Today’s collection of the best air fryer chicken recipes will give you quick, smart solutions to wholesome weekday meals. Whether you fancy crusty breaded, juicy fried, or smoky grilled chicken — we’ve got all the options covered.
These recipes are simple to make, easy to follow, and guarantee succulent, golden crispy results. Most of them are also family-friendly and kid-friendly. Hopefully, you will find your favorites to bookmark to your list of best meals made in the air fryer.
Can You Fry Chicken in an Air Fryer?
An air fryer works in a similar way to a convection oven. You can either fry, bake, roast, or boil food in it.
Cooking with an air fryer is, so far, the easiest way to ensure evenly cooked food. The airflow system of an air fryer is designed to replicate the way the heat is distributed in deep-frying. But instead of using a sizzling pool of cooking oil to cook food, the air fryer circulates hot air around the frying basket so all the surfaces of your food are evenly cooked.
Here are the major reasons why we should use an air fryer to fry chicken:
- Crispiness and juiciness for the meat:
Deep-frying was once the only way to achieve ultra-crispy skin for fried meats, but that’s now no longer true. Not only can the air fryer achieve the same result but it also allows you to (largely or completely) cut out the excess oil that is necessary for deep-frying.
In general, the outside of the air-fried chicken is pretty much like roasted chicken, but the inside is slightly juicier and more flavorful. You can also create charring and nicely browned meat in the air fryer.
- Time-saving and efficiency:
The cooking time can be reduced by up to half, compared to oven-baking or stovetop cooking. The hot air circulates rapidly, thus saving both time and energy, especially when cooking large cuts of meat or a whole chicken.
The air fryer also preheats fast (no more than 3 minutes) and doesn’t heat up the kitchen space. Some recipes don’t even require preheating an air fryer, and all you need to do is fill the frying basket and hit the buttons.
- Easy clean-up:
This is quite obvious, as the only thing that accumulates grease throughout the entire process is the interior frying basket. No extra utensils or cooking pots are required.
Are Air Fryer Chicken Recipes Healthy?
The air fryer offers a faster, healthier, and more convenient way to cook chicken. Air frying is healthier than pan-frying, deep frying, or oven baking, because there’s no need to use added oil or cooking spray to yield crispy results.
In the air fryer, the chicken is cooked in circulated hot air instead of hot oil. This helps cut out many calories and artificial trans fats from your dish.
You will see some recipes suggest keeping the chicken skin on so when it’s cooking under intense and constant heat, the fat will leak out and fuse with the coating and the inside, making it extra crispy. This is another way to ensure juiciness and tenderness, especially for lean cuts like chicken breasts.
That being said, you can rub the chicken pieces with a little oil before placing them in the frying basket; it’s really up to your personal taste. Otherwise, consider wrapping the chicken in aluminum foil to retain all the natural juices inside and protect it from drying out.
To sum up, with the air-frying method, you’ll get delicious crispy skin just like the deep-fried version but with only a small amount of oil or none at all. The cooking process is simplified, the cooking time is reduced, and the kitchen is kept clean from splattering oil.
By frying food in an air fryer, you can also avoid consuming cancer-promoting substances. These substances are known to be formed when the starch in the food reacts with the hot oil for a long time.
How Long to Cook Chicken in an Air Fryer
1. For fresh chicken:
Cooking time and temperatures are definitely matters of concern when it comes to frying chicken, especially if you’re working with a newly bought air fryer. They depend on many factors, including the type and size of chicken cuts, the set temperature, and also the air fryer model — yes, different models will heat up differently.
According to the USDA, poultry must reach the minimum cooking temperature of 165°F internally to ensure food safety. To do so, use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature at the thickest part of the meat cut. If you don’t have one, follow the specific recipe carefully through each step and you’ll be fine.
With or without the skin, chicken cuts require the same amount of time to achieve doneness in an air fryer. The skin doesn’t affect the total frying time, sometimes an additional 3-5 minutes can be added to create charring and crisp skin, but that’s up to your taste.
For your reference, we’ve come up with the below table of cooking times for common types of chicken cuts at 400°F in the air fryer. Make sure that the chicken pieces are at room temperature before being added to the air fryer, so the inside and outside of the chicken can cook at the same rate.
|Type of chicken cut||Cooking time for the first side||Cooking time for the other side|
|Whole chicken||30 minutes||15-20 minutes|
|Chicken breast||10 minutes||5 minutes|
|Chicken wing||15 minutes||8 minutes|
|Chicken thigh||15 minutes||10-15 minutes|
|Chicken leg (Chicken drumstick)||10 minutes||10 minutes|
2. For frozen chicken:
Not surprisingly, you can also create moist and juicy air-fried chicken out of frozen chicken.
Chicken will freeze well for up to 3 months. To prepare and freeze the chicken ahead of time, put the marinated (or plain) chicken pieces into Ziploc bags, place them in the freezer, and they’ll be readily available any time you want some tasty fried chicken.
Before cooking, allow the frozen chicken bags to defrost in the fridge overnight, then on the following day, take them out and let them thaw to room temperature.
After defrosting the chicken, you’ll need to pat them dry as there will be excess moisture locked inside.
You can also cook chicken directly from frozen in an air-fryer — yes, air fryers are designed with a “defrosting” mode. Simply place the frozen chicken on a plate, put it in the frying basket, set the temperature to 200℉, and the timer for 5 minutes.
After 5 minutes check the meat, if it hasn’t completely thawed, flip it and perform another round of defrosting. Next, proceed with the remaining cooking steps just like you would do with fresh chicken cuts, as fresh chicken and defrosted chicken cook at the same temperature for the same time.
Air Fryer Chicken Breast Recipes
Cooking with the air fryer is easy, quick, and clean. It’s a healthy way to fry chicken breasts to a crispy juicy finish in a fraction of the usual deep-frying time and with none or a very little amount of cooking oil. A healthy dinner with lean chicken breasts can now be made easily even on busy days!
- Air Fryer Chicken Breast: Made for a wholesome and hearty meal, this dish comes with a complimentary green salad to complete your family dinner table.
- Air Fryer Chicken Parmesan: As a reimagined take on the steakhouse’s famous crusted chicken dish, our longhorn Parmesan chicken is a finger-licking treat with a breadcrumb and cheese crust. Layered beneath the golden exterior is a creamy ranch sauce, served alongside a fresh vegetable mix.
- Air Fryer Chicken Tenders: It’s better than the original deep-fried version, and takes you only 25 minutes to make 12 crispy, juicy chicken fingers for a table of four. Chicken tenders and chicken breasts can be used interchangeably in this recipe.
- Marinated Chicken in Air Fryer: The chicken is soaked up in a flavorful citrus-based marinade, then air-fried to golden perfection. Juicy and delicious, it’s done within just 35 minutes.
- Air Fryer Chicken Patties: Quicker to make yet also fresher and less greasy than their pan-fried counterparts, these chicken patties are light in calories and fat, making a convenient, family-friendly weeknight meal.
- Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Breast: With very little oil, it’s a healthier version of crispy deep-fried chicken yet it still ends up with a beautiful golden and crispy exterior. Only 10 minutes of air frying is needed.
- Air Fryer Chicken and Veggies: A complete and healthy low-carb meal that’s full of flavor and done in 20 minutes. The roasted chicken is succulent, while the colorful veggies remain crispy and fresh.
- Air Fryer Chicken & Broccoli: With crispy toasted edges and juicy tender meat, this dish also opens many possibilities for additions and substitutions. The broccoli served alongside adds extra crispiness and texture to the meal.
Air Fryer Chicken Wings Recipes
Air frying takes chicken wings to another level, as you’ll get to enjoy crispy and flavorful fried wings with your favorite spicy sauce in a fraction of the time and no oil required!
- Air Fryer Chicken Wings: This crispy, succulent, and satisfying buffalo wings recipe is designed to cut out a large portion of potential calories, with the wings being much less greasy than the regular store-bought wings.
- Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Wings: Crispy, juicy, and melt-in-your-mouth, chicken wings are achieved with just a light coating of cooking spray. Convenient and tasty.
- Sticky Air Fryer Chicken Wings: Deliciously sweet and Coca-Cola glazed chicken wings are made with simple ingredients, making them a perfect appetizer or snack for either game days or family dinners. They’re also gluten-free.
- Air Fryer Breaded Chicken Wings: Flavorful and crispy chicken wings are made easily without all the grease from deep-frying.
- Vietnamese Air Fryer Chicken Wings: Chicken wings are coated with a sweet chili-garlic sauce to create a perfectly crispy and tangy-sweet treat with a rich and intense flavor with just 10 minutes of cooking and no marination is required.
- Air Fryer Chicken Wings with Buffalo Sauce: This dish is juicy and spicy, with no pots of oil to scrub later.
- Air Fryer Korean Chicken Wings: Chicken wings are coated with an addictive Korean sauce and fried to golden perfection in less than 30 minutes. The result is a sticky, flavorful, and finger-licking delicious meal.
- Air Fryer Garlic Parmesan Wings: Seasoned to perfection, these chicken wings are buttery and juicy tender with a garlic Parmesan crust and done in just 30 minutes.
Air Fryer Chicken Thighs Recipes
We’ve gathered the best air fryer chicken thighs recipes together in the list below for you to follow and create finger-licking good weekday meals. With just a simple rub with spices, you’ll get well seasoned and heavenly crispy chicken thighs.
- Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets: Our chicken nuggets are a healthier alternative to the classic McDonald’s item. It’s still an addictive treat with all the great flavors recreated without excess oil.
- Air Fryer Chicken Thighs: These incredibly juicy and satisfying chicken thighs with extra-crispy skin are healthy, tasty, and easily home cooked, and require no breading, added oil, or cooking spray.
- Air Fryer Honey Soy Chicken Thighs: Sweet and crispy chicken thighs are well marinated in a honey soy sauce and bursting with Asian flavors.
- Air Fryer Asian-Glazed Boneless Chicken Thighs: These juicy air-fried chicken thighs become a hearty dinner when served with brown rice and steamed veggies on the side.
- Lemon Pepper Air Fryer Chicken Thighs: Quick, easy, and ready on your dinner table in under 20 minutes, this dish is loaded with juicy chicken pieces and lemony peppery flavors.
- Keto Air Fryer Tandoori Chicken Thighs: Chicken thighs are smothered in a spiced yogurt marinade then air-fried until crisp and golden, making them a great alternative to barbecued meat. They’re a great addition to the famous Indian dish.
- Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken: Pieces of chicken are drenched in a gingery marinade and a spicy-sweet gochujang sauce and then cooked to crispy, finger-licking deliciousness. This dish can be a great party snack or appetizer, especially when paired with Korean-style pickled vegetables.
- Air Fryer Chicken Thighs with Maple: These chicken thighs are slightly sweet and pungent thanks to the addition of soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and maple syrup. After air frying, the skin is beautifully caramelized with an addictive taste.
Air Fryer Chicken Legs Recipes
Chicken legs usually have more tendons than other cuts and the air fryer is the perfect tool to deal with them. These recipes we’re about to introduce are easy to follow, even for air-frying beginners — some only require a simple marinade to flavor the chicken. Wholesome and juicy chicken drumsticks bursting with flavor can now be made in just half the time than stovetop cooking normally requires.
- Air Fryer Fried Chicken: Perfectly crispy on the outside and juicy tender on the inside, these chicken drumsticks are a wonderful choice for dinner, especially if you’re busy but still crave a low-fat take on fried food.
- Air Fryer Chicken Legs: These juicy tasty chicken drumsticks are seasoned with an aromatic spice blend, then fried to golden perfection. They’re crispy on the outside while remaining succulent on the inside — all in a matter of 25 minutes.
- Air Fryer Buttermilk Fried Chicken: The outer crust is beautifully crispy and the inside meat is super juicy; this buttermilk fried chicken is a healthy, finger-licking treat. The acidity in the coating tenderizes the meat while the buttermilk helps the flour stick to the chicken so it’s crisped up evenly in the air fryer.
- Ninja Air Fryer Fried Chicken Legs: These ninja air fryer fried chicken legs provide a perfect way to get flavorful fried chicken without using any added breading or grains. They require simple preparation and can be done with just 30 minutes of cooking.
- Easy Air Fryer Chicken Legs with Ranch Dressing: Coated with butter and ranch seasoning, these chicken legs are easy and quick to make, yet are incredibly juicy and also Keto-friendly. They’re a great meal option especially for people who are watching their carb intake closely.
- Crispy Brown Sugar Air Fryer Chicken Legs: Nicely seasoned with brown sugar and smoked paprika, these browned chicken legs are healthier than traditional fried versions with very little oil required. Yummy!
- Air Fryer BBQ Drumsticks: Not only are these BBQ drumsticks incredibly moist and juicy, but they’re also perfectly crisp and super flavorful. The pleasant smoky barbecue aroma is recreated in a much simpler and healthier way.
- Air Fryer Southern Fried Chicken: Perfectly golden, crisp, and savory fried chicken legs made Southern-style that are suitable for any occasion.
- Buffalo Chicken Air Fryer Chicken Legs: The appetizing buffalo chicken wing flavors that everyone loves are now made with chicken legs for a meatier meal. It also adheres wonderfully to low-carb and Keto diets.
How to Cook Chicken in an Air Fryer
For all chicken cuts, the steps to cook chicken in an air fryer are:
- Wash and rinse the chicken cuts. Pat them with a paper towel or let them drain dry. If you want to coat the chicken with spices, be sure not to pat them too dry, as a little bit of moisture helps the coating adhere to the surface.
- Preheat the air fryer to the required temperature mentioned in the recipe. Simply turn the air fryer on and let it run for about 3-5 minutes, and in the meantime, you can continue to prepare other ingredients for your meal. If you skip the pre-heating altogether, simply add an equivalent time to fry the chicken later.
- Season with spices (optional): If the recipe requires it or you feel like spicing the chicken up to your own taste, feel free to rub it with a spice mix of choice.
- Spray or mist the chicken with cooking oil (optional): First, use an oil sprayer to mist the chicken, then use your hand to rub it all over the surface.
- Add the chicken pieces directly to the basket of the air fryer. Cook until it reaches 165°F internally. All cuts of chicken require a halfway flip in the air fryer to ensure even cooking.
Further to these steps, as each type of chicken cut has different characteristics, read on to uncover more details on how to handle them.
1. Whole chicken:
A whole chicken cooked in the air fryer tastes like a rotisserie chicken: crispy on the outside and juicy and moist inside.
You won’t need to separate the whole chicken into smaller pieces when cooking with an air fryer. Most air fryers can fit a whole chicken into the frying basket.
When placing the chicken in the frying basket, remember to place the breast-side down to protect the breast meat from drying out and to keep it juicy. By doing so, the thigh and leg parts, which are the dark meat, will be the first parts to be exposed directly to the hot air rather than the breast part.
After 40-50 minutes of air frying at 360°F, flip the chicken and continue to cook it for 10-20 minutes. As long as the thickest part of the breast reaches 165°F internally, you’re good to go.
2. Chicken breasts:
Chicken breasts cook best at 375°F in the air fryer. They usually require a total of 15-20 minutes of air frying, including one flip halfway.
Never stack chicken breasts in the frying basket. Take it easy and handle them in several batches if you’re making large meals. When you’re about to serve, return all the previously cooked chicken breasts to the basket and reheat them quickly for about 2 minutes.
3. Chicken wings:
To prepare chicken wings to fry, first, cut into the joints and divide it into three parts: drumette, flat, and wing tip. Discard the wing tip and keep the other two.
Similar to air frying chicken breasts, try to cook chicken wings in batches so they barely touch each other. The chicken pieces need to lay in a single layer so each of them can crispen up evenly.
Chicken wings usually require two stages of air frying: the first stage at 350°F for 25 minutes, followed by a halfway flip, then the second stage at 400°F for 5 minutes. The second stage of frying is meant to give the chicken a deliciously crisp exterior.
4. Chicken thighs and legs:
If using chicken thighs and legs with skin, you’ll probably want to add an additional 3-5 minutes of cooking time to crispen the skin.
Normally, these two types of cut cook best at 375°F and require a total of 25-minutes.
How to Reheat Fried Chicken in an Air Fryer
Normally, fried foods don’t reheat well as they will be prone to losing moisture and texture. So when reheating pre-cooked chicken in an air fryer, you might need to spray some oil over the surface before putting them in the basket to cook at 350°F for about 10 minutes.
To keep the chicken moist and juicy, you can wrap the leftover fried chicken pieces in aluminum foil or parchment paper before air frying. The foil wrapping also keeps the frying basket less greasy, allowing for easier cleanup.