I am definitely the kind of person that puts fast food at the top of her Guilty Pleasures list. What can I say?! After a particularly hard day or long night, nothing makes me feel better than some chicken nuggets and fries—at least, until I’m finished binge-eating them, after which I feel even worse. After investing in an air fryer, I’ve decided to try making some of my fast food faves with a ~slightly healthier~ twist, so when I came across a recipe for everything bagel-inspired chicken tenders, I knew I’d found a real contender.
I am not a Trader Joe’s girl by any means, but I did stand in line outside New York’s constantly-busy 14th St. location and wait my turn to buy the beloved Everything But The Bagel seasoning. Healthy eaters everywhere rave over this stuff, claiming you can put it on just about anything for an instant flavor upgrade. Personally, it had never piqued my interest, but when I started seeing drool-worthy photos of air-fried chicken tenders breaded with the seasoning for a little extra pizzazz, I was definitely intrigued, and I bought not one, but two bottles. You know, just in case I become obsessed and join the cult of TJs. (BTW, if you don’t live near a Trader Joe’s, there are tons of everything bagel seasoning blends you can order online.)
I knew that to create tenders good enough to outdo my fast food favorite (Shout out to Burger King, love you baby!), I couldn’t attempt to recreate what had already been perfected. I had to go a different route altogether, which was why the everything bagel chicken tenders intrigued me. Rather than follow one recipe exactly, I ended up combining two recipes I had saved to my air fryer board on Pinterest. I got the idea to utilize the Everything But The Bagel seasoning from this recipe by Paleoish Krista, and incorporated the seasoning into this chicken tender recipe by Best Recipe Box.
What I Used
An Air Fryer (I live and die for my Cuisinart AFR-25, highly HIGHLY recommend)
Everything bagel seasoning (I used the TJs one, but this one is basically the same thing)
One pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast, ideally pre-cut into strips
Panko bread crumbs
Two large eggs
Olive oil spray
What I Did
First things first, I took out two bowls and whisked my two eggs in one. In the other, I created a mixture of two parts bread crumbs, one part EBTB seasoning. You can add in more or less seasoning based on your personal preference.
Next, I laid out my chicken strips and seasoned them with salt, black pepper and paprika. The Best Recipe Box instructions also suggest garlic powder, but the EBTB seasoning is already so garlic-y, I was able to do without.
Next, the fun part. I dredged my seasoned chicken in my egg mixture, then placed it in my bread crumb bowl and ensured it was fully coated. I did this for every piece, and when each one was finished I laid it on my air fryer basket, which is more like a long, flat tray.
Then, I took my olive oil spray and gave each strip a good coating, flipping them over to ensure the oil got on both sides. You do want to ensure the chicken is fully coated so that it crisps, but the point of an air fryer is that it requires way less oil than traditional frying, so no need to go crazy with this.
Finally, I set my air fryer to 425 degrees and let it do its thing for about 10-12 minutes, stopping once to flip over the tenders halfway through the process.
How It Turned Out
Reader, I’ve made these THREE TIMES since I learned how two weeks ago, and I haven’t even thought about my beloved fast food nuggets. These are so incredibly crispy and flavorful, and they work with pretty much every condiment, although I favor Chik-Fil-A sauce, which I always have on-hand—don’t judge me.
As someone who doesn’t cook, being able to whip up these delicious chicken tenders gives me a lot of kitchen confidence, whether or not it’s actually deserved. If you’re looking to put your air fryer to good use and fulfill some fast food cravings, these everything bagel-inspired chicken tenders are the meal for you. TBH, you’re welcome for the hot tip.