How to cook perfectly crispy frozen chicken tenders in an air fryer! These air fryer frozen chicken tenders are juicy inside, crispy outside, and can be made from uncooked or pre-cooked frozen chicken strips – no need to thaw first!
I just finished working on a recipe for homemade air fryer chicken tenders from scratch and realized this deserves its own post. Whether you’re a household of one, saving money by avoiding fast food, or prefer to avoid mystery meats and preservatives by making and freezing large batches of homemade chicken tenders… it’s great to always have your freezer stacked, ready to make air fryer frozen chicken tenders at a moment’s notice.
Crispy chicken strips are a drive-thru and a kids’ favorite for many. They’re packed with flavor, tender in the middle and crispy outside, easy to eat, & perfect for enjoying with your favorite dipping sauce or as part of a larger meal. Now you can make the best frozen chicken tenders in an air fryer for restaurant-quality results with minimal effort, time, and money!
Whether you’re using raw or pre-cooked frozen tenders (or chicken goujons, fingers, or strips), cooking frozen chicken fingers in air fryer has become a favorite of mine for a quick and simple snack or weeknight meal. They’re so simple to make and ready in under 15 minutes.
How to Cook Frozen Chicken Tenders in Air Fryer
Follow the simple method on how to air fry frozen chicken tenders with no need for thawing!
First, preheat your air fryer to 400ºF/200ºC for 5 minutes.
Next, get your chicken. You can use homemade frozen chicken tenderloin OR store-bought options – raw or pre-cooked. Labeled chicken goujons, fingers, or chicken strips will also work. I prefer to use breaded chicken, but check the FAQs for the unbreaded version.
I also recommend spraying the tenders with cooking oil (like olive oil). This is 100% optional, but great for the crispiest air fryer frozen chicken strips.
Avoid cooking sprays like PAM, which can ruin the air fryer’s non-stick lining.
Then, spread the frozen chicken tenders into a single layer in your air fryer basket, ensuring there’s no overlap.
How Long to Cook Frozen Chicken Tenders in Air Fryer
For pre-cooked tenders: Air fry frozen chicken tenders for 8-12 minutes (based on their size/thickness). Flip them halfway to ensure even cooking.
And this is how simple and how long to air fry frozen chicken tenders.
Thin chicken strips will take closer to 8 minutes, whereas thicker/bigger chicken tenders will take 10-12 minutes.
How to Cook Frozen Uncooked Chicken Tenders
For uncooked frozen tenders: Air fry them for 22-28 minutes based on their size, flipping halfway through.
For crispier air fryer frozen chicken tenders, spray both sides lightly with a bit of cooking oil.
How Do You Know When Frozen Chicken Tenders Are Done
To ensure they are safely cooked, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature has reached 165ºF/74ºC.
I like leaving the air fryer frozen chicken tenders to rest for 2-3 minutes before serving (enough time to plate up or get your dipping sauces ready). Enjoy!
Can You Refreeze Cooked Frozen Chicken Tenders
No. Once you’ve frozen and thawed/cooked the frozen chicken strips in an air fryer, please don’t re-freeze them. However, if you’re cooking them for the first time from frozen, you can re-freeze them for up to 3 months and then reheat them from frozen.
What To Serve with Chicken Tenders
When I’m feeling childlike cravings, I love to enjoy these air fryer frozen chicken strips as a snack with dipping sauces. Other times, you’ll see me adding them to larger meals.
What Are The Best Dipping Sauces for Chicken Tenders
Chicken tenders are practically the ultimate dippable chicken dish that pairs with so many sauces, including:
- BBQ sauce,
- Buffalo sauce,
- Ranch dressing,
- Honey mustard sauce,
- Mayonnaise – regular or flavored, chipotle mayo, etc.
- Garlic aioli,
- Alabama white sauce (white BBQ sauce),
- Warm marinara,
- Cheese dip,
- Raising Cane’s sauce (homemade).
Other Serving Recommendations
I particularly love to air fry frozen chicken strips to enjoy alongside potato sides like fries, au grain, or deviled egg potato salad. You can also enjoy the air fried chicken fingers in sandwiches and wraps, in simple pasta dishes, or alongside vegetable sides.
I wouldn’t recommend it. The air fryer needs to be able to circulate air all the way around the chicken to cook it evenly and make it wonderfully crispy on the outside.
Not at all. Simply increase the cooking time and use a meat thermometer to ensure it’s properly cooked to an internal temperature of 165ºF/74ºC, and you’re good to go!
Yes, though they’re more likely to dry out if overcooked. So I recommend dropping the temperature to 350ºF/180ºC and cooking for 12-16 minutes if raw, or 8-12 minutes if pre-cooked.
Spray them lightly with oil beforehand and use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature reached 165 degrees Fahrenheit (74 degrees Celsius).
I recommend cooking them in a preheated air fryer at 400ºF/200ºC for 8-10 minutes.
More Chicken Recipes
- One Pot Chicken and Rice
- Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Thighs 2 Ways
- Chicken Brine Recipe
- Oven-Baked Boneless Chicken Thighs
If you try this crispy air fryer frozen chicken tenders recipe, let me know how it goes in the comments below. I’d appreciate a recipe card rating and would love to see your recipe recreations – tag me on Instagram @Alphafoodie!
Frozen Chicken Tenders in Air Fryer
- 20 oz chicken tenders or as much as wanted
- Oil spray optional – but can be used to lightly spray the chicken for extra crispiness
- Preheat your air fryer to 400ºF/200ºC for 5 minutes.
- Spread the frozen chicken tenders into a single layer in your air fryer basket, ensuring there's no overlap.
- For pre-cooked tenders: Air fry frozen chicken tenders for 8-12 minutes (based on their size/thickness). Flip them halfway to ensure even cooking.Thin chicken strips will take closer to 8 minutes, whereas thicker/bigger chicken tenders will take 10-12 minutes.For uncooked frozen tenders: Air fry them for 22-28 minutes based on their size, flipping halfway through.For crispier air fryer frozen chicken tenders, spray both sides lightly with a bit of cooking oil
- To ensure they are safely cooked, use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature has reached 165ºF/74ºC.I like leaving the air fryer frozen chicken tenders to rest for 2-3 minutes before serving (enough time to plate up or get your dipping sauces ready). Enjoy!
- Store: Allow the meat to cool (for no longer than 2 hours), then transfer it to a covered dish/airtight container and store any leftover chicken tenders in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.Reheat: If you cooked the chicken from a raw state, you could reheat them again in the air fryer for a few minutes. However, if they were already pre-cooked and frozen before air frying them, I don't recommend reheating them a second time. Can I refreeze cooked frozen chicken tenders? I don't recommend it if the chicken was pre-cooked when frozen. However, if you’re cooking them for the first time from frozen, you may be able to re-freeze them for up to 3 months and then reheat them from frozen.
- Don’t overcrowd the basket: Leaving space between the chicken allows air to circulate and produce super crispy chicken strips in an air fryer. Cook in batches, if necessary, then chuck the lot in the fryer for 2 minutes in the end, so they’re all warm.
- Cooking time may vary: Depending on the size of the chicken and your air fryer, the time can vary by 2-3 minutes, so I recommend checking it at the lowest time and using a meat thermometer if unsure.
- For the crispiest tenders: Use a cooking oil spray to lightly mist the frozen chicken tenders to encourage an extra crispy coating. However, even without oil, they are nice and crispy!