Easy Air Fryer Fried Chicken

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This easy Air Fryer Fried Chicken is crunchy and golden, with juicy and moist chicken on the inside. It’s one of the easiest ways to make fantastic fried chicken without the mess of deep frying.

air fryer fried chicken

I’ve made fried chicken dozens of times, usually on the stove top in an inch of hot oil. It’s delicious, but it’s also a huge pain to make and not very good for me. After I’m done frying all the pieces, the kitchen is a greasy disaster that needs to be scrubbed from top to bottom. Using the air fryer, you have none of that mess.

In my opinion, the air fryer produces chicken that you wouldn’t even really know wasn’t deep fried. It’s pretty genius actually. If you love fried chicken, but not all the mess and extra calories, this is the fried chicken recipe for you.

Why Cook Chicken in an Air Fryer

For fried chicken, there are a number of benefits in using the air fryer rather than deep frying. The biggest reasons are:

  • Way less mess. You aren’t frying in a vat of hot oil, so it won’t be spattering all over your kitchen.
  • Way healthier. Since you’re cooking the chicken with a lot less oil, the breading won’t soak that all up. That means less calories, less unhealthy fats, and an overall lighter meal.
  • Less time. When you deep fry chicken, even if it’s in a deep fryer and not in a skillet on the stove top, you have to stand over the food and watch as it cooks so it doesn’t burn or cause a fire. With the air fryer, all you have to do is put the chicken in, turn it on, and come back to flip it once during cooking. Easy peasy.

» You might like Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken Bao.

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Chicken – Use whatever chicken pieces you like to eat, but I would suggest bone-in, skin on chicken breast, thighs, or drumsticks. You can make more than 4 pieces if your air fryer can hold it without overlapping. Most air fryers cannot hold more than 4 pieces at a time, so you will have to do it in batches.
  • Buttermilk – Soaking the chicken in the buttermilk marinade for at least 15 minutes or up to 2 hours will impart flavor and ensure the chicken stays moist inside.
  • Egg – Egg acts as a binding agent to help the breading adhere to the chicken.
  • Flour – Flour helps form the breading on the chicken.
  • Cornstarch – This is the secret ingredient for the breading. It makes all the difference.
  • Baking powder – Helps create a lighter and crispier coating on the chicken.
  • Seasonings – The flour mixture for the breading will be very bland and flavorless unless you add some spices. I like paprika, seasoned salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder. These will add extra flavor to the breading. You could also use Cajun seasoning, Old Bay seasoning, or any version of “KFC herbs and spices” you like.
  • Cooking oil spray – You must spray the pieces of chicken well with the cooking spray in order for the breading to get crispy “fried” like fried chicken should be. Even if you coat the chicken well so the flour isn’t dry anymore, it will be way less oil than you would have used to deep fry, so don’t be shy.

Equipment Information

Helpful Tips

  • The key to great air fryer chicken is to put corn starch in the breading. It’s imperative.
  • You’ll get a crispier, golden skin if you spray the outside of the chicken with cooking spray before cooking. The flour needs oil to not be dry and flaky.
  • Don’t overcrowd the basket. The pieces of chicken need room around them for the air to circulate and get the skin crispy. If you have too many pieces for your basket, you’ll have to make them in batches. You can keep the already cooked chicken warm on a plate in the oven.
  • Not all chicken pieces will be the same size so they will cook at different speeds. Use an instant read thermometer to make sure the internal temperature has reached 165° F. Remove the pieces as they reach that temp.

How to Make Air Fryer Fried Chicken

Step 1: Soak the chicken

chicken in a marinade

Mix the buttermilk, hot sauce, paprika, salt and beaten egg in a large sealable plastic bag or bowl. I prefer to use a bag because it’s really easy to move around the pieces inside so they all get coated, and it’s even easier to clean up – just throw the bag away.

Add the chicken pieces to the bag and let them marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes, or up to 2 hours. The longer you marinate them, the more flavor they will soak up.

Step 2: Bread the chicken

breading the chicken

In another sealable plastic bag, or large shallow bowl, add the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix it together well.

Remove the chicken pieces from the buttermilk marinade and roll the chicken, one piece at a time, in the flour to coat it all around. Then shake off any excess flour and set the piece on a wire rack to rest while you finish the others.

sprayed chicken pieces

Step 3: Air Fry

Spray the chicken well with cooking spray on both sides. I like to do that while the pieces are still on the wire rack so I don’t end up coating the air fryer basket with a ton of oil (which can make it start smoking).

Preheat the air fryer at 300°F (150°C) for 5 minutes. Spray the bottom of the basket well to avoid having the breading stick to it. You can also put down a piece of parchment paper to keep the chicken from sticking.

Raw chicken in the air fryer basket

Place the chicken pieces in the air fryer basket, spaced out enough for good air circulation. Cook for 20 minutes. Check the internal temperature of the pieces. Remove any that have reached 165°F (74°C). Carefully flip the remaining chicken pieces over.

Continue cooking at 350°F (176°C) for 4-8 more minutes, while monitoring the internal temperature of the pieces. Remove them when their temperature reaches 165°F (74°C). Watching so closely is a little tedious, but it keeps from overcooking your chicken, so it’s worth it.

Let the chicken rest on a wire rack for 5 minutes before serving. It will be piping hot.

fried chicken

How Long to Cook the Chicken

If you’re making this air fryer fried chicken for the first time, you will want to be aware of the cooking times for different pieces of chicken. Also be aware that not everyone’s chicken is going to cook at the same rate, so while mine took 25 minutes, yours might take less or more time.

  • Chicken thighs and drumsticks – It’s best to cook chicken thighs and drumsticks to an internal temperature of 165-170°F. It helps breaks down the meat fibers and leads to a better cooked chicken, especially around the bone. This might take 27 or 28 minutes, as opposed to 25 for breasts.
  • Chicken breasts – Chicken breasts should reach internal temp of 165 °F. If you cook them longer, they will begin to dry out.
  • Chicken tenders – Chicken tenders in the air fryer only take about 15 minutes to cook, depending on thickness and whether they were frozen to begin with. They won’t take nearly as long as the other cuts, so keep your eye on them
  • Chicken wings – Wings tend to take about the same amount of time as a breast – 25 minutes. It takes this amount of time to properly render the fat to crispy.
fried chicken

Reheating Instructions

You can reheat your fried chicken in the air fryer and it will come out just as if it was freshly fried. That’s a huge benefit to reheating in the air fryer. I set mine to 350°F and air fry for about 5-7 minutes, until it’s just heated through. The skin crisps right back up.

Questions About the Recipe

Can I use boneless chicken for air fryer fried chicken?

Yes, boneless chicken can be used for air fried chicken. However, bone-in chicken pieces are typically recommended as they tend to stay juicier and more flavorful. If using boneless chicken, it won’t take as long to cook. Start with 15 minutes and check the internal temperature.

How do I get a crispy coating on air fryer fried chicken?

We’ve learned a few tricks for getting the best crispy coating on your chicken. The first is to add cornstarch and baking powder to the breading mixture. This helps the most, so don’t skip it. Next, ensure that the chicken is coated with a thin layer of oil or cooking spray so there’s no dry flour remaining. This helps the breading to crisp up during the cooking process. Finally, preheating the air fryer and not overcrowding the basket can also contribute to a crispier result.

What temperature and cooking time are recommended for air fryer fried chicken?

Most people recommend air fryer fried chicken at 375°F (190°C). However, I don’t like to cook it that hot because it can get scorched in spots. For an even, golden breading, cook it first at 300°F for 20 minutes, then raise the temperature to 350°F for the final minutes.

What is the amount of time needed to cook air fryer fried chicken?

The cooking time can vary depending on the size and thickness of the chicken pieces, but a general guideline is to cook the chicken for about 20-25 minutes, flipping the pieces halfway through the cooking time. It’s important to use a meat thermometer to ensure that the internal temperature of the chicken reaches at least 165°F (74°C) to ensure it is safely cooked.

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air fryer fried chicken

Air Fryer Fried Chicken

This easy Air Fryer Fried Chicken is crunchy and golden, with juicy and moist chicken on the inside. It's one of the easiest ways to make fantastic fried chicken.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 25 minutes
Marinating time 2 hours
Total Time 2 hours 40 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 2 Servings
Calories 338 kcal

Equipment

Ingredients
 

  • 4 pieces of chicken whatever pieces you like most
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 2 tablespoons sriracha or hot sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1 egg beaten
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/8 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • Cooking oil spray

Instructions
 

  • Mix the buttermilk, hot sauce, paprika, salt and beaten egg in a large sealable plastic bag or bowl. Add the chicken pieces and marinate in the refrigerator for 30 mins up to 2 hours.
  • In another sealable plastic bag, or large shallow bowl add the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Mix together well.
  • Remove the chicken pieces from the buttermilk and roll the pieces, one-by-one, in the flour to coat. Shake off any excess, then set the pieces on a wire rack to rest while you finish the others.
  • Spray the chicken well with cooking spray on both sides.
  • Preheat the air fryer at 300°F (150°C) for 5 minutes. Spray the basket well to avoid having the breading stick to it.
  • Place the chicken pieces in the air fryer basket, spaced out enough for good air circulation. Cook for 20 mins. Check the internal temperature of the pieces. Remove any that have reached 165°F (74°C). Carefully flip the remaining chicken pieces over.
  • Continue cooking at 350°F (176°C) for 4-8 minutes, while monitoring the internal temperature of the pieces. Remove when they temp reaches 165°F (74°C). Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes on a wire rack before serving.

Notes

  • Adding cornstarch to the breading mixture is imperative for good crispy fried chicken in the air fryer.
  • Be sure to regularly check the internal temperature of the chicken after the first 20 minutes, so you don’t overcook any of the 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.

Nutrition

Calories: 338kcalCarbohydrates: 60gProtein: 12gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 90mgSodium: 2979mgPotassium: 223mgFiber: 2gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 322IUVitamin C: 13mgCalcium: 214mgIron: 4mg
Keyword Chicken
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2 thoughts on “Easy Air Fryer Fried Chicken

  1. Wayne says:

    Ok I have two air fryers now, bought the Vortex Pro yesterday 4qt. I tried your grilled ham and cheese came out great in 5 minutes. Tonight going to try the chrispy chicken.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Sounds like you’re catching air fryer fever, just like I have! I’m sure your crispy chicken will turn out wonderfully. Enjoy!

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