How to Reheat Chicken Tenders in Air Fryer – The Absolute Best Way
Are you looking for the best way to reheat chicken tenders in air fryer? Look no further, because this is it, folks! The easy-to-follow steps outlined below are quick, simple, and guaranteed to produce tenders that are as crispy and delicious as your very first dive into the honey mustard!
Mmmmmmm tenders. Is there any more perfect way to enjoy chicken? No bones. No soggy skin. Just juicy little chunks of meat encased in a golden, crispy coating, begging to be dunked in sauce and eaten with your fingers. But do you know how tenders got their name?
A Nugget by Any Other Name…
You might call them chicken tenders, but lots of people refer to them as nuggets or strips. Heck, you can even find them in crazy shapes and named accordingly—dino nuggets, for example! But the origin of the name “tender” goes back to the animal itself.
Chickens, as well as other livestock, have a naturally formed tenderloin found along the innermost length of the breast against the breastbone. That strip of muscle is the most tender part of the animal. For example, beef tenderloin is where filet mignon comes from, the most tender cut of steak. So from the chicken’s tenderloin, we get the shortened term “tender.”
Nevertheless, tenders today are not always made from the tenderloin. That term has become synonymous over the years with any chunk of coated and fried boneless chicken, and the meat inside could come from different parts, depending on the maker. Coatings can differ greatly, too. Die-hard foodies will tell you that the natural tenderloin makes the best chicken tender, regardless of the coating, but frankly, I’ve never met a nugget I didn’t like. I love them all! But what about you? You certainly have a world of options, so, I have to ask—what’s your nugget? Here is a recipe that walks you through how to cook tenders at home
What’s Your Nugget?
Do you like your chicken tenders breaded? Battered? Panko-crusted, perhaps? Is the mighty McNugget your morsel of choice? McDonald’s was the first fast-food chain to offer them back in 1983. Unsurprisingly, they were an instant hit and have remained on their menu all this time. But those McNuggets have some stiff competition today! Perhaps it is KFC, Popeye’s, or Chick-fil-A that has captured your tender heart nowadays.
Then again, the freezer section of your grocery store has some fine selections, too. Tyson and Banquet make great frozen choices that can be easier than a trip to the local drive-thru. Or maybe you like to make them yourself from scratch. But no matter how you like them, chicken tenders are a tasty treat. The ultimate convenience food. The hero of parents with fussy kids. The first thing to disappear at parties. And bound to be one of the leftovers in your fridge!
Letting your leftover chicken tenders go to waste would be a crime. But if you reheat them the wrong way, they would taste like, well, wood. And dry, hard, gummy nuggets should be a crime, too.
You could reheat chicken tenders in oven or toaster oven, but that would take a lot longer and be far less energy efficient. (It can take half an hour or more just to preheat a conventional oven.) You could technically also use a microwave, but if you do, I might have to call the Dry Hard Gummy Nugget Police on you!
When you reheat chicken tenders in air fryer you are going to get great results, and the air fryer is what these instructions are written for. If you have one of those wonderful appliances, you’re already a step ahead. So, let’s get to it, shall we?
The Best Way to Reheat Chicken Tenders in Air Fryer
- Preheat your air fryer to 350ºF. For most models, preheating should only take about five minutes, and your appliance likely has a function that alerts you when it has reached temperature.
(Tip: Be patient! Never put your tenders into a cold fryer. That coating needs an initial blast of high heat to get crispy without getting overcooked.)
- Arrange your tenders in a single layer in the bottom of the basket. Make sure they have plenty of room so that air can circulate all the way around.
(Tip: Never crowd the basket when you reheat chicken tenders in air fryer or they won’t heat up evenly. (If you have a lot of them, you can do them in batches.)
- Next, put your tenders in the air fryer and begin timing. Small ones only take about three minutes, while larger ones may need up to five minutes, however, those times can vary depending on your fryer model.
(Tip: If you happen to be using a tender brand from the grocery store, their own instructions on how to prepare or reheat chicken tenders in air fryer might be right on the box.)
- Check after three minutes to see if they are hot and crispy. If not, go another minute and check again.
- Once your tenders are warmed all the way through and the coating is crispy, they are ready to serve.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do you still have questions about how to reheat chicken tenders in air fryers? I’ve got answers! Check out these frequently asked questions below:
Can I still reheat chicken tenders in air fryer if they are frozen?
Yes, and there’s no need to thaw them first. To reheat frozen chicken tenders in air fryer, follow the first two steps above but time them for longer. Approximately 7 to 10 minutes should do the trick, depending on how big or small they are.
I don’t have any leftover dipping sauce from the restaurant. What else can I use for dipping?
Salad dressings like creamy blue cheese or ranch make wonderful dipping sauces. Sour cream works, too—throw some chives in there and you are really in business! And I’m a huge fan of Sweet Baby Ray’s. I always have their barbeque sauce and honey mustard on hand. I love Chick-fil-A’s assorted sauce bundle, too!
I have leftover french fries, too. Can I throw them in with the tenders?
If you want to reheat chicken tenders and fries in air fryer, it can be done. Just let your tenders get a two-minute head start, and then add the fries to the basket. (Just don’t overcrowd the tenders! The fries will need their own space.)
Can I reheat chicken tenders in air fryer more than once?
Nope. Not only would their texture become dried out and tough but it could also be a food safety hazard. Harmful bacteria begin to grow on food as it warms up. Heating up those nuggets a second time could result in bacteria reaching unsafe levels. For the same reasons, you shouldn’t keep leftovers in the fridge for more than three days. (They do freeze well, however, and will last for months that way.)
I want to reheat chicken tenders in air fryer but they are not breaded. What do I do?
You will need to follow a different reheating method. Check out my great tutorial on how to reheat chicken and rice.
How can I prevent my chicken tenders from sticking to the fryer basket?
An air fryer parchment liner will solve your problem, and it makes clean-up a breeze, too! Nothing sticks to parchment because it’s coated with silicone. I love these perforated parchment sheets. They have holes that allow air to circulate well. (Those holes are a must or your tender coating will be mush. If you are going to reheat chicken tenders in air fryer, you might as well grab these and do it right!)