Best cheesy air fryer Cheese-It chicken tenders ever! Chicken breaded with crackers is easy, crispy, egg free protein packed lunch we love.
Cheese-It chicken tenders are great and always a kid favorite. Combining the most tender cut of poultry with our favorite cheese cracker means you just can’t go wrong. You could even use breasts or thighs once you get the hang of this. Just one easy air fryer recipe we love. (affiliate links present)
Cheese It Chicken Tenders
What are chicken tenderloins and why would we use these vs. any other cut? Well they are the most tender (thus the name) part of the bird and already come in the right size and shape. Looking like the packaged out of the freezer type, or what you would buy at a fast food restaurant they’re easy to pick up and eat too.
If you cannot find these at your local grocery store or they are way more expensive than you want to spend, no problem. Instead you can slice boneless skinless chicken breasts into well….strips that look like this and there you go. To use dark meat this makes a great chicken thigh recipe too y’all.
Air Fryer Mayo Chicken
Yes we have shared a variety of ways to bread chicken without eggs, but this method is probably the tastiest. We aren’t counting calories on this one y’all, it is all about flavor! Instead of eggs we use mayonnaise, oh yes we did. Talk about keeping is super moist people. In regards to this there are a few options, one is best.
My dad was always a huge Miracle Whip guy, don’t use that. I mean if you insist like he did then go ahead but honestly I think Best Foods is better. It doesn’t have that vinegar flavor to it. It will create a stickiness where the crushed crackers can now stick to so the outside can become like fried, but it’s not. You could skip the breading all together too and it’s fab.
Chicken Tenders with Crushed Crackers
You don’t have to use the name brand to make this, or even cheesy crackers either. Can’t have these or need a gluten free chicken tenders in air fryer option you could use any other variety. I am talking Ritz works, saltines if you wanted, or wheat variety of your choice. Just crush them like you would use regular breadcrumbs.
Homemade Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
You will need fresh or defrosted meat for this. This won’t work as described below with frozen chicken tenders. The outsides won’t stick properly if they start out rock hard. I like to add fresh shredded cheese into the mayo as well to amplify the cheesiness sorta speak. You can make this dairy free if needed, Daiya makes a great vegan alternative.
- 1.5 lbs chicken tenderloins, or sliced breasts about 2″ x 6″ or so in size
- Cheese, shredded, cheddar or parmesan cheese are best but spicy jack could add a bit of heat
- 3 c cheese crackers
- freezer bag to smash into bread crumbs size
- or use food processor to blend into fine pieces
- Garlic salt and pepper if you like
- 1/2 tsp paprika
You will want to have olive oil spray handy for he outside of your Cheese It chicken tenders. When air fried you need something on the outside to brown it like fried chicken texture. Enjoy as is or with dipping sauces.
Cheese It Chicken Tenders
If you jus wanted air fryer parmesan crusted chicken without the breading, just skip the rolling in those step. Mayo and parm together will work too. In a large mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise and the shredded cheddar cheese, stir to combine. Add the chicken tenderloins to the mayo mix and stir to coat the tenders.
- Next in a separate mixing bowl combine the cheez-it crumbs, garlic salt and paprika.
- Prepare your air fryer, either spray the air fryer basket directly with cooking spray or place down a parchment liner and spray with cooking spray.
- Coat them one at a time with the Cheez-it crumbs and place in the air fryer.
- Depending on the size of your air fryer you will probably only be able to cook 5-6 pieces of chicken at a time.
- You do not want to crowd the air fryer basket.
- Spray the tops of each with cooking spray.
- Cook coated chicken at 400 degrees for 9-10 minutes cook time or until a meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees.
- after 4 minutes flip over but not entirely necessary
If you are making quite a few of these you will want to do multiple batches. You don’t want to overlap them, instead keep in a single layer so they crisp as much as possible. Then serve with all the chicken tender dips you want and enjoy.
Cracker Crusted Chicken Tenders
After you cook chicken, if there are leftovers you can save them in a baggie in the fridge. Make sure that you suck all the air out so moisture doesn’t get in and make them wet and icky. Best when eaten within 24 hours but can be kept up to 3 days. When ready, this is how to reheat chicken tenders in air fryer so they crisp back up!!
Let us know if you use another crunchy variety you like, I mean even pulverized chips would be amazing made this way too!
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Air Fryer Cheese It Chicken Tenders
- 1.5 lbs chicken tenderloins
- 1 c mayonnaise
- 1/2 c cheese
- 3 c cheese its
- 1/2 tsp garlic salt
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- olive oil spray
- In a large mixing bowl combine the mayonnaise and the shredded cheddar cheese, stir to combine. Add the chicken tenderloins to the mayo mix and stir to coat the tenders.
- Next in a separate mixing bowl combine the cheez-it crumbs, garlic salt and paprika. Prepare your air fryer, either spray the air fryer basket directly with cooking spray or place down a parchment liner and spray with cooking spray.
- Coat the tenders one at a time with the Cheez-it crumbs and place in the air fryer. Depending on the size of your air fryer you will probably need to do this in two or more batches. You do not want to crowd the air fryer basket.
- Spray the tops of the chicken tenders with cooking spray. Cook the chicken tenders at 400 degrees for 9-10 minutes until a meat thermometer reaches 165 degrees. Repeat with any other batches you need. Serve