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Recipe for air fryer buttermilk chicken tenders

Best Damn Air Fryer Buttermilk Chicken Tenders

  • Author: RecipeTeacher
  • Total Time: 28 minutes
  • Yield: About 8 tenders


Tender, juicy, homemade buttermilk chicken tenders with a golden, crispy breading, cooked to perfection in your air fryer.


Chicken & Marinade

  • 1lb Chicken breast tenderloins
  • 1 cup Buttermilk
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt


  • 1.5 cups Panko breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup Flour, all-purpose
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 tsp Onion powder
  • 1 tsp Pepper
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1 tsp Cayenne (optional)
  • Non-stick cooking spray or olive oil spray


  • Trim chicken tenderloins of white tendon ends if necessary.
  • Add buttermilk, garlic powder, paprika and salt to a gallon-sized zip-top bag and mix well. Add chicken, seal bag and marinate in fridge for 2-24 hours.
  • Setup breading station: add flour, pepper, onion powder (cayenne if using for a little extra kick) and 1 tsp of salt to a bowl and mix well. In another bowl beat 2 eggs. Then, in a wide plate, add the panko breadcrumbs.
  • Remove one chicken tender from bag and let marinade drip off and then coat it in the flour mixture. Shake off any excess flour and then dunk it into the egg. Make sure to get it well coated in egg so there’s no dry spots. Let any excess egg drip off. Finally, coat well with the panko breadcrumbs, pressing in if need be. Set the breaded tender aside on a plate and repeat with all the chicken tenders.
  • Spray the air fryer basket or tray with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil and preheat at 400°(F) for 5 minutes.
  • When air fryer is finished preheating, add the chicken tenders in a single layer. Don’t overlap or stack. Spray the tenders well with cooking spray or olive oil. (This step is important – see notes below)
  • Use the air fry setting at 400°(F) for 8 minutes, turning the tenders after 4 minutes (you don’t need to spray again).
  • After 8 minutes, check the thickest part of the largest tender with an instant read food thermometer. The chicken is done at 165°(F). If not done, continue air fryer at 2 minute intervals until done.
  • Remove chicken tenders to a plate and serve.


While we do not deep fry in oil, we still need a coating of non-stick cooking spray or olive oil spray on the chicken tenders prior to cooking. This helps assure crisping and gets that nice golden color.

  • Prep Time: 20 min
  • Cook Time: 8 min
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Air Fryer
  • Cuisine: American