This easy Air Fryer BBQ Chicken requires just chicken, seasonings, and BBQ sauce and it almost magically turns into a delicious, well-cooked BBQ Chicken without the fuss of cooking on the grill.
» You might also like Air Fryer Pork Belly Bites.
Since you can use BBQ chicken in so many different preparations, I make it often. What I love about cooking it in the air fryer is that you still get that delicious bit of char that you would get on the grill, but with so much less effort.
Use the chicken as a main dish with any of your favorite side dishes, or slice it and put it on top of a salad, make a sandwich with it, or even chop it up and make bbq chicken tacos. The possibilities are numerous.
Ingredients You’ll Need
- Chicken breasts – You can use boneless, skinless breasts or chicken tenderloins. If you have a thicker bread, it’s best to pound it thinner, or cut it in half so it cooks more quickly.
- Paprika – There are a few different types of paprika. You could use Spanish paprika for a sweeter flavor or smoky paprika for a bit of smoky flavor. Substitute with cayenne pepper or hot chili powder to add heat.
- Salt and pepper – These will add a little more flavor to the chicken before you slather on the bbq sauce.
- BBQ sauce – Use your favorite store bought or homemade BBQ sauce. I used Sweet Baby Ray’s for this recipe. You might also like this homemade smoky bourbon BBQ sauce.
How to Make Air Fryer BBQ Chicken
Mix together the paprika, salt, and pepper. Season both sides of the chicken.
Place the chicken in the air fryer basket. Note here that you can cook more than 2 at a time if your air fryer is big enough to hold them.
Cook for 16 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through cooking. After 16 minutes, baste the chicken with BBQ sauce and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Flip and baste the other side, cook 2 more minutes.
Note: If using bone-in chicken breasts, cook for 18-20 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F.
Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.
Why Use an Air Fryer
An air fryer is an incredibly easy way to cook just about anything. You place the food in a fryer-style basket and hot air rapidly circulates all around the food, making the food crisp – much like deep-frying, but without the oil. You can cook anything you’d make in the oven.
Tips For the Best BBQ Chicken
- Use whatever BBQ sauce you like. This can really change up the flavor, using different types of sauce like this Alabama white BBQ sauce.
- If your chicken breasts are uneven in size, pound them with a mallet to even them out.
- Larger chicken breasts can be cut in half to make a more reasonable size meal.
- Letting the chicken rest for 5 minutes prior to slicing to seal the juices in.
- Chicken should be cooked to 165°F.
Super Useful Air Fryer Accessories
Once you’ve started using your air fryer more regularly, you’ll find there are so many other ways you *could* be using it, if you had a few extra useful accessories. Here are a few favorites that we use almost every day.
- 12-piece accessories kit for 3.7-5.8 quart air fryers – includes silicone cake pan, cake barrel, pizza pan, toasting/warming rack, skewer rack, silicone mat, bread rack and more
- Thermopen instant read thermometer for checking the internal temp of your meats
- Evo Oil Sprayer Bottle – BPA, latex, and dehp-free plastic, won’t clog or shatter, reusable, refillable, recyclable
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Use Chicken Thighs or Drumsticks?
Yes, you can use this recipe to cook any type of chicken you want. Remember that the key to great chicken is to cook it just to 165°F. While the timing for cooking might change depending on what piece of chicken you use, it is still quite easy to cook great chicken when going by temp.
Can the chicken be cooked from frozen?
You can cook the chicken from frozen if you want. See our instructions for cooking chicken breast from frozen. Keep in mind that it will take longer to cook and that you will need to add the seasonings once the chicken has partially cooked, in order for it to stick well.
Can I cook more than 2 pieces at a time?
Most air fryers are around 3-5 quarts in size, so they can easily fit 2 chicken breasts without overlapping. If you happen to have a larger one that can fit more pieces, then you can cook as many as you can fit without overlapping. The cook time will not change if you add more.
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Easy Air Fryer BBQ Chicken
- 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts appox 6 oz each
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup BBQ Sauce
- Mix together the paprika, salt, and pepper. Season both sides of the chicken.
- Place the chicken in the air fryer basket.
- Cook for 16 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through cooking. After 16 minutes, baste the chicken with BBQ sauce and continue cooking for another 2 minutes. Flip and baste the other side, cook 2 more minutes.
- Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes, then slice and serve.
- Chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
- As the size of chicken varies greatly, it’s best to rely on a meat thermometer to determine when the chicken is done.
- If your chicken breasts are large, you can slice them in half to get 2 6-oz pieces.
All air fryers have different wattage and may cook at different rates. You may need to adjust the time or temp for the best results.
🥧 If you’re interested in more great recipes, I share all my favorite recipes over at A Food Lover’s Kitchen, and you’ll find Instant Pot recipes at A Pressure Cooker Kitchen, and cocktails and drinks at Savored Sips. Check it out today!
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Laura spends a lot of her time cooking and creating recipes to share. She loves traveling and learning about new foods around the world to bring into her own recipes at home.