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Air Fryer Chicken Tenders – No Breading (Whole30, Paleo, Keto, GF)

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If you’re looking for a healthy alternative to crispy chicken tenders, look no further! These Air Fryer Chicken Tenders with no bread crumbs are such an easy meal to throw together and they taste super flavorful. Serve this easy recipe as a main dish or as finger food at your next party along with your favorite dipping sauce. Perfect for meal prep!

Air fryer chicken tenders with no breading on a plate with a small white bowl of buffalo sauce.

❤️ Why you will love this recipe

  • Easy: This is much easier than making breaded chicken in the air fryer. The seasoning mix sticks so well to the chicken, and you don’t really need to worry about the coating falling off.
  • Quick recipe: I love air fryer chicken recipes because they always cook so quickly. This recipe cooks in just under 10 minutes!
  • Healthy: All of the ingredients are completely natural, and chicken is an excellent source of protein, making this dish so satisfying. Cooking with an air fryer also uses far less oil than pan frying or deep frying. You don’t even need olive oil spray! This is seriously the best way to quickly cook meat!
  • Simple ingredients: You can find all of these ingredients easily at grocery stores. All you need is chicken tenders, herbs, seasoning, and spices to make a dry rub, olive oil, and also a squeeze of fresh lemon juice to finish them off.
  • Perfect for the whole family: Everyone will love this easy air fryer chicken recipe! The chicken is so tender and juicy, and the flavors are just perfect. If your kids aren’t a fan of a little heat, just skip the chili powder.
  • Great for many diets: This air fryer chicken tenders recipe is great for a low carb, keto, gluten-free, paleo, or even whole30 diet.
  • Meal prep: Make a double or triple batch of this delicious recipe to have on hand all week. They’re great for adding to salads or wraps, packing in a lunchbox, or having as a quick cold snack straight from the fridge.

🗝️ Key Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Chicken: Raw chicken tenders with no bread crumbs are ideal for this recipe. If you’re in the UK, they’re called mini chicken fillets. I used thawed frozen chicken tenders.
  • Spices: Smoked paprika and chili powder add a smoky spicy flavor. You can substitute the smoked paprika for sweet paprika, and the chili powder for cayenne pepper powder, or skip the heat altogether.
  • Herbs: Dried thyme and rosemary are just made for chicken! I recommend using dried herbs in this case as I found that they cooked a little better in the air fryer than fresh.
  • Seasoning: Garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and ground black pepper season these healthy air fryer chicken tenders perfectly.
  • Citrus juice: To finish off, I squeezed a little fresh lemon juice over the tenders. Lime juice would be delicious as well!
.

🥣 How to Make Air Fryer Naked Chicken Tenders

1. Prepare the air fryer: The first step is to preheat the air fryer to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F.

2. Prepare the chicken: Begin by patting the raw chicken tenders with a paper towel.

Patting raw chicken dry with a white paper towel.

3. Mix ingredients: In a medium or large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except the chicken tenders, lemon juice, and garnish.

4. Add chicken: Add the chicken to the bowl and mix it well, completely coating the chicken tenders.

5. Add to air fryer: Place chicken tenders in a single layer in the air fryer basket.

Raw chicken tenders in an air fryer basket.

6. Cook: Cook the chicken for 5 minutes.

7. Flip: Carefully turn the chicken over after 5 minutes (I used tongs to do this).

Flipping no breading chicken tenders over with tongs in an air fryer.

8. Cook: Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the size of your chicken pieces and whether you have a small air fryer or a larger one.

9. Check: Check the chicken is finished cooking by testing the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. If the instant read thermometer reads 71°C/160°F the chicken is ready to come out. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, slice one piece of chicken and check that it’s no longer pink and that the juices run clear.

10. Rest: Allow the cooked chicken to rest for 5 minutes before cutting and eating. This helps to lock in the moisture.

Chicken tenders with no bread crumbs in the air fryer.

🫙 Storage Instructions

  • Fridge: Store any leftover chicken tenders in the fridge for up to 3-4 days in an airtight container.
  • Freezer: Yes, you can freeze these naked tenders for later! Allow them to cool completely before placing them in an airtight container or freezer bag and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before reheating.
  • Reheat: My favorite way to reheat these chicken fingers is in the air fryer! Preheat the air fryer to 200°C/400°F and then heat the chicken for around 5 minutes. You can check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to make sure it’s reheated properly. You can also reheat them in the microwave.

🪄 Recipe Notes & Tips

  • Seasoning: Feel free to try different seasonings with this cooking method. I’ve had great success with taco seasoning, Italian seasoning, cajun seasoning, and regular chicken seasoning. I also like to sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on the air fryer chicken tenderloins either before or right after air frying.
  • How to tell when the chicken is ready: To check the homemade chicken strips are cooked all the way through I always recommend using a meat thermometer. It’s the best method for checking meat because you don’t have to cut into the meat to check it, and therefore all of the juices stay in the meat leaving it super moist. If you don’t have a meat thermometer, it’s still a good idea to check if the chicken is done. In this case, I slice the thickest part of the chicken about halfway through to see if it is still pink. If it’s pink I cook it for another minute or two until it is no longer pink.
  • Want to use chicken breasts instead? Okay! Slice boneless chicken breasts into thin strips (just like tenders) and then follow the recipe as written.

🍽️ What Can I Serve With Air Fryer Naked Chicken Tenders?

You need a dip and a side or two to make this a complete meal! Here are some things I like to serve these with:

Dips:

Sides:

Air fryer chicken tenders with no breading on a plate with a small white bowl of buffalo sauce.

😋 More air fryer recipes you will love

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Air fryer chicken tenders with no breading on a plate with a small white bowl of buffalo sauce.

📖 Air Fryer Chicken Tenders with No Bread Crumbs

Yield: 4 Servings
Prep Time: 2 minutes
Cook Time: 9 minutes
Total Time: 11 minutes

These Air Fryer Chicken Tenders with no bread crumbs are such an easy meal to throw together and they taste super flavorful. Serve this easy recipe as a main dish or as finger food at your next party along with your favorite dipping sauce. Perfect for meal prep!

Ingredients

  • 650g chicken tenders (1.4-1.5 lbs)
  • 1.5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1.5 teaspoons onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • A squeeze of fresh lemon or lime juice
  • Garnish: chopped fresh parsley (optional)

Instructions

  1. Preheat the air fryer to 200 degrees C/400 degrees F.
  2. Begin by patting the raw chicken tenders dry with a paper towel.Patting raw chicken dry with a white paper towel.
  3. In a medium or large bowl, mix together all of the ingredients except the chicken tenders, lemon/lime juice, and fresh parsley.Mixing chicken teanders coating together in a silver bowl with a wooden spoon.
  4. Add the chicken to the bowl and mix it well, completely coating the chicken tenders.Mixing raw chicken tenders with seasoning in a metal bowl with a wooden spoon.
  5. Place chicken tenders in a single layer in the air fryer basket.Raw chicken tenders in an air fryer basket.
  6. Cook the chicken for 5 minutes.
  7. Carefully turn the chicken over after 5 minutes (I used tongs to do this).Flipping no breading chicken tenders over with tongs in an air fryer.
  8. Cook for another 3-5 minutes. Cooking time will depend on the size of your chicken pieces and whether you have a small air fryer or a larger one.
  9. Check the chicken is finished cooking by testing the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. If the instant read thermometer reads 71°C/160°F the chicken is ready to come out. If you don't have a meat thermometer, slice one piece of chicken and check that it's no longer pink and that the juices run clear.
  10. Allow the cooked chicken to rest for 5 minutes before cutting and eating. This helps to lock in the moisture.Moving chicken to a grey plate with tongs.
  11. Squeeze lemon or lime juice over the chicken tenders and garnish with fresh parsley if desired.

Notes

  1. Seasoning: Feel free to try different seasonings with this cooking method. I've had great success with taco seasoning, Italian seasoning, cajun seasoning, and regular chicken seasoning. I also like to sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on the air fryer chicken tenderloins either before or right after air frying.
  2. How to tell when the chicken is ready: To check the homemade chicken strips are cooked all the way through I always recommend using a meat thermometer. It's the best method for checking meat because you don't have to cut into the meat to check it, and therefore all of the juices stay in the meat leaving it super moist. If you don't have a meat thermometer, it's still a good idea to check if the chicken is done. In this case, I slice the thickest part of the chicken about halfway through to see if it is still pink. If it's pink I cook it for another minute or two until it is no longer pink.
  3. Want to use chicken breasts instead? Okay! Slice boneless chicken breasts into thin strips (just like tenders) and then follow the recipe as written.

Storage

  • Fridge: Store any leftover chicken tenders in the fridge for up to 3-4 days in an airtight container.
  • Freezer: Yes, you can freeze these naked tenders for later! Allow them to cool completely before placing them in an airtight container or freezer bag and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw completely before reheating.
  • Reheat: My favorite way to reheat these chicken fingers is in the air fryer! Preheat the air fryer to 200°C/400°F and then heat the chicken for around 5 minutes. You can check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to make sure it's reheated properly. You can also reheat them in the microwave.
  • Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 324Total Fat: 11gSaturated Fat: 2gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 138mgSodium: 661mgCarbohydrates: 2gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 51g

    Nutrition information and calculations will vary with the use of different brands or ingredients. These figures are estimates. Please get in touch if you have questions!

    Did you make this recipe?

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