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Air Fryer Chicken Tenders No Breading

This tender air fryer chicken tenders no breading recipe is my kids’ favorite meal! Barbecue strips of chicken breast cooked to perfection in no time. 

air fryer chicken strips

We made this air fryer chicken tenders no breading recipe to see if it was as delicious as the frozen ones we bought for years. OH MY were they so much better! If you too are looking for an easy air fryer recipe that’s egg free without breadcrumbs, this is it. (originally published 3/20, affiliate links present)

You may have already tried air fryer frozen chicken nuggets for your kids. I mean that is fine but homemade is so much better.

You’re probably looking for more flavor and healthier choices too huh? Well if you want an entire air fryer fried chicken breast you can, but finger foods are kinda’ fun and this one needs no flour!

Let’s talk about a few specifics, and the kitchen appliances we have at home;

You only need a few items to make these homemade chicken strips yourself.

chicken tenders

The ingredients to make chicken tenders in air fryer are

  1. Olive oil cooking spray
    1. oil spray will help it not stick to your air fryer basket
  2. Fresh chicken tenders
    1. if yours are frozen follow our Instant Pot frozen chicken tenders recipe
  3. Brown sugar
  4. 1/2 cup Ketchup
  5. Onion powder
  6. Paprika
  7. Salt and pepper

Or you can use this teriyaki air fryer marinated chicken recipe instead of this bbq sauce.

If you just wanted to use a bottled sauce instead of making your own homemade barbecue sauce we share below you could use that too. With just 6 ingredients I am sure you have in your cupboard already though, it’s kinda’ a no brainer.

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders No Breading

Yes we have breaded chicken similar to this and made bacon wrapped Ninja Foodi chicken tenders before. Those were good for the fry food taste we were looking for, this is a gluten free version though since we’re skipping the breadcrumbs.

  • NO flour, Panko, or almond flour are used in these.
  • That makes them really quick to throw together and are a much healthier air frying recipe to boot.
  • All in just 10 – 12 minutes time too!!

I will tell you that my girls loved these maybe more than the laborious process of whisking an egg, dipping into several different shallow bowls to coat the outside, and then cooking.

  • I would try them both and see which you prefer.
  • Then you’ll be ready to air fry everything like us!
  • My oven is crying now, I hardly use it anymore except for cakes!

Ok here is how we made these air fryer chicken breasts pieces. Yes you can just slice breasts thinly if you cannot find “tenders” in your meat section.

chicken strips air fryer

Can I eat chicken tenders on keto?

This is not necessarily a Keto chicken tenders recipe but you could make it as such.  You would need to omit the sugar and maybe just use seasonings as we did with our frozen chicken breast in air fryer recipe here.

  • Just use timing here and seasonings from the other to make it low carb. That one only has ONE carb per serving!
  • You can find even more low carb air fryer recipes here too, bookmark that while you’re at it. 😉

I bet you’re thinking “man The Typical Mom blog has a lot of Ninja Foodi chicken recipes!” You would be correct.

It used to be the only meat my girls would eat. Now that we live in Idaho and buy half a cow every year we tend to eat a lot more beef, but chicken legs (and other parts) still remain a fave.

low carb chicken tenders

Let’s jump to the recipe shall we?

Here is a run down of how these air fryer chicken tenders were made

Time needed: 14 minutes.

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders No Breading

  1. Prepare

    Rinse and lay pieces on paper towels to remove excess moisture from outside. Set your meat aside and mix together other ingredients for your sauce in a bowl.

    If you’re using bottled bbq sauce you can skip the mixing that. Scoop out 1/4 cup of your sauce and set aside. Marinate your tenders in the rest of the sauce in a bowl for at least 15 minutes.

    Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees and spray inside of basket with non stick spray.

    Use tongs to remove chicken from sauce and place inside basket overlapping as little as possible. If you have a smaller unit you may need to make 2 batches.

  2. Air Fry

    Cook for 10 minutes, then flip each piece over on to the other side and continue cooking for 4-6 minutes until internal meat temperature is 165 degrees.

    Use pastry brush to add more sauce to the outside before serving!

How many pieces of chicken can you put in an air fryer?

2 full breasts work, smaller tenderloins can be closer to 12 depending on how large your basket is. 7 wings fit nicely without overlapping. Y

You can fit 6 frozen air fryer chicken tenders, 2 chicken cutlets in air fryer, 1 whole chicken. Keep them separated to get really crispy.

ninja foodi chicken wings

Do you flip chicken in air fryer?

Almost always the answer is yes. The only time I wouldn’t is if there is a type of breading that may fall off if moved around too much. I have yet to encounter that yet though.

  • The whole philosophy on why you do this is simple. This machine works to make food crunchy because of the hot air circulating around the food.
  • If you overlap each piece you’re impeding the air flow from hitting those areas, thus they won’t get crisp.
  • For chicken tenders with no breading however you won’t get that real crunch anyway so it isn’t all that important.

Can I use PAM in an air fryer?

Some say it could damage the coating of the basket, I have yet to see this. I personally prefer olive oil spray instead. Most times it is necessary to use something so the food doesn’t stick.

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THIS my friends is how to cook chicken in an air fryer to perfection. 😉

air fryer chicken strips
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5 from 11 votes

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders no Breading

Air fryer chicken tenders no breading recipe is my kids' favorite meal! Barbecue strips of chicken breast cooked to perfection in no time. #airfryer #airfryerchicken #chickentenders
Course Entree, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword air fryer, chicken strips, chicken tenders, healthy, keto, low carb
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Servings 6
Calories 267kcal
Author The Typical Mom



  • Combine ketchup, brown sugar, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper in a medium mixing bowl.
  • Set aside 1/4 cup of sauce for later. Add chicken tenders to the sauce making sure they are completely covered.
  • Allow to soak in marinade/sauce for 15 minutes. Place chicken tenders in a greased air fryer basket. Preheat air fryer for 5 minutes once they're marinated.
  • Spray inside of basket with olive oil spray. Air fry at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Flip tenders over and air fry for an additional 4-6 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees in the middle. (timing will depend on how thick your meat is)
  • Brush with remaining BBQ sauce prior to serving.


Nutrition Facts
Air Fryer Chicken Tenders no Breading
Amount Per Serving (3 oz)
Calories 267 Calories from Fat 36
% Daily Value*
Fat 4g6%
Saturated Fat 1g6%
Cholesterol 97mg32%
Sodium 750mg33%
Potassium 654mg19%
Carbohydrates 24g8%
Fiber 1g4%
Sugar 22g24%
Protein 32g64%
Vitamin A 312IU6%
Vitamin C 3mg4%
Calcium 26mg3%
Iron 1mg6%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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