These easy juicy on the inside and crisp on the outside air fryer chicken tenders (no breading) are the perfect quick dinner, ready in less than 20 minutes!
I just don’t know how I’ve owned an air fryer this long and never made some naked (no breading) chicken tenders in it?!?! How have I lived?
We usually make my paleo air fryer chicken tenders using almond meal, but the whole dredging process takes more patience and time than I have some nights, even if they taste BOMB that way. But then, it occurred to me, why not just make chicken tenders like I was going to make them on the pan or grill, but in the air fryer. Uh, DUH, again I ask myself why I’d never thought of doing that before!
Honestly, the seasoning blend, though. It deserves a post of its own. While I had all the ingredients out I doubled the seasonings and added it to its own jar with a label for future fast use!
When I cook dinner nowadays, it basically has to be done in 30 minutes or less. This is because I have a sitter here until 5 PM so I can work and the kids need to eat at as close to 5:30 PM as possible, so that gives me 30 minutes of cook time (give or take tantrums, nursing, whatever else is happening at that time). I know some families have later schedules that work for them, sometimes, I wish we did too, but this is what works for us right now.
What I love about this meal (other than it’s freaking delicious) is it’s a crowd-pleaser. Everyone loves it including picky 3-year-olds, babies, and adults. It’s flavorful and juicy on the inside, but the crispy crust takes this chicken to a whole new level. And the best of all is it can pair with just about anything else you have on hand, including all types of dipping sauces. So, you really can’t go wrong with this one!
How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Tenders – No Breading
You pat dry your chicken tenders, toss them in oil, then toss them in the seasoning, and throw them in the air fryer. That’s it!
Swaps and Substitutions Air Fryer Chicken Tenders – No Breading
You can easily swap and substitute spice levels, just know that this will obviously change the recipe from its original flavor.
Also, my lemon pepper had a little bit of sugar and salt in it. If yours doesn’t, you can add up to 1/2 tsp of each.
You can use regular or sweet paprika instead of smoked, but again, the flavor will change a bit.
I opted to skip the cayenne pepper that is so often found in chicken tender recipes in favor of not hearing kids or the husband complain about the spice level. There just really is no acceptable level of tolerance when it comes to cayenne pepper and my family. That being said, if I was making this for myself, I’d add at least a little in. Maybe like 1/8tsp, but, I LOVE the heat and spicy food, they do not.
Can I use chicken breast to make this air fryer chicken tenders recipe?
Yes, you could use this seasoning blend on chicken breast instead of tenders. However, you may need to cook the chicken longer and less surface area would be covered with the seasoning. My advice would be to pound your chicken breast to tenderize then, cut it into strips to create tenders.
Can I use chicken thighs to make this air fryer chicken tenders recipe?
Yes, you could use this seasoning blend on chicken thighs instead of tenders. However, the cooking time will be closer to 20-25 minutes. Cook skin side down first, flipping halfway through.Print
Air Fryer Chicken Tenders – No Breading
- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Cook Time: 16 minutes
- Total Time: 21 minutes
- Yield: 12 1x
- Category: Dinner, Lunch
- Cuisine: American
- 3 lbs chicken tenders
- 1 tbsp avocado oil
- 1/2 tbsp lemon pepper
- 1.5 tbsp garlic powder
- 1.5 tbsp onion powder
- 1 tbsp dried parsley
- 1.5 tbsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt* Optional if lemon pepper spice isn’t salted
Preheat Air Fryer to 375F.
Pat dry chicken tenders (especially if defrosted from frozen) and toss with oil in a large bowl.3 lbs chicken tenders, 1 tbsp avocado oil
Combine seasonings in a small bowl.1 tbsp avocado oil, 1/2 tbsp lemon pepper, 1.5 tbsp garlic powder, 1.5 tbsp onion powder, 1 tbsp dried parsley, 1.5 tbsp smoked paprika, 1/2 tsp salt*
- Toss chicken with 1/2 of the seasonings, and then rub each piece with the remaining seasonings as you transfer each piece from the bowl to the air fryer. Make sure to leave space between your chicken tenders when arranging them in the air fryer. You’ll likely need to work in batches. For 2lbs of chicken, I had to cook three batches.
- Cook at 375F for 10-16 minutes, flipping at 6 minutes in. Chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165F. Repeat with remaining chicken.