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Air Fryer Chicken Tenders Cook Up Faster and Crispier Than the Drive-Thru: Get the Easy Recipe

Our test kitchen's easy trick adds big flavor to these air fryer chicken tenders

When you’re craving crispy and juicy chicken tenders, skip the drive-thru and make them right at home. All you need is six ingredients and an air fryer to prepare a batch of delicious tenders in under an hour. Plus, our test kitchen shares their easy trick that infuses the chicken with lots of flavor in a few seconds. Here’s how to whip up air fryer chicken tenders as a party appetizer or a fun dinner option!

Why you should cook chicken tenders in the air fryer

Although fast food chicken tenders are convenient and delicious, they’re often full of grease. So, it’s worth making a lighter version from scratch using your air fryer. This machine’s circulating heat function evenly distributes hot air around each tender. What you end up with is chicken tenders with a golden brown crust and a moist interior. Each batch also cooks in about eight minutes, so you can make them in a flash without skimping on flavor. (Learn more about what an air fryer is and how it works.)

Our test kitchen’s secret to flavorful chicken tenders

You may think of Buffalo sauce only as a dipping or coating option for cooked tenders. But, our test kitchen uses it to infuse the meat with a tangy and peppery kick before it goes into the air fryer. How? They combine it with a beaten egg and then dip the meat in this mixture during breading. Not only does this add flavor, but it saves you time as you don’t need to marinate the meat for tasty and tender results. (Use this sauce to make other recipes like Boneless Chicken Wings and Buffalo Chicken Egg Rolls.)

How to make air fryer chicken tenders

Below, you can find our test kitchen’s recipe for Air Fryer Chicken Tenders. It requires 6 key ingredients and comes together in less than an hour. You can serve it with an array of dipping sauces and sides like crunchy waffle fries or a refreshing cucumber salad.

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

Air fryer chicken tenders with ketchup
Nelea Reazanteva/Getty

Ingredients:

  • ⅓ cup buffalo wing sauce
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup Italian-style dry breadcrumbs 
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 lb. chicken tenders, cut into 2½-by-1½-inch pieces

Directions:

  • Active: 20 mins
  • Total time: 40 mins
  • Yield: 6 servings
  1. In bowl, combine wing sauce and egg. In separate bowl, combine breadcrumbs, Parmesan and ¼ tsp. pepper. Place flour in third bowl; add chicken. Toss until coated. Dip in egg mixture then breadcrumbs, shaking off excess.
  2. Heat 7-quart air fryer to air fry at 375°F. Coat air fryer basket with cooking spray. In batches, place chicken in single layer in air fryer basket; coat chicken with cooking spray. Air fry until cooked through, eight to 10 minutes per batch. Remove from air fryer and cool four to five minutes on wire rack. 
  3. Serve warm on platter with dipping sauces and sides. 

Bonus make ahead trick for homemade chicken tenders

Keeping a stash of chicken tenders in your freezer means you can satisfy your cravings at a moment’s notice. To do this, place the breaded tenders on a parchment-lined baking sheet and freeze for at least two hours. Transfer the frozen tenders to a plastic bag, seal and store in the freezer for up to three months. When you’re ready to enjoy, place your desired number of tenders on a greased air fryer basket and cook at 375°F for 15 to 20 minutes — or until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 165°F.


Read on for more easy and tasty air fryer recipes!

These Air Fryer Steak Bites Are Full of Fancy Flavor, Yet So Easy to Make in 20 Minutes

You’ll Love Air Fryer Zucchini Fries: Easy Recipe Cooks Up Crispy in 8 Minutes

Air Fryer Churros Are Crispy Sweet Treats That Prep in 30 Minutes — Easy Recipe

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