These grain-free/paleo-friendly healthy air fryer chicken tenders are crispy, full of flavor, and SO easy to make!
So I did a thing the other night, I turned my oven-fried paleo chicken tenders into an air fryer recipe! I didn’t take updated photos, but I knew I still had to share this recipe with you guys ASAP! For me, the air fryer (which I continually want to abbreviate AF but then can’t for obvious reasons) was a bit of a frivolous purchase. So, anytime I find another use for it is a win, especially since it’s big and bulky, taking up SO MUCH precious real estate on my counter and in my closet (where it currently has to sit on the floor.)
I’ve been using this same recipe for years. It’s my tried and true go-to recipe. The key is the almond MEAL, not almond flour. I said almond MEAL. Almond meal is a courser grind, typically from unblanched almonds. Think of it like using panko bread crumbs instead of regular bread crumbs, or even just all-purpose flour. It’s essential to get that “deep fried” restaurant crispy texture I’m looking for when it comes to chicken fingers.
Where do you get the almond meal? Trader Joe’s was my go-to place, but Sprouts Farmers Market recently started carrying it in the bulk section. Since 99% of my grocery shopping comes from Instacart Sprouts Farmers Market, this made me really happy! You could also make your own or try amazon/Whole Foods. But, please, please, please, don’t make these with almond flour and get mad at me when it doesn’t taste super crispy. I promise you. We’ve tried it several times. It doesn’t work as well.
How to Make Healthy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
So I don’t use an egg wash or any other binder when I make these. You totally can, but I don’t. I particularly find that if I’m using Butcher Box frozen chicken tenders, it isn’t necessary. Once they defrost, they are sticky enough. However, if you are using fresh (vs. previously frozen), they might not stick to the breading quite as well. In that case, go ahead, beat a couple of eggs, and dip the chicken in the egg wash immediately, followed by coating it in the almond meal mixture.
They take about 12-15 minutes in a preheated air fryer to 400F. They are done when both sides are crispy golden brown, and the internal temp reaches 165F.
PS I do have a freezer version of this recipe here, but I haven’t tested taken them from the freezer to the air fryer yet. I’ll let you know when I do (I just made some for maternity leave), though!
Here is the original video for the original version of this recipe (it shows the oven version). Also, the video sorely needs an update. It was the first video I ever made! But, ya know, you get the idea!
Healthy Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- Preheat air fryer to 400F.
- Combine all the almond meal and seasonings in a large bowl. Dip each chicken tender into the seasoning mix, thoroughly coating, then place in the air fryer. Repeat to fit as many chicken tenders as you can fit in a single layer—coat chicken tenders with cooking spray.
- Cook for 15 minutes, turning after 10 minutes. They are done when the internal temperature reaches 165F and the outside is golden brown and crispy!
More Air Fryer Recipes:
- Air Fryer Sweet and Spicy Dry Rub Wings
- Air Fryer Quesadilla
- Air Fryer Cauliflower Gnocchi
- Air Fryer Tortilla Strips
- Air Fryer Sweet Potato Chicken Nuggets