Air fryer Buffalo chicken tenders are an easy and tasty snack. Chicken strips are dipped in a spicy buffalo sauce and dredged in seasoned Panko breadcrumbs for the perfect crunch. Great for a quick bite when hungry!
Aren’t buffalo chicken tenders the most addictive snack ever? You can have them on game day (if you are a football fan), holidays, date nights, parties, and all sorts of special days. In fact, you don’t even need a special day to have them. They’re so easy to make that you can eat them any day of the week. And with zero oil, they’re waaay healthier than deep-fried tenders. Go ahead and give them a try!
What is a chicken tender?
If you look at a chicken breast closely, you will find a small strip of meat attached to its underside. This is a chicken tender, and you can even pull it off easily with your hand. The meat is soft and tender as the name suggests but taste exactly like breasts. Sometimes, tenders are sold separately and you can buy them as such.
However, you can also cut a boneless chicken breast lengthwise into strips to make homemade chicken tenders; there’s not much difference when cooked as it’s all meat from the same part of the chicken.
Store-bought or homemade buffalo sauce?
Depends on your preference. I find making homemade buffalo sauce so easy that I rarely go to the trouble of buying it from the market. If you want to use store-bought sauce, however, there are many brands available. I have used Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce with success.
How should I make my own buffalo sauce? Easy. You need only two ingredients: hot sauce (I use Frank’s Red Hot) and butter. Melt the butter and add the hot sauce. Whisk until smooth, and your buffalo sauce is ready. You can make this sauce in any quantity you wish by using 2 parts hot sauce and 1 part butter. If you’ve made more than you require for the moment, store the extra sauce in a bottle and keep in the fridge for a couple of weeks. Since there is butter in it, you will have to heat it to regain that silky texture.
Note: exact amounts are mentioned in the recipe card further down
- Chicken breasts – boneless and skinless, each sliced lengthwise into four tenders
- Buffalo sauce – store-bought or homemade. See the heading above to make your own.
- Panko breadcrumbs – these are larger in size and extra-crispy
- Garlic powder – to mix in with the breadcrumbs for flavor
1. Dip the chicken in buffalo sauce
Pour the buffalo sauce in a shallow bowl and dip each chicken tender in it so that both sides are well-coated with the sauce. Repeat for all the pieces.
2. Dredge the chicken in breadcrumbs
Place the Panko breadcrumbs in another bowl and add the garlic powder. Mix well. Roll each piece of chicken in them, pressing with your hands if needed. The sauce will help the breadcrumbs stick to the chicken.
3. Air fry the chicken
Preheat your air fryer to 300 F and place the chicken pieces in it. Don’t crowd the chicken. Air fry for 15-20 minutes, flipping it halfway through cooking. When done, serve hot with some Ranch dressing.
- Do make sure your chicken is dry before you coat it in the Buffalo sauce. If you have rinsed it and it still has some moisture, dry with paper towels or the sauce will slide off the chicken.
- You might have to air fry the chicken in two batches. This is preferable to overcrowding your air fryer since the air needs to circulate for optimal crispness and even cooking.
- The air frying time is a range (15-20 minutes) because each air fryer is different. The optimal cooking time depends on the kind of air fryer you have. The tenders are done if they are golden brown on the outside with no trace of pink in the middle. You can also use a food thermometer to check the internal temperature. It should be 165 F.
- if you’re not ready to serve the tenders right away, you can marinate the chicken in buffalo sauce and keep it in the fridge for a few hours. This way, all you have to do is coat the chicken in the breadcrumbs before air frying it.
- Serving suggestion: serve the chicken tenders with Ranch. The tenders dipped in Ranch taste doubly good!
Pro tip: If you feel that the chicken is a little dry, go right ahead and spray it with some cooking oil before you air fry it. This will get you the deep-fried look and taste if that’s what you are craving.
Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Tenders
- Air Fryer
- 2 shallow and wide bowls
- 2 chicken breasts boneless, skinless, sliced lengthwise into 4 strips
- 1 cup Buffalo sauce like Franks's Buffalo Wings Sauce
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- ¼ tsp garlic powder
- Pour the buffalo sauce in a shallow bowl and dip each chicken tender in it so that both sides are well-coated with the sauce. Repeat for all the pieces.
- Place the Panko breadcrumbs in another bowl and add the garlic powder. Mix well. Roll each piece of chicken in them, pressing with your hands if needed. The sauce will help the breadcrumbs stick to the chicken.
- Preheat your air fryer to 300 F and place the chicken pieces in it. Don’t crowd the chicken. Air fry for 15-20 minutes, flipping it halfway through cooking. When done, serve hot with some Ranch dressing.
- If your chicken has moisture, dry with paper towels or the sauce will slide off the chicken.
- To make your own buffalo sauce, melt 1/4 cup butter and add 1/2 cup hot sauce. Whisk until smooth.
- Air fry the chicken in two batches if necessary for even crisping.
- The chicken tenders should be golden brown when cooked, and the internal temperature should be 165 F.
- This recipe calls for no oil, but you can spray the breadcrumbs coated chicken strips lightly with cooking oil if you want the deep-fried look to your chicken.