New recipe Wednesday is back with these Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Tenders! These make a great game day or even after school snack! I’ve also meal prepped with them (obvi) and they did well there too. I also made a buffalo chicken salad with them and it was bombbb! The recipe for that salad is coming soon too.
Can you really beat a crispy, crunchy chicken tender?? I love ’em. One of the tricks you’ll see in this recipe that was inspired by America’s Test Kitchen is pre-toasting the panko breadcrumbs in the microwave. Seriously! It really helps develop a toasty, almost nutty flavor in the breadcrumbs before they even go into the air fryer.
I found both the seasoning blend and the hot sauce at my local grocery store (HEB). If you have trouble finding the seasoning blend in the store, you can find it on Amazon. Or just mix up something spicy with what you’ve got at home! Try this combo:
- 1 tbsp salt
- 1 1/2 tbsp garlic powder
- 2 tsp cayenne pepper
- 2 tsp chili powder
- 2 tsp mustard powder
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp ground black pepper
If you’re planning on freezing these bad boys, now’s when you do it. Don’t cook them and then freeze! You’ll end up with dried out chicken tendies when you heat them up. And no one wants dried out chicken tendies. I tried this recipe both with full size tenders and chicken nuggets and they both turned out great! Of course you use a bit more of the panko coating to cover the nuggets (more surface area) and they are smaller so they take less time to cook. But all the principles are the same!
Once you’ve got them all coated, stick them on a cooling rack sprayed with non-stick cooking spray (or oil) on top of a baking sheet. The cooling rack is important so you don’t end up with soggy panko on the bottom of the tenders. I like to use cooking spray because these suckers will stick in spots without it…but they also turned out just fine when I skipped it. Just a few spots where the coating pulled off.
Okay, so once the tenders (or nuggets) are completely frozen, I like to transfer them into a Food Saver bag and vacuum seal them. This will ensure the best results because it minimizes the amount of ice that can get onto your tenders. Plus, less ice helps give you a longer freezer storage window, but it’s not totally necessary. If you don’t have a vacuum sealer, just be sure to get as much air out of the storage bag as possible before you stick these babies back in the freezer.
Once you pull the tenders out of the freezer, they can go straight into the air fryer to cook! Don’t thaw them out or you’ll risk soggy panko breadcrumbs.
I will say that I do prefer them right out of the freezer and straight to the air fryer, so if you’re working from home, that’s totally a meal prep option. One of the many things I love about working from home is that I get to use my air fryer to heat up food. Can’t beat that freshly air-fried crunch 😉
Here are some of the kitchen goodies I used to make this recipe happen! Note: These are Amazon Affiliate links.
- 1 lb chicken tenderloins
- 1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot sauce, (2 fl oz)
- 2 eggs
- 2 tbsp all purpose flour, (7.5 grams)
- 1 tbsp Frank's Red Hot sauce
- 1 tbsp buttermilk
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 1/2 cups panko breadcrumbs, (84 grams)
- 1 tbsp olive oil, (0.5 fl oz)
- 1 1/2 tbsp Frank's Red Hot seasoning, (5.4 grams)
- Optional: 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper for extra spice
- Marinate the chicken. Add chicken tenderloins and 1/4 cup Frank's Red Hot Sauce to a resealable bag and rub the sauce into the chicken to ensure all pieces are coated. Marinate for 2-3 hours in the refrigerator.
- Prepare the panko coating. In a medium sized bowl, add panko breadcrumbs and olive oil and toss to mix evenly. Microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, for about 3 minutes total. Once the breadcrumbs turn light golden brown, they're done. Mix in the Frank's Red Hot Seasoning and set aside to cool.
- Prepare the egg wash. In another medium sized bowl, whisk eggs, buttermilk, and hot sauce. While whisking, gradually add flour, garlic powder, and Frank's Red Hot Seasoning. Set aside.
- Dip the chicken. Remove the chicken tenderloins from the hot sauce to a plate. If they are still coated in an excessive amount of hot sauce, you can pat some off with a paper towl. First dip the chicken into the egg wash, allowing any excess to drip off, then dip it in the panko coating, gently pressing the coating onto the chicken. Remove to a baking sheet lined with a cooling rack.
- Freezer instructions (optional). Place the baking sheet with the chicken into the freezer. Once the chicken is completely frozen (about 2-3 hours), remove to a food safe resealable bag such as Stasher or Food Saver. Remove as much air as possible from the bag before returning to the freezer.
- Air fry the chicken (from frozen). Pre-heat your air fryer to 360°. Add the chicken to the basket in a single layer (don't overcrowd – do a 2nd batch if you have to!). Air fry for 5 minutes, then flip and increase temperature to 380° degrees and air fry for another 6-8 minutes or until the coating is nicely browned and the chicken cooked through. (Note: if you cut the chicken into nugget size, they will take 3-4 minutes less time to cook from frozen than the tenders.)Air fry the chicken (from raw). Pre-heat your air fryer to 380°. Add the chicken to the basket in a single layer (don't overcrowd – do a 2nd batch if you have to!). Air fry for 5 minutes, then flip and air fry for another 4-5 minutes or until the coating is nicely browned and the chicken cooked through.
Tips & Tricks
- The nutrition info was calculated using the actual amount of panko breadcrumb mixture that was used (about 60 grams of panko and 2 tsp of oil). You want to prepare the full amount (85 grams panko and 1 tbsp of oil) to make coating the chicken tenders easier.
- Click here or scan the barcode below to log this food in My Fitness Pal.