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These gluten free Air Fryer Chicken Tenders are perfectly crispy and tender, and delicious for dipping! A childhood favorite made at home for an easy weeknight dinner or effortless appetizer. Your family will love this tasty and healthy alternative to frozen chicken fingers!
Crispy Gluten Free Chicken Tenders
Chicken tenders are one of those classic kid-friendly meals that are so easy to carry with us into adulthood! Prepared with crispy breading on the outside and juicy chicken tenderloin on the inside, these gluten free Chicken Tenders are just the best. I make them in the air fryer because a) it’s super quick and easy and b) they crisp up so perfectly!
These homemade chicken tenders have all the nostalgic crunchiness and mild seasoning of everyone’s favorite childhood frozen versions, only healthier! Air fryer chicken lacks many of the additives, calories, and fats that come with most deep-fried and frozen alternatives.
This crispy chicken tenders recipe is ready in minutes and delicious for dipping in all kinds of sauces. Make them for an easy and healthy family dinner, as a snack, or as a satisfying party appetizer!
What You’ll Need
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Tenders: You can find chicken tenderloins in most grocery stores, or you can use chicken breasts and cut them into strips.
- Gluten-Free Breadcrumbs: Regular gluten-free breadcrumbs work better than Panko-style. Gluten free panko tends to be very coarse and leades to gaps in the bread coating.
- Egg: Helps the breadcrumbs coat the chicken evenly.
- Italian Seasoning: Alternatively, dried parsley for additional flavor.
- Cooking Oil: Or cooking spray.
- Salt & Pepper: Divided to use in the egg wash as well as the breading.
What Kind of Chicken is Best?
Chicken tenderloins or sliced chicken breasts are best for homemade chicken tenders (as opposed to chicken thighs, for example). Many grocery stores sell pre-cut chicken tenderloins that come ready to cook up easily and quickly. If pre-cut aren’t available, you can use whole boneless chicken breasts instead, cut into half-inch strips.
How to Make Chicken Tenders in the Air Fryer
Making these incredible homemade chicken tenders in the air fryer is next to effortless! Just coat your chicken slices with the egg wash, bread them, and then fry them. Here’s a more in-depth breakdown of how to do it:
Prepare the Coating: First, whisk the egg together with a bit of salt and pepper for seasoning. You can also prep and season the breadcrumb coating in a separate bowl, and set this aside.
Coat the Chicken Tenders: Mix and coat the chicken tenders in the egg mixture, and then place the chicken tenders one and a time into the seasoned bread crumbs. I recommend gently pressing them into the bread crumbs as you flip them, to really get the chicken nice and evenly coated!
Fry: Work in batches to fry the chicken tenders in the preheated air fryer, flipping and spraying with cooking oil halfway through. Your chicken is done when the internal temperature reaches 165°F (use a meat thermometer if you’re not sure!).
Can I Bake These Instead?
If you don’t own an air fryer or would prefer to make chicken fingers in the oven, that’s more than doable! Set your oven to preheat at 450°F and set the breaded chicken tenders on a rack set on top of a baking sheet. Bake for about 20 minutes, flipping once about halfway through until the coating is crisp and golden and the chicken tests done with an instant-read thermometer. Chicken is considered cooked at 165°F.
Tips for Success
- Fry in Batches: The key to the most perfect crispy tenders is to not overcrowd the air fryer basket! If needed, cook the chicken tenders in batches and always in a single layer, so they’re evenly crispy on all sides.
- Adapt to Your Air Fryer: Not all air fryers are the same, which can impact your chicken tenders depending on the model and cooking time. Keep an eye on the chicken pieces as they cook and adapt the time and heat as needed to get them to your desired crispiness.
- Reheat Directly from Frozen: These homemade chicken tenders are extremely freezer-friendly! If you’re making these chicken tenders to freeze (see my tips on how to do this below), the best way to reheat them is right from the freezer.
Make it a Meal
Whether serving chicken tenders as a meal or an appetizer, the side dishes and dipping opportunities are endless! These gluten free chicken tenders make weeknight dinners a breeze, and they’re also perfect for game day snacking.
- Serve chicken tenders as an easy game day appetizer alongside Ranch dressing or BBQ sauce for dipping. (Or try some of my homemade dip suggestions below!)
- Make these chicken tenders into a family-friendly dinner and serve them with a side of Peas and Carrots or Sautéed Vegetables.
- Pair crispy gluten free chicken tenders with Air Fryer Truffle Fries or Baked Sweet Potato Fries.
- Enjoy leftover crispy chicken tenders sliced or chopped up, as a topping for Chicken Caesar Salad with fresh greens or in chicken wraps.
- Use them to make Skillet Lemon Chicken or even Chicken Parmesan.
Try dipping these chicken tenders in your own delicious homemade sauces! Here are some of our family favorites:
- Classics like homemade Honey BBQ Sauce or Balsamic BBQ Sauce
- Asian-inspired Peanut Sauce or Teriyaki Sauce
- Buffalo Ketchup for a spicy kick
- Creamy homemade Ranch Dip
How to Store and Reheat Extras
Homemade chicken tenders can be stored airtight in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat them in a 350°F oven or air fryer until they’re crisped up and warmed through. You can also reheat refrigerated chicken tenders in the microwave as a last resort, bearing in mind that the texture won’t be crunchy!
Are Chicken Tenders Freezer Friendly?
This air fryer chicken recipe is a perfect way to make homemade frozen chicken tenders! To freeze them, pre freeze the chicken tenders in a single layer on a baking sheet. Once solid, transfer them to an airtight container or freezer bag to keep frozen for up to 2-3 months.
Reheat your chicken tenders directly from frozen, in the oven or air fryer for the best, crispiest results.
What Air Fryer Should I Use?
I like a basket-style air fryer such as the COSORI Air Fryer Max XL. It is large enough to fit plenty of food inside, so you won’t always have to work in batches.
COSORI Air Fryer Oven Combo 5.8QT Max Xl Large Cooker (Cookbook with 100 Recipes), One-Touch Screen with 11 Precise Presets and Shake Reminder, Nonstick and Dishwasher-Safe Square Design Basket, Black
More Healthy Air Fryer Recipes
Gluten Free Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F.
- Crack the egg into a shallow bowl, add ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper, and lightly beat with a fork.
- Add chicken tenders to the egg mixture and mix around to coat completely.
- In another shallow bowl, stir together the breadcrumbs, remaining ½ teaspoon salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper and Italian seasoning or parsley.
- One at a time, lift the chicken tenderloins out of the egg mixture and place in the breadcrumb mixture, flipping and pressing to help adhere the breadcrumbs to each side.
- Working in batches if necessary, place the coated chicken tenders in the air fryer basket and spray the tops with oil from a spritzer or cooking spray.
- Cook at 400°F for 5 minutes, flip and spray the tops with more cooking spray and cook for another 5-7 minutes until the internal temperature is 165°F.