These crispy Nashville hot chicken tenders are glazed in a sweet and spicy sauce and cooked without oil in the air fryer or baked in the oven. A super easy appetizer or weeknight dinner that can be made gluten-free!
Crispy homemade Nashville hot chicken tenders
I love chicken tenders, but they have to be super, super crispy! I am so excited to share this extra crispy and crunchy Nashville hot chicken tender recipe that you can cook in the air fryer or bake in the oven without oil. The chicken is sweet and spicy – the perfect Game Day appetizer, lunch, or dinner!
These chicken tenders are glazed in a Nashville hot honey sauce, making them sweet, spicy, and sticky. They are the perfect finger food for football season, an appetizer, or even a meal for family dinner.
This Nashville chicken recipe doesn’t call for oil or deep frying. The chicken tenders are super moist, and the breading is extra crunchy. You can even make these chicken tenders gluten-free.
Nashville hot honey chicken tenders are so delicious! This spicy and crunchy Nashville chicken is mind-blowing.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Nashville chicken tenders are the perfect finger food.
- They are extra crispy and made without oil.
- You can air fry or oven-bake these chicken tenders.
- This recipe can be made 100% gluten-free.
- The chicken tenders are glazed in sweet and spicy Nashville hot sauce.
- NO OIL is required for this recipe.
- Perfect for Game Day.
- Super easy to make.
- Try these top-rated hot honey chicken tenders next!
Ingredients and substitutions
These extra-crispy chicken tenders are glazed in spicy Nashville hot sauce and call for 8 simple ingredients. You’ll need chicken breast, panko bread crumbs, garlic powder, eggs, and a few other ingredients. Here is a list of everything you need so you are prepared. Just make sure to read the recipe card at the bottom of this blog post for exact measurements.
Crispy Chicken Tenders:
- Chicken: You can use pre-cut tenders or cut three chicken breasts into tenders.
- Flour: Next, you’ll need all-purpose flour to coat the chicken in before breading. You can use gluten-free flour or regular; both work!
- Cornstarch: This makes the chicken tenders extra crispy without oil or deep frying. You can also use arrowroot powder or tapioca flour.
- Spices: You need paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper to flavor the chicken tenders.
- Eggs: You need 2 eggs to dip the chicken tenders into so the panko bread crumbs will stick to the outside and not fall off during cooking.
- Panko: Panko bread crumbs make for the perfect breading for these chicken tenders. When baked or air-fried, panko turns super crispy without oil!
Homemade Nashville Hot Sauce:
- Hot Sauce: I love Frank’s Red Hot Sauce, but you can use any brand.
- Unsalted Butter: This gives the hot honey glaze the best flavor. You can also use salted butter; just omit the extra salt called for in the recipe.
- Honey: This makes the Nashville sauce perfectly sweet and spicy.
- Spices: Grab smoked paprika, ground cayenne, garlic powder, and salt.
Kitchen tools required
You don’t need any fancy or special kitchen utensils for homemade Nashville hot chicken tenders. You can air fry or oven-bake the chicken tenders. Here is a list:
- 3 Shallow Bowls
- Cutting Board
- Kitchen Knife
- Air Fryer (if air frying the chicken tenders)
- Baking Tray (if baking the chicken tenders)
- Parchment Paper
- Small Bowl
- Measuring Tools: 1/2 teaspoon, 1 teaspoon, 1 Tablespoon, 1/3 cup, 1/2 cup, and 1 cup.
How to make Nashville hot chicken tenders
Homemade Nashville hot chicken tenders are easy to make. They take less than 15 minutes to cook in the air fryer or oven. Here are detailed step-by-step instructions with pictures for visual reference so anyone level cook can make them. The full recipe and ingredient measurements are at the bottom of this page in the recipe card.
First, decide if you are going to an air fryer or oven-bake the chicken tenders. Then, preheat your oven to 425°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper, or preheat your air fryer to 380°F.
Then, add the flour and cornstarch to a small shallow bowl. In a second shallow bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the panko, salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder in a third shallow bowl.
Then, trim off all fat and tendons from chicken tenders. Or, if using boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut them into 1-inch thick strips.
Make sure to pat them dry with a paper towel before breading.
Working one at a time, dip a chicken tender into flour, make sure to coat it, and then shake off excess flour. Then, dip it into the eggs and then finally into panko breadcrumbs. Use your hands to coat the chicken with the panko to fully cover it. Repeat step 4 with the rest of the tenders.
Step 5: how to oven bake
If you are baking the chicken tenders in the oven, place the breaded chicken tenders onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and lightly spray them with cooking spray. Bake for 10 – 14 minutes, until golden and crispy, and the internal temperature of the chicken is 165°F.
Step 6: how to air fry
If you are air frying the chicken tenders, place the breaded chicken tenders into the preheated air fryer basket and lightly spray them with cooking spray. Air fry at 380°F for 8 – 11 minutes until golden and crispy, and the internal temperature of the chicken is 165°F.
Meanwhile, add all the hot glaze sauce ingredients to a microwave-safe dish and heat for 20 – 30 seconds. When the chicken is done cooking, drizzle and coat the tenders in the warmed hot honey and enjoy!
How to air fry Nashville chicken tenders
Air frying these Nashville chicken tenders is very easy. Place the breaded chicken tenders into the preheated air fryer basket and lightly spray them with cooking spray. Then, air fry at 380°F for 8 – 11 minutes, until golden, crispy, and the internal temperature of the chicken is 165°F.
What to serve with Nashville chicken tenders
Nashville chicken tenders go well with so many dipping sauces and side dishes! I love serving them with ranch, blue cheese, or Caesar dressing, but you can also serve them with ketchup, mustard, or mayo. These are my favorite side dishes to serve with them:
Expert recipe tips
- Pat chicken tenders dry before dredging in flour. This removes any extra liquid and ensures that the panko breading will stick to the chicken tenders as they bake or fry in the air fryer.
- Don’t skip out on the cornstarch or flour. Dredging your chicken tenders in the flour and cornstarch mixture before the egg wash is super important! It helps hold the breading together and makes the chicken tenders so crispy without needing oil. If you don’t use it, the breadcrumbs won’t adhere as well and might fall off in the cooking process.
- Spray the chicken tenders with avocado or olive oil spray. Before air frying or baking, spray the tops of the chicken tenders with cooking spray so they get extra golden crispy.
- Heat the Nashville hot sauce before glazing. I recommend heating it in the microwave for 20 – 30 seconds so the honey melts and the sauce is warm.
- Best enjoyed immediately. Since we are glazing these crispy chicken tenders in Nashville hot sauce, if you let them sit for too long, they might get soggy. I always recommend serving them within 10 minutes of making them. If not, serve the Nashville hot honey on the side.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Nashville chicken?
Nashville chicken is a type of crispy chicken that is usually deep-fried and coated in a sweet and spicy hot sauce. This recipe is healthier than classic Nashville chicken because we air fry or oven-bake it, and there is no oil.
What is Nashville hot sauce?
Nashville hot sauce is a hot sauce made from cayenne pepper, paprika, sugar, and hot sauce. This recipe is healthier than classic Nashville hot sauce because we use honey, not refined brown sugar, to sweeten it.
Is Nashville chicken spicy?
The spicy level depends on what type of hot sauce you use. Some brands are mild, and some are extra-spicy. You can make this Nashville hot sauce milder by omitting the cayenne pepper or spicier by adding more.
Can you cut chicken breasts into tenders?
You can easily cut raw skinless chicken breasts into tenders for this chicken tenders recipe. Simply trim off all fat and tendons and cut them into 1-inch thick strips.
Can I air fry frozen chicken tenders?
Yes, you can air fryer frozen chicken tenders. If you don’t want to make homemade ones, you can use store-bought frozen ones for this recipe. Follow the exact instructions below!
What temperature should I air fry chicken tenders?
Chicken tenders should be air fried at 380°F.
What temperature should I bake chicken tenders?
Chicken tenders should be baked in the oven at 425°F.
Can I make this recipe dairy-free?
Substitute the butter with vegan butter to make this recipe 100% dairy-free.
Can I make them gluten-free?
Make these Nashville hot chicken tenders gluten-free by using gluten-free all-purpose flour and gluten-free panko.
Why are my chicken tenders dry?
If your chicken tenders are dry, you likely over-cooked them. Keep an eye on the clock and remove the chicken tenders when their internal temperature reaches 165°F.
How to store and reheat leftovers:
Storing: Store leftovers in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. I recommend storing leftovers without the Nashville hot sauce. When you are ready to enjoy, heat the hot sauce separately and glaze the chicken tenders.
Reheating: For best results, reheat unglazed chicken tenders in your air fryer at 350°F for 3 – 5 minutes or in your oven or toaster oven at 350°F for 5 – 8 minutes. Avoid the microwave because they will get soggy. Heat the Nashville hot honey sauce separately and glaze after the chicken is warmed.
If you love this recipe, try these next!
- Hot Honey Chicken Tenders
- Air Fryer Chicken Tenders (No Breading)
- Air Fryer BBQ Chicken
- Air Fryer Chicken Thighs (boneless & skinless)
- Air Fryer Chicken Cutlets
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment and rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to tag me @healthfulblondie on Instagram and use the hashtag #healthfulblondie so I can see your delicious creation and share it with my followers!
Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders
- 1.5 pounds chicken tenders (8 – 10 pieces) or 3 chicken breasts cut into tenders
- ⅓ cup all-purpose flour, gluten-free if needed
- 3 tbsp cornstarch, (substitute with arrowroot starch or tapioca flour)
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp black pepper
- 2 large eggs
- 1 ⅓ cup Panko breadcrumbs, whole wheat or gluten-free if needed
Nashville Hot Sauce:
- ¼ – ⅓ cup hot sauce, I love Frank's Red Hot Sauce
- 1 tbsp melted unsalted butter
- 2 – 3 tbsp honey
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- ¼ tsp ground cayenne
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- Salt, to taste
- Preheat oven to 425°F and line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Or preheat your air fryer to 380°F.
- In a small shallow bowl, add the flour and cornstarch. In a second shallow bowl, whisk the eggs. In a third shallow bowl, add the panko, salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, and garlic powder.
- Trim off all fat and tendons from chicken tenders. Or, if using boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut them into 1-inch thick strips.
- Working one at a time, dip a chicken tender into flour, make sure to coat it, and then shake off excess flour. Then, dip it into the eggs, and then finally into panko breadcrumbs. Use your hands to coat the chicken with the panko so it is fully covered.
- Repeat step 4 with the rest of the tenders.
- Oven: Place the breaded chicken tenders onto the parchment-lined baking sheet and lightly spray with cooking spray. Bake for 10 – 14 minutes, until golden, crispy, and the internal temperature of the chicken is 165°F.
- Air Fryer: Place the breaded chicken tenders into the preheated air fryer basket and lightly spray with cooking spray. Air fry at 380°F for 8 – 11 minutes, until golden, crispy, and the internal temperature of the chicken is 165°F.
- Meanwhile, add all the hot glaze sauce ingredients to a microwave-safe dish and heat for 20 – 30 seconds. When the chicken is done cooking, drizzle and coat the tenders in the warmed hot honey and enjoy!
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