Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Tenders

These easy Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Tenders come together in a few minutes and are perfect with your favorite dipping sauce! 

Crispy and crunchy chicken tenders are an easy kid-friendly dinner. We love to pair them with fluffy mashed potatoes, parmesan roasted broccoli, or my easy vegetable rice pilaf!

Air Fried Crispy Chicken Tenders with crunchy coating on outside.

My family loves these air fryer crispy chicken tenders because they’re juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside.

I love them because they’re cooked in the air fryer, meaning no oil and no mess!

Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Tenders Recipe

When it comes to making crispy chicken in the air fryer, it’s actually pretty easy! There are just a few simple steps to achieve that delicious crunchy coating and juicy, tender chicken on the inside.

Ingredients for Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

Here is the short list of ingredients you’ll need to make the BEST chicken tenders in the air fryer…

  • Dill Pickle Juicetrust me on this!
  • Whole Milk
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Chicken Tendersyou can also use strips of chicken breast or chicken thighs
  • Egg
  • All Purpose Flour
  • Baking Powder
  • Crushed Corn Flakes
  • Seasoned Breadcrumbsplain would also work if that’s all you have on hand
  • Salt 

Ingredients needed for Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

How To Make Chicken Tenders with a Pickle Brine

The first thing you’re going to want to do is make your quick pickle brine for the chicken tenders.

  • Combine the pickle juice, milk, garlic and onion powder in a large bowl and let the chicken tenders soak in this mixture for about 20 minutes.
  • Once the chicken is done marinating in the pickle juice mixture, remove the chicken and whisk an egg into the remaining pickle juice marinade.
  • Pat the chicken tenders dry with paper towels to remove as much moisture as possible.

PRO TIP – Don’t let the chicken tenders marinate for longer than 30 minutes as the acidity in the pickle juice can start to “cook” the chicken.

The pickle juice will tenderize the chicken, almost like a buttermilk marinade would for fried chicken. The results are juicy, flavorful chicken once cooked.

Don’t worry – the chicken won’t have a pickle flavor!

Breading Chicken With Cornflakes

Using cornflakes as a breading for chicken is not a new thing. It’s actually a brilliant method for giving a crispy, crunchy coating to chicken, turkey, pork and so much more.

I love using cornflakes on top of my Casserole Potatoes to give it a delicious crunch.

Why Use Breadcrumbs AND Cornflakes? – The reason I’m using breadcrumbs in addition to cornflakes is to help coat every little bit of those chicken tenders. The cornflakes cover the majority of the surface, where the breadcrumbs help fill in all the little nooks and crannies.

Pat the chicken tenders dry with paper towels before breading.

  • Whisk together the flour and baking powder in a shallow dish.
  • Combine the crushed cornflakes, breadcrumbs and salt in a separate shallow dish.
  • Dip each chicken tender in the flour mixture, then the egg mixture, then coat evenly with the cornflake mixture.

PRO TIP – Arrange the chicken tenders on a lined baking sheet until you’re ready to cook them in the air fryer. You may have to cook them in batches depending on how large your air fryer is.

Arrange breaded chicken tenders on a baking sheet

How Long To Bake Chicken Tenders

The nice thing about this recipe is that you can either bake the chicken tenders in the oven or quickly crisp them up in the air fryer. I’ll share both methods here…

Air Fryer – 

  • Preheat your air fryer to 390 degrees F. for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the chicken tenders to the basket of your air fryer in a single layer.
  • Give a quick spritz of non-stick spray and cook for 11 to 12 minutes, flipping the chicken tenders half way through cooking.

Oven Baked –

  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.
  • Arrange chicken on a wire rack placed inside a lined baking sheet (similar to pictured above).
  • Give a quick spritz of non-stick spray and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, flipping the chicken tenders half way through cooking.

*Keep in mind that chicken tenders can become dried out and tough if overcooked. Pay close attention that they don’t get cooked over 165 degrees F. internally. (I like to use my instant read thermometer to be sure)

Crunchy Chicken Tenders in Air Fryer Method

Air Fryer Tips and Suggestions

The question I get asked the most when it comes to air fryer recipes is – WHAT AIR FRYER AM I USING? 

When I got my first air fryer I had a NuWave brand and it died on me after a few months. I then purchased my 6 quart Gourmia Air Fryer and it’s been working great for well over a year now.

I love the nonstick basket on the inside that is very easy to clean. Plus it’s a high powered machine, so it can cook fast and efficiently.

To help protect your air fryer’s non stick coating, make sure you hand wash with warm water and a mild soap and do not use any abrasive scrubbers.

Cooking More Than One Batch In The Air Fryer

With this recipe, you’ll have quite a few chicken tenders, most likely more than can fit in the air fryer at one time. Here is how you can cook them all and have them all come out hot at the same time…

  • Cook the chicken tenders in small batches (enough to fill the bottom, but so they don’t overlap or touch).
  • Set the cooked chicken tenders on a wire rack and continue cooking the next batch.
  • Once all the batches are done, add all the chicken tenders back to the air fryer (they can now touch each other since they’re crisp on the outside).
  • Cook an additional 1 to 2 minutes to get them all warm again and serve immediately.

Juicy Fried Chicken Tenders with a crunchy breading made in the air fryer.

Easy Dipping Sauces for Crispy Chicken Tenders

Let’s be honest, chicken tenders are made to be dipped! Their long, narrow shape is perfect for dunking in an assortment of sauces. My kids will always love ketchup or a good ranch, but here are a few of our other favorites that are sure to please…

Dipping crispy chicken tenders in chick fil a sauce.

More Crispy Chicken Recipes To Try

Craving more crispy, crunchy breaded chicken recipes? Here are a few more to keep you satisfied!

Dipping crispy chicken tenders in chick fil a sauce.
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Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Tenders

These easy Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Tenders come together in a few minutes and are perfect with your favorite dipping sauce! 
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time12 mins
Total Time42 mins
Course: Appetizer, Main Dish
Cuisine: American
Servings: 4
Calories: 742 kcal
Author: Shawn

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dill pickle juice
  • ½ cup whole milk
  • ½ tsp garlic powder
  • ½ tsp onion powder
  • 2 lbs. chicken tenders
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 ¼ cup crushed corn flakes
  • ½ cup seasoned breadcrumbs
  • ½ tsp salt

Instructions

  • Whisk together the pickle juice, milk, garlic powder and onion powder in a large bowl. Add in the chicken tenders and let marinate for 20 minutes, no more than 30 minutes. Remove chicken pieces from marinade (do not discard marinade) and pat dry with paper towels.
  • To the marinade add in the egg and whisk to combine.
  • In a separate shallow bowl combine the flour and baking powder. In another bowl combine the cornflakes, breadcrumbs and salt.
  • Meanwhile preheat your air fryer to 390 degrees F. for 5 minutes.
  • Coat the chicken tenders in the flour, then dip in the egg mixture and then coat in the cornflake mixture. Place the coated chicken in the basket of your air fryer in a single layer, so they are not touching each other. Give a quick spritz with non-stick spray.
  • Cook for 11 to 12 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the chicken is golden brown and reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Serve immediately, or place on a wire rack until all batches are cooked. Reheat for just 1 to 2 minutes in air fryer to warm all chicken tenders together.
Notes
OVEN INSTRUCTIONS - 
  • Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F
  • Arrange crumb coated chicken on a wire rack placed inside a lined baking sheet
  • Give a quick spritz of non-stick spray and bake for 18 to 20 minutes, flipping the chicken tenders half way through cooking.

Nutrition

Calories: 742kcal | Carbohydrates: 101g | Protein: 62g | Fat: 9g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 195mg | Sodium: 2012mg | Potassium: 1089mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 10g | Vitamin A: 1534IU | Vitamin C: 19mg | Calcium: 225mg | Iron: 25mg
Keywords: Air Fryer, Baked, Chicken, Crispy, crunchy, tenders
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Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Tenders

About the author

Shawn is the Owner and Creator of I Wash You Dry. She loves to create and share simple, family-friendly recipes. Mom to 5 adorable children and dwells in the desert of Southern Utah.

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Shawn Syphus

Hi, I’m Shawn and I’m a busy mom of five; pretending to live on a budget. I love to cook, and explore new recipes, but they have to be quick and easy with as few dishes as possible.

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