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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 
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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
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4.64 from 11 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




Keisha

Sunday 14th of February 2021

why do you use milk instead of buttermilk in the recipe

Tanya

Monday 15th of February 2021

Since the chicken tenders are only quickly dipped into the milk mixture, I opted for milk rather than buttermilk. I generally would only use buttermilk if I were going to marinate the chicken for a longer period of time.

Kelly

Saturday 13th of February 2021

This recipe was delicious!!!! Tons of flavor and such a fun way to eat chicken. Next time we want to try it on a bun with coleslaw - we can’t wait! This will definitely be a crowd pleaser when we have friends over. We also had an issue with the paste not holding together well, but based on some previous comments we will try heating it with lower heat next time.

Tanya

Sunday 14th of February 2021

Thanks Kelly :)So happy you liked the recipe.

Carly

Wednesday 3rd of February 2021

Can I use vegetable oil instead of peanut oil? I’m highly allergic to peanuts :) thanks!

Tanya

Thursday 4th of February 2021

Hi Carly, vegetable oil should work fine. The one oil I would not recommend is coconut oil.

Barbara

Saturday 16th of January 2021

Delicious! I think the oil could be cut to a little less than 1/2. We used 1T cayenne and that was medium/hot just right for me!

H

Thursday 24th of December 2020

I am by no means experienced in a kitchen. Quite the opposite in fact. But I’ve been craving a chicken sandwich with some kick to it, and McDonald’s doesn’t really cut it for me. Having an air fryer, I went and picked up these ingredients and tried this recipe on a whim.

I’ve never tried frying anything with milk instead of egg before, but that worked pretty well.

I’ve never used peanut oil before, but the sauce for this recipe turned out amazing.

Never even heard of “dry mustard” before, but it got it thrown in and, like I said, 🔥.

So thanks for putting this recipe together. Threw a few tenders on a toasted brioche bun with some pickles and it was probably the best thing I’ve ever cooked lol

Tanya

Friday 25th of December 2020

Thanks so much H! So glad you liked the recipe :)