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I don’t have very many 30 minute meals on my site for a few reasons. When you try and make meal prep squeeze into a very short time frame, you often make really big compromises on flavor, texture, or both. That’s not what Gracious Cooking is about. My goal is to teach simple culinary techniques so that you can make homemade meals with maximum flavor and pleasant textures.
With that said, I am also a mom of 3 little girls, a wife, and a small business owner. Sometimes a 30 minute meal is exactly what you need on a hectic night, and that is where these air fryer chicken strips come in clutch. These little chicken fingers deliver big flavor and a crispy texture on a Tuesday night timeline. So grab your favorite dipping sauces and let’s get to it!
The ingredients for this recipe are very simple. You will need:
- 2 pounds of chicken tenders
- Cajun seasoning – optional. I use Tony Chachere’s No Salt Seasoning.
- Dijon mustard
- Corn Flakes cereal
- Cooking spray
Clearly, you are going to need an air fryer to make these chicken strips. You can make them in an oven, as I’ll discuss in the FAQ’s, but the texture won’t be exactly the same. You will also need:
- A medium or large mixing bowl.
- A gallon sized zip top freezer bag. The freezer bags work best because they are thicker, and therefore less likely to get a hole in them when you are smashing the Corn Flakes.
- A rolling pin.
- Tongs – I like to use chef’s tweezers because they disturb the crunchy coating less, but regular tongs work too.
- A wire cooling rack
How To Make 30 Minute Air Fryer Corn Flake Chicken Strips
These could not be easier. I am very happy to say that you do not need to do the classic three-step dredging process that you would normally do with fried chicken. That was one of my rules when I was developing this recipe. If I am going to make chicken in the air fryer, it needs to be uncomplicated. Instead of a flour, egg, and breadcrumb dredge, we’re going to use a slick of Dijon mustard to adhere the Corn Flakes to the chicken. The result is crispy chicken strips without all the fuss.
First, put your chicken tenders in a bowl. You can also use boneless skinless chicken breasts, just cut them into 1 inch strips lengthwise. Add the salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning (or really any seasoning of your choice). With your hands, mix until the seasoning is evenly distributed. Add the Dijon mustard, and mix again. Obviously, there will be some hand washing involved here. The Dijon is what the Corn Flakes will stick to, so we want a good coating. It should look like this, or with even a little more mustard:
Next is the fun part. Pour 6 cups of Corn Flakes into a gallon sized freezer bag. Squeeze the air out and seal the bag. Next, whack it with a hammer! Or a rolling pin if you’re feeling less like Yzma ;). We don’t want dust, so don’t get too crazy here. We’re looking for medium sized crumbs.
Add the chicken and shake, squeeze, and press the bag to coat all off the chicken. If this is proving difficult, you can do this in two batches.
Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the chicken to the basket in one layer. I have a standard sized air fryer, so I cook my chicken in 2 batches. Lucky you if you have one of the big ones! Once the chicken is in, spray it liberally with cooking spray. The oil is what will make the chicken crispy and delicious, so don’t skimp here. Once the first side is sprayed, us your tongs to flip the chicken over and spray the second side.
Air fry at 400 for 9-10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches at least 155 degrees Fahrenheit as read on an instant read thermometer, flipping about 3/4 of the way through cooking (or when your air fryer tells you to flip them). See the “chicken safe temperature chart” in this article by Thermoworks to see how I arrived at 155 degrees Fahrenheit. The short version is that if chicken retains a temperature of 155 degrees for at least 49 seconds, the chicken is completely pasteurized. This pasteurization happens instantly at 165 degrees, but at that point the chicken’s texture has suffered.
When the first batch is done, remove the chicken to a wire cooling rack, and cook the second batch.
Serve these air fryer corn flake chicken strips with your favorite dipping sauces.
How To Store Air Fryer Chicken Strips
Air fryer Corn Flake chicken strips will keep covered in the fridge for 3-4 days. To reheat them, simply pop them back in the air fryer at 350 or 375 degrees Fahrenheit for a couple of minutes. They are done when the chicken is hot all the way through and the coating is crispy. They may get darker on re-heating.
I did not test freezing these, but in theory, you should be able to. I would think you can store cooked chicken fingers in a freezer bag in the freezer for about 3 months. To heat, air fry the frozen, cooked chicken strips at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 or 5 minutes, then check and see if they need more time. If you try this, please let me know how it goes!
What Goes Well With This Recipe? I recommend…
Why Corn Flakes?
You can use other ingredients for the coating, but I like Corn Flakes because they are already toasted. This ensures that you don’t have any untoasted spots, as sometimes happens when you use panko breadcrumbs. Also, Corn Flakes are affordable, easy to store, and are super crunchy.
Does It Matter What Kind Of Cooking Spray I Use?
I have used both regular Pam cooking spray and cooking spray with flour with good results. I don’t see a reason why olive oil cooking spray wouldn’t work, too.
Can I Make These In The Oven?
Yes, you should be able to make these air fryer chicken strips in the oven, although I did not test them this way. To make them in the oven, I would place the sprayed chicken on a wire rack over a rimmed baking sheet and cook them at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 10-15 minutes, flipping halfway through. Check the internal temperature of the chicken to ensure donenes. You want the internal temperature to be at least 155 degrees Fahrenheit. See the “chicken safe temperature chart” in this article by Thermoworks to see how I arrived at that temperature.
Let the chicken cool on the wire rack for a few minutes before serving.
If you make this recipe in the oven, you probably will not get the chicken as crispy as it would be in the air fryer.
Can I Make Chicken Nuggets Instead Of Strips?
Yes! Simply cut the tenderloins (or you could use chicken breasts) into bite-sized pieces, then bread them as it says in the recipe. The cooking time will be less, probably about 7 minutes or so.
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30 Minute Air Fryer Corn Flake Chicken Strips
- 1 air fryer
- 1 gallon sized freezer bag
- 1 Rolling Pin or other smashing implement
- 1 mixing bowl
- tongs I like chef's tweezers because they don't disturb the coating as much, but regular tongs work well too.
- 2 pounds chicken tenders
- 3 Tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 3/4 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/2 teaspoon Cajun seasoning – no salt I like Tony Chachere's No Salt Seasoning, but use your favorite, or none at all. This is an optional ingredient.
- 6 cups Corn Flakes cereal
- cooking spray
- a little more salt for sprinkling over the cooked chicken strips, optional.
- In a medium or large mixing bowl, place the chicken tenders, salt, pepper, and Cajun seasoning, if using. Mix well to coat the chicken in seasoning.
- Add the Dijon mustard and mix to coat.
- In a gallon sized freezer bag, add the Corn Flakes. Push out the air, seal the bag, and smash the Corn Flakes inside the bag on the counter with a rolling pin. Let loose. Have fun with it! You want to crush the cereal into medium sized crumbs, not dust.
- Add the chicken to the bag. Squish, roll, and shake the bag until all of the chicken is evenly coated in Corn Flake crumbs. This will probably take a couple of minutes.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Add the chicken in one layer. In my air fryer, I need to do two batches to cook all the chicken. Spray the side of the chicken facing up liberally with baking spray. Don't be stingy, as this is what crisps up the chicken strips. Using tongs or chef's tweezers, flip the chicken over and spray the other side.
- Air fry the chicken at 400 degrees for 9-10 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Flip the chicken about 3/4 of the way through cooking, or when your air fryer tells you to. When the chicken comes out of the air fryer, sprinkle with salt. Cook a second batch, if needed.
- Serve the chicken strips with your favorite dipping sauces, and enjoy!