Air Fryer Chicken Tenders (Low Carb-No Breading)

No Breading Air Fryer Chicken Tenders on white plate with orzo and cooked broccoli in background
Posted On: September 23, 2022
Last updated: June 17th, 2024

I love crispy chicken tenders as much as my kids do, but I like to limit my breading and carbs as much as possible. On occasion, I want to enjoy some juicy chicken tenders, but in a healthier way, so that’s how I decided to try to make air fryer chicken tenders with no breading/low carb. Boy, was I not sorry. You will not miss the breading when you make this simple chicken tenders recipe. They’re juicy with so much flavor! Even my kids love them! It’s a win-win. I get in my lean protein and my whole family is happy as well. It’s now become one of my favorite ways to cook chicken tenders.

Just cooked air fryer naked chicken tenders in black bowl with metal tongs on kitchen counter

How to Cook Air Fryer Chicken Tenders (with no breading)

For this easy air fryer recipe, there is no breading, no need for an egg wash, they’re just “naked” chicken tenderloins. This low carb version makes the cooking process even faster and easier than standard breaded chicken tenders. First I remove the tendon from the tenderloin. Watch my quick tip video on what I believe to be the best method to remove the tendon easily and efficiently on the tenders. I found that the best way to do this is to use sharp kitchen scissors to gently cut off the tendon, running it along the tendon kind of like you’re cutting wrapping paper without actually making the scissors open and close all the way.

Air Fryer Chicken Step by Step Collage

Preheat your air fryer. If your air fryer does not have a pre-heat function, set it to 400 degrees for 3 minutes. Gently dab and dry off your chicken with a paper towel. Next, put all the tenders in a small bowl, add about 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive or avocado oil and toss all the chicken to coat it. Once it’s all coated add your seasoning blend which is a mix of the dry spices listed on the recipe card below. Toss it again making sure to get the dry rub all over the chicken. Once the air fryer is ready, gently place chicken tenders on the air fryer basket/rack in a single layer. If you have a large air fryer it can fit about 3/4 of the chicken in one cook, but if you’re using a smaller air fryer basket you might need to cook in 2 loads.

Make sure to check your chicken for proper doneness with an instant-read thermometer. You want the internal temperature of the chicken to be at least 165 degrees. After air frying, keep the cooked chicken warm in a pre-heated “warm” oven at about 200 degrees Fahrenheit.

Can you put raw chicken in the air fryer?

Yes, absolutely. You can cook many types of raw meat in the air fryer. This recipe is for air frying chicken from scratch, not reheating pre-cooked breaded strips. The beauty of the air fryer is that all that hot air is blowing all around your meat like a mini convection oven to cook it in less time. Cooking chicken this way makes for a speedy cook on your protein for a quick dinner.

Chicken Tenders on white plate with fork, lemon wedges, orzo and cooked air fryer broccoli

Can I use a different cut of chicken?

You can use this recipe with different cuts of chicken like boneless chicken thighs or boneless skinless chicken breasts. The exact cook time would differ based on the different sizes of chicken pieces. You could however cook them also at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Chicken thighs will not cook as evenly and will have more dry pieces. Chicken breast will cook better if it is slightly pounded out to a more uniform thickness. They would require about 15-20 minutes of cook time.

Fork cutting air fryer chciken on white plate next to lemon wedge with orzo and broccoli in background

Do I need to put oil on the air fryer chicken?

Yes, you need a little oil on the chicken to help keep it from sticking to the air fryer basket, but also to help the seasoning stick to the chicken. The air fryer does reduce the oil in most recipes, but the need for it is not completely eliminated.

Is Air Fryer Chicken Healthy?

This is definitely a healthy alternative compared to crispy chicken strips or chicken fingers. This delicious recipe is low carb, low fat, and high in protein! It’s a healthy main dish that can be served with your favorite vegetables for a healthy, easy meal. If you are needing to know nutrition facts you will see them below the recipe via Nutrifox. If you eat these tenders with French fries and your favorite dipping sauce, you’re obviously taking away the “health” factor, but that’s your call.

Up close look at cut off piece of chicken tender on white plate with broccoli in background

Leftover Chicken Tenders

I am not a big fan of reheated chicken, so many times I prefer to use cooked chicken for cold dishes like a creamy chicken salad or cut it up into bite-size pieces and add it to almost any salad for a protein-rich lighter lunch option. Also, you can use this chicken to make your own lettuce wraps or chop it up into tacos, quesadillas, top on nachos or anything you would normally add chicken to.

If you have leftovers and need to reheat it, I do recommend the “reheat function” (usually 350 degrees) of your air fryer for slightly crispy reheated chicken. It’ll be done in about 5 minutes, but be sure to use a meat thermometer to make sure you’ve reheated it properly.

No Breading Air Fryer Chicken Tenders Ingredients

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders Simple Ingredients

Chicken tenderloins– For chicken, I always prefer to use Organic Free Range Chicken when possible. I find the chicken tastes better and doesn’t have that preservative aftertaste to it.

Olive Oil– I like to use extra virgin olive oil in general. That is what I usually have on hand ready to use.

Cooking Oil Spray– I always use avocado oil spray on hand, so that’s my go to cooking spray.

Chicken Seasoning

Smoked paprika– this recipe uses a lot of paprika, so if you’re not a fan of paprika, it’s probably not for you. It gives this chicken a really bold flavor though if you like that sort of thing.

Onion powder

Granulated garlic- Garlic powder is fine as well.

Sea salt– I like fine ground sea salt here.

Black pepper– I use with fine ground or freshly ground black pepper.

*Optional- add a little bit of ground cayenne pepper if you want a kick

Side Dish Options for Chicken Tenders

Other Air Fryer Recipes you Might Like

Up close look at cut off piece of chicken tender on white plate with broccoli in background

Air Fryer Chicken Tenders (Low Carb-No Breading)

These gluten free, low carb, breading free air fryer chicken tenders are delicious with bold flavor and super juicy! 
4.86 from 35 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 15 minutes
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Servings 5 Tenders
Calories 200 kcal


  • 1 1/2 lb skinless chicken tenders
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper


  • If you haven't done so already, be sure to cut the tendons off the chickens tenders.  Here's a video to show you the easiest way to remove the tendons!
  • Gently dab and dry off your chicken with some paper towels and place in a small bowl.  Drizzle the olive oil on and coat it all to coat.
  • Once it’s oiled, add the all the spices: smoked paprika, onion powder, garlic, salt and pepper.  Stir well to coat.
  • If your air fryer has a pre-heat function, go ahead and preheat it, setting the temperature to 400 degrees F. If it doesn't have a pre-heat function, pre-heat your air fryer for 3 minutes on 400.
  • Once the air-fryer is up to temp, spray some cooking oil on the air-fryer basket/rack and gently place the chicken tenders inside in a single layer, nothing overlapping.  Cook the tenders for 10 minutes, flipping the chicken half-way through the cook with tongs.
  • Once the air-frying is complete, be sure to check the internal temperature of the fattest piece of chicken to make sure it is at least 165 degrees.
  • Remove chicken and keep warm in a 200 degree oven or serve immediately. 


Nutrition Disclaimer:

The nutritional information provided is only an estimate based on a third party nutritional plugin. Different online calculators may give different results depending on their own sources. The estimates may also change based on the ingredients you use. If you have dietary restrictions and need to accurately calculate the nutrition of this recipe, Whole Made Living recommends consulting a professional nutritionist.


Serving: 2TendersCalories: 200kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 29gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0.02gCholesterol: 87mgSodium: 625mgPotassium: 541mgFiber: 0.5gSugar: 0.1gVitamin A: 387IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 12mgIron: 1mg
Keyword air fryer, chicken, comfort food, dairy free, flourless, gluten free, low carb, main dish, tenderloin
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!


  • 5 stars
    Rave reviews from my family! First recipe ever made in an air fryer. How quick and easy this is made me misty-eyed. Threw the tenders on a Caesar salad bag and won at dinner.

  • 5 stars
    I saw some chicken tenders at Aldis yesterday and they were the same price as the boneless breasts so I thought, “Why not?” I opened my cookbook (Google…) and found your 5⭐ recipe. I was attracted to it for it’s low-carbs because my roommate is trying to lose some weight (and I need to shed a pound or twenty myself). I prepared the whole package of tenders and doubled up on the recipe. I wanted to add a little zing to it so I put in ¼ teaspoon of red cayenne pepper powder (remember this is a doubled recipe). I’m still new to cooking and I didn’t want it to be too hot. They were perfect! But I will probably double the cayenne next time.

    Thank you


    • That’s great, Peter! Happy to hear you enjoyed it. The “Google” Cookbook can be helpful for sure! 😂 I love that you made it “hot” to your liking as well. Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts! Hope you can enjoy some other recipes on here as well.

    • Leslie, Thank you for bringing it to my attention. I’m sorry the directions were not clear. I have clarified the directions now, but it might take a few for the website to update it. Thanks for letting me know.

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4.86 from 35 votes (32 ratings without comment)

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