Healthy and protein-packed air fryer chicken tenders with no breading are an easy low-carb weeknight dinner idea that the whole family will love! They are ready in less than 30 minutes with only a few simple ingredients!
Perfectly seasoned, this homemade air fryer chicken tenders recipe is juicy on the inside and slightly crispy on the outside, no one will even miss the breading!
They taste so good and are perfect for salads and wraps, or serve them with your favorite dipping sauce. You can even pack them for school lunches!
Plus, because they contain no breadcrumbs, eggs, cheese, or flour they are gluten-free and dairy free! An easy dinner the whole family will agree upon.
Why This Recipe Works
- Healthy: With no breading in sight, these are acceptable for many dietary restrictions including low-carb, gluten-free and dairy-free.
- Simple: All you need is a few ingredients, minimal oil, and your air fryer!
- Flavorful: Simple seasonings infuse the meat with so much flavor.
- Versatile: Serve on their own, meal prep for the week, add a favorite sauce, or toss in a salad, there are so many ways to use these tenderloins!
What Are Chicken Tenders?
Also known as chicken tenderloins, they are attached to the underside of each chicken breast. These ‘hanging tenders’ are about 1 ½ inches wide and 5 inches in length and each bird will have two of them.
Like the breasts, they are white meat, and other than being smaller they taste similar, too! They are tender, moist, plus convenient, as you can usually pick them up packaged on their own at the store.
How to Make Chicken Tenders in the Air Fryer
Simple, basic, and delicious, they are so easy to make. Just season and go!
Step 1: Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F then use a paper towel to pat the tenders dry. Place them into a large bowl and coat them with olive oil.
Step 2: In a small bowl, mix dry rub ingredients including, smoked paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Then, use it to rub all over the meat.
Step 3: Place the seasoned pieces in the air fryer basket, spaced out in a single layer without overlapping. You may need to do multiple batches. Air fry for 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking until golden brown on the outside and the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees
Step 4: Serve as is or with your favorite dipping sauce.
- Thawed vs. frozen: This recipe is for thawed raw chicken tenders. If cooking directly from frozen, tack on some extra cooking time. Also, keep in mind that the seasoning won't stick to frozen meat as well.
- Single layer: Place them in the basket in a single layer so the hot air can circulate each one. Do not stack!
- Preheat air fryer: Just like your oven! This helps the outside reach max crispiness without any breading.
- Keep an eye on them: Your model may cook a little differently than mine! Check your tenders during the last few minutes of cooking as it may need less or more time than listed.
- Use a meat thermometer: Check to see if your tenders are cooked through by using a meat thermometer. The internal temperature of the thickest part of the chicken should reach 165 degrees F.
The white ‘string’ is just the tendon! While it is safe to eat, it can be tough or rubbery so it is up to you if you would like to remove it before you air fry your tenders.
Yes! Just take a boneless, skinless chicken breast and cut it lengthwise into pieces about ½ inch thick and you will have tender-sized pieces of meat!
Homemade tenders take about 10 minutes, after preheating. If your chicken tenderloins are thicker they may take up to 12 minutes.
Yes, your air fryer is a mini convection oven and very safe for cooking any raw foods. It’s not just for frozen foods. 🙂
What to Serve with Chicken Tenders?
Other than serving them over your favorite salad or with barbeque sauce, here are a few favorites:
- Instant Pot potato salad
- Air fryer broccoli
- Chicken alfredo
- Air fryer potato skins
- Corn on the cob
Dipping sauces are always a win! Try some yum yum sauce, sweet and sour sauce, honey garlic dipping sauce, or some good old-fashioned ketchup.
Store: Store leftovers refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
Freeze: Wrap tightly and place in a freezer-safe container or storage bag. Store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Reheat: From the refrigerator, reheat in the air fryer at 350 degrees F for 5-7 minutes. Cooked frozen tenders, increase air fryer reheat time to 20-25 minutes.
Air Fryer Chicken Tenders (No Breading)
- Air Fryer
- 2 pounds chicken tenders (approximately 12 tenders)
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon pepper
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
- Use a paper towel to dry pat the chicken tenders dry. Then, place it in a large bowl and coat it with olive oil.
- In a small bowl, mix together dry rub ingredients: smoked paprika, brown sugar, garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, dried oregano, salt, and pepper. Then, use it to rub all over the chicken.
- Place the chicken on the air fryer tray, spaced out in a single layer without overlapping. You may need to do multiple batches. Air fry for 10-12 minutes, flipping halfway through cooking, until golden brown on the outside and the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
- Serve as is or with your favorite dipping sauce.