These air fryer blackened chicken tenders are so tasty, and have just a little kick of heat in every bite. They are the perfect healthy meal, and best of all, they are delicious!
Why I Love These
I first tried making these chicken tenders, when my daughter and I were trying new ways to spice up meals. We wanted to skip the breaded chicken and had to find a way to make naked tenders.
She likes to make recipes that are Weight Watchers-friendly, and I like to count macros. These tenders do both!
Another quick and easy dish to make is these air fryer frozen chicken wings. No need to keep fresh wings on hand when you can make perfect, tender wings straight from the freezer.
Looking for more? Check out this article where we share our favorite top 50 air fryer chicken recipes.
What you need to make chicken tenders in the air fryer
You are going to need an air fryer of course. I made these in my Cosori air fryer. Since some air fryers may cook differently, if you are using a different brand, just check on the tenders the first time you make them.
One of my favorite parts about this recipe, is that you don't need a bunch of ingredients to make it. Besides an air fryer, here are the ingredients you will need:
- one pound of chicken cut into strips
- olive oil
- chili powder
- cayenne pepper
- ground pepper
I like my naked chicken tenders, to have a little bit of spice, but not too much. You can always adjust the chili powder and cayenne pepper to match your tastes.
How to make blackened chicken tenders in the air fryer
Begin by placing the chicken strips in a medium bowl and toss with olive oil, coating each piece of chicken.
Sprinkle chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and pepper over the coated chicken. Next, toss the chicken in the bowl until the seasonings have evenly covered each piece of chicken.
Once the chicken is coated with the seasonings, place the chicken in the air fryer basket. Be sure to spread them out so they aren't overlapping or stacked.
Cook at 380 degrees Fahrenheit for 12 minutes, flipping chicken tenders halfway through cooking. If you add more, and the basket is full, if may take a few extra minutes of cook time.
Seasoning the Chicken Properly: The key to great blackened chicken is in the seasoning. Use a robust blend of spices like paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, thyme, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Make sure to coat the chicken tenders evenly with the spice mix. For an extra flavor boost, you can marinate the chicken in a mixture of these spices with a bit of olive oil and lemon juice for a few hours or overnight.
Preheating the Air Fryer: Preheat your air fryer before adding the chicken tenders. This helps to ensure a crispy exterior and even cooking. Most air fryers should be preheated to around 380°F (192°C). Check your air fryer’s manual for specific preheating instructions.
Avoid Overcrowding: When placing the chicken tenders in the air fryer basket, avoid overcrowding. They should be in a single layer with some space between each tender. This ensures that hot air circulates evenly around each piece, resulting in a more evenly cooked and crispy exterior. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you might need to cook in batches.
Bonus Tip: Cooking Time and Temperature: Cook the chicken tenders at 380°F (192°C) for about 7-10 minutes, then flip them and continue cooking for another 5-7 minutes or until they are cooked through and the outside is crispy. The exact time may vary depending on your air fryer model and the size of the chicken tenders.
Remember to let the chicken rest for a few minutes after cooking. This helps the juices redistribute, ensuring your chicken tenders are juicy and flavorful. Enjoy your meal!
Storage and Reheating
Store leftover chicken tenders in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
To reheat, place the chicken in the air fryer basket and reheat at 350 degrees F for 3-4 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through.
How will I know when my chicken tenders are done cooking?
Any time you cook chicken, you want to make sure it reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. If you are using your air fryer all of the time, you will find having a meat thermometer makes cooking meats easier.
Can I freeze the chicken tenders?
You can season them, and then freeze them until you are ready to cook them. You can even cook them in the air fryer frozen, just add about 8-10 more minutes to the cook time, or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
Do I need to line or spray my air fryer basket?
I didn't line my basket when I made these tenders. I usually line my basket with air fryer parchment paper, but it's not necessary. With this recipe, a liner could make it a little easier to clean the basket.
MORE AIR FRYER CHICKEN RECIPES:
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Air Fryer Blackened Chicken Tenders
- Air Fryer
- 1 pound chicken cut into strips
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon ground pepper
- Place the chicken strips in a medium bowl and toss with olive oil, coating each piece of chicken.
- Sprinkle chili powder, cayenne pepper, paprika, salt and pepper over the coated chicken. Toss the chicken in the bowl until the seasonings have evenly covered each piece of chicken.
- Place the chicken in the air fryer basket, spread out so they aren't overlapping or stacked.
- Cook at 380 degrees F for 12 minutes, flipping chicken tenders halfway through cooking.
*Nutritional information is a calculated guesstimate. Please note that this can change with different brands and modifications you may make to the recipe. For the most accurate information, use a nutritional calculator with the exact brands and measurements you're using with each recipe.