Boneless chicken tenders are beloved by all. That's a fact. I dare you right now to name someone you know who doesn't like chicken tenders. With the invention of a miraculous newish kitchen appliance, air fryer chicken tenders now rule in the American home. Also known as chicken fingers (which is really weird if you think about it) Americans love golden brown, flavorful fried chicken tenders. Usually served with a dipping sauce like honey mustard or bbq sauce, Americans love to dip chicken.
The first time you use your air fryer, it can seem overwhelming. Buttons, dials, air fryer baskets, baking sheets, settings, etcetera. It can be a lot to take in, but take a deep breath. I was also once afraid of my air fryer. But with the glaring eyes of a hungry child waiting for a plate of crispy chicken fingers as motivation, I learned quickly how to make a chicken recipe that would keep my child happy and fed.
If you don't already have an air fryer, browse Amazon for all the different models at varied price points. You'll soon be dreaming of them and wonder how you lived without one for so long. After all, there are tons of air fryer recipes out there.
How To Cook Frozen Chicken Fingers
To cook chicken tenders, take your tenders straight from the freezer, place them in a single layer in the basket to air fry for 5 to 6 minutes on each side, turning halfway through cooking. Don't overcrowd them. Once the chicken is cooked through and crispy and golden on the outside, they're done. There's no need to spray them with cooking spray since they've already been cooked with oil in the chicken factory. No need to add even more saturated fat.
Air fryer chicken tenders come out crispier and juicier than when made in a standard oven. The air fryer is faster too, shaving about 5-6 minutes off oven cooking time. The air fryer is a great option for people watching the cholesterol, and boneless chicken tenders also taste great when using the air fryer to reheat. As an added bonus, when you don't want to heat up an already hot kitchen, the air fryer is the way to go.
Homemade Chicken Tenders
Buy the already sliced chicken tenders in the poultry department to cut down on prep time. Plus they'll be more uniform in size and cook more evenly too. No one really enjoys slicing a raw chicken breast and if they say they do, they're lying. If you're going low carb or gluten-free, you skip the next few steps, but it's hard to enjoy a chicken tender without the crunchy golden breading.
Season the chicken with salt, black pepper, garlic powder, and a little paprika. Then, prepare your breading stations. Break two large eggs in a shallow bowl and put the breadcrumbs in a separate bowl. Use can use a mix of panko breadcrumbs and regular breadcrumbs for extra crunch. Add some parmesan cheese for flavor if you like.
Dip each chicken strip in the egg and then in the breadcrumb mixture. Place on a baking sheet until you're done breading all of them. Spray the chicken strips on each side with olive oil spray before placing them in the air fryer. some air fryer models recommend canola oil because of its higher smoke point. Read your booklet.
Preheat your air fryer oven to 400 degrees F. Lay chicken on the basket with baking sheet underneath to catch any oil or crumbs. Cook on air bake or air fry setting for about 6 minutes each side. If you have the larger air fryer models, cook some french fries at the same time to earn the title of Weeknight Efficiency Queen.
Pro Tips For The Best Chicken Tenders
- Use panko breadcrumbs instead of regular breadcrumbs. They are lighter and airier and because of that will absorb less oil and end up crispier. Breadcrumbs will also work but they'll be heavier.
- Add in different spices to your panko mixture. Use Italian seasoning or cajun spices to make a buffalo style chicken served with ranch dressing
- Remember to pat chicken dry before you dredge it in egg and breading. Press the coating down gently.
- Don't go past the sufficient cook time. Chicken tenderloins easily dry out, so watch your total time in the oven.