How Long to Cook Frozen Chicken Tenders in Air Fryer: Guide

Written by: Najma A.



Time to read 4 min


How long to Cook frozen chicken tenders in air fryer is a game-changer for busy individuals who crave quick, delicious, and healthier meals. The air fryer has revolutionized home cooking by producing crispy, golden-brown tenders without excessive oil. This guide will walk you through the process, providing tips, tricks, and detailed instructions to ensure your frozen chicken tenders turn out perfect every time.

Why Use an Air Fryer?

Before diving into the specifics of cooking times and techniques, it’s essential to understand why the air fryer is an excellent choice for preparing frozen chicken tenders in air fryer:

Healthier Cooking:

Air fryers use hot air circulation to cook food, requiring little to no oil. This method significantly reduces the fat content compared to traditional deep-frying.


Air fryers heat up quickly and cook food faster than conventional ovens, making them perfect for busy weeknights or quick snacks.


Even hot air circulation ensures that your chicken tenders are cooked uniformly, eliminating the risk of uneven cooking.

Preparing Frozen Chicken Tenders

Frozen chicken tenders are a convenient option, but there are a few steps you can take to ensure they cook perfectly in the air fryer:

  1. Preheat the Air Fryer:

    Like an oven, preheating your air fryer ensures that the chicken tenders start cooking immediately and evenly. Preheat the air fryer to 400°F (200°C) for 3-5 minutes.

  2. Single-Layer Cooking:

    Arrange the chicken tenders in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Overcrowding the basket can lead to uneven cooking.

  3. Optional Spray of Oil:

    While not necessary, a light spray of cooking oil can enhance the crispiness of the tenders.

Why Use an Air Fryer?

Step by Step - How Long to Cook Frozen Chicken Tenders in Air Fryer

The cooking time for frozen chicken tenders in an air fryer can vary slightly depending on the brand and model of your air fryer, as well as the size and thickness of the tenders. However, as a general guideline:

  1. Preheat the Air Fryer: 400°F (200°C) for 3-5 minutes.
  2. Cooking Time: 10-15 minutes at 400°F (200°C).Here’s a more detailed breakdown:

Place the Tenders in the Basket:

Arrange the frozen chicken tenders in a single layer in the air fryer basket.

  1. Initial Cook Time: Cook at 400°F (200°C) for 10 minutes.
  2. Flip the Tenders: Halfway through cooking (around the 5-minute mark), open the air fryer and flip the tenders. This ensures even cooking and crispiness on both sides.
  3. Continue Cooking: Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  4. Check for Doneness: After 10-15 minutes, check the tenders for doneness. They should be golden brown and have an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).

Tips for Perfect Chicken Tenders

To make sure your chicken tenders are cooked to perfection every time, consider the following tips:

  1. Check Internal Temperature: A meat thermometer ensures the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). This guarantees that the chicken is fully cooked and safe to eat.
  2. Adjust for Thickness: If your tenders are thicker, they may need a few extra minutes. Conversely, thinner tenders might cook faster.
  3. Shaking the Basket: For some air fryer models, shaking the basket instead of flipping the tenders can help achieve even cooking.
  4. Crispiness Preference: If you prefer extra crispy tenders, you can cook them for an additional 2-3 minutes, keeping a close eye to avoid burning.

Additional Seasoning and Variations

While frozen chicken tenders often come pre-seasoned, adding your personal touch can elevate their flavor:

  1. Seasoning Blends: Before cooking, lightly spray the tenders with oil and sprinkle with your favorite seasoning blend—paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper work wonderfully.
  2. Parmesan Crust: Sprinkle-grated Parmesan cheese over the tenders halfway through cooking for a cheesy, crispy crust.
  3. Buffalo Style: Toss the cooked tenders in buffalo sauce for a spicy kick.
  4. Honey Garlic: Drizzle with honey and minced garlic for a sweet and savory finish.
Step by Step - Cooking Chicken Tenders in an Air Fryer

Serving Suggestions


Frozen chicken tenders are versatile and can be served in numerous ways:

  1. Classic Pairing: Serve with French fries and a side of ketchup or your favorite dipping sauce.
  2. Salads: Slice the tenders and add to a fresh salad for protein and crunch.
  3. Wraps: Wrap tenders in a tortilla with lettuce, tomatoes, and a ranch or Caesar dressing drizzle.
  4. Sandwiches: Place tenders in a bun with lettuce, tomato, and mayo for a quick and satisfying sandwich.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Maintaining your air fryer is crucial for ensuring it lasts long and continues to produce excellent results:

  1. Clean After Every Use: Remove the basket and wash it with warm, soapy water. Some parts may be dishwasher-safe—refer to your air fryer’s manual.
  2. Avoid Abrasive Cleaners: Use non-abrasive sponges to avoid damaging the non-stick coating.
  3. Regular Checks: Periodically check the heating element and ensure no grease buildup.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Even though cooking frozen chicken tenders in an air fryer is straightforward, you might encounter some common issues:

  1. Uneven Cooking:

    Ensure you’re not overcrowding the basket. Air needs to circulate freely around the tenders. Flip or shake the tenders halfway through cooking to promote even browning.

  2. Soggy Tenders:

    If the tenders are not crispy, try increasing the temperature by 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit or extend the cooking time by a few minutes. Additionally, lightly spraying the tenders with oil before cooking can enhance crispiness.

  3. Burnt Tenders:

    If your tenders are burning, reduce the cooking temperature by 10-20 degrees Fahrenheit and check them frequently during the last few minutes of cooking. Thin or small tenders might need less time, so adjust accordingly.

  4. Sticking to Basket:

    If the tenders stick to the basket, lightly spray the basket with cooking oil before adding the tenders. This will help prevent sticking and make cleanup easier.By addressing these issues, you can ensure consistently perfect chicken tenders every time.

Serving Suggestion Chicken Tenders Air Fryer

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Cooking frozen chicken tenders in an air fryer is a quick and easy method that yields delicious results. Following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure your tenders are perfectly crispy and tender. Remember to preheat your air fryer, cook in a single layer, and check for doneness to achieve the best results. With these tips and variations, you can enjoy a versatile and satisfying meal any day of the week.

Whether you’re preparing a quick dinner for your family or a snack for yourself, air fryer frozen chicken tenders are a convenient and healthier option that doesn’t compromise flavor or texture. Happy cooking!

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