Air Fryer Cracker Barrel Chicken Tenderloins

Are you craving the savory goodness of Cracker Barrel-style chicken tenderloins but want to enjoy them in the comfort of your own home? Look no further than this simple and delicious Air Fryer recipe! Marinated in a flavorful blend of Italian dressing, garlic, honey, and lime juice, these tender chicken strips are cooked to crispy perfection in the Air Fryer, resulting in a mouthwatering dish that’s perfect for any occasion.


  • ½ cup Italian dressing
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 teaspoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound chicken tenderloins


  1. Prepare the Marinade: In a large bowl, whisk together the Italian dressing, minced garlic, honey, lime juice, salt, and pepper until well combined.
  2. Marinate the Chicken: Add the chicken tenderloins to the bowl and toss them in the marinade until fully coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to 1 hour to allow the flavors to meld and the chicken to tenderize.
  3. Preheat the Air Fryer: Preheat your Air Fryer to 400°F (200°C). Spray the basket with olive oil spray to prevent sticking.
  4. Cook the Chicken: Place the marinated chicken tenders in the Air Fryer basket, making sure they are not touching each other to allow for even cooking. Depending on the size of your Air Fryer basket, you may need to cook the chicken in batches.
  5. Air Fry: Air fry the chicken tenders for 10 minutes, flipping them halfway through the cooking time to ensure they cook evenly. The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (75°C).
  6. Serve and Enjoy: Once cooked to golden perfection, remove the chicken tenderloins from the Air Fryer and serve them hot with your favorite sides and dipping sauces.

Nutritional Information (per serving):

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cooking Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes (including marinating time)
  • Servings: 4
  • Calories: (Calories will vary based on serving size and specific ingredients used)

Serving and Storage Tips:

  1. Serve Immediately: Enjoy your Air Fryer Cracker Barrel Chicken Tenderloins hot and fresh from the Air Fryer for the best flavor and texture.
  2. Garnish with Fresh Herbs: Sprinkle chopped parsley or cilantro over the cooked chicken tenderloins before serving for a vibrant pop of color and added freshness.
  3. Pair with Dipping Sauces: Serve the chicken tenderloins with a variety of dipping sauces such as barbecue sauce, honey mustard, or ranch dressing for dipping to enhance the flavor experience.
  4. Add Side Dishes: Accompany your chicken tenderloins with classic side dishes like mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, or coleslaw for a well-rounded meal.
  5. Refrigerate Leftovers: If you have any leftover chicken tenderloins, store them in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.
  6. Reheat with Care: To reheat leftovers, place the chicken tenderloins in the Air Fryer at 350°F (175°C) for a few minutes until heated through. This will help maintain their crispy texture.
  7. Avoid Overcrowding: When reheating leftovers in the Air Fryer, avoid overcrowding the basket to ensure even heating and maintain the crispy exterior of the chicken.
  8. Freeze for Future Use: If you want to store the chicken tenderloins for longer, freeze them in a freezer-safe container or bag for up to 2 months. Thaw in the refrigerator before reheating.
  9. Meal Prep: Prepare a batch of marinated chicken tenderloins ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator until ready to cook. This makes for quick and easy meal prep during busy weekdays.
  10. Customize to Taste: Feel free to adjust the marinade ingredients to suit your taste preferences. Add more honey for sweetness or extra garlic for a bolder flavor profile.

With these serving and storage tips, you can enjoy your Air Fryer Cracker Barrel Chicken Tenderloins to the fullest, whether you’re serving them fresh out of the Air Fryer or enjoying leftovers later on. Experiment with different dipping sauces and side dishes to create the perfect meal for any occasion!


  1. Spicy Cajun Twist: Add Cajun seasoning to the marinade for a spicy kick that pairs perfectly with the crispy chicken.
  2. Asian Fusion Flavors: Replace Italian dressing with soy sauce, ginger, and sesame oil for an Asian-inspired marinade. Serve with a side of stir-fried vegetables and rice.
  3. BBQ Glazed Chicken: Brush the chicken with your favorite barbecue sauce before air frying for a sticky and sweet glaze.
  4. Buffalo Chicken Tenders: Toss cooked chicken tenderloins in buffalo sauce after air frying for a tangy and spicy flavor.
  5. Parmesan Crusted Chicken: Mix grated Parmesan cheese with breadcrumbs and coat the chicken tenderloins for a cheesy and crispy coating.
  6. Honey Mustard Delight: Dip the chicken tenderloins in a mixture of honey and Dijon mustard before coating with breadcrumbs for a sweet and tangy flavor.
  7. Lemon Herb Infusion: Add lemon zest and fresh herbs like thyme or rosemary to the marinade for a bright and aromatic twist.
  8. Garlic Parmesan Chicken Tenders: Mix minced garlic and grated Parmesan cheese into the marinade for a savory and flavorful coating.
  9. Panko Crusted Chicken: Replace breadcrumbs with panko breadcrumbs for an extra crispy texture.
  10. Teriyaki Chicken Tenders: Marinate the chicken in a mixture of soy sauce, brown sugar, and garlic for a deliciously sweet and savory flavor profile.
  1. Honey Sriracha Chicken: Mix honey and Sriracha sauce for a sweet and spicy marinade that adds a kick to your chicken tenderloins.
  2. Maple Dijon Glazed Chicken: Combine maple syrup and Dijon mustard for a tangy-sweet glaze that caramelizes beautifully in the Air Fryer.
  3. Herb-Crusted Chicken: Mix dried herbs such as thyme, rosemary, and sage with breadcrumbs for a flavorful herb crust.


  1. Can I use chicken breasts instead of tenderloins?
    • Yes, you can use chicken breasts, but adjust the cooking time accordingly as they may take longer to cook.
  2. Do I need to flip the chicken tenderloins while air frying?
    • Yes, flipping the chicken tenderloins halfway through the cooking time ensures even cooking and crispy texture on both sides.
  3. Can I use bottled Italian dressing for the marinade?
    • Yes, you can use bottled Italian dressing as a convenient shortcut, but homemade marinade offers fresher flavor.
  4. Can I marinate the chicken overnight?
    • Yes, marinating the chicken overnight allows the flavors to penetrate the meat for maximum flavor.
  5. Can I use frozen chicken tenderloins?
    • It’s best to thaw frozen chicken tenderloins before marinating and cooking to ensure even cooking.
  6. Can I use an oven instead of an air fryer?
    • Yes, you can bake the chicken tenderloins in a preheated oven at 400°F (200°C) for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through.
  7. How do I know when the chicken is cooked through?
    • Use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F (75°C).
  8. Can I omit the honey from the marinade?
    • Yes, you can omit the honey or replace it with maple syrup or brown sugar for sweetness.
  9. Can I use lime juice from a bottle?
    • Freshly squeezed lime juice provides the best flavor, but bottled lime juice can be used as a substitute.
  10. What can I serve with air fryer chicken tenderloins?
    • Air fryer chicken tenderloins pair well with a variety of sides such as roasted vegetables, mashed potatoes, or a crisp salad.

With just a few simple ingredients and the convenience of the Air Fryer, you can enjoy the delicious flavor and crispy texture of Cracker Barrel-style chicken tenderloins anytime you want. Give this recipe a try and elevate your home cooking game with this irresistible dish!