This Air Fryer Fried Chicken is a 20-minute recipe for the best “fried” chicken! It’s tender and juicy on the inside with a perfectly golden-brown, crispy, and flavorful exterior. It’s a healthier, easier, less-mess alternative to classic fried chicken!
Table of Contents
- Fried chicken ingredients:
- How to make air fryer fried chicken
- How do you crisp chicken in an air fryer?
- Can I make this in the oven?
- Can you use frozen chicken?
- Do you have to use buttermilk?
- Can you use batter in an air fryer?
- Tips and tricks for air fryer fried chicken
- Serving suggestions
- How to store leftover fried chicken
- Even more air fryer recipes you’ll love
- Air Fryer Fried Chicken Recipe
Do you ever just crave the tender, juicy, crispy deliciousness that is fried chicken? Yeah, me too.
Unfortunately, deep-fried chicken isn’t necessarily something you want to be eating all the time. Well, what if I told you that I had a fried chicken recipe you could enjoy pretty much whenever you want? Yep, you read that right.
This air fryer fried chicken (based off of my Oven Fried Chicken recipe) is the best way to satisfy those classic comfort food cravings in a healthier way! No deep frying, no excess oil, just tender, juicy, crispy fried chicken.
Fried chicken ingredients:
- Chicken Breast: use boneless, skinless chicken breasts. I used 3 full chicken breasts cut into 3-4 even pieces each.
- Buttermilk: tenderizes the meat and helps the exterior crisp up as the chicken cooks.
- Flour and Panko Breadcrumbs: the breading for the fried chicken. Flour helps absorb moisture while the Panko is what crisps up in the air fryer.
- Seasoning Salt, Paprika, Black Pepper, and Salt: I use Lawry’s Seasoning Salt along with a couple additional spices which gives the chicken so much flavor.
- Canola Oil: used to grease the air fryer basket so the chicken doesn’t stick. You’ll also use cooking spray to coat the chicken after it’s breaded so it gets that golden-brown, crispy finish in the air fryer.
How to make air fryer fried chicken
Just 10 minutes to prep, 10 minutes to cook, and you’ve got perfect “fried” chicken ready to go!
- Prep the chicken: Slice the chicken breasts into strips (about 3-4 per breast), and add to a shallow dish. Pour buttermilk over the top, turning to coat the chicken.
- Coat with the breading: In a large freezer bag or baking dish, combine flour, breadcrumbs, and seasonings. Remove the chicken from the buttermilk and coat thoroughly in the flour mixture.
- Air fry: Preheat the air fryer to 400ºF, brush the bottom of the air fryer basket with canola oil (a non-aerosol spray is best), then add in as much of the chicken as possible while leaving space between each piece. Spray the top of the chicken with oil spray, then air fry for 7 minutes. After 7 minutes, flip the chicken, spray with oil again, and air fry for another 3-4 minutes. Repeat until all of your chicken is cooked.
How do you crisp chicken in an air fryer?
Here are a couple of things you can do to make sure you get the crispiest air fried chicken possible!
- Let the buttermilk drip off. After you soak the chicken in buttermilk, remove it and hold each piece above the dish for a few seconds to let the excess drip off. You want enough moisture for the breading to stick, but not so much that the dry ingredients can’t absorb all the moisture.
- Spray with oil. Use a non-aerosol cooking spray to coat the outside of the chicken pieces. This helps wet any dry flour spots and allows the breadcrumbs to get that golden color and crispy texture.
- Leave space in the air fryer. Make sure that you leave enough space between the chicken pieces for the air to circulate. If they’re touching or stacked, then you’ll end up with some soggy spots.
- Flip the chicken. After the first 7 minutes of cook time, flip the chicken, then finish cooking for another 3-4 minutes. This ensures that the air reaches all parts of the chicken pieces so they can get crispy all the way around.
Can I make this in the oven?
This recipe is actually based off of my Oven Fried Chicken recipe that we all love so much, so you can head over there to find all the tips and tricks!
Can you use frozen chicken?
Although you can cook chicken from frozen in an air fryer, I don’t recommend it for this recipe. Frozen chicken won’t hold the seasonings and breading as well as thawed chicken will.
If all you have is frozen chicken, I recommend thawing it first. You can either thaw it overnight in the fridge or follow these steps to quickly thaw it:
- Place the frozen chicken breasts into a large ziplock bag.
- Set the bag into a bowl filled with room temperature water.
- Let the chicken sit in the water, changing the water out every 20 minutes or so, until it has fully thawed.
Do you have to use buttermilk?
Yes, I definitely recommend using buttermilk. Not only does it add flavor, but the acidity helps break down the meat for more tender and juicy chicken.
If you don’t have buttermilk, you can easily make your own. To do so, whisk together the ¾ cups of milk with 2 ¼ teaspoons lemon juice or vinegar. Let that mixture sit for 10 minutes, then it’s good to go!
Can you use batter in an air fryer?
No! Definitely don’t use a wet batter for this air fryer fried chicken. Without the hot oil used to fry classic fried chicken, the batter has no way to set. Wet batter will just drip off the chicken and make a huge mess in your air fryer.
Tips and tricks for air fryer fried chicken
Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re making air fryer fried chicken!
- Slice evenly. Cut the chicken pieces similarly in size so they cook evenly.
- Press the chicken into the breading. When you bread the chicken, press it firmly into the mixture so the breading can really stick.
- Grease the basket. You’ll want to grease the air fryer basket before you add in the chicken so it doesn’t stick.
- Check the internal temperature. Not all air fryers cook exactly the same, so I recommend using a meat thermometer to verify that the internal temperature of the chicken is 165ºF before serving.
- Spice it up. If you prefer spicy fried chicken, add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper to the spice blend.
- If you don’t have an air fryer, check out my pan fried chicken breasts or oven-fried chicken recipe instead!
I recommend serving this air-fried chicken right away for the best texture.
You can pair it with dipping sauces such as ketchup, ranch, or BBQ sauce or fill out your meal with your favorite side dishes. Here are a few suggestions:
- Creamy Ranch Bowtie Pasta Salad
- Air Fryer Potato Wedges
- Mashed Potatoes
- Roasted Potatoes and Carrots
- Mac and Cheese
How to store leftover fried chicken
Leftover fried chicken will last in an airtight container in the fridge for 3-4 days or in the freezer for 2-3 months.
To reheat, thaw in the fridge if frozen, then air fry at 400ºF for 4-5 minutes to warm and re-crisp.
Even more air fryer recipes you’ll love
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Air Fryer Fried Chicken
- 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 3 chicken breasts)
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- ½ cup flour
- ½ cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 1 tbsp seasoning salt (I use Lawry's)
- 2 tsp paprika
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees F according to manufacturer's directions.
- Slice chicken breasts into strips (I usually get 3-4 per chicken breast). Add to a shallow dish and pour buttermilk over top, turning to coat the chicken.
- In a large freezer bag or baking dish, combine flour, bread crumbs, seasoning salt, paprika, black pepper and salt.
- Remove chicken from buttermilk and coat in flour mixture, pressing firmly to ensure it adheres to the chicken.
- Brush the bottom of the air fryer basket with canola oil, and add as much of the chicken as possible while leaving a space in between each piece (you may need to do two batches, depending on the size). Spray the top of the chicken pieces with non-aerosol oil spray.
- Place the basket in the air fryer and set the timer for 7 minutes. Flip the chicken, spraying the top again with oil spray and continue cooking for 3-4 minutes until the chicken is crispy and reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F.
- Repeat cooking process with remaining chicken if necessary and serve.
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