Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders are marinated in a combination of buttermilk, lemon juice and spices for a juicy, moist and flavorful weeknight dinner.

Chicken strips or chicken tenders can be quite a production at home if you fry them, but for smaller batches of chicken tenders, skip the frying and use an air fryer to make really good (and healthy) chicken tenders for everyone will love.

As with so many air fryer recipes, I think it’s pretty important to set expectations for this recipe right from the start. Air fryer chicken strips don’t quite have the same crust and crispiness as traditionally fried tenders, but for some people the trade-offs (no oil to clean, healthier option) are worth it.

Why should you use an air fryer to make chicken strips?

Cooking chicken tenders in the air fryer gives you the ability to make small batches of chicken strips without a lot of fuss and cleanup.

An air fryer is about 10 times easier to clean than a traditional hot oil tub. They are also a healthier alternative to frying. You only need to lightly spray the tenders with non-stick spray before air frying them, which drastically reduces the amount of oil typically used when deep frying food.

If you’re not completely won over by the magic of air fryers, here’s a guide to the best air fryers in 2020. If you’ve already found your favorite air fryer and want a comprehensive tutorial, check out our beginner’s guide to using an air fryer.

Cooking time for Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

When it comes to the actual cooking time of chicken tenders, this method won’t save you much time.

They take about the same amount of time to cook whether you air fry them or traditionally deep fry them. You also still have to work to cook the tenders in batches so you don’t overfill the Airfryer basket.

While the chicken strips are air frying, I recommend turning them once about halfway through cooking so all sides of the tenders are crispy.

Buttermilk works best for chicken strips

It’s important to marinate these chicken strips before frying, whether you’re using a traditional frying method or the air fryer!

A buttermilk marinade with a little salt, pepper, and lemon juice will help tenderize your chicken breasts, making them so juicy. The marinade will help lock in moisture, even if you slightly overcook your chicken. In my opinion a must!

How to make chicken strips in the air fryer

Once you’ve marinated your chicken strips, remove them from the buttermilk and add them to the flour mixture. Drain excess. Dip the chicken strips well in the breadcrumbs so that a nice crust can form on the chicken strips.

Before you air fry the chicken strips, spray them with some non-stick cooking spray, which gives them just enough fat on the outside to make the crust really crispy and delicious.

How to make this recipe without an air fryer

Air fryers are all the rage these days, but just because you don’t have one doesn’t mean you can’t make great chicken tenders at home!

If you don’t have an air fryer, you can shallow fry these tenders in a large cast iron skillet.

Add 2 cups of neutral oil (like vegetable oil) to your cast iron skillet and heat until it reaches 350°F. Fry the tenders in batches, turning once halfway through cooking, about 10 minutes per batch. The finished tenders should be a deep golden brown with a nice crust on all sides. If you have a thermometer, the inside temperature should be at least 165°F.

When you need a new cast iron skillet (why not have more than one), these top picks can help expand your collection.

What do you serve with your air fryer chicken strips?

These are a really hearty appetizer for a casual meal. It would be standard to serve these with fries, but you can also serve them with something lighter like a salad or coleslaw. You can also try dirty rice, three-bean salad, or oven-baked sweet potato fries.

Freezing and reheating air fried chicken strips

I find these air fryer chicken tenders are best straight out of the fryer basket. The breading will get a little soggy when it sits, as it’s not as crispy as a traditional frying method.

I’d recommend making just enough to eat, but if you have a few more you can refrigerate for 4-5 days and reheat in a 350˚F oven until crisp and warmed through, probably 10 minutes. You can also reheat them in the air fryer for a few minutes.

More delicious recipes for chicken in the air fryer

  • Air fryer chicken nuggets
  • Fried chicken from the air fryer
  • Chicken wings from the air fryer

Air fryer chicken tenders

preparation time
10 mins

cooking time
48 minutes

Time to marinate
60 minutes

total time
118 minutes

6 servings

12 large chicken strips


  • 2 cups buttermilk

  • 1 Lemon, juiced

  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon kosher saltdivided

  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

  • 1 1/2 to 2 lb boneless, skinless chicken breast

  • 3 cups all purpose flour

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon baking powder

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder

  • 1 1/2 tablespoon paprika

  • non-stick spray for cooking

  • parsley, choppedfor garnish

  • barbecue saucefor diving


  1. Prepare the air fryer basket:

    Lightly spray the air fryer basket with non-stick spray.

  2. Prepare buttermilk marinade:

    In a medium bowl, combine buttermilk, lemon juice, 1 tablespoon salt, and black pepper. Use a fork to stir to combine.

  3. Slice and marinate the chicken:

    Cut chicken breasts into 1/2 inch thick strips that are 3-4 inches long. Try to make them about the same size so they cook evenly. Add the chicken strips to the marinade and leave to marinate in the fridge for at least 1 hour to overnight.

  4. Make the breading:

    In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, garlic powder, paprika, and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Stir about 1/4 cup of the buttermilk marinade into the flour to break up some lumps. A few lumps in the flour will add extra crunch to the chicken breading.

  5. Breading the Chicken Tenders:

    Working one strip at a time, remove from the buttermilk and drain excess buttermilk. Then add the chicken breast fillet to the flour mixture and coat all sides well. Place the breaded strip in the Air Fryer basket (4-5 tenders fit in the basket at a time). Place remaining breaded tenders on a sheet pan until ready to air fry.

  6. Air Roast the Chicken Tenders:

    Make sure your chicken breasts are placed in the air fryer in a single layer with some space in between. Spray the tender well with non-stick cooking spray. Air roast at 350˚F for 6 minutes. Then turn the tenders over and air fry for another 6 minutes.

    Chicken tenders are done when the breading is golden brown and they reach an internal temperature of at least 165°F in the thickest part of the chicken tender. Repeat with the remaining chicken breast fillets (3-4 batches) until cooked through. You can hold cooked chicken breast fillets in a warm (250°F) oven until you’re done with all batches.

  7. Garnish and serve:

    Garnish with parsley, if desired, and serve warm with barbecue sauce or your favorite dip.

nutritional information (per serving)
531 calories
7g Fat
57g carbohydrates
57g protein
Previous articleGrilled Dukkah-Crusted Chicken with Lemon Hummus
Next articleGrilled Salmon With Peach Salsa
Hello everybody, Even if you're limited on time and money, I believe you can prepare wonderful food with everyday products. All you have to do is cook cleverly and creatively!