Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders

Ready in just 12 minutes, these Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders are doused with an A-T-O-M-I-C cayenne sauce that brings tongue-searing heat to your dinner table.

Air Fryer Nashville hot chicken tenders on a board with ranch dressing.

Where can I get Nashville Hot Chicken outside of Nashville [TN]??

Do you make your travel plans around where you can also experience great local food? We do, too!

Recently, on our way to Tennessee, we made our way over to Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack in Asheville, NC which has some of the best Hot Chicken this side of Nashville.

Hot and delicious, this chicken will get your taste buds’ attention — as these chicken tenders definitely bite you back! I’m a spice wimp when it comes to spicy-hot foods, but even still I’m addicted to Hot Chicken. My husband who is a spice-lover was literally sweating over these spicy chicken tenders – and he didn’t even get the XXHot Sauce!!

Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken 6 PT

Spiced anywhere from plain to XXHot with plenty of other traditional flavors and sauces in between, Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack serves the best fried chicken and soul food in Asheville. It’s a favorite of locals and tourists alike and is certainly only gaining in popularity. They’ve even had a second location pop up recenlty.

We sure could use a Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack in Charleston — just sayin’!

Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders piled high on a stack of white bread.

How is Nashville Hot Chicken Made and How Can I make Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders at Home?

Here in our own kitchen, these chicken tenders are coated in Panko and popped into our Power Air Fryer until crunchy and deeply golden brown, then doused with an A-T-O-M-I-C cayenne sauce that brings tongue-searing heat to your dinner table. These chicken tenders are addictive, but get ready to sweat!

Close up of Air Fryer Nashville Hot CHicken Tenders piled high on white bread

 

PRO KITCHEN TIP: A shortcut to this sauce is to add the Nashville Hot Sauce ingredients into Frank’s Red Hot Wing Sauce [paid link]. This is a sauce we already keep on hand and starts with the same basic ingredients used in the recipe. Instructions for making it from scratch or the shortcut method are both included in the recipe.

What does Nashville Hot Chicken Taste Like?

If you’re worried about the intense heat, don’t worry! The spice level can be scaled to your individual tastes simply by adjusting the amount of cayenne pepper added to the sauce. The sauce is amped-up buffalo chichen hot wing sauce. The heat intensity is increased by the addition of more cayenne powder.

Angle shot of Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders

Does Nashville Hot Chicken Taste good?

We think so! But if you’re like me and need some help pushing back the heat, serve these spicy chicken tenders with a cooling ranch or homemade blue cheese dressing. It’s amazing.

Prefer something with less spice? Try these Air Fryer Garlic Parmesan Chicken Tenders instead.

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Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken

Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders

Ronda Eagle | Kitchen Dreaming
Ready in just 12 minutes, these Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders are doused with an A-T-O-M-I-C cayenne sauce that brings tongue-searing heat to your dinner table.
5 from 3 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Total Time 17 mins
Course Dinner
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Calories 564 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 8 chicken tenders , about 2 oz each
  • 2 eggs , beaten
  • 2 Tbsp water
  • canola oil spray
  • Panko Dredge:
  • 1-1/2 to 2 cup panko bread crumbs [See Note 1]
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • Nashville Hot Sauce: [See Note 2]
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons cayenne pepper – more or less to taste
  • 1 teaspoon paprika , regular or sweet
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon salt – more or less to taste
  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil [See Note 2 ]
  • Garnishes:
  • 8 slices white bread
  • dill pickle slices

Instructions
 

  • Preheat Air Fryer according to manufacturer instructions.
  • Set up a two-stage dredging station. Whisk the eggs and water together in a bowl.
  • Combine the panko, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and cayenne in a zip-top plastic bag or brown paper lunch bag.
  • Dip the chicken pieces 3 or 4 at a time, into the egg mixture, then toss them in the seasoned panko, shaking to coat all sides. Repeat this procedure until all the tenders are coated.
  • Place chicken into the air fryer taking care not to over-crowd the pan.
  • Lightly spray the tops of the chicken with canola oil.
  • Air-fry the chicken in two batches at 370ºF for 12 minutes, flipping the pieces over halfway through the cooking process.
  • Transfer the chicken to a plate, but do not cover. Repeat with the second batch of chicken.
  • While the chicken is frying, combine the Nashville Hot Sauce ingredients in a bowl. Heat the vegetable oil in a small saucepan and when it is very hot, add it to the spice mix, whisking until smooth. It will sizzle briefly when you add it to the spices.
  • Place the fried chicken on top of two white bread slices and drizzle the hot sauce all over chicken.
  • Top with the pickle slices. Serve hot.
  • If desired, serve with creamy ranch or blue cheese dressing.

Notes

  1. For gluten-free, use gluten-free panko.
  2. A shortcut to this sauce is to add the hot sauce spices (minus the oil) into 1/2 cup of Frank’s Red Hot Wing Sauce. This sauce starts with the same basic ingredients, including oil.

Nutrition

Calories: 564kcalCarbohydrates: 35gProtein: 31gFat: 35gSaturated Fat: 24gCholesterol: 146mgSodium: 1906mgPotassium: 582mgFiber: 4gSugar: 4gVitamin A: 2223IUVitamin C: 1mgVitamin D: 1µgVitamin E: 3mgVitamin K: 11µgCalcium: 169mgFolate: 80µgIron: 4mgZinc: 2mg
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

5 thoughts on “Air Fryer Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders”

  1. This chicken is RIDICULOUS, it is SO GOOD! The only thing I added was a sprinkle of a bbq potato chip seasoning mix that I made, bc the hot chicken takeout that I like does that. So the crispy panko, the seasoning, & your ingenious sauce all together made this the BEST. I ate it with mashed cauli-potato instead of on a sandwich, & it was so good that I made it 3x in a row in one week haha! Thank you!

    Reply
  2. I appreciated that you told me how to scale the heat up and down to satisfy the people around my table. We’ve been wanting to try hot chicken but we’re afraid of ending up with water food too hot to eat. This was perfect!

    Reply
  3. Love your hack for starting with Franks Buffalo Wing sauce. That really made this sauce easy. We liked that you could adjust the heat level by adding more or less cayenne. I like less heat and the hubs likes a lt more so we added a ton more cayenne pepper to his sauce. You weren’t kidding, these tenders made him sweat. But it’s also flavorful because you’re not tasting just the cayenne in the sauce.

    Reply

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