In less than 30 minutes, make a juicy and tender Air Fryer Turkey Tenderloin! With a brown sugar and mustard marinade, this turkey tenderloin is bursting with flavor.
Whether you want to free up space in the oven or simply want a quick and easy way to cook turkey, you need to try this Air Fryer Turkey Tenderloin! It comes out tender, juicy, and packed with flavor.
Pair it with your favorite holiday side dishes for a delicious turkey dinner or serve it for an easy weeknight dinner with rice and steamed vegetables.
Why You’ll Love this Air Fryer Turkey Tenderloin
This is one of my favorite ways to make turkey tenderloin, it’s quick, easy, and delicious.
- Quick and easy: Roasting a whole turkey takes a long time, especially if you decide to brine it beforehand. This air fryer turkey is ready in less than 30 minutes.
- Never dry: Marinating the turkey breast helps ensure it stays nice and tender while it is cooked. Plus the air fryer helps to seal in the moisture when it browns on the outside.
- Great for a small holiday: If you aren’t cooking for a crowd, this is a great way to cook turkey for just a few people. It also works great if you are eating a holiday meal out of the house but still want to cook a turkey at home.
- Great alternative to chicken: When we think of lean proteins, chicken is at the top of the list but it can get boring always eating chicken. This seasoned turkey tenderloin is the perfect alternative.
Ingredients and Easy Swaps
Here is what you need to make this tender and juicy turkey tenderloin.
- Turkey breast tenderloins: Turkey breast tenderloins are sold in two ways - brined and unbrined. Normally I prefer to buy the unbrined tenderloins if possible since I like to marinate it myself. If you can only find brined turkey, reduce the amount of salt and soy sauce. Usually, there will be two tenderloins per package.
- Marinade: Turkey breast needs flavor and moisture. This marinade is sweet and savory with a combination of soy sauce, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, Dijon mustard, brown sugar, garlic, Italian seasoning, paprika, and pepper. Feel free to swap in coconut aminos, balsamic vinegar, maple syrup honey, and different spices or seasonings.
- Shortcuts: If you are short on time, use your favorite store-bought marinade. If it tastes good on chicken, it will taste good on turkey.
What is turkey tenderloin?
A turkey tenderloin refers to the section of the turkey breast that is nearest to the bone. It consists of lean, boneless, and skinless white meat. It is very similar to a chicken breast tenderloin, just larger.
When it comes to cooking, you can treat turkey breast tenderloins much like boneless, skinless chicken breasts. They share a similar cooking method and can be used interchangeably.
Additionally, turkey tenderloins cook in a manner reminiscent of pork tenderloins, making them versatile for use in a variety of pork tenderloin recipes as well.
How to Make Turkey Tenderloin in the Air Fryer
This turkey is so easy to make!
1. Marinate the Turkey Breast Tenderloin
For the best results, you always want to marinate turkey tenderloin before cooking it. Marinating the tenderloin infuses the turkey with flavor and also helps ensure it stays moist and juicy.
Mix the ingredients for the marinade in a small bowl. Pat the turkey breast dry with paper towels. Then add the turkey breast tenderloin to a non-reactive bowl or ziploc bag. Marinate for at least one hour, ideally 4 hours, or overnight in the fridge.
Remember to take the marinated turkey tenderloin out of the fridge for about 30-60 minutes before cooking it. Then remove it from the marinade and let the excess marinade drip off.
2. Air Fry the Turkey
Make sure to preheat the air fryer, this helps the turkey tenderloin brown and sear on the outside. Spray the air fryer basket (or tray) with cooking spray or brush it with olive oil.
Add the one to two tenderloins in a single layer in the air fryer. Close and cook the turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 160-165 degrees. Use a meat thermometer to make sure it doesn’t overcook. This will take 20-25 minutes, although cooking time will vary based on the thickness and size of the tenderloin. Flip the turkey halfway through.
The USDA recommends turkey is cooked to 165 degrees, but remember it will continue to cook as it rests, so usually I remove it between 155-160 degrees to ensure it doesn’t dry out.
Make sure to let the turkey rest for at least 5 minutes. Tent it with foil so it stays warm. Then slice and serve.
Side Dish Ideas
This turkey can be served with classic Thanksgiving sides like mashed potatoes, stuffing, and cranberry sauce, or try something lighter like roasted vegetables and salad.
- Holiday sides: Serve this with a potato cauliflower mash, easy roasted potatoes, green bean casserole, sausage cornbread sausage, or apple cranberry sauce.
- Roasted vegetables: Make some roasted butternut squash, caramelized Brussels sprouts, or roasted Parmesan broccoli.
- Salads: Make a delicious arugula salad, shaved Brussels sprouts salad, or spring mix salad.
- Grains: Serve this with brown rice, quinoa, farro, or creamy Parmesan polenta.
Recipe Ideas and Variations
There are so many ways to customize this recipe using different marinades and spices.
- Dry rub: If you prefer a dry spice rub on the turkey, skip the marinade and simply coat the turkey in olive oil and pay it with your favorite seasoning. We love Cajun seasoning, blackening seasoning, or lemon pepper seasoning. If you are worried about the turkey drying out, brine it first.
- Citrus herb marinade: Marinate the turkey in a combination of orange juice, lemon juice, fresh thyme, rosemary, garlic, onion powder, and olive oil.
- Honey mustard: Combine olive oil, Dijon mustard, honey, soy sauce, garlic powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper.
- Yogurt marinade: Yogurt works great to tenderize meat and add moisture. Marinate the tenderloins in Greek yogurt, lemon juice, Italian or ranch seasoning, cumin, minced garlic, salt, and pepper.
- Maple dijon: Marinate the turkey tenderloins in olive oil, maple syrup, whole grain mustard, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper.
- Low carb or keto: Just leave out the brown sugar.
Leftovers and Storage
This turkey keeps well in the fridge for 3-4 days stored in an airtight container. Use the leftover turkey tenderloin to make:
- Turkey sandwiches and wraps
- Turkey quesadillas
- Hearty protein-packed salads
- Grain bowls
- Turkey soup
- Turkey pasta
Can I cook a frozen turkey breast tenderloin in the air fryer?
It’s not recommended to cook a frozen turkey breast tenderloin in the air fryer. They tend to cook unevenly and dry out.
Can I cook a bone-in turkey breast in the air fryer?
Unless you have a very large air fryer, it isn't recommended to cook a bone-in turkey breast in the air fryer.
If your air fryer is large enough to fit a 2-3 lb bone-in turkey breast, you can cook air fry it successfully. Make sure to season the turkey well both under and on top of the skin using butter or olive oil and spices. Then cook skin side down for 30 minutes.
Flip over and cook for 25-40 minutes until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Tent with foil and let rest for 10-15 minutes.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about making turkey tenderloin in the air fryer.
The cooking time for turkey breast tenderloin in the air fryer can vary based on its size and the specific air fryer model. As a general guideline, cook at 375°F (190°C) for approximately 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
Always use a meat thermometer to ensure the internal temperature reaches at least 165°F (74°C).
To prevent dryness, consider brining or marinating the turkey before cooking. You can also baste the turkey with olive oil or marinade while it cooks.
Additionally, be mindful of the cooking time and temperature to avoid overcooking, which can lead to dryness.
Air Fryer Turkey Tenderloin
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- 2 lbs turkey breast tenderloins (1.5-2lbs total)
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
- 1 tbsp Dijon mustard
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
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When ready to cook, preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees. Once preheated, open the air fryer and spray with cooking spray. Let excess marinade drip off. Add the turkey breast tenderloins and cook for 20-25 minutes, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. You can also cook these in the marinade if you like. It will not be as crispy on the outside but stays super juicy and moist. Flip the turkey after 12 minutes.
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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