Frozen Chicken Tenders in the Air Fryer {Quickest Method!}

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Cooking frozen chicken tenders in the air fryer is the fastest way to a satisfying snack, with or without a dipping sauce. 🤯 Fry it, to believe it!

Air fryer frozen chicken fingers recipe bite shot, served on a white plate.

Chicken tenders are special in that they appeal just as much to adults as they do to kids! Bigger than chicken nuggets and usually made with either the chicken tenderloin or strips portioned from the chicken breast.

They are perfect for dipping, adding to a burrito or wrap, or cutting up to top a salad.

🤩 Fun Fact: Chicken tenders, short for chicken tenderloins, are also known as chicken strips. I’ll refer to those terms interchangeably.

Frozen chicken tenders come in fully-cooked breaded and raw unbreaded options. This guide is for the former.

Now, let’s make sure your frozen air fryer chicken tenders are perfectly cooked and ready to enjoy!

Level Up Your Humble Frozen Chicken Fingers!

Breaded frozen chicken fingers

No surprise here, the only really necessary ingredient in this recipe is—frozen chicken tenders.

Honey mustard or barbecue sauce make for classic options, but don’t hesitate to explore gourmet dips for a unique twist.

There are many great brands of chicken tenders! Tyson, Trader Joe’s, Perdue, Kroger and Bell and Evans all have their own variations. Feel free to purchase whichever ones you like the most!

How To Air Fry Breaded Frozen Chicken Tenders?

Air frying frozen chicken tenders couldn’t be easier, and the whole process takes about 15 minutes or less! Follow these five simple steps.

1. Preheat your air fryer to 400ºF (204ºC).

Preheating air fryer to 400°F (204°C)

If your air fryer doesn’t have a preheating option, set your desired temperature then let it cook for 5 minutes without food.

🚨 Important: Reduce the cooking temperature to 380°F (193°C) if you’re using a 4-quart air fryer or smaller. They are hotter due to the heating element being closer to the food.

2. Get your frozen breaded chicken fingers ready.

Frozen breaded chicken strips in a glass bowl.

No need to thaw! Simply have the chicken tenders ready to be air fried.

3. Air fry breaded frozen chicken fingers for 5-6 minutes on each side.

Cooking frozen chicken tenderloins in air fryer

When the air fryer is preheated, add the chicken tenders in a single layer and air fry until golden and crisp, about 5-6 minutes per side, flipping halfway through. 

Pro Tip #1: Avoid overlapping your chicken tenders to prevent the crust from becoming unevenly cooked.

Pro Tip #2: Flip the chicken tenders once the crust has fully set. Turning them too early may damage the crust.

4. Prepare honey mustard dipping sauce.

Dipping sauces: ketchup, herb mayo, honey mustard, spicy mayo

While the chicken tenders are cooking in the air fryer, prepare your honey mustard dipping sauce. In a small bowl, combine the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, honey, lemon juice, salt, and pepper. Set it aside.

Alternatively, you can opt for your preferred dipping sauce.

5. Serve and enjoy your air fried frozen chicken tenders!

Air fried frozen chicken fingers on a white plate, close up shot.

When the chicken tenders are fully cooked and crisped, transfer to a plate and serve!

My personal favorite way to serve the chicken tenders is to keep it simple: squeeze a little fresh lemon juice over the top of the hot tenders. The acid from the lemon and crispy coating on the tenders go really well together.

Then, I’ll finish it off with a sprinkle of flaky salt or freshly chopped parsley!

With that, you just brought the humble chicken tender into gourmet territory! 

Another really fun way to enjoy your fresh, air-fried chicken tenders is in the form of wrap!

Using a large burrito-size flour tortilla, add your chicken tenders, honey mustard dipping sauce (or sauce/dressing of choice) and shredded lettuce to the bottom third of the tortilla.

Fold in the sides and roll from the bottom third, up! Cut in half and serve for a delicious and healthy lunch!

Freezing & Storage

Freezing: We do not suggest re-freezing the previously frozen chicken tenders.

Fridge: Allow the chicken tenderloins to cool before storing them in an airtight container between layers of parchment or wax paper (this helps prevent the coating from rubbing off). Store in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

Reheating: To reheat your air fried frozen chicken fingers, preheat the air fryer to 380°F (193°C). Once the air fryer is preheated, add the chicken tenders and air fry for 2-4 minutes or until hot and re-crisped.

FAQs: Cooking Frozen Chicken Tenders in Air Fryer

Can you air fry frozen chicken tenders?

Yes, you can air fry frozen chicken tenders. Air frying is a convenient method for cooking frozen chicken tenders as it helps achieve a crispy texture without the need for excessive oil.

How long does it take to cook frozen chicken tenders in an air fryer?

As a general guideline, frozen chicken tenders typically take around 10-12 minutes to cook in an air fryer at 380°F to 400°F. However the cooking time can vary depending on the brand and thickness of the tenders, as well as the specific model of the air fryer.

How to cook frozen chicken tenders in the air fryer?

To cook frozen chicken tenders in an air fryer, preheat it to around 400°F (200°C). Place the tenders in a single layer in the basket and cook for 10-12 minutes, flipping them halfway through. Once they’re golden brown, remove them from the air fryer and let them cool before serving.

Air fryer frozen chicken fingers on a white plate.

Frozen Chicken Tenders in the Air Fryer {Quickest Method!} 👌

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Cooking frozen chicken tenders in the air fryer is the fastest way to a satisfying snack, with or without a dipping sauce. 🤯 Fry it, to believe it!
5 from 1 vote
Cook Time 12 minutes
Total Time 12 minutes
Course Appetizer, Snack
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 129 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound frozen chicken tenders

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • ½ tablespoon lemon juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions
 

  • Preheat your air fryer to 400°F (204°C). Please see note if your air fryer is 4 quarts or smaller.
    Preating Instant Pot Vortex Plus Air Fryer to 400°F (204°C).
  • Get your frozen breaded chicken fingers ready.
    Frozen breaded chicken strips in a glass bowl.
  • Air fry breaded frozen chicken fingers for 5-6 minutes on each side, or until the crust becomes golden and crispy. Remember to arrange the frozen chicken strips in a single layer with even spacing to ensure even cooking.
    Cooking frozen chicken tenderloins in air fryer
  • Meanwhile, prepare your favorite dipping sauce. By any chance, feel free to use a ready-made sauce. To make honey mustard dipping sauce from scratch, simply combine 2 tablespoons of mayonnaise, 1 tablespoon of Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon of honey, ½ tablespoon of lemon juice, and a dash of salt and pepper to taste. You can also use your favorite dipping sauce.
    Dipping sauces: ketchup, herb mayo, honey mustard, spicy mayo
  • Allow the air fryer frozen chicken tenders to cool for 2-3 minutes before serving with your choice of dipping sauce. Enjoy!
    Air fried frozen chicken fingers on a white plate, closeup shot.

Notes

  • For 4-quart air fryers and smaller, reduce the cooking temperature to 380°F (193°C). They generate more heat because of the heating element’s proximity to the food.
  • If your air fryer doesn’t have a preheating option, set your desired temperature and then let it cook for 4-5 minutes without food.
  • I used a 6-quart Instant Pot Vortex Plus and 4-quart Ninja Foodi to test frozen chicken tenders. Cooking time and temperature may vary depending on your air fryer and the number of servings you are making. For optimal results, begin with the lower end of the suggested cooking time.

Nutrition

Calories: 129kcal | Protein: 24g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 0.5g | Monounsaturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 0.01g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 132mg | Potassium: 420mg | Vitamin A: 34IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 6mg | Iron: 0.4mg
Keywords: air fry frozen chicken tenders, frozen chicken fingers in air fryer, frozen chicken tenderloins in air fryer

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