How Long to Cook Frozen Chicken Tenders in Air Fryer

By Autumn Ellenson

Frozen chicken tenders are a quick and easy meal, made quicker and easier with an air fryer. Plus, an air fryer gives the best results of crunchy perfection with less saturated fat.

Cooking up this delicious dinner is easy to do. Apply a light coat of vegetable oil to your chicken tenders, toss them into your air fryer basket, and voila! You have easy air fryer chicken strips that everyone will love.

Here are the step-by-step instructions on how to cook frozen chicken tenders in air fryer…

How to Cook Frozen Chicken Strips in Air Fryer

10 minute timers for air fryer chicken strips

The following explains how to make healthy air fryer chicken tenders. They taste better than fast food chicken strips, and it takes less than 20 minutes from start to finish!

One great thing is you can cook your chicken strips straight from the freezer. There’s no need to thaw out your nuggets before air frying.

Your chicken tenders will not stick to the basket, so you can skip on the cooking spray if you want!

After cooking the chicken, you will likely see the oil released from the food during the cooking process. Your food will be less greasy if you do not add cooking spray!

How Long to Cook Frozen Chicken Tenders in Air Fryer

Depending on the size or thickness of the strips, you are looking at 2-3 minutes of prep time and about 10-12 total cook time needed. If you’re cooking popcorn chicken or air fryer chicken nuggets, they will need less cooking time than chicken tenders.

Air Fryer Chicken Fingers Recipe

air fryer set to 360 degrees for chicken tenders

Here is the simple recipe for cooking air fryer chicken fingers.


Air Fryer


12-ounce bag of Frozen Chicken Fingers


1. Preheat the air fryer to a temperature of 360 degrees F.

Pro Tip: You can cook the strips at different temperatures. But 360 degrees F seems to be the best temperature to cook them thoroughly and crisp up the outer layer.

2. Place chicken strips in a single layer in the air fryer basket.

Pro Tip: You do not need to add any cooking spray to the basket, but you may add a little oil or light spray to the chicken if you wish.

3. Air fry the strips for 10-12 minutes. If you want to, you can turn the tenders over halfway through cooking to ensure even browning on each side.

4. Remove the chicken tenders and allow them to cool for 2-3 minutes before serving.

What to Serve With Chicken Tenders

chicken tender dips

Once you have made your air fry chicken strips, how do you make it a complete meal for your family?

First, you will want to make sure you have your favorite sauce on hand. If you do not already have a favorite, try one of the following:

  • Wingstop Ranch Dressing (Copycat Recipe)
  • Honey Mustard
  • Spicy or Regular Ketchup
  • Garlic Aoili
  • Horseradish Mayo
  • Tahini Dip
  • Different Barbeque Sauces

With the dipping sauce taken care of, consider some of the suggestions that make great sides for chicken tenders:

  • Cut up melon
  • Berry Fruit Salad
  • Green Salad
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Sweet potato fries
  • Baked beans
  • Macaroni salad
  • Potato salad

If you are hosting an event, like a game day or a birthday party, try adding these other fun air fryer finger foods:

How Do You Reheat Crispy Chicken Tenders?

air fryer set for 3-5 minutes to reheat chicken tenders

If you have leftover chicken tenders, you can reheat them in an air fryer the same way you cook them. Simply follow the same instructions on how to air fry frozen chicken strips listed above, but remove them after 3-5 minutes instead of 10.

Just be sure to store your leftover chicken strips in an airtight container and store them in the fridge. A Ziploc bag or Tupperware dish will do!

What’s So Great About Air Fryer Chicken?

If this is your first-time air frying tenders, you are in for a treat!

Not only does an air fryer give you crispy chicken strips, but it is also healthier than traditional frying. The best part is that it is easy to do!

Air frying chicken tenders is a great way to get the healthiest chicken nuggets that taste fried without the extra oil. You get a delicious dinner without the unhealthy side effects of a deep-fat fryer. Air frying food is a total game changer!

Best Brands of Chicken Tenders

chicken tenders with vegetables
photo by VeselovaElena from Getty Images

There are many different brands of chicken fingers on the market. So which ones are best?

The following tried and actual companies make the most delicious chicken tenders you can find. Your new favorite chicken strip might be on this list!

The best brands of chicken nuggets also manufacture the best skinless chicken breasts. You can’t go wrong with these fantastic frozen tenders:

These are great brands to try out. But what if not everyone in your family can eat the breading on the chicken fingers?

If you have a gluten-free family member or just one that wants to be even more health conscious, you might want to try out naked chicken fingers!

What Are Naked Chicken Fingers?

Many now trade traditional chicken tenders with “naked chicken tenders.”

Instead of making air fryer chicken nuggets or tenders, you can cook up some air fryer chicken tenderloins that are just as delicious but a healthier alternative!

You cook tenderloins the same way you would other chicken tenders. They turn out similarly, but without all of the breading. You can hold and dip them like other finger foods. They taste delicious, but without all that extra fat.

What Are Vegan Chicken Strips?

Vegan chicken strips are meatless alternatives to chicken tenders. These plant-based chicken alternatives are often made with cooked soybeans or similar. There aren’t a lot of brands and options to choose from. However, here’s a helpful list of the Best & Worst Plant-Based Chicken Alternatives.

If you’re cooking both real chicken and vegan options, be sure to thoroughly clean the air fryer basket between cooks. You may want to let your guests know you’re using the same basket. Or purchase a second basket to use for your guests with different dietary restrictions.

Air Fryer Tips

air fryer with "tips" word bubble

The following tips are great for those of you that are new to air frying.

1. Your air fryer does not need extra oil or cooking spray.

2. You can cook your food from frozen. There is no need to thaw it first!

3. Be sure not to overcrowd the air fry basket. Gently shake or turn foods if needed so that they cook evenly.

4. Remember to set a timer to toss/turn/shake your food, as directed in the recipe.

5. Does the recipe call for a non-heated air fryer? That will affect your food’s overall cooking time. To avoid burning your food, read the recipe carefully to see if you should pre-heat the air fryer or cook the food cold.

How Does an Air Fryer Work?

An air fryer is a healthy alternative when making foods you want to crisp up. It uses less oil than a traditional frying method but can make things taste like they are fried. It is the best way to make crispy foods!

You can have crispy air fryer chicken tenders that taste like they have been fried but without all that saturated fat! But, how does an air fryer work?

An air fryer cooks your food by circulating hot air around it. The rapid circulation cooks the food, making it crispy without added oil. You get the delicious crispness of fried food, like crispy nuggets, without the added calories! You place food in a traditional-looking fry basket and lower it into the machine. Then when you turn it on, hot air rapidly circulates the food to cook it.

This is great technology because it can make your food taste deep-fried without the fat that comes along with it.

An air fryer can create a fried taste better than a conventional oven, making it a better choice for the perfect chicken strip meal.

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