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Nashville Style Hot Chicken Tenders (Air Fryer Recipe)

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These Nashville style hot chicken tenders are so easy to make in the air fryer! These tenders are so wonderfully crispy and juicy, they rival any you’ve had in a restaurant! Ready to serve in less than half an hour.

nashville hot chicken tenders on a white plate

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Full Recipe Ingredients/Instructions are available in the 
recipe card at the bottom of the post. 
You can find important tips/tricks in the
blog post.

Whenever I see Nashville hot chicken on a menu I’ve just got to have it! Super crispy and smothered in a spicy hot sauce, I just can’t get enough of them!

It’s so quick and fuss free to make these tenders in an air fryer, they are quickly becoming my new favorite thing!

If you love these, be sure to check out my air fryer chicken wings!

How To Make Nashville Style Hot Chicken Tenders

  • Gather your ingredients
Ingredients to make the Nashville hot chicken tenders
  • Season tenders with a little salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Create a dredging station by whisking milk and hot sauce in one bowl.
  • In a separate bowl, mix panko bread crumbs, paprika, Italian seasoning, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.
  • Start by coating chicken tenders with milk mixture and drain off excess milk, then coat chicken in panko bread crumbs mixture, ensuring all of the chicken is coated.
Dredging the chicken tenders
  • Place chicken in greased air fryer basket or use a parchment sheet liner.
  • Cook on 375 degrees for 14-16 minutes, flipping and spraying with oil halfway through cooking, until chicken is fully cooked and has reached a temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
The breaded chicken in the air fryer basket
  • Gather your ingredients to make the Nashville hot sauce.
Spices to make the hot sauce
  • Add the hot sauce ingredients to a pan, whisk to combine and bring to the boil.
  • Once your mixture starts to bubble and simmer, remove from heat.
The Nashville hot sauce in a pan
  • Once chicken tenders are done, remove from air fryer and add them to a large bowl.
  • Pour the hot paste over the chicken and toss to combine, making sure hot sauce covers all of the chicken.

Add done 🙂

Can you use chicken breast in this recipe?

I like to use tenders for this recipe, they are so…well, tender, and they cook so well in the air fryer. If you can’t find tenders, you can use breasts and cut them into strips.

How hot is the chicken?

On a scale of mild to hot, these chicken tenders are very hot! There’s a lot of cayenne in the sauce and they really do pack a punch. If you prefer milder chicken, you can reduce the amount of cayenne used, or even omit it completely. It will still be delicious!

What do you serve with Nashville hot chicken?

I live to serve this hot chicken as a sandwich. Piled into white bread with pickles and you are in a good place! If you like, you can add in some coleslaw that helps to balance out the heat.

You can serve this as a main and serve it alongside some other Southern favorites like mac n cheese and collard greens.

A nashville hot chicken tender cut in half

Recipe Notes and Tips

  • Be sure to pre heat your air fryer before you add your chicken, so that the tenders cook through evenly.
  • Place the tenders in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook them in two batches if you need.
  • Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat them in the air fryer at 400F for 3 to 4 minutes.

More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes

finished hot chicken tenders in a plate with pickles on top
Print Pin
4.75 from 8 votes

Nashville Style Hot Chicken Tenders (Air Fryer Recipe)

These Nashville style hot chicken tenders are so easy to make in the air fryer! These tenders are so wonderfully crispy and juicy, they rival any you've had in a restaurant! Ready to serve in less than half an hour.
Course Appetizer, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword air fryer chicken tenders, hot chicken tenders, nashville style chicken
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes
Servings 4 servings
Calories 488kcal
Author Tanya

Ingredients

  • 1 lb chicken tenders
  • ¾ cup milk
  • 2 Tbsp hot sauce
  • ¾ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp Italian seasoning
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ garlic powder
  • ½ onion powder
  • ¼ tsp black pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Oil for spraying Canola, Olive Oil, or any oil with a high smoke point

Hot Paste

Instructions

  • Season tenders with a little salt and pepper. Set aside. Create a dredging station by whisking milk and hot sauce in one bowl. In a separate bowl, mix panko bread crumbs, paprika, Italian seasoning, salt, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Start by coating chicken tenders with milk mixture and drain off excess milk, then coat chicken in panko bread crumbs mixture, ensuring all of the chicken is coated.
  • Place chicken in greased air fryer basket or use a parchment sheet liner. Cook on 375 degrees for 14-16 minutes, flipping and spraying chicken halfway through cooking, until chicken is fully cooked and has reached a temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Meanwhile, when there are about 5 minutes left on the chicken, create the hot paste. Add peanut oil, brown sugar, cayenne pepper, paprika, dry mustard, garlic powder, and salt to a medium-sized saucepan over medium heat and whisk to combine. Once your mixture starts to bubble and simmer, remove from heat.
  • Once chicken tenders are done, remove from air fryer and add them to a large bowl. Pour the hot paste over the chicken and toss to combine, making sure hot sauce covers all of the chicken. Serve and enjoy.

Video

Notes

  • Be sure to pre heat your air fryer before you add your chicken, so that the tenders cook through evenly.
  • Place the tenders in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Cook them in two batches if you need.
  • This chicken is really really really hot. If you’d like a milder chicken, reduce the cayenne pepper.
  • Keep leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Reheat them in the air fryer at 400F for 3 to 4 minutes.

Nutrition

Calories: 488kcal | Carbohydrates: 19g | Protein: 28g | Fat: 34g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Cholesterol: 77mg | Sodium: 998mg | Potassium: 583mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1428IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 89mg | Iron: 1mg
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Recipe Rating




Ann Marie Chun

Saturday 19th of September 2020

I definitely will make again! We love Nashville Hot Chicken Sandwiches and this does the trick without the guilt of deep frying it. I didn't have panko so I used seasoned Italian bread crumbs and didn't add the other herbs/seasoning to it. It doesn't have the crunch of a deep fried chicken but it does have all the flavor.

Eddie

Sunday 6th of September 2020

Hi!

Loved the recipe! One question, I found that my paste wasn’t mixing very well while heating, and was separating when pouring on chicken. It was still delicious! But do you have any recommendations on preparing the paste for future tries? Thank you!

Best, Eddie

Tanya

Monday 7th of September 2020

Hi Eddie, Did you use peanut oil? I had a friend use coconut oil and had that issue. Also, if the heat is too high when making the paste it'll also have trouble mixing together.

Heather

Monday 10th of August 2020

Thoughts on doing this without the panko bread crumbs?

Tanya

Tuesday 11th of August 2020

Hi Heather, that would work fine. I've had some followers on Instagram omit the panko and it worked out just great. It just won't be as crispy but the flavor is still on point.

Amber

Friday 24th of July 2020

This was some of the best Nashville hot chicken I’ve ever had. I used 2 tsp of cayenne instead of the recipes but it was still amazing. Will definitely be making again.

Tanya

Saturday 25th of July 2020

Thanks so much Amber :) So glad you enjoyed them.

Shoushana

Monday 22nd of June 2020

These are amazing!

Tanya

Tuesday 23rd of June 2020

Thank you :) So glad you like them.