Air Fryer Turkey Tenderloins make a great small Thanksgiving dinner, holiday dinner or busy weeknight meal any time of year. You can have juicy, flavorful, tender white meat in about 30 minutes with very minimal effort.
Cooking turkey tenderloins in the air fryer is one of the most convenient and delicious 30-minute meals around. It makes tender white meat turkey in a fraction of the time it takes in the oven. While I do love oven recipes and am wild about my Crockpot Turkey Tenderloins, this recipe is totally hassle-free, with easy clean-up and is one of the best air fryer recipes around.
If you don't want to cook a large whole turkey, making tenderloins are a budget-friendly, economical alternative to roasting a whole bird.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- Quick meal prep – it’s only a few simple steps to make juicy white meat turkey
- Easy dinner recipe – just season and cook. Perfect for quick meals and weeknight dinners.
- Simple ingredients – sometimes simple is best. You can use any spices you have.
- Done in about 30 minutes – these practically cook themselves in no time
- Exceptional taste – you’ll love the tender texture and melt-in-your-mouth flavor
- Healthy – tenderloins are lean and high in protein, making them a good fit for many diet plans
What is turkey tenderloin?
Tenderloins (also called ‘tenders’) are a low carb, boneless, skinless, lean meat that is located on the breast bone, between the breast and the wing. However, these muscles are not used as much as the breast muscles, making them very tender cuts.
These are typically found in the poultry section of the grocery store and sold in packs of 2 because there are 2 per bird. They weigh between ½ - 1 pound each. They’re incredibly versatile, inexpensive cuts and make a perfect, healthy air fryer recipe.
Just a few ingredients is all it takes:
- Turkey tenderloins – I typically air fry 2 at a time, but you can cook more if you’d like, depending on the size of your air fryer. These make great leftovers for make-ahead meals.
- Spices - I like to use my all-purpose seasoning with an added pinch of paprika. These are classic, savory flavors used in many roasted turkey recipes. If using single spices instead of a pre-made dry rub, I suggest using basil, thyme, sage, rosemary, paprika, salt and pepper. If you don’t follow a low-FODMAP diet and don’t need a no garlic no onion recipe, adding garlic and onion powder are excellent choices. For AIP turkey, simply omit adding the pepper and paprika.
- Olive oil – to coat the tenders and help the spices adhere to the surface
- Cooking spray – to coat the surface of the air fryer basket
Pre-heat the air fryer to 350F, on the 'air fry' setting.
Pat dry to remove excess moisture on the surface.
Coat with a thin layer of olive oil. I like to use my fingers for this but you can use a basting brush if you like.
Season both sides with dry rub.
- Spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray to keep the meat from sticking
- Place in the basket and cook for 12 minutes AT 350F
Flip the tenderloins and air fry for 10 more minutes. Add additional cook time until internal temperature reaches 165F (measured with a meat thermometer) in the thickest part of the cut.
Remove from the air fryer, cover with foil and let rest 5-10 minutes. When you let them rest before slicing, it allows the juices to reabsorb and redistribute into the muscle fibers.
- After flipping, I recommend adding cook time in only 5 minute increments before taking internal temperature readings. Temperature tends to rise very quickly toward the end of cooking and you don’t want these to overcook.
- The cooking time will vary based on the size of your tenderloins.
- I have a Ninja air fryer and like to line my basket with parchment for easy clean-up.
How to store
Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or consider freezing.
Freezing cooked turkey
Freeze in sealed, freezer-safe containers or zip-top freezer bags for up to 6 months. Leftovers can lose moisture and flavor when stored longer in the freezer.
This is a very versatile recipe and can be seasoned in many ways. You can use your favorite seasoning blend or try one of these savory variations:
- BBQ turkey tenderloin – rub with your favorite BBQ seasoning, like a Sugar-free BBQ rub or low-FODMAP BBQ rub and dab on your favorite no-cook BBQ sauce during the last few minutes of cooking.
- Honey mustard – Coat in Dijon mixed with a drizzle of low-carb sugar-free honey or maple syrup
- Stuffed tenders – cut a slit lengthwise before cooking and stuff with homemade pesto or chimichurri
- Curry turkey – season with Tikka Masala and a sprinkle of salt
Some brands may brine their tenderloins before being sold. If the ingredients include salt, then they have been brined. It’s best to either not add additional salt or be very conservative when seasoning with salt, as the meat will have absorbed the sodium from the brining solution.
While tenderloin is white meat from the rib cage of the turkey, it is not the same thing as breast meat. The tenderloin is a boneless, skinless thick strip that is located between the breast and the wing. They are the most tender parts of the turkey because these muscles don’t get much exercise.
Yes! It is naturally keto-friendly, has zero carbs and is a wonderful addition to a keto diet.
Yes! It does not contain carbohydrates or fermentable sugars and is a healthy, high-protein addition to a low-FODMAP diet.
Air Fryer Turkey Tenderloins
- 2 turkey tenderloins (about 2-3 pounds)
- 1 tablespoon turkey rub (Try this all-purpose seasoning with a pinch of paprika or use your favorite dry rub for poultry)
- ¼ teaspoon olive oil (just enough to cover the surface of the tenderloins)
- cooking spray (or 1 teaspoon additional olive oil to grease the air fryer basket)
- Pre-heat the air fryer to 350 °F, using the ‘air fry’ setting.
- Pat tenderloins dry to remove excess moisture on the surface.
- Coat with a thin layer of olive oil. I like to use my fingers for this but you can use a basting brush if you like.
- Season both sides with herbs.
- Spray or rub air fryer basket with oil to keep the meat from sticking.
- Place tenderloins in the basket and cook for 12 minutes.
- Flip the tenderloins and air fry for 10 more minutes. Add additional cook time until internal temperature reaches 165℉ in the thickest part of the cut.
- Remove from the air fryer, cover with foil and let rest for 5-10 minutes. When you let the meat rest before slicing, this gives time for the juices to reabsorb and redistribute into the muscle fibers.
- After flipping, I recommend adding cook time in only 5 minute increments. Internal temperature tends to rise very quickly toward the end of cooking and you don’t want these to overcook.
- The cooking time will vary based on the size of your tenderloins.
- I have a Ninja air fryer and like to line my air fryer basket with parchment for easy clean-up.
How to serveSlice against the grain of the meat and enjoy! Serve with traditional turkey dinner sides like Maple Rosemary Brussels Sprouts or Cheddar Biscuits with Almond Flour. I highly recommend serving with Mexican Chimichurri or Red Chimichurri – it’s just so, so good.
How to storeStore leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days or consider freezing.
Freezing cooked turkeyFreeze in a sealed, freezer-safe containers or zip-top freezer bags for up to 6 months. Leftovers can lose moisture and flavor when stored for longer times in the freezer.
*Net carbs = carbohydrates - fiber
Nutritional information is an estimate, calculated using online tools and does not include optional ingredients unless otherwise indicated.