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Air Fryer Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Air fryer buttermilk fried chicken is a dream come true. What could be better than juicy, tender, hot-sauce-and-buttermilk-infused chicken with a crunchy crispy coating? Air frying it makes it easy and healthy.

A horizontal shot of a hand holding a fried chicken leg with more fried chicken legs in the background.

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Somehow spicy buttermilk-marinated fried chicken and eat-dinner-on-the-deck weather go hand-in-hand for me. But who wants to stand in a hot kitchen deep frying chicken in the summertime?

I’ve got a detailed post on How to Make Fried Chicken in the Air Fryer, which is loaded with tips and advice for making a basic air fryer fried chicken. It’s a great starting point for all of my delicious air fryer recipes for crispy chicken.

This recipe takes all that information but adds a buttermilk-and-hot-sauce marinade that tenderizes and flavors the chicken.

This juicy chicken has all the traditional flavor of the best deep fried chicken. But since it is made in the air fryer, it is lighter, healthier, and much easier to make!

This recipe uses much less oil than traditional deep frying, which makes it lighter. It also means less of a mess to clean up in the kitchen.

It’s an added benefit that it doesn’t heat up your kitchen or require you to stand over a hot stove.

And I can pretty much guarantee that your whole family will love it!

Overhead shot of the ingredients needed to make buttermilk air fryer chicken.

What ingredients do you need?

You only need a handful of ingredients to make this mouthwatering, crispy air fryer chicken recipe.

  • Chicken (use bone-in or boneless chicken thighs, chicken wings, or chicken drumsticks)
  • Buttermilk
  • Hot sauce
  • Black pepper (and optional cayenne pepper)
  • Salt
  • Garlic powder
  • Paprika
  • Flour

How do you make it?

Air fryer buttermilk fried chicken is way easier to make than regular fried chicken. Here’s how:

  1. Combine buttermilk and hot sauce in a large bowl and then marinate the chicken in the buttermilk mixture.
  2. Remove the chicken from the marinade, discarding the excess buttermilk mixture.
  3. Dredge the chicken in seasoned flour.
  4. Arrange the coated chicken pieces in a single layer in the air fryer basket.
  5. Brush or spritz the chicken with oil.
  6. Air fry for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
low angle shot of a basket of fried chicken legs.

What do you serve with it?

I like to serve this air-fried chicken with Coleslaw and slices of watermelon for a perfect summer meal.

You could also add Buttermilk Biscuits or Sweet Potato Biscuits to round out the meal.

Air fryer buttermilk fried chicken frequently asked questions

Do you need to use a parchment paper liner in the air fryer basket?

You don’t need a parchment paper liner, but I find that it makes it easier to flip the chicken pieces and also reduces cleanup time and effort. You can use reusable silicone liners if you don’t like the disposable parchment paper ones.

What cuts of chicken do you use for this recipe?

You can use whatever chicken pieces you like. Personally, I prefer using dark meat chicken, like the thighs and drumsticks. You can use chicken breast or wings if you prefer. You can even use a whole chicken cut into pieces. You can use bone-in or boneless. I personally prefer to use boneless, skinless thighs because they stay moist and juicy but still cook quickly.

What type of hot sauce do you use?

I like to use Franks Red Hot Wing Sauce in my marinade, but use whatever you love. It adds so much flavor to the finished dish.

Why do you use buttermilk in the marinade?

The lactic acid in buttermilk is a tenderizer–it guarantees tender chicken pieces inside the crunchy crust.

What can I use as a substitute for buttermilk?

If you don’t have buttermilk, you can make a decent substitute by adding about a teaspoon of lemon juice of vinegar to regular milk. You can also substitute plain yogurt in this recipe.

What type of air fryer do you use?

I usually use a basket-style GoWise Air Fryer. Sometimes I use a Mealthy Air Fryer Lid on top of my Instant Pot.

A hand holding a fried chicken leg with more fried chicken legs in teh background.
Overhead shot of air fryer fried buttermilk chicken.

Air Fryer Buttermilk Fried Chicken

Robin Donovan
4.71 from 65 votes
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Course Air Fryer Recipes
Cuisine American
Calories 495 kcal


  • ½ cup buttermilk
  • ½ cup hot sauce I like Franks Red Hot
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper divided
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 8 chicken drumsticks or chicken thighs
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Cooking oil for brushing or spraying on the chicken


  • In a medium bowl, stir together the buttermilk, hot sauce, 1 teaspoon of the salt, 1 teaspoon of the pepper, and the garlic powder. Add the chicken and toss to coat well.
  • Marinate the chicken for at least 30 minutes (or as long as 2 hours).
  • Meanwhile, in a wide, shallow bowl, stir together the flour, the remaining teaspoon of salt, the remaining teaspoon of pepper, and the paprika.
  • Remove the chicken from the marinade, discarding the marinade. Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour mixture until very well coated.
  • Brush or spray the chicken pieces with oil and arrange them in a single layer in the air fryer.
  • Cook at 400ºF for 8 to 10 minutes, until golden brown on top. Flip the chicken pieces over and cook for another 8 to 10 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown and crisp all over.
  • Serve immediately.


Serving: 1Calories: 495kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 52gFat: 23gSaturated Fat: 6gPolyunsaturated Fat: 15gCholesterol: 252mgSodium: 1204mgFiber: 1gSugar: 2g
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

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Air Fryer Buttermilk Fried Chicken Story

By on July 21st, 2021


Hi, I’m Robin! I am a full-time food blogger, recipe developer, and cookbook author. I spend my days cooking, writing about, and photographing food.

I’m the author of more than 50 cookbooks, including Ramen for Beginners5 Ingredient Cooking for TwoSushi at HomeThe Baking Cookbook for Teens, and the bestselling Campfire Cuisine.

My food writing has also been featured in major print and online pubications including Cooking Light, Fitness, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and others. → More about Robin

6 thoughts on “Air Fryer Buttermilk Fried Chicken”

  1. I feel like I did something wrong. I followed the steps. But when flipping the chicken, every bit of breading came off 🙁 maybe you’re supposed to flour first???

    • I’m so sorry this didn’t work for you. The chicken pieces should be dredged in flour before putting them in the air fryer. I also recommend spritzing or brushing with oil. If your breading sticks to your air fryer basket, try using the perforated parchment paper liners or a silicone liner.


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