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Panko Air Fryer Tenders

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Make Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders just as tasty as your favorite drive-thru. These versatile chicken strips are perfectly crunchy with panko, bread crumbs and parmesan coating.

stacked chicken tenders with garnish next to ranch dressing and pickles

crunchy air fryer tenders

This is my family’s go-to recipe for a healthier air fryer chicken alternative to takeout. I am definitely guilty of way too many drive-thru chicken dinners when things get busy.

This recipe has a lighter, healthier breading and is just as flavorful and crunchy.


Homemade chicken tenders in the air fryer are made with just a few simple marinade ingredients, then a crispy coating of Panko, bread crumbs, and shredded parmesan cheese.

ingredients for air fryer chicken tenders including garlic powder, cajun seasoning, panko and bread crumbs
ingredients for crispy air fryer tenders


Just a few steps to make up a whole batch of crisp tenders for the entire family.

chicken tender sauce instructions

The special sauce for this recipe is similar to Cane’s or Chick-fil-A sauce. It’s a bit sweet and a bit tangy. You’ll simply whisk mayo, mustard, BBQ sauce, and honey together in a bowl and voila!

expert tips

Follow these tips for the perfect air fried chicken tenders every time.

  • use air-fryer safe parchment paper or aluminum foil for easy clean-up
  • de-vein the tenders before marinating
  • flip halfway through cooking
  • don’t overcrowd your air fryer basket
stack of three chicken tenderloins with the top one showing tender inside
moist and tender on the inside


recipe substitutions

  • parmesan cheese-pecorino romano or other fresh, sharp, hard cheese may be used in place of parmesan
  • Panko and breadcrumbs– you may use seasoned breadcrumbs, but I do recommend using both panko and breadcrumbs for this recipe. The combination makes the chicken tenders extra crispy.
  • cajun seasoning– feel free to get creative here and use whatever seasoning you prefer. If cajun spice is too spicy, try lemon pepper instead.
  • egg– the marinade for this chicken can be made with or without egg. I prefer with egg to help the coating stick to the tenders.


If you have leftover chicken tenders, store in an air tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

showing crisp detail of golden chicken tender breading
amazing texture in every bite

how to reheat chicken tenders in the air fryer

To reheat chicken tenders, add to 375° F pre-heated air fryer and cook for 4-5 minutes or until heated through the center.

how to freeze and reheat chicken tenders

to freeze tenders

Freezing chicken tenders is easy and a convenient way to meal-prep! Add leftover tenders to a zippered, air-tight freezer bag and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

chicken tenders next to dipping sauce, waffle fries and pickles
ranch or honey mustard make perfect dipping sauces

frozen chicken tenders air fryer

Set air fryer temperature to 300° F for the first 5 minutes, then adjust temperature to 375° for last 3-5 minutes or until tenders are cooked through.

For best results, thaw tenders overnight in the fridge before re-heating.

what to serve with chicken tenders

Chicken tenders are versatile and may be served with a variety of side dishes. Try these tenders with

air fryer chicken tenders with pickles

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

Crispy, air fryer chicken tenders are easy to make for a crowd. Coated in parmesan and panko, these easy tenders are flavorful and
5 from 1 vote
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Course: Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 12 minutes
Total Time: 17 minutes
Servings: 4
Calories: 342kcal
Author: Amber


  • Air fryer


chicken marinade

  • 1 lb chicken tenders
  • 1 egg
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  • ½ tsp cajun seasoning or lemon pepper for milder taste


  • ½ cup parmesan cheese shredded
  • ½ cup bread crumbs
  • ½ cup panko

special sauce


  • Prep: dry tenders with a paper towel. Spray air fryer basket or use air fryer safe parchment paper.
  • Whisk marinade ingredients in a large bowl. Set aside. 
  • Whisk ingredients for coating in a separate bowl. 
  • Coat each tender in marinade, then dredge in coating until completely covered.
  • Air fry tenders 3-4 at a time, taking care to not overcrowd the air fryer basket.
  • Air fry at 375 degrees F until golden brown, about 10-12 minutes. 

sauce instructions

  • whisk ingredients together in a medium bowl
  • store in a jar in the fridge for up to 3 days and stir again before use


store leftovers in the fridge, in an air-tight container for up to 3 days


Calories: 342kcal | Carbohydrates: 16g | Protein: 33g | Fat: 15g | Saturated Fat: 4g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 122mg | Sodium: 792mg | Potassium: 501mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 2g | Vitamin A: 316IU | Vitamin C: 2mg | Calcium: 202mg | Iron: 2mg

sides for tenders…

roasted Yukon Gold potatoes on a platter with parsley sprinkled on top

Diced Air Fryer Potatoes

Mexican street corn on table with ingredients

Instant Pot Street Corn

copycat chick fil a mac and cheese with fork

Chick Fil A Mac

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