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20 Minute Air Fried Chicken Tenders {Breaded}

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Air Fried Chicken Tenders are crispy and cooked to perfection every time in just 20 minutes. Easy enough for a quick weeknight dinner. So easy, your kids can help make them! 

If you haven’t jumped on the air fryer bandwagon yet, now is the time. Air fryers along with Instant Pots, have become all the rage lately. I must say, I quickly learned why. 

crispy air fried chicken tenders on a wood cutting board with dipping sauce in the background

Using the air fryer is SUPER simple and you can make a variety of recipes in it. I’m currently using the Ninja Foodi Grill and have also used the NuWave Brio 6 Quart and the Mealthy CrispLid. Can I say I have completely fallen.in.love! So much that I rarely use my oven these days.

Here are a few things to note about the air fryers I use. The Foodi Grill and the NuWave models are larger capacity air fryers, so they’ll take up some real estate on your counter. But when you’re cooking for a family, it’s handy to have the bigger model. It reduces the batches of food you have to make because you can fit more food in the basket. 

What is an Air Fryer? 

An air fryer is a small appliance that cooks by convection heating. Essentially your food is being heated/cooked by the hot air blowing inside the appliance. And that means you can achieve crispy “fried” foods without using a lot of oil.

You don’t have to add breading to achieve good results in the air fryer. For instance, if you want to make chicken tenders without the breading, season them with a dry rub then cook. This will give you results similar to grilled chicken. 

One of the major benefits of air frying is that you don’t need to saturate your food with oil to achieve crispy results. Some dishes may need just a little spritz, while others do fine without any oil at all. 

Another thing I love about the air fryer is how quickly the food cooks. Most recipes take half the time in the air fryer compared to oven cooking. And that’s a game changer on busy weeknights! 

labeled ingredients for chicken strips on white background

Ingredients for Air Fried Chicken Tenders 

Chicken Tenders – this recipe uses fresh tenders. If you want to use frozen ones, I recommend thawing them first so the coating adheres better. 

Breadcrumbs – we like to use a combination of regular breadcrumbs mixed with Panko for optimum crispiness. You can use all breadcrumbs or all Panko if you prefer. 

Eggs – helps the batter stick to the tenders and gives it an additional layer of crispiness. 

Flour – I recommend all-purpose flour. 

Other ingredients: garlic powder, seasoned salt and pepper.

Do I Need to Spray My Air Fryer Basket with Non-Stick Spray? 

No! Traditional non-stick spray can damage the finish on your air fryer. There have been reports of the non-stick coating flaking off when using the non-stick spray, so just don’t use it.

I recommend using an oil mister when needed. It keeps food from sticking to the basket and also allows for crispier results when sprayed directly on the food prior to cooking.

3 image collage: chicken being dipped in flour, then in eggwash, last in breadcrumbs

How To Make Air Fryer Chicken Strips

Step 1 – Rinse the chicken and trim any fatty parts. Pat dry.

Step 2 – Create a dredging station with individual bowls of flour, beaten eggs, and breadcrumb mixture. Dip one tender at a time in the flour, eggs and breadcrumbs, making sure to coat the chicken evenly.

Step 3 – Place a few tenders in the basket, leaving room for air to circulate between the pieces. Spritz lightly with oil.

Step 4 – Cook tenders about 8-10 minutes, flipping at the halfway point. Tenders are done when the are golden brown and temperature reaches 165 degrees.

Can You Stack Chicken in the Air Fryer? 

No, you do not want to overfill the basket or tray. Because air fryers cook by convection, you need to leave room for the air to circulate. If you overfill the basket it causes the food cook unevenly and you may have to increase the cooking time.

Do You Need To Flip the Chicken? 

Yes. Some air fryers have a prompt (beeping) to remind you to turn your food about halfway through. I recommend using silicon covered tongs so you don’t scrape off the basket coating. 

top view of breaded chicken tenders in an air fryer basket

Can You Put Aluminum Foil in an Air Fryer? 

Yes, you can (for the most part). We recommend following the owner manual guidelines for your model. The following tips will work for most models:

  • Don’t cover the entire basket with foil as it impedes air flow. And if the air can’t circulate you’ll get unevenly cooked food. Use smaller foil sheets for best results.
  • Don’t put the foil in until you are ready to put the food in. Loose foil can blow around and come in contact with the heating element, which can be a fire hazard.
  • Use it to line the drip pan for easy clean up.

**Be sure to always check your manual as it will provide additional instructions and recommendations.**

close up of cooked chicken tenders on parchment paper

Tips for Making Chicken Tenders in the Air Fryer 

  • For the breading, try substituting finely crushed crackers for the breadcrumbs. 
  • To reduce cleanup, use parchment paper liners made for air fryer. These have holes that allow for air circulation. Check the sizing to make sure you purchase the correct size. 
  • Do not put the paper liners in when you are preheating! The paper will fly around and could be a fire hazard if it comes in contact with the heating element.
  • I recommend using a silicon mat or a heat resistant cutting board under the air fryer to protect your counter tops.  

**Pin the Air Fried Chicken Tenders Recipe For Later**

crispy air fried chicken tenders on a wood cutting board with text overlay

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crispy air fired chicken tenders laid out on a cutting board with text overlay

20 Minute Air Fried Chicken Tenders {Breaded}

Air Fried Chicken Tenders are crispy and cooked to perfection every time in under 30 minutes! Easy enough for a quick weeknight dinner. So easy, even your kids can make them! 
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Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 287kcal
Author: Lori @ I Heart Air Frying

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 pound chicken tenders
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • ½ cup breadcrumbs
  • ¼ cup Panko crumbs
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon seasoned salt
  • ½ cup all-purpose flour
  • Olive oil cooking spray

For Serving

  • Ketchup
  • Honey Mustard
  • Ranch Dressing
  • Your Favorite Dipping Sauce

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Preheat air fryer to 370 degrees F.
  • Rinse and trim the chicken if necessary. Pat dry.
  • Add bread crumbs and seasonings to a plate or shallow bowl and mix together with a fork.
  • Add beaten eggs to a second plate or shallow bowl.
  • Add flour to a third plate or shallow bowl.
  • Dip one chicken tender in flour, then in eggs, and then in breadcrumbs mixture, coating evenly on all sides.
  • Set coated tender on plate or tray and repeat steps with the remaining tenders.
  • Place coated tenders in air fryer basket, making sure to leave adequate space for air circulation. Do NOT crowd or stack the chicken.
  • Lightly spritz the coated tenders with olive oil spray.
  • Cook chicken until golden brown and internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, turning & spraying with oil at the halfway point. Total cook time is about 8-10 minutes depending on the size of the tenders.
  • Repeat with remaining chicken, if needed.
  • Serve immediately with your favorite dipping sauce

NOTES

  • Store leftover chicken strips in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. 
Tried this recipe?Mention @IHeartAirFrying or tag #iheartairfrying!

NUTRITION

Calories: 287kcal | Carbohydrates: 25g | Protein: 31g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 154mg | Sodium: 580mg | Potassium: 507mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 154IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 53mg | Iron: 2mg

Nutritional information is provided as a reference, using an online calculator. We recommend verifying the information independently for accuracy.

Keyword: air fryer chicken strips, chicken tenders with breading, homemade crispy chicken tenders

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