Did you make this? Snap a photo and tag us on Instagram at @thrivinghome so we can see your creations and cheer you on!

Dipping baked parmesan chicken tender into honey mustard dipping sauce.

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

These Air Fryer Chicken Tenders yield a crispy, flavorful, and healthy version that rivals any deep-fried tender. Plus, you can prep, freeze, and air fry the frozen chicken tenders any time. We’ll show you how!

Yield: 4 servings (3 tenders per person) 1x
Prep: 15 minutesCook: 10 minutesTotal: 25 minutes


Before You Begin! If you make this, please leave a review and rating letting us know how you liked this recipe! This helps our business thrive & continue providing free recipes.


Make It Now:

  1. Set Up Stations: Add the Panko, Parmesan, paprika, garlic powder, and cayenne to a blender or food processor and pulse several times until breadcrumbs are a finer texture and everything is well combined. Pour this mixture into a shallow dish. Add the egg and a splash of water to a second small bowl or shallow dish. Whisk with a fork until very smooth. 
  2. Trim & Season Tenders: Trim off any tendon that is sticking out. Season both sides of the tenders evenly with salt and pepper.
  3. Bread Tenders: Dredge each tender in the egg mixture, letting the excess drip off. Dredge the chicken in the breadcrumb mixture, pressing it in on both sides. Set aside on a plate, pan, or piece of parchment.
  4. Air Fry: Preheat air fryer to 400°F. Place tenders in the basket (leave a little space between them) and spray the tops with cooking spray. Cook for 5 minutes, flip, and spray the tops with cooking spray. Cook another 5 minutes.
  5. Serve: Season with a little more salt right out of the air fryer, if desired. Let cool slightly and serve with your favorite dipping sauce.

Freeze For Later: Follow Steps 1-3. Place breaded tenders in a freezer container or gallon sized bag in single layers divided by parchment paper. Alternately, flash freeze the breaded tenders on a sheet pan for 1-2 hours until solid and toss into a freezer bag. Squeeze out any excess air, seal, and freeze.

Prepare From Frozen: Follow the exact same instructions in the recipe above. Frozen tenders air fry in the same amount of time as the fresh tenders!


  • If You Don’t Have a Food Processor/Blender: In all my tests, the blending step yielded the most perfectly golden and crispy tenders. However, if you don’t have a blender or food processor, use plain breadcrumbs instead of Panko and be sure to stir the mixture very well until combined.
  • Gluten-Free Version: Use gluten-free breadcrumbs instead of Panko.
  • Dairy-Free Version: Replace the Parmesan cheese with more bread crumbs (and a pinch of salt) or try using nutritional yeast in place of it.
  • Be sure to season the tenders generously with salt and pepper to infuse flavor.
  • Kitchen shears are very helpful with the task of trimming off the excess tendons.
  • It’s safest to only use one hand to touch the chicken in a recipe like this, leaving the other one clean to season the chicken, open the oven, etc.
  • To cut your own with chicken tenders: Cut chicken breasts in half lengthwise to create two cutlets. Then, cut those in half vertically to create chicken tenders.
  • I created this recipe with picky kids in mind. These are not very spicy at all. Feel free to kick up the paprika and cayenne some. 
  • My favorite way to enjoy these is with our Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce. (Sooo good!)
  • Variations: 
    • Use 1 teaspoon cajun seasoning or Old Bay seasoning in place of paprika for more heat and complexity. Omit cayenne pepper.
    • Add ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning, crushed in hand, to the breading mixture.
© Author: Rachel Tiemeyer
Cuisine: American Method: Air Fryer