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Air Fryer Chicken Tenders Recipe – Healthier And With Gluten Free Options

When I first purchased my air fryer, I knew that one of the first things that I wanted to make was Air Fryer Chicken Tenders and Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets. 

We eat chicken quite often in our house and although I loved grilled chicken, I sometimes miss the crispy taste of fried chicken.

air fryer chicken tenders
Crispy, homemade chicken tenders that are cooked in the air fryer.

Knowing how bad fried foods are for your health, we have steered away from our deep fryer and continued to make grilled or baked chicken for several years now.

However, I finally jumped on the Air Fryer band wagon. And I am so glad that I did! Although there are several different types and brands of air fryers on the market, I personally own the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker and Air Crisper and the Emeril 360 XL Air Fryer.

What Type Of Air Fryer?

And the biggest reason for my decision to purchase them was the basket capacity. Prior to my purchase, I did a lot of research on which air fryer was the best one to buy. And it quickly became apparent that the common thread among consumer reviews and feedback was to purchase a large capacity air fryer.

So I weighed the options and first purchased the Ninja Foodi pressure cooker with the Air Fryer lid. Although I really wanted an air fryer, I loved the fact that I could do several things as well.

And I have been experimenting with recipes ever since! In fact, we have posted all of the Air Fryer Recipes Here so you can easily find them.

air fryer basket
No matter what brand of air fryer that you choose, I highly recommend getting one that has a large capacity basket over 5.5 quarts.

However, I have waited to post my experience and recipe with air fryer chicken tenders. That is because that there is such a variety of ingredients and methods that you can use to make them.

You can make the breading with flour and seasonings, breadcrumbs, Panko breadcrumbs or a Shake & Bake mixture. :And if you are eating a Keto Diet or watching the amount of carbs that you consume, you can even grind up Pork Rinds to use as your breading.

And just like there are various breading methods, the type of binder to use for the breading has some variations as well. Some people use an egg wash to help hold their seasonings, while others use mayonnaise, mustard, or even just plain water.

So in order to find out the best method that produced a nice and crispy texture but still retained that moist and juicy interior, some recipe experimentation was done.

Breading Options

Flour – when cooked as the single outer layer, the flour cooked unevenly and resulted in areas that weren’t crispy.

Seasoned Breadcrumbs – provided a nice evenly coated, crunchy exterior texture with lots of flavor.

seasoned breadcrumbs
Seasoned breadcrumbs, not Panko breadcrumbs worked best for the exterior coating on the chicken tenders.

Panko Breadcrumbs – tended to fall off of the tenders most of all, and lacked flavor.

Seasoned Pork Rinds – a great gluten-free alternative that adds flavor when you use the hot & spicy flavor

Binding Agent

As for the binding agent, I found no difference when using an egg wash or a thick spread like mayo or Dijon mustard. The coating stuck to the chicken when each one was used.

However I didn’t have much luck when using plain water as the binder. The breading didn’t stick to the surface of the chicken at all..

Therefore, I would recommend an egg wash that consists of whisking an egg and a little water together. Unless you have an egg allergy and then I recommend using Dijon mustard or a plant based mayonnaise spread instead.

So in order to come up with the best Chicken Tender recipe, we decided to combine a few techniques.

You can make your own chicken tenders by cutting chicken breasts into small strips.

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders Recipe

Ingredients

Boneless, skinless chicken tenders
Kentucky Kernel seasoned flour, *if gluten-free use gluten-free flour with seasoned salt
Egg, or if egg-free use Dijon mustard or egg-free mayo
Water
Seasoned Italian bread crumbs (not Panko)

Instructions

First step in making Chicken Tenders is to preheat your air fryer. Although your brand may not require you to preheat before cooking, it is best to preheat the basket before adding the breaded chicken. It will decrease the chances of the chicken sticking to the basket during the cooking process.

Now it is time to prepare your dredging station. First, in a shallow bowl whisk the egg and water together and set aside.

Then place the Kentucky Kernel flour and breadcrumbs in 2 separate shallow bowls. You can typically find Kentucky Kernel flour in the baking aisle of your grocery store. It comes in a box and is a flavored flour that makes the best Chicken Tenders when combined with seasoned breadcrumbs..

air fryer chicken tenders
Working in small batches dredge the chicken tenders in the seasoned flour, egg wash and then the breadcrumbs.

Before you dredge the chicken, pat them dry with a paper towel to remove any moisture from the surface.

Then brush them lightly with olive oil on both sides. Work in small batches of 3-4 tenders to coat the chicken in the breading. First place the chicken tenders in the Kentucky Kernel seasoned flour. Next dip them in the egg mixture and then coat with seasoned bread crumbs.

Be sure to shake off excess breading and immediately place them in the preheated air fryer that has been sprayed with a high heat oil. Allow enough room between the tenders so that the air can flow adequately. Cook for 10 minutes, flip, and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes on other side or until internal temperature reaches 165° F.

Remove the Chicken tenders from the air fryer. Serve with hot with french fries, mashed potatoes, and of course your dipping sauce of choice!

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air fryer chicken tenders

Air Fryer Breaded Chicken Tenders

Yield: 2

Crispy chicken tenders that are moist on the inside and are healthier than deep fried tenders because they are cooked in the air fryer.

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken tenders
  • 1/2 cup Kentucky Kernel seasoned flour, *if gluten-free use gluten-free flour
  • 1 egg, beaten, *if egg-free use Dijon mustard or egg-free mayo
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Instructions

  1. Heat air fryer to 370°F.
  2. In a shallow bowl whisk the egg and water together and set aside.
  3. Place the Kentucky Kernel flour and breadcrumbs in 2 separate shallow bowls.
  4. Pat thawed chicken tenders dry. Then brush them lightly with olive oil on both sides.
  5. Working in small batches of 3-4 tenders, dredge the chicken tenders in the Kentucky Kernel seasoned flour, then dip them in the egg mixture, then finally coat with seasoned bread crumbs.
  6. Shake off excess breading and immediately place them in the air fryer.
  7. Allow enough room between the tenders so that the air can flow adequately. Cook for 10 minutes, flip, and cook for an additional 10-15 minutes on other side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F.

Notes

Cooking time may need adjusted based on the thickness of your chicken tenders and the brand of your air fryer.

Recipe provided by Make Your Meals

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 6 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 451Total Fat: 17gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 129mgSodium: 745mgCarbohydrates: 50gFiber: 2gSugar: 1gProtein: 22g

Nutritional Information is to be used as a general guideline only . Nutritional calculations will vary from the types and brands of the products used.

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Laura Skorczewski

Wednesday 8th of August 2018

I do not have access to Kentucky Kernal Seasoned flour. What are the spices in it? Also, what are the spices in the bread crumbs? Thank you ahead of time.

makeyourmeals

Wednesday 8th of August 2018

Here is a copycat recipe for Kentucky Kernel flour which makes about a cup and a half. 1 tablespoon rosemary 1 tablespoon oregano 1 tablespoon powdered sage 1 teaspoon powdered ginger 1 teaspoon marjoram 1 1/2 teaspoons thyme 3 tablespoons packed brown sugar 3 tablespoons dry minced parsley 1 teaspoon pepper 1 tablespoon paprika 2 tablespoons garlic salt 2 tablespoons onion salt 2 tablespoons powdered chicken bouillon (or 4 cubes mashed) 1 pkg Lipton tomato cup of soup mix

and the seasoned bread crumbs: 2 tablespoons dried parsley. 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning. 1 teaspoon garlic powder. 1 teaspoon onion powder. 1 teaspoon Kosher salt. 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper.

Hope that helps!

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