Chicken tenders are universally loved by kids and adults alike. And these air fryer chicken tenders are no exception.
Traditional chicken tenders are loaded with carbs from the batter or breading. And they’re fried in unhealthy oils. This is especially true for the ones you get at restaurants.
So we figured out a way to make them much healthier. First, we cut the carbs drastically by using almond flour and crushed pork rinds. Second, we use an air fryer to get the crispness, not a deep fryer full of processed oils.
The result is tender and juicy chicken tenders with a delightfully seasoned “breading” with minimal carbs. We know your entire family will love them!
We dip our tenders in a low-carb BBQ sauce (recipe included below), which is the perfect amount of sweetness and tang without all the carbs.
We recommend serving these with Zucchini Fries!
Ingredients Needed for this Recipe
- Almond flour
- Pork rinds (we recommend Pork Panko to make it easier)
- Garlic powder
How Air Fryers Work
Air fryers are a great way to enjoy fried foods without using a ton of oil. It also doesn’t leave a mess behind.
This popular kitchen appliance “fries” food by circulating hot air at high speed, which cooks the food and creates a crispy layer. The appeal of air fryers is that they fry foods with minimal oil and cook foods faster than a convection oven. Simply place the food in the included perforated basket and set the temperature and timer.
Note that air fryers cannot cook anything dipped in batter due to the basket design. So if you want to fry chicken, it must be either breaded or seasoned with dry spices.
What If I Don’t Have an Air Fryer?
If you don’t have an air fryer, we recommend baking the chicken tenders.
Preheat the oven to 425°F. Bake for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through.
If you want the crispness of frying, you can pan-fry the chicken tenders in a few tablespoons of coconut oil or avocado oil prior to transferring to the oven. Simply heat up the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, pan fry each tender for about 2-3 minutes on each side, then transfer to a foil-lined sheet pan to finish cooking in the oven, about 10-15 minutes.
Tips for Making Chicken Tenders From Scratch
If you’re new to making chicken tenders, the process may seem a bit daunting. The key is to have your “breading” stations ready.
You’ll need three shallow bowls. In the first one will be the first coating: almond flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
The second shallow bowl will have the beaten egg.
The third shallow bowl will hold the crushed pork rinds.
Before you start, have a cutting board or sheet pan prepared to place the breaded pieces.
To bread all the chicken, it’s best to use one hand for the wet ingredients and the other hand for the dry ingredients to minimize mess.
Dip each piece into the first bowl, coating both sides and shaking off excess, then dip it into the egg wash, then coat with the crushed pork rinds. Set it on the cutting board and repeat with the remaining pieces.
Other Recipes to Try
Air Fryer Low-Carb Chicken Tenders with Sugar-Free BBQ Sauce
- Yield: 4
- Serving size: 4 ounces chicken (about 2 tenders) + 2 tablespoons sauce
- Prep time: 15 minutes
- Cook time: 20 minutes
- 1 pound chicken tenders (about 8)
- ¾ cup almond flour
- 1 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 eggs
- 1½ cups crushed pork rinds (or Pork Panko)
Low-Carb BBQ Sauce:
- 2 tablespoons Erythritol (or sweetener of choice)
- ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
- ¼ - ½ cup water
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 can (6-ounces) tomato paste
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon dry yellow mustard
- ½ teaspoon Kosher salt
- ⅛ teaspoon chili powder
- Cayenne, if desired
- In a shallow dish, mix the almond flour, garlic powder, salt and pepper.
- In a second shallow dish, beat the eggs.
- In a third shallow dish, place the crushed pork rinds.
- Place the three dishes in one line. Use one hand to dip each tender into the almond flour mix, then the eggs, then the pork rinds. With your other hand, take the coated tender out and place it on a plate. Repeat the process for each piece of chicken.
- Set the air fryer to 375°F. Cook the chicken for about 15 minutes until thoroughly cooked.
- Make the barbecue sauce while the chicken is cooking. Start by adding the erythritol, vinegar, and water to a saucepan. Heat over medium heat until the erythritol has dissolved.
- Add remaining ingredients. Stir to blend and increase heat until the sauce boils. Reduce heat to simmer for 15-20 minutes. Add more water if needed to get the desired consistency.
Nutrition facts per serving:
- Fat: 16g
- Protein: 40g
- Total Carbohydrates: 13g
- Fiber: 4g
- Sugar Alcohol: 3.5g
- Net Carbs: 5.5g
- Fat: 42%
- Protein: 47%
- Carbohydrates: 11%