Air Fryer Chicken Tenders – Healthier Than Deep Fried!

Air-fryer chicken tenders are so perfectly crispy and juicy, you won’t believe these didn’t come out of the deep fryer!

Less time, less fat, less calories… and ALL of the yumminess! This homemade recipe uses buttermilk marinated boneless chicken tenders that are lightly breaded to cooked to crispy perfection!

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders on a white plate with dip

Better Than Deep Fried!

These chicken tenders are crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and made without deep-frying, totally guilt-free!

This recipe is so great because not only can chicken tenders be piled high on a platter with sauces from bbq to sweet and sour.

Toss them onto a bed of salad greens for a great salad or tuck them into a bun for a perfect chicken sandwich!

My Favorite Air Fryer

There are different types of Air Fryers and I have purchased a few to test out.

  • MY TOP PICK FOR AIR FRYERS is the Cosori Air Fryer 5.8QT. I love the large capacity of this air fryer, it’s a fairly reasonable price, easy to clean and cooks beautifully.

Other Air Fryers I have used:

  • T-Fal Actifry 2-in-1 which works great for things like wings and fries but is not ideal for more delicate items. This air fryer tosses the items to help ensure even cooking and it also has a tray to set on top for cooking things like burgers or chicken breasts.
  • Breville Smart Oven Air: This air fryer is very pricey but cooks a lot at once and can be used as a toaster oven, oven (even holds a 9×13 pan), slow cooker and an air fryer. I don’t find it works as well as an air fryer as the Cosori above but it’s a good choice if you want an appliance that does many things at once.

You can find tons of other great Air Fryers on Amazon with great reviews.

process of breading Air Fryer Chicken Tenders with flour

Ingredients & Variations

CHICKEN Tenders are used in this recipe, but chicken breasts cut into strips will work great too!

BUTTERMILK It’s used for tenderizing the chicken in this recipe, but if you don’t have any you can make your own buttermilk easily!

BREADING Flour, seasonings, egg, breadcrumbs, and cornflakes are all used to coat the chicken before it’s air fried.

VARIATIONS  Feel free to add grated Parmesan cheese to the cornflake/breadcrumb mixture for extra flavor! Switch out the cajun seasoning for taco seasoning, seasoned salt, or even blackened seasoning, Yum!

process of breading Air Fryer Chicken Tenders and then putting on a baking sheet

How to Make Chicken Tenders in the Air Fryer

I’m obsessed with all things air fryer, it’s my most used appliance for sure!

  1. Marinate the chicken pieces in buttermilk.
  2. Prepare flour, seasonings, and breading.
  3. Pat chicken dry and dredge through flour, egg, and breading mixture.

Cook according to recipe below, and serve piping hot!

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders cooked in the air fryer

Tips for a Crispy Coating

  • For a great coating on the chicken tenders, make sure they are uniformly cut so they cook evenly.
  • Pat chicken dry so the breading can fully adhere (this also keeps them from steaming).
  • Be sure the bread crumbs and crushed cornflakes are smoothly pulsed so they can coat the chicken pieces evenly.
  • Chicken tenders are tender when they aren’t overcooked! Use a meat thermometer and test one or two pieces for 165°F before removing from the air fryer.

Delicious Dipping Sauces

Did you make these Air Fryer Chicken Tenders? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders are crispy, juicy and great for dipping!
Course Chicken, Dinner, Entree, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 11 minutes
Marinate 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 1 minute
Servings 4
Calories 409
Author Holly Nilsson



  • 1 pound chicken tenders or chicken breasts cut into 1″ strips
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup flour
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning low sodium
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup seasoned bread crumbs
  • ½ cup crushed cornflakes
  • cooking spray


  • Marinate chicken tenders in buttermilk at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
  • Combine flour, cornstarch, seasonings and salt & pepper to taste in a bowl. Whisk egg with 1 tablespoon water in a separate bowl and combine seasoned breadcrumbs and cornflakes in a 3rd bowl.
  • Remove chicken tenders from the buttermilk allowing any excess to drip off. Pat dry with paper towel.
  • Dredge chicken in the flour mixture to lightly coat it. Dip in egg and finally dip into the bread crumb mixture.
  • Spray chicken with cooking spray.
  • Preheat air fryer to 390°F. Add chicken tenders to the air fryer in a single layer and cook 11 minutes.


To cook in batches, cook all chicken tenders in small batches. Once all tenders have been cooked, add all to the air fryer at once and heat for 2 minutes.

Pat chicken dry so the breading can fully adhere (this also keeps them from steaming).

Be sure the bread crumbs and crushed cornflakes are smoothly pulsed so they can coat the chicken pieces evenly.

Be sure not to overcook. Chicken should reach 165°F.


Calories: 409 | Carbohydrates: 52g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 7g | Saturated Fat: 2g | Cholesterol: 120mg | Sodium: 627mg | Potassium: 628mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 7g | Vitamin A: 996IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 108mg | Iron: 11mg
Air Fryer Chicken Tenders cooking in an air fryer with a title
Air Fryer Chicken Tenders in an air frer with writing
close up of Air Fryer Chicken Tenders on a plate with writing and another image of them cooking

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