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!
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.
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!
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!
- Marinate the chicken pieces in buttermilk.
- Prepare flour, seasonings, and breading.
- Pat chicken dry and dredge through flour, egg, and breading mixture.
Cook according to recipe below, and serve piping hot!
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
- Honey Mustard Sauce – 4 simple ingredients
- Yum Yum Sauce – light & tangy
- Easy BBQ Sauce Recipe – perfect for dipping
- Homemade Sweet and Sour Sauce – only takes 5 minutes
- Buffalo Sauce – so easy to make
Did you make these Air Fryer Chicken Tenders? Be sure to leave a rating and a comment below!
Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- 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.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and will vary based on cooking methods and brands of ingredients used.
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Absolutely delicious! I was out of corn flakes, so I used pretzels and lays potato chips. It was a huge hit. Thank you!
Excellent recipe, family really enjoyed. I used boneless chicken thighs instead of tenders and they turned out great. Thank you!
Holly, I was wondering if you did a convection “Pre-bake” before you put these immediately into the airfryer to finish if you doing a larger quantity?
Hi Kim, when doing larger quantities we would cook them in batches. Once all of them are cooked we would pop them all back into the air fryer for 2 minutes to heat them back up.
I know there sure has to be a trup. to get the chicken coating brown and crisp, right? I have tried several recipes with no luck there..I’m going to try this recipe but I have just about given up..
I recommend dry frying panko or bread crumbs in a frying pan until the crumbs are nearly the colour you like , add to Parmesan cheese in a plate . Do the flour seasoning , through the beaten eggs and roll in the mixture and spray a bit of olive oil spray and cook . .
i tried these and they were absolutely phenomenal! thank you so much for the recipe :)
Can I use chicken thighs?
Check out these Air Fryer Chicken Legs Susan!
These are fabulous. I didn’t have any of the cereal, so I substituted potato chips. They were super good everyone loved them. Will define make these again
I’ve made some of your recipes before and this is my first air fryer attempt. I used chicken cutlets and followed the recipe. The chicken turned out great. Crispy crust and moist chicken inside. I’m using an Instant Pot with an Air Fryer lid so I worked in batches. I’ll be checking back for more air fryer meals.
So happy to hear that Craig! You’ll find a bunch of air fryer recipes here!
Do I flip the chicken halfway through cooking?
It’s not necessary, but you could flip them if you’d like Glenna. Enjoy!
The breading came out like it wasnt fully cooked but the chicken was. What am i doing wrong? Other then this issue taste like it would be great with out the issue im having.
Make sure that you spray with cooking spray in step 5. Also, make sure you allow the excess buttermilk to drip off per the recipe, and pat them dry with a paper towel. Hope that helps Anie!
This was so good!! I did a small batch w/GF flour and breadcrumbs for my husband and he loved it. The chicken was really tender and the spices (I used Emeril’s Bayou Blast) were perfect – made it flavorful without overtaking the taste. Thank you!!!
You’re welcome Katherine!
Looks great! Can I substitute Ritz crackers for the corn flakes?
I haven’t tried it but I’m sure it will work. The Ritz are a bit heavier and buttery so they will change the texture of the coating (the cornflakes add crunch and the coating is pretty light).
These were the best chicken tenders I’ve had. Can’t believe how moist chicken breast’s can be. Thank you!
So glad you loved them Naomi!
I have tried this amazing air fryer chicken tennder recipe and i found this recipe really an amazing recipe. Thanks for sharing this recipe with all of us.
I see the recipe calls for 1 cup buttermilk- divided. But I don’t see but one mention of marinating in buttermilk. What is the rest of the buttermilk used for?
Chicken tenders are my husbands all time favorite. I would love to try this recipe.
Apologies for the confusion, the buttermilk is only for marinating. Enjoy the recipe!