Fresh chicken tenders are dipped in a seasoned egg mixture, then coated in salty crushed potato chips. These crusted chicken tenders are absolutely amazing, and so easy to make in the air fryer or oven!
This is one of my Air Fryer recipes I know you’ll want to keep on hand!
If you have kids, you know that chicken tenders are basically an entire food group. My kids will never say no to a big serving of their favorite kind of chicken.
And let me tell you, once you’ve tried chicken tenders that have been breaded in crushed potato chips… you’ll never want to go back to plain breadcrumbs again!
Plus, these are cooked in the air fryer (or oven), instead of fried, so you can feel good about sharing these with your family… or indulging in a big ‘ol plate yourself.
How to make air fryer chicken tenders?
This is just an overview; the full ingredients and directions are in the recipe card toward the bottom of this post.
- Make egg wash. I like to use a shallow bowl for this, so I have more surface area to use with the chicken.
- Coat in egg. Add the chicken to the egg wash bowl, turning to coat all sides.
- Bread. Dredge the chicken in the potato chip crumbs, pressing to adhere the breading.
- Air fry. I like to do this in batches to make sure they get nice and crispy!
The trick to avoiding ending up with completely breading coated fingers is to set up a simple assembly line.
- Set up your food from left to right (or vice versa if you’re a lefty), in the following order: chicken breasts, bowl with egg mixture, bowl with breading, and baking sheet or plate that’s been scattered with panko (so the chicken won’t stick).
- Designate your left hand the “wet” hand, and your right hand the “dry” hand.
- Work from left to right, using your wet hand to add a chicken breast to the egg mixture, then drop it in the breadcrumbs.
- Use your dry hand to coat the chicken in the breadcrumbs and add it to the baking sheet/plate.
- Repeat with remaining chicken pieces, being careful not to use the wet hand in the breadcrumbs.
- It’ll still be a little messy, but you shouldn’t have completely breaded fingers at the end.
Variations of this recipe
- Chicken – you can use chicken tenderloins, or use boneless skinless chicken breasts and slice them into strips (which is what I did here). You can use this method to bread and cook whole chicken breasts, but the cooking time will need to be increased.
- Hot sauce – for added flavor, try adding a few dashes of your favorite hot sauce to the egg mixture.
- Flavored chips – for this recipe, I kept it simple by using plain chips, but feel free to use your favorite flavor of potato chips! Sour cream and onion, jalapeño, ranch, salt and vinegar, bbq, etc.
- Types of chips – I like to use kettle cooked chips for the added crunch, but traditional potato chips are a great alternative.
- Alternate cooking methods – no air fryer, no problem! Check out the “chef tips” below the recipe for oven directions.
Sure thing! Any flavor of potato chips or kettle cooked chips, or you could also try using crushed Doritos or other tortilla chips.
Yes, chicken tenders (and fingers and strips) are all the same thing and are cut from the tenderloin part of the chicken breast.
Making potato chip crusted chicken tenders ahead of time
While you can make these chicken fingers ahead of time, I don’t recommend it. This is because they won’t be as crispy as if you made them right before serving.
However, you can easily prep ahead and save yourself some time.
How to prep ahead for this recipe:
- Chicken – if using chicken tenderloins, no prep is needed. But if using chicken breasts, they can be sliced into tenders and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 1 day.
- Chips – the chips can be crushed and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for several days.
- Seasonings – any seasonings can be combined and stored a room temperature for several days.
I didn’t have great results when freezing the breaded, but uncooked, chicken tenders.
But you can let the baked chicken tenders cool, then add in a single layer to a parchment or wax paper lined baking sheet and freeze for 30 minutes to an hour.
Then transfer to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months.
Reheat in a 400°F oven or air fryer for approximately 15-20 minutes (oven), or 10-13 minutes (air fryer), or until hot and crispy.
Leftover chicken tenders should be refrigerated in an airtight container and enjoyed within 3-4 days.
To reheat, let refrigerated chicken tenders sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes or so.
Then preheat the oven or air fryer to 400°F and cook for approximately 7-10 minutes (oven) or 5-7 minutes (air fryer).
I love the larger, rectangular basket, and the basket is nonstick, removable, and dishwasher safe!
Did you make this? Be sure to leave a review below and tag me @the_chunky_chef on Facebook and Instagram!
- 3 lbs chicken tenders (approximately 12-14 tenders)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
- 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1/2 tsp onion powder (optional)
- 1/4 – 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 13 oz bag kettle cooked potato chips see chef tip #2 below
- Add potato chips to a food processor and pulse until crushed into crumbs. Alternately, you can also add the chips to a resealable plastic bag, and crush with a rolling pin or empty skillet.
- Line up 2 shallow bowls next to an empty plate. In one of the bowls, add eggs, flour, mayonnaise, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. Whisk together the egg mixture until smooth. In the second bowl, add potato chip crumbs.
- Preheat air fryer to 400°F.
- Add chicken tenders, one at a time, to the egg mixture, turning to coat all sides, letting the excess drip off.
- Next add the chicken to the potato chip crumbs, turning and patting/pressing to coat all sides in the crumbs.
- Finally, transfer the chicken to the prepared plate. Repeat with all remaining chicken tenders.
- Spray the basket of the air fryer with cooking spray (we like to use an olive oil or avocado oil spray), then place about 5-6 chicken tenders into the basket. Spray the tenders with a little more oil spray. Leave some space in between each tender, to make sure the hot air can really circulate.
- Air fry for 5-6 minutes, then turn chicken tenders over, spray lightly with oil spray, then air fry another 5 minutes.
- Chicken tenders should be golden brown on both sides, and have reached an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Serve warm, with any dipping sauces you'd like.
Want to save this recipe for later? Click the heart in the bottom right corner to save to your own recipe box!
- Recipe cook time assumes air frying the chicken tenders in 2 batches.
- Our favorite chip to use is Kettle brand potato chips, in the sea salt flavor, but feel free to use your favorite.
- Calorie count is per serving (and an estimate), but the calculator assumes all potato chips are used, when in reality, you’ll definitely have a bit leftover after breading the chicken.
- Step by step photos in the post above depict a halved version of this recipe.
- All ingredients remain the same.
- Preheat oven to 400°F.
- Add breaded chicken tenders to a baking sheet topped with an oven-safe wire cooling rack.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20-23 minutes, turning chicken tenders over halfway through, until golden brown and chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165°F.
The Chunky Chef is not a dietician or nutritionist, and any nutritional information shared is an estimate. If calorie count and other nutritional values are important to you, we recommend running the ingredients through whichever online nutritional calculator you prefer. Calories can vary quite a bit depending on which brands were used.