Crispiest Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

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These are the crispiest Air Fryer Chicken Tenders thanks to a simple coating of buttermilk and crushed cornflakes. This family favorite is the healthier fried chicken recipe you’ve been looking for. 

bowl of crispy chicken tenders with honey mustard dipping size

If you think that chicken tenders need a crisp, crunchy golden crust, you’re going to love these tenders. In fact, they’re the only homemade chicken tenders my daughter Jennifer actually likes! 

❤️ Why You’ll Love This Recipe: These chicken tenders are juicy and tender on the inside and incredibly crisp on the outside. They’re easy to make with a tangy buttermilk marinade, cornflake coating, and an air fryer. Plus, the honey mustard dipping sauce is the cherry on top of a downright delicious chicken dinner. 

By the way, if you’re looking for a great air fryer, read my review of the Instant Vortex

pinterest button for air fried chicken tenders

How to Make the Crispiest Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

Before you get to frying your chicken, you’ll need to marinate and bread each piece. I recommend taking these steps to make this recipe as easy as possible:

  1. Slice the chicken into tenders if they’re not already. (You can buy chicken tenders if you prefer.)
  2. Marinate the chicken in the buttermilk mixture. For best results, let them marinate at least 1 hour or even overnight.
  3. Make the cornflake coating.
  4. Bread the chicken on all sides and fry!

You can make the delicious honey-mustard dipping sauce while the chicken air fries. 

Tip: You can buy cornflakes already crushed in the bread crumb section at the grocery market!

buttermilk brine for chicken tenders

Tips for Air Frying Chicken

Before you start making these crispy air fryer chicken nuggets, here are the best tips for success:

For best results, cut the chicken into even pieces so they cook evenly. 

When breading the chicken, wipe each piece on the side of the bowl to remove excess buttermilk marinade. You want them damp, but not dripping before dipping in the cornflake mixture. You should have a thin, transparent coating of buttermilk that you can see the chicken through. 

steps to bread and fry chicken tenders

After breading, when you place the chicken in the air fryer basket, do not forget to spray the tops with spray oil. This is the secret to crispy chicken tenders in the air-fryer. If you forget to do this the coating will be dry rather than crisp up.

Every air-fryer is different. So check on your chicken tenders after 6 minutes. They should be turning golden brown. If you see any burning on the tip, lower the air-fryer temp by 25 degrees.

steps to make honey mustard dipping sauce

Honey-Mustard Dipping Sauce

You’ll love the sweet, tangy dipping sauce for these crispy air fryer chicken tenders. The recipe calls for two kinds of dijon mustard: regular and coarse, for some textural variety. However, you can easily use all regular dijon if you prefer. 

overhead of a wire rack of crispy chicken tenders

Can You Freeze Air-Fried Chicken Tenders?

Certainly. You can make these crispy chicken tenders and freeze them for an easy dinner on a busy night. See this article for how to reheat frozen prepared chicken tenders in an air fryer. 

You can also reheat leftovers in the air fryer. Use the same temperature you cooked the chicken at. Start with 5 minutes and add more time until the chicken is at your desired temperature. 

fork with a piece of crispy chicken tenders

More Air Fryer Recipes

Crispiest Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
Yield: 6 Servings

Crispiest Air Fryer Chicken Tenders

Air fryer chicken tenders are super crisp and golden on the outside thanks to cornflake coating and tender and moist inside. 


Chicken Tenders

  • 1 1/2 lbs chicken breast, sliced into tenders
  • 2 cups buttermilk, regular or low fat
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper (cayenne pepper)


  • 3 cups cornflakes, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • Spray oil

Honey Mustard Dipping Sauce

  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise (not Miracle Whip)
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons coarse grain mustard
  • 1/2 tablespoon white wine vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper


Buttermilk Marinade: Place raw chicken tenders into a dish, sprinkle with salt, pepper and red pepper. (The red pepper just gives a slight pop of flavor, not spiciness.) Pour the buttermilk over the chicken, make sure to coat all the chicken. Refrigerate and marinate for minimum 1 hour and up to overnight.

Prepare Mustard Dipping Sauce: Place all ingredients into a bowl and whisk until completely combined.

Prepare Coating: Crush your cornflakes and pour into a shallow dish, similar to a pie plate. Add flour, garlic salt and pepper, stir to combine.

Place your air-fryer tray on the counter.

Starting with one chicken tender at a time wipe the sides on the edge of the bowl to remove excess buttermilk.

Roll the chicken tender into the cornflake mixture. Once coated, shake gently to remove any loose coating. Set onto air-fryer tray.

Continue with each chicken tender.

Spray the surface of your coated tenders with spray oil. (This step is a must or the coating will be dry. The oil makes sure the coating crisp up.)

 Bake at 400ºF for 12 – 20 minutes, depending on how thick your chicken tenders are, or until chicken is cooked to 165 º F and coating is golden brown. Flip chicken tenders over after 6 minutes.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 427Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 11gCholesterol: 106mgSodium: 795mgCarbohydrates: 31gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 41g

Nutrition information is calculated by Nutritionix and may not always be accurate.

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