These homemade air fryer buffalo chicken tenders are crunchy on the outside and tender inside. These chicken strips have the perfect balance of spice and flavor. They are a healthy dinner option and can easily be made gluten free and dairy free.
This is a recipe that I've been making for a very long time in the oven, however I decided to make it in the air fryer and now I love it even more! I think I could make this recipe every night, if my family would let me! Cooking these tenders in the air fryer helps create the perfectly crunchy exterior, without adding a lot of extra oil from deep frying.
If you are looking for a healthy and easy dinner recipe that takes less than 25 minutes to make, this is the perfect recipe! Pair these breaded buffalo tenders with a side of sweet potatoes fries or a cup of fruit for a balanced meal.
Reasons to Love This Recipe
- The air fried buffalo chicken tenders are healthy! There is no added oil or fat since they are cooked in an air fryer.
- This is a quick and easy recipe. It can be made in less than 25 minutes!
- These chicken tenders are the perfect combination of spicy, crunchy and savory.
- There are very few ingredients required for this recipe!
- The chicken tenders are dipped into buffalo sauce before cooking them, which gives them a very rich buffalo flavor.
- Chicken Breast: use boneless, skinless chicken breast. Some store sell "thin sliced chicken breast" which is chicken that has been sliced so the breasts are thinner. I recommend this if you do not want to pound the meat.
- Buffalo Sauce: I recommend Sweet Baby Ray's Wing Sauce. I love this sauce because it has the perfect amount of spice and an excellent wing sauce flavor.
- Panko Bread Crumbs: note that panko breadcrumbs are different than normal breadcrumbs. Panko breadcrumbs create a crispy and crunchy texture as compared to normal breadcrumbs, however you can use either. Use gluten free breadcrumbs if needed.
- Onion and Garlic Powder: these spices add extra flavor to the chicken tenders.
Step by Step Instructions
- Pound the chicken breast using a meat pounder until they are very thin. Try to make the chicken the same thickness throughout, so that it cooks evenly.
- Cut each breast into tender strips. I was able to get 6 strips out of 1 pound of chicken.
- Set up dipping stations. Place the breadcrumbs, garlic powder and onion powder in one bowl and mix well. Pour the buffalo sauce into a separate bowl.
- Coat the tenders: use a fork or tongs to dip one of the chicken tenders in the wings sauce. Cover entirely, then dip the chicken tender in the bread crumb mixture. Repeat with all tenders.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375F. Grease the bottom of the air fryer with pan release spray (don't skip this step or the chicken will stick!)
- Add chicken tenders to air fryer. The tenders can be close together, however do not stack or overlap. (It may take 2 batches).
- Cook for about 15 minutes, turning halfway through. Note: cook times may vary based on thickness of chicken and air fryer brand.
Gluten Free Buffalo Chicken Tenders: This recipe can easily be made gluten free. Substitute the panko breadcrumbs with gluten free panko breadcrumbs. Most major grocery stores carry a GF version.
Oven: These buffalo chicken tenders can be made in the oven if you do not have an air fryer. Place on a greased cookie sheet and bake in the oven at 375 F for 15 minutes or until the chicken reaches 165F as measured with a meat thermometer.
Chicken: the chicken breast can be substituted with the raw chicken tenderloins, which are sold in most major grocery stores.
- Pound the chicken breast: use a meat pounder to pound the chicken before cutting it into strips. This will help it cook more evenly. You can purchase "thin sliced chicken breast" at the grocery store if you do not wish to pound the meat.
- Prevent chicken from sticking to the air fryer. Flip the chicken halfway through cooking. Spray the bottom of the air fryer liberally with nonstick pan release spray.
- Cooking time: cooking time may vary based on your brand of air fryer and thickness of chicken tenders. Do not overcook! My strips were very thin and took 15 minutes, thicker strips will take longer. Cook until the temperature of the chicken is 165F, as measured by a meat thermometer.
- Cooking the chicken: make sure the chicken strips are not touching or overlapping. You may have to cook them in two batches depending on the size of your air fryer. The space between the chicken will help them cook evenly and make sure they have a crunchy outside.
Best Type of Buffalo Sauce to Use
Any type of buffalo wing sauce will work! I love using Sweet Baby Ray's brand of wing sauce. It is slightly sweet and somewhat spicy. Another popular brand of hot sauce is Frank's Red Hot Sauce. I have used Aldi's brand hot sauce,(Burman's hot sauce) and have found this has more spice to it, which may be perfect if that's what you like!
- Serve with a side of sweet potato fries and a side salad.
- Serve with ranch, bbq sauce or honey mustard.
- Cut the chicken tenders into small pieces and serve on top of a salad with ranch!
- Turn this into a spicy chicken sandwich; place a couple tenders on a bun, top with ranch, cheese and lettuce.
What To Do With Leftovers
These chicken tenders hold up great in the refrigerator! Store them for up to 4 days. They can be frozen in an air tight container for up to 3 months. For an easy meal prep idea, cook the chicken and freeze 2-3 tenders in a zip lock bag or vacuum seal package. Pull out of the freezer the night before so they can thaw.
Reheating Instructions: place them in the microwave and heat for 1-2 minutes, until steaming hot. Check them every 30 seconds so you don't over heat them. (Frozen tenders will take longer to reheat).
Frequently Asked Questions
Are these buffalo chicken strips gluten free?
These chicken tenders can be made gluten free by using gluten free panko bread crumbs. I have made this recipe with gluten free bread crumbs and it turns out great!
Are Buffalo Tenders Spicy?
Everyone's version of spicy varies, however I would say these have a kick to them, however they weren't overly spicy. There is a enough spice that I did not feel comfortable serving them to my toddler. To add extra spice, top them with hot sauce after cooking.
Are These Low Carb?
These chicken tenders contain 18 grams of carb per serving. This is low carb compared to many other recipes. If you wish to lower the carb content of this recipe, replace the bread crumbs with almond flour.
Can I Use Frozen Chicken?
I would recommend thawing the chicken before cooking it. The moisture from the frozen chicken may result in a soggy chicken tender.
Air Fry Buffalo Chicken Video Instructions
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Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Tenders
- 1 Air Fryer
- 1 knife
- 1 cutting board
- 1 pound chicken breast boneless and skinless
- 1 cup panko bread crumbs
- ⅔ cup buffalo wing sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 tsp onion powder
- Use a meat pounder to pound the chicken until thin. Slice into strips about 1 inch wide. (I made 6 strips with 1 pound of chicken)
- Combine the breadcrumbs, garlic powder and onion powder. Mix well.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375F and grease the bottom very liberally using non stick pan spray.
- Set up your dipping stations. Place the breadcrumbs in one bowl and the wing sauce in a separate bowl.
- Using a fork or tongs, dip each chicken strip in the wing sauce until fully coated.
- Remove from the wing sauce and dip in the breadcrumbs until fully covered.
- Place the chicken strips in the bottom of the preheated, greased air fryer. Chicken strips should not be touching or stacked (you may have to make 2 batches).
- Cook for 15 minutes, flip halfway through. Chicken is done when it reaches 165F as measured by a meat thermometer. **NOTE: Cooking time may vary if you have thicker or thinner strips. My strips were very thin and about 1 inch wide.
- Remove and serve immediately.
- To prevent the chicken from sticking to the air fryer:
- Flip the chicken halfway through cooking
- Spray the bottom of the air fryer liberally with nonstick pan release spray
- Gluten Free Version: use gluten free bread crumbs
- Cooking time: cooking time may vary based on your brand of air fryer and thickness of chicken strips. Do not overcook! My strips were very thin and took 15 minutes, thicker strips will take longer.
- Cutting the Chicken: pound the chicken very thin or purchase the "thin sliced chicken breast" at your grocery store. I have found that 1 pound of chicken yields 6 strips.
- Nutrition Info: the nutrition info is based on ⅓ of the recipe, or 2 strips.