fryer chicken tenders on a plate next to a small clear bowl of hot honey dipping sauce
Table Of Contents

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!

What is the difference between Chicken Tenders and Chicken nuggets?

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 (nugget recipe coming soon!) 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 (again, coming soon!) are breaded more traditionally and are slightly less crunchy! 

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 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!
all of the ingredients needed for air fryer chicken tenders in different sized plates and bowls on a marble surface

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 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! 
a person coating a raw chicken tender in a flour mixture
a flour coated raw chicken tender laying in a bowl of whisked egg
a person coating a raw chicken tender in crushed cornflakes
5 crispy chicken tenders in the basket of an air fryer
a plate of crispy air fryer chicken tenders with hot honey sauce being drizzled over them
a person holding a crispy air fryer chicken tender above a small bowl of hot honey dipping sauce

Can I cook raw chicken in an air fryer

You can! The air fryer will cook raw meat, but you’ll definitely want to make sure it is fully thawed first.

What's best for me – breaded or unbreaded chicken tenders?

That’s totally up to you, your preferences, and what your body can tolerate! If you use a gluten-free all purpose flour like 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!  

a plate of crispy air fryer chicken tenders on a plate next to a small clear bowl of hot honey dipping sauce

What air fryer do you recommend?

We've tested and recommend 2 different air fryers – the Cosori Max XL and the Ninja AF 101. Both of these models perform great! If you're looking to save space, go with the Ninja. If you want a bigger air fryer that can make more food per batch, the Cosori is your best bet!

What to serve with air fryer chicken tenders

Good question! Our personal favorite is some form of potatoes. We have really yummy air fryer french fry and sweet potato fry recipes that pair really nicely with these tenders. As for dipping sauces, classic ketchup, honey mustard, ranch, and BBQ sauce are all really great choices!

Print

Best Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

a plate of crispy air fryer chicken tenders on a plate next to a small clear bowl of hot honey dipping sauce

These air fryer chicken tenders are perfectly juicy with crunchy cornflake crust!

  • Author: Amber Goulden
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 9 minutes
  • Total Time: 19 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 1x
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Air Fryer
  • Cuisine: American

Ingredients

Scale

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

Instructions

  1. Combine the flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, paprika, garlic, onion, cayenne, and black pepper in a medium-sized bowl.
  2. Whisk together the eggs and milk in a separate bowl.
  3. Combine the cornflakes and remaining teaspoon of salt together in a bowl or on a plate.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.

Keywords: air fryer, air fryer chicken tenders, gluten free chicken tenders, crispy chicken tenders

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Recipe rating

  1. Laura Ankrum says:

    Thank you for more air fryer recipes!

    1. Brandi Schilhab says:

      You’re welcome, Laura! We hope you enjoy this one!