These air fryer buffalo chicken tenders are SO good, and perfectly spicy. If you LOVE eating buffalo chicken tenders when you go out to eat, you’re going to be obsessed with this simple recipe that’s made in the air fryer. Includes keto, low carb, and gluten free options!
I don’t know about you, but I like things a tad spicy! I mean, not sweat-dripping-off-my-eyebrows spicy, but a pleasant amount of burn is the kind of food I crave.
These air fryer buffalo chicken tenders are the right amount of spicy, and totally crave-able. In fact, as I’m writing this I’m wondering when I can fit my next batch in! They are so delicious, and incredibly easy to make with just a few simple ingredients.
If you’re looking for some fun party food, or something to eat while you watch the game, these buffalo chicken strips made in the air fryer fit the bill perfectly! Serve some blue cheese or ranch dip on the side and you are good to go. Serving it all up with an ice cold beer just gets you bonus points, so I say go for it!
- Chicken Tenders: These are often sold together in a pack, but if you can’t find them, you can just use chicken breast that you cut into strips. I’ve done both and both work well!
- Mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and garlic powder: This mixture is to coat and marinade the chicken tenders. This takes the place of a traditional egg wash and the coating sticks really well to the mayo mixture.
- Panko crumbs: The best crumbs for coating are always panko. They will give you the crispiest result and are super delicious.
- Parmesan cheese: A little bit of parmesan cheese added in gives the BEST flavor to the breading portion of these air fryer buffalo chicken tenders. You can use the shelf stable kind, or you can use shredded parmesan. Both work well for this recipe.
- Buffalo sauce: I’ve included my recipe for homemade buffalo sauce, which uses Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, butter, Worcestershire sauce, vinegar, garlic powder, and a touch of ground cayenne pepper.
- Salt and pepper: Just a little bit for seasoning.
How to Make Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Tenders
Before you start the recipe, it’s important to get started on preparing the chicken tenders.
To do this, add the mayonnaise, dijon mustard, and garlic powder to a bowl and mix really well.
Add the chicken tenders (or sliced chicken breast) into the bowl and toss to coat.
Cover the bowl with plastic wrap or a lid and set aside to “marinade” for 5 minutes or so. You can also prepare this step in advance and let your chicken tenders rest in the fridge for up to 8 hours. This will infuse them with more flavor, but they are delicious either way.
Making the Buffalo Sauce
Prepare the sauce by adding the hot sauce, butter, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and cayenne pepper in a small saucepan, and set over medium-high heat. Stir to help the butter melt as the sauce begins to heat.
Bring the buffalo sauce to a low boil, then stir and reduce to a high simmer over medium-low heat. Allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until thickened.
Breading the Chicken Tenders
- Once you’re ready to get started, combine all of your ingredients for the panko breading in a small container. This includes the panko breadcrumbs, parmesan cheese, salt and pepper. Mix well to combine.
- Use a fork to dredge both sides of each chicken tender in the panko breadcrumb mixture, pressing the crumbs in tightly with your hands to make sure they are fully coated.
- After each tender is coated, place it on a rimmed baking sheet fitted with a wire rack OR a parchment lined baking sheet or platter. Repeat with all of the remaining chicken tenders.
- Spray the coated chicken tenders with cooking spray (I like this avocado oil one), and flip over to spray the other side.
- Preheat your air fryer to 400°F for at least 3 minutes, or according to the manufacturers instructions.
- Add the chicken tenders to the basket or tray of your preheated air fryer, being sure to leave enough room between the strips so they can brown nicely. If your air fryer is small, it’s best to work in batches.
- Cook the chicken tenders in the air fryer for 6-9 minutes, approximately 3-4 minutes per side, until the internal temperature reaches a minimum of 165°F.
- Make sure to flip the chicken tenders over at the halfway mark to ensure both even cooking and browning.
- Once the minimum internal temperature has been reached, remove them from the air fryer and cook the remaining tenders in batches.
Coating in Buffalo Sauce
- Using a pair of tongs, coat each of your chicken tenders in the homemade buffalo sauce.
- Pull the tender out of the sauce and add to a clean wire rack over a rimmed backing sheet to drain OR tap the tongs to remove excess sauce and place directly in the air fryer basket.
- Repeat with the remaining chicken tenders, until all of the tenders are coated.
- Add the coated tenders back into the air fryer and cook for 1-2 minutes at 400°F to “bake on” the sauce.
Serve with blue cheese dressing, or a homemade ranch dip with some celery ribs on the side.
What to Serve with Buffalo Chicken Tenders
- Blue cheese dressing
- Ranch dressing or dip
- Celery ribs
- Sweet potato fries
- Loaded baked potato
- French fries
- Jalapeno poppers
- Chips and salsa
No Breading: Omit the breading, as well as the mayonnaise coating. Simply coat the chicken tenders with 1 tablespoon of oil, add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook in the air fryer for 6-8 minutes (approximately 3-4 minutes per side), then dredge in the buffalo sauce and return to the air fryer for 1-2 minutes. Work in batches to ensure even cooking.
Buffalo Chicken Bites: Cut chicken tenders or breasts into bite-sized pieces and proceed with the recipe as directed. Reduce cook time to 4-6 minutes, or until the chicken bites have reached a minimum internal temperature of 165°F.
Buffalo Chicken Sandwich: Add 2-3 pieces of buffalo tenders to a brioche bun or Kaiser roll, and spread with blue cheese or ranch dressing. Serve with your favorite vegetables like shredded lettuce, pickles, and tomato slices.
Keto, Low Carb and Gluten Free Option: Substitute the panko bread crumbs for 3/4 cup almond flour + an additional 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
Frequently Asked Questions
Depending on the thickness of the chicken tenders, they can take anywhere from 6-12 minutes when cooked at 400°F. For the best results, check your internal temperature to make sure the thickest part of all pieces have reached a minimum of 165°F.
It is not recommended to stack chicken tenders in an air fryer. This results in less air flow, and your chicken tenders will not get as crisp as they would if you gave them plenty of room. Instead, it’s best to cook them in batches to get the best texture and results.
An easy way to make buffalo sauce thicker is to add a little bit of cornstarch that has been mixed with cold water. Then, simmer until thick. Another way is to add a touch more butter or heavy cream and simmer until thickened.
Most buffalo sauce is keto, as long as it contains no additional sugar or cornstarch. A standard homemade recipe will include hot sauce, butter, worcestershire sauce, vinegar, and a few seasonings, which are all 100% keto friendly.
Most buffalo sauce recipes are 100% gluten free. If you’re purchasing a store bought prepared buffalo sauce, confirm by checking the label to ensure no gluten containing additives have been snuck in.
More Easy Air Fryer Recipes
- Air Fryer Rotisserie Style Whole Chicken
- Air Fryer Ham and Cheese Sliders
- Air Fryer Jalapeno Poppers
- Air Fryer English Muffin Pizzas
- Air Fryer Quesadillas
- Air Fryer Pigs in a Blanket
- 1 pound chicken tenders (approximately 8)
- 1/4 cup real mayonnaise
- 1 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
- 4 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Cooking spray
- 1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce
- 1/4 cup salted butter
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 3/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- Add the mayonnaise, Dijon mustard, and garlic powder to a medium sized bowl. Stir well to combine.
- Add in the chicken tenders, and toss them in the mayonnaise mixture to combine. Set aside while you prepare the remaining elements of the recipe. You can prepare the chicken up to 8 hours in advance, and cover the bowl and keep it in the fridge until needed.
- Add the panko crumbs, parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper to a medium sized bowl. Mix well to combine and set aside.
- Prepare the sauce by adding the hot sauce, butter, vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, and cayenne pepper in a small saucepan, and set over medium-high heat. Stir to help the butter melt as the sauce begins to heat.
- Bring the buffalo sauce to a low boil, then stir and reduce to a high simmer over medium-low heat. Allow to simmer for 4-5 minutes, or until thickened.
- Meanwhile, begin breading your chicken tenders. Using a fork or a pair of tongs, drege the mayonnaise covered chicken tenders in the breadcrumb coating mixture. Use your hands to press the crumbs into the tenders, and make sure to coat both sides.
- Place the coated chicken tenders on a wire rack with a sheet pan or piece of parchment resting below. Repeat with the remaining chicken tenders.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400F for at least 3 minutes, or according to the manufacturers instructions.
- Spray the breaded chicken tenders with some cooking spray, and place 4-5 of the tenders in the basket of your preheated air fryer. Be careful not to overcrowd the tenders, as they will only crisp up if they are not crowded in the basket.
- Cook for 6-9 minutes, or approximately 3-4 minutes per side. Flipping the tenders during the halfway point is essential to make sure you have crispy tenders.
- Once the cook time is almost up, check the internal temperature of the tenders at the thickest points. A minimum temperature of 165F is required for them to be safe to eat.
- Remove the chicken tenders to another wire rack or plate, and repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
- Once all of the chicken tenders are cooked through, use a pair of tongs to coat each chicken piece into the thickened buffalo sauce. Place on a clean wire rack to allow the excess sauce to drain off, or place in the air fryer basket immediately.
- Repeat with 3-4 more chicken tenders, and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes in the air fryer to "bake on" the sauce.
- Repeat with the remaining tenders.
- Serve immediately with your choice of ranch or blue cheese dressing.
Adapted From: Breaded Air Fryer Chicken Tenders - Simply Home Cooked
No breading: Omit the breading, as well as the mayonnaise coating. Simply coat the chicken tenders with 1 tablespoon of oil, add salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook in the air fryer for 6-8 minutes (approximately 3-4 minutes per side), then dredge in the buffalo sauce and return to the air fryer for 1-2 minutes. Work in batches to ensure even cooking.
Keto, low carb and gluten free option: Substitute the panko bread crumbs for 3/4 cup almond flour + an additional 1/4 cup parmesan cheese.
Serving Size:1 tender
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 339Total Fat: 22gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 47mgSodium: 1257mgCarbohydrates: 22gFiber: 1gSugar: 1gProtein: 14g
This amount includes the total mayonnaise and breading counts, but not all of the mayonnaise or breading mixture will be used. Nutritional information is an estimate only.
Adapted From: Breaded Air Fryer Chicken Tenders – Simply Home Cooked