Ingredients Youll Need To Make Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
CHICKEN: Im using chicken tenderloins for this recipe, but you can also buy whole boneless skinless chicken breasts. Then cut the breasts into 3 strips and proceed as directed. If youre using frozen, raw chicken tenders, be sure to thaw them in the fridge overnight.
DREDGING STATION: Were setting up a standard dredge station for the chicken. One shallow bowl with seasoned flour and another shallow bowl with egg wash.
HOT SAUCE: Dont worry! Adding hot sauce wont make these tenders super spicy. Itll boost the flavor of your tenders and everyone will wonder why theyre so darn good! The tenders are slightly spicy. If you want no spice at all, skip the hot sauce and add another 1 tablespoon of water to the egg wash.
How To Cook Air Fried Frozen Breaded Chicken Strips
Frozen chicken tenders or strips are sold in 2 ways: frozen fully cooked or frozen raw.
- Fully Cooked breaded frozen chicken tenders are super easy to cook in the air fryer. They can go straight from the freezer to the air fryer and cooked in minutes. You dont need to spray the chicken because theres plenty already when it was pre-cooked.
- RAW: Theres also frozen raw chicken strips, where the breading is pre-cooked but the chicken is raw. Timing between the frozen pre-cooked and raw differs by a few minutes. You still need to check to make sure the brand you bought cooks all the way through. Start by checking the strips after 10 minutes. And then cook for additional time to make sure its cooked and crispy to your liking.
- All air fryer chicken strip recipe details are in the recipe box below.
- Pro-Tip: heres our favorite tools to help make air frying easier:
We LOVE the Evo Oil Sprayers. Not the prettiest, but theyre functional and spritz oil great! They dont clog up like many others weve bought. Theres different styles, but all seem to have the same great spray head. Works great for grilling!
There are Square Mats& Round Mats. These perforated non-stick silicone mats are used to cook food in your air fryer or steamer to minimize sticking. Holes allow hot circulating air to cook the food & keeps the food from sticking.
What Is The Difference Between Chicken Tenders And Chicken Strips
While these terms are often used interchangeably, they are not the same thing. When naming this recipe, I went back and forth about calling them chicken tenders or chicken fingers or chicken strips. In the end, I called the recipe Ninja Foodi Chicken Tenders because I feel like most people still refer to strips of chicken breaded and fried as tenders even though they are not the same thing.
Chicken tenders are a specific area on the chicken breast that is attached to the breast bone and is under the breast. It is a very tender cut of the chicken and usually sold as chicken tenderloins. They are small, averaging about 4-6″ in length and are usually removed from the boneless skinless chicken breasts you buy in the grocery store and packaged separately at a premium price. Chicken tenderloins can cost anywhere from $0.50-$1.50 more per pound than the whole boneless skinless chicken breast. The tender or tenderloin is more tender than the breast itself.
Chicken strips or chicken fingers are simply boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into strips. They are usually referred to as chicken strips or chicken fingers when they are breaded and fried.
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Air Frying Vs Deep Frying Chicken Strips
Going to go out on a limb here. I know the fried chicken purists will hate hearing this. But, yes, you can make equally delicious fried chicken, especially strips, in an air fryer. Air fried chicken is not the enemy but your friend.
You dont need the hot oil splattering everywhere. You dont need to worry about cleaning up the used cooking oil. And, lets face it, going with an air fryer is just plain healthier.
Lets get back to the cleaning up part
An air fryer is so much easier to clean up after cooking than cooking up after deep fat frying any day of the week
How To Store Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
Once your chicken tenders have been cooked, it is important to store them properly to ensure that they stay fresh and delicious.
First, allow the chicken to cool completely before storing. Then, place the chicken in an airtight container and store in the refrigerator for up to four days.
When youre ready to enjoy, simply reheat in the air fryer until heated through.
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Heres What You Do To Make Air Fried Chicken In Just 15 Minutes
Enjoy your fried chicken strips with dipping sauces! I mean ketchup typically satisfies my youngest but the older they got the more they wanted choices and lots of them.
Want to try other versions of fried chicken tenders?
- Then try crispy chicken legs in air fryer and air fryer corn dogs next, your kids will love these too.
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Printable recipe card and nutritional information for this brand of tenders is below. That will vary with the size of each piece and/or brand used.
Frozen Chicken Tenderloins In The Air Fryer:
Nothing beats the convenience of having frozen chicken tenderloins in the freezer. I always keep a bag of them in my freezer for those busy nights when I have no idea what to cook for dinner and need something done fast. I love how you dont have to thaw the chicken tenderloins before cooking them. No matter how hard I try, I can never remember to take them out to thaw!
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Why This Recipe Works
- Air fryer frozen chicken tenders cook up super crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside.
- Thanks to the magic of the air fryer, chicken tenders cook more quickly in the air fryer than in the oven. Air fryer chicken tenders are absolutely delicious dipped in my ultimate sweet and spicy Wing Sauce or creamy dreamy Bang Bang Sauce.
- Clean up is so much easier with the air fryer!
Lower In Added Fat Than Deep Fried Chicken Tenders
Youre getting 11 grams of total fat and 3 grams of saturated fat per 7-piece serving of chicken strips. Since the strips are browned in expeller pressed canola oil and they have more breaded surface area than the Kidfresh nuggets, they are higher in fat than the nuggets. However, these chicken strips still likely have less saturated fat than similar products that are deep fried.
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Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Tenders Ingredients
- Chicken Tenders: Boneless, skinless chicken tenders.
- Garlic Powder: Make sure it is not expired garlic powder.
- Paprika: I use smoked paprika, but regular will work too.
- Onion Powder: Make sure it is not expired onion powder.
- Chipotle Chili Powder: This is optional, there is just a tiny bit for a little spice.
- Salt: I use sea salt or kosher salt.
- Pepper: Freshly ground black pepper.
- Thyme: I like to use ground thyme but dried will work.
- Oil: Any vegetable oil will work, I use extra virgin olive oil or avocado oil.
- Lemon: The juice of a lemon, I recommended not using the bottle lemon juice. Lime juice can also be used.
- Favorite Dipping Sauce: The sky is the limit, choose your favorite. I have included some ideas below!
Why You Will Love This Recipe:
- Its quick! Frozen chicken tenderloins take just 15 minutes in the air fryer!
- The air fryer is one of the best ways to cook frozen chicken. No need to turn on the oven or stove!
- Its simple! This recipe requires only a few ingredients. No breading or egg.
- There are so many ways to enjoy chicken tenderloins! They are perfect for lunch, dinner, meal prep, snack,salads, and wraps!
- No need to thaw. You can cook these straight from frozen which will save you a ton of time.
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How To Cook Frozen Raw Chicken Tenders In The Air Fryer
Most frozen chicken tenders from the store are pre-cooked. However, some frozen chicken strips are raw on the inside. Just check the packaging if youre not sure which type you have.
If you have raw chicken tenders make sure to give them enough time to cook thoroughly. Usually, an extra couple of minutes is enough.
Chicken should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a meat thermometer to ensure your tenders are cooked through.
Are Frozen Chicken Strips Gluten Free Are Frozen Chicken Strips Low Carb
The frozen chicken strips that I am using for this recipe are neither gluten free nor low carb because they have whole wheat flour as a second ingredient. For gluten free frozen breaded chicken, here are a couple of options:
Id just stick to chicken strips with no breading if youre on a low carb diet. Im thinking the diet will be more sustainable if you learn to enjoy foods without breading. You could also try making your own breading with pork panko or almond flour.
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What Youll Need To Make Perfect Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- Frozen Chicken Strips
- Frozen chicken tenders can be found in the freezer aisle at most grocery stores.
- There are many different brands to choose from. Some of the most common brands are Tyson, Perdue, and Banquet.
- There are many different types of chicken tenders you can buy too. Veggie, vegan, organic and meat sustitute tenders can be a tasty and healthy alternative.
Making Healthy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
Your healthy air fryer chicken tenders are going to come together really quickly. With just 3 ingredients, all of the prep work is done in just a few moments. This recipe is so easy, it would be a great one to start your kids in the kitchen with.
To make your healthy air fryer chicken tenders:
Preheat the air fryer to 400F for 3-5 minutes.
Coat your chicken tenders with oil then sprinkle or brush the chicken rub on the chicken.
Press the rub into the chicken meat .
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How Do You Cook Frozen Air Fried Tenderloins
If you are looking to make just air fryer tenderloins without bread cumbs I recommend using raw chicken strips and cooking them for 12-14 minutes at 400 degrees.
Season the naked chicken tenders with spices of your choice and make sure theyre cooked fully with an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.
Chicken tenders without breadcrumbs are a great low-carb alternative to these breaded chicken strips.
How To Find The Healthiest Chicken Tenders
If you read my post on Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Nuggets, the principles here are exactly the same. The healthiest chicken tenders will generally be homemade baked chicken tenders.
If Im buying frozen chicken tenders, I will generally look for an ingredient list similar to breaded chicken tenders Id make at home. Here are some things I look for:
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How To Make Tyson Chicken Strips Crispy
You air fry your Tyson chicken strips. There is not a better way to make your chicken strips crispy, than to air fry them.
The crispy coating on them is amazing and reminds me of the crisp you have on chicken strips when you go out for southern fried chicken or go out to KFC.
You can even make your chicken strips even crispier by spraying with a little olive oil or adding a couple more minutes onto the cook time.
Can I Use Tyson Frozen Chicken Strips Or Tyson Air Fried Chicken
Yes, you can use both. Tyson is a great brand to select when you are going to make chicken tenders.
We’ve used the Tyson Frozen Chicken Strips and have had great luck.
We have also recently gotten the Tyson Air Fried Chicken.
What’s neat about the Tyson Air Fryer Chicken is that it actually gives you air fryer directions right on the package.
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Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Tenderloins
You can see what naked chicken tenderloins look like here straight out of the bag. If you once thought that there was no way of cooking frozen meat to tender, youre so wrong. Youll be surprised at how fast and moist you can get these in your Ninja Foodi, Cosori, AirWave or whatever brand you have.
We have shared a ton of how to cook frozen chicken posts, because its a must when I am having one of those days.
How do you cook frozen chicken breast tenderloins in the airfryer?
Its pretty easy. You just want to preheat your machine for 5 minutes. Throw in a few pieces in one single layer, spray with olive oil, sprinkle on seasonings and air fry for 15-17 minutes or until tender. Timing will vary depending on how thick they are.
Tyson and Foster Farms are popular brand that offers these in bags year round. Typically you can buy a store brand too that tends to be a bit less expensive. I am very particular when it comes to poultry myself and will pay more for organic, free range because the texture is just way better. Your choice.
Recipe Tips & Substitutions
- Some air fryers need to be preheated. Check the manufacturer instructions for your air fryer to be sure.
- If you want to double this recipe, you may need to cook the chicken tenders in two batches so that they dont overlap.
- Serve with a side salad, steam-in-the-bag vegetables, or French fries for a quick and easy side.
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Air Fryer Chicken Tenderloins
Chicken tenders are seriously versatile food that doesnt really get enough credit for all that they can do. In our home, we love them because they are quick and easy to cook up plus we can add as much flavor as we want.
For these air fryer chicken tenders no breading, we are ditching the typically breading option to make a light yet super flavorful option. Often we are eating them right out of the air fryer, but when we can restrain ourselves, you will find us chopping them up for a salad, adding them to a wrap, and even serving them alongside our favorite appetizers.
How Does An Air Fryer Work
- An air fryer is basically a mini convection oven that sits on your countertop. Air fryers have a heating element at the top and a mechanical fan that helps circulate the hot air around your food more efficiently. This makes your food nice and crispy on the outside while keeping it moist and juicy on the inside.
- So although air fryers have a catchy name with the word “fryer” in them, there’s no actual frying involved at all!
- Basically, air frying gives you the taste and texture of deep-fried food that you crave but with little to no oil.
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Why We Love This Recipe
A wholesome recipe. An easy chicken meal yields a highly nutritious dinner that is lower in fat and calories but high in protein that will keep you fuller longer and is far healthier than fast food.
Easy meal planning and preparation. These air fryer chicken tenderloins may be made in large quantities at once, and you can plan dishes to use throughout the week. Consume them using your hands. If you are eating these frozen chicken strips yourself, you can eat them with your hands. Pick them up and dunk them in your preferred sauce, such as barbecue sauce.
Ideal for families. They are plain and flavorless, which appeals to children.
Simple dinner. Making this is simple and quick.
Before placing the fresh chicken tenders in the freezer, remove the tendon if you do not like it. The tendon side should be facing up as you lay the chicken tender flat on a surface. With a paper towel and a fork turned upside down, grab hold of the tendon and drag it through the fork while pressing the fork firmly down. The entire tendon will be pulled out of the tenderloin.