Air Fryer Naked Chicken Tenders –Naked chicken tenders are a quick and easy meal for any day of the week!
They take less than 30 minutes to cook, you can make them in bulk (perfect for meal prep), and they’re perfect for pairing with sauce or dipping sauces. Plus, no one will know it’s not fried because it tastes just as good!
What Are Naked Chicken Tenders?
Naked chicken tenders, also known as “naked tenders” or simply “naked chicken,” are a type of chicken dish made from boneless, skinless chicken breast or thigh meat that is typically breaded and fried without any coating or batter on the outside. In this context, “naked” refers to the absence of a traditional coating, such as flour, breadcrumbs, or batter, commonly used in fried chicken recipes.
These chicken tenders are called “naked” because they allow the natural flavor and texture of the chicken to shine through without the added coating layer. Naked chicken tenders are often seasoned with spices, herbs, or marinades to enhance their flavor. They are popular for those looking for a lighter and healthier alternative to traditional breaded and fried chicken tenders.
Naked chicken tenders can be served as a snack, appetizer, or main course and are often accompanied by dipping sauces for added flavor. Depending on individual preferences and dietary choices, they can be prepared using various cooking methods, including frying, baking, grilling, or even air frying.
Watch How To Make Air Fryer Chicken Tenderloins
Why You Will Love This Recipe!
You’ll love this recipe for Air Fryer Naked Chicken Tenders for several fantastic reasons; this is a recipe that the whole family will love, and it’s good for you; it’s such an easy recipe!
Healthier Option: These chicken tenders are “naked,” meaning they are breaded and fried without a heavy coating, making them a healthier choice than traditional fried chicken tenders.
Crispy and Tender: Thanks to the air fryer and the hot air circulating, these healthy air fryer chicken tenders turn out incredibly crispy on the outside while remaining tender and juicy, giving you the best of both worlds.
Versatile Flavor: You can season and flavor the chicken tenders to your liking, whether you prefer them with a classic blend of spices or want to experiment with different seasonings.
Quick and Easy: Air frying is a quick and hassle-free cooking method. These tenders are ready in a fraction of the time it takes to deep-fry, making them a convenient choice for busy weeknight dinner.
Kid-Friendly: Kids and adults alike can’t resist the appeal of delicious chicken tenders. They make for a family-friendly meal that everyone will enjoy.
Customizable Dipping: Pair these tenders with your favorite dipping sauces or condiments, whether classic ketchup and mustard, tangy barbecue sauce, zesty ranch dressing, or something more exotic.
Perfectly Portioned: Chicken tenders are naturally portioned, making it easy to control serving sizes and avoid food waste.
Great for Entertaining: These tenders are perfect for entertaining guests, serving as a delightful appetizer or snack during gatherings, parties, or game nights.
Less Mess: Air frying reduces the mess associated with traditional frying, as there’s no need for a large amount of oil, and cleanup is a breeze.
If you are looking for even more Air Fryer Keto-Friendly Recipes or Air Fryer Low-Carb Recipes, some of my favorites are AIR FRYER ZUCCHINI CRISPS; AIR FRYER ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS, AIR FRYER BACON, and AIR FRYER FRITTATA.
Ingredients Needed For Air Fryer Naked Chicken Tenders
These Air Fryer Naked Chicken Tenders are all about simplicity and flavor. With just a handful of basic ingredients, you’ll create a delicious and health-conscious ( one of the best low carb chicken recipes) chicken dish perfect for any occasion, and makes an amazing quick dinner.
You’ll appreciate how effortlessly they combine with simple ingredients you likely already have in your kitchen. Let’s dive into this easy and delightful recipe!
Remember the step-by-step directions and detailed ingredient list are below, in the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post, as well as the nutritional information.
Boneless, Skinless Chicken Tenders: Raw chicken tenders, or chicken thighs, another great option is to use boneless skinless chicken breasts, which are the star of this recipe. They’re lean, protein-rich, and perfect for quick cooking.
Olive Oil: A small amount of olive oil coats the chicken tenders, helping them achieve a crispy texture in the air fryer.
Salt: Simple yet essential seasoning that enhances the chicken’s natural flavor.
Black Pepper: Freshly ground black pepper adds mild spice and complements the chicken’s taste.
Garlic Powder: Garlic powder imparts the tenders a savory, aromatic quality, enhancing their overall flavor profile.
Onion Powder: Onion powder provides a subtle, sweet onion flavor, adding depth to the seasoning.
Paprika: Paprika not only lends a mild smokiness but also enhances the color of the chicken, giving it an appealing golden hue.
Cayenne Pepper (Optional): For those who enjoy a bit of heat, cayenne pepper can be added to the seasoning mix to provide a gentle spicy kick.
Dipping Sauce: Serve with your favorite dipping sauce, such as BBQ sauce, lemon juice, or buffalo sauce.
How To Make Naked Chicken Tenders In Air Fryer
Making Naked Chicken Tenders in the air fryer is a straightforward process that produces crispy chicken strips and flavorful chicken without heavy breading. Here’s how to do it:
Preheat the Air Fryer: Preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees F (190°C). This ensures that it’s hot and ready when you’re ready to cook the chicken tenders.
Season the Chicken: In a mixing bowl, combine the chicken tenders with olive oil, salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne pepper if you prefer some heat. Use your hands to toss and coat the chicken evenly with the spice mix.
Arrange in the Air Fryer Basket: Place the seasoned chicken tenders in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Ensure they are not overcrowded to allow for even cooking and crispy results.
Air Fry the Chicken: Insert the basket into the preheated air fryer and set cook time for 10-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of your chicken tenders. Flip the tenders halfway through the cooking time to ensure even browning.
Check for Doneness: The chicken tenders are ready when they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) and have a golden-brown, crispy exterior. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.
Serve: Once the chicken tenders are cooked to perfection, remove the cooked chicken from the air fryer and let them rest for a minute. Then, serve them hot as a delightful snack, appetizer, or main course.
Dipping Sauces: Feel free to pair these naked chicken tenders with your favorite dipping sauces, such as barbecue sauce, honey mustard, ranch dressing, or a squeeze of fresh lemon for a zesty touch.
Enjoy your homemade Air Fryer Naked Chicken Tenders that are crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, with a burst of flavorful seasonings!
There are various ways to customize your Air Fryer Naked Chicken Tenders to suit your taste preferences. Here are some delicious recipe variations:
Parmesan-Crusted Tenders: After seasoning the chicken tenders, coat them with grated Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs. Air fry until crispy and golden for a cheesy twist.
Asian-Inspired Tenders: Create an Asian-inspired flavor by seasoning with soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil. Serve with a side of sweet chili sauce for dipping.
Herb-Crusted Tenders: Mix fresh or dried herbs like thyme, rosemary, and parsley with your seasoning. The herbs will infuse the tenders with a fragrant and savory taste.
Spicy Buffalo Tenders: Toss the cooked tenders in Buffalo sauce for a spicy kick. Serve with celery sticks and blue cheese dressing for a classic Buffalo chicken experience.
Honey Mustard Glazed Tenders: Drizzle the tenders with honey and Dijon mustard for a sweet, tangy glaze.
Lemon-Pepper Tenders: Season with lemon zest and freshly ground black pepper for a bright and zesty flavor.
BBQ Chicken Tenders: Coat the tenders with your favorite barbecue rub or sauce before air frying. The result is sweet, smoky, and finger-licking good.
Teriyaki Tenders: Marinate the chicken in teriyaki sauce for an Asian-inspired twist. Air fry until caramelized and serve with a drizzle of extra sauce.
Panko-Crusted Tenders: Replace the breading with panko breadcrumbs for an extra crispy texture.
Mediterranean Tenders: Season with a spice blend like oregano, thyme, chili powder, and garlic. Add different spices or Bagel seasoning. Serve with tzatziki sauce and cucumber slices.
Feel free to get creative and experiment with different seasonings and coatings to create a variety of delicious Air Fryer Naked Chicken Tenders to suit your mood and cravings. Enjoy your culinary adventures!
To ensure your Air Fryer Naked Chicken Tenders turn out perfectly crispy and flavorful, here are some pro tips:
Preheat the Air Fryer: Always preheat your air fryer for a few minutes before adding the chicken tenders. This helps to achieve even cooking and a crispy exterior.
Use Parchment Paper: To prevent sticking and make cleanup easier, use parchment paper or olive oil spray and brush with avocado oil to coat the air fryer basket before adding the tenders.
Don’t Overcrowd: Avoid overcrowding the air fryer basket. Arrange the tenders in a single layer with space between them for proper air circulation. For a smaller air fryer, cook in batches.
Flip Halfway Through: Flip the chicken tenders halfway through the cooking time. This helps ensure that both sides become evenly crispy.
Check for Doneness: Use a meat thermometer or instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken tenders. They should reach 165°F (74°C) to ensure they are cooked through. The exact cooking time will be determined by the air fryer you use and how thick the chicken tenderloins are.
Adjust Cooking Time: Cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of your chicken tenders and the specific model of your air fryer. Monitor them and adjust the cooking time accordingly to avoid overcooking.
Serve Immediately: Air Fryer Naked Chicken Tenders are best enjoyed hot and fresh out of the air fryer. They may lose some of their crispiness if left sitting for too long.
Dipping Sauces: Serve your chicken tenders with various dipping sauces such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, honey mustard, or ranch dressing to enhance the flavor.
Customize Seasonings: Feel free to customize the seasoning blend to your liking. Experiment with different herbs, spices, and seasonings to create unique flavor profiles.
Rest Before Serving: Allow the cooked chicken tenders to rest for a minute before serving. This helps the juices redistribute, ensuring a juicy and tender interior.
By following these pro tips, you’ll master the art of making delicious Air Fryer Naked Chicken Tenders that are crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, making them a perfect snack or meal option.
What To Serve With Naked Chicken Tenders
Naked Chicken Tenders are versatile and can be served as a main dish and various side dishes to create a complete and satisfying meal. Here are some great options for what to serve with Naked Chicken Tenders:
French Fries: Classic crispy French or sweet potato fries make a great side dish. You can even make them in the air fryer for a healthier option.
Salad: A fresh garden salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, and your favorite dressing adds a refreshing element to the meal. Add the juicy chicken tenders on top of a salad.
Coleslaw: Creamy coleslaw complements the crispy chicken tenders perfectly. It provides a cool and crunchy contrast to the hot and crispy tenders.
Vegetables: Roasted or steamed vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, or green beans are healthy and nutritious. They balance out the meal with some greens.
Mashed Potatoes: Creamy mashed potatoes are a comforting side dish that pairs well with chicken tenders. Top them with gravy for extra flavor.
Macaroni and Cheese: Creamy macaroni and cheese is a favorite comfort food for kids and adults.
Biscuits: Fluffy biscuits or dinner rolls are great for making chicken tender sandwiches or enjoying with a side of butter or jam.
Dipping Sauces: Offer a variety of dipping sauces such as ketchup, barbecue sauce, honey mustard, ranch dressing, buffalo sauce, or tzatziki for extra flavor.
Rice: Serve chicken tenders with plain steamed rice, fried rice, or a flavorful rice pilaf.
Pickles: Pickles or pickled vegetables add a tangy and crunchy element to the meal.
Fruit: Fresh fruit salad or sliced fruit like watermelon or pineapple can provide a refreshing and sweet contrast to the savory tenders.
Garlic Bread: Garlic bread or cheesy garlic breadsticks are a delicious accompaniment.
Corn on the Cob: Grilled or boiled corn on the cob with butter and seasoning is a classic side dish.
Mix and match these side dishes based on your preferences and the occasion. The key is to create a balanced and satisfying meal that complements the crispy Naked Chicken Tenders.
Can I use frozen chicken tenders in the air fryer?: Yes, you can cook frozen chicken tenders in the air fryer. However, you may need to adjust the cooking time and temperature. Preheat the air fryer and cook the frozen tenders according to the manufacturer’s instructions or until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
Can I marinate the chicken tenders before air frying? Yes, marinating the chicken tenders before air frying can add extra flavor. Just pat them dry before cooking to ensure they get crispy.
How do I prevent the chicken tenders from sticking to the air fryer basket? To prevent sticking, consider using parchment paper or a light coating of non-stick cooking spray on the air fryer basket. This will make it easier to remove the tenders after cooking.
What dipping sauces go well with Naked Chicken Tenders? Naked Chicken Tenders pair well with dipping sauces, including ketchup, barbecue sauce, honey mustard, ranch dressing, buffalo sauce, and tzatziki.
Can I reheat leftover chicken tenders in the air fryer? Yes, you can reheat leftover chicken tenders in the air fryer. Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (175°C) and reheat the tenders for a few minutes until they are warmed. Be careful not to overheat them to avoid drying them out.
How do I store and reheat cooked chicken tenders? To store cooked chicken tenders, let them cool to room temperature, then place them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. To reheat, use the air fryer, oven, or microwave until heated to your liking.
Can I make gluten-free or low-carb Naked Chicken Tenders? Instead of traditional bread crumbs, you can make gluten-free or low-carb chicken tenders using alternative coatings such as almond flour, coconut flour, or crushed pork rinds.
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- AIR FRYER BLUEBERRY COBBLER FOR TWO
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Air Fryer Naked Chicken Tenders
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon paprika, or to taste
- 1 tablespoon garlic powder
- 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
- 1/2 tablespoon white pepper, or black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper, less if you don’t want them spicy
- 1/2 tablespoon onion powder
- Start by making the rub. Mix all of the chicken rub ingredients in a small bowl; mix well.
- Dip your chicken into the chicken rub, and as you coat them, place them into a greased air fryer basket.
- Place the tenderloins into the air fryer basket, careful not to overcrowd it, affecting the cooking time.
- Set the time for 370 degrees F, for 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, flip and check your chicken to make sure it is done. If it has an internal temperature of 165 degrees F, it is fully cooked. If not, add another couple of minutes and recheck.
- Plate, serve, and enjoy!
- Air Fryer
- Cooking Spray
- Parchment Paper, optional