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Air fryer fried chicken is easy to make and so good. It’s crispy on the outside and tender and flavorful on the inside. This post will teach you everything you need to know about how to make air fryer fried chicken.
Who doesn’t love fried chicken? But deep frying it at home is a hassle. It’s messy, time consuming, and heats up your kitchen. Not to mention, it’s also not all that healthy. That’s why I love to air fry chicken.
By cooking your fried chicken in an air fryer, you get all the crispy, crunchy, juicy fried chicken goodness without the mess, the hassle, or the extra calories!
Add a savory sauce, like Korean gochujang, Chinese sesame, sweet-spicy barbecue, or honey-Dijon and you have perfection on a plate.
Making air fryer fried chicken was actually one of my main motivations for getting an air fryer to begin with. And I love my air fryer so much!
In fact, the air fryer chicken is in close competition with my Instant Pot for the award for most-loved appliance.
I love to make air fryer fried chicken and then coat it with different sauces to make meals my family loves. Our current favorite is Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken with a spicy gochujang-based sauce.
We also love Air Fryer Sesame Chicken, Air Fryer Salt and Pepper Chicken, and Air Fryer Orange Chicken.
What ingredients do you need?
You only need a few ingredients to make the basic air fryer fried chicken. Adding a savory marinade or sauce will give it extra flavor, but the basic recipe is very simple (and tasty!). Here’s what you need:
- Chicken (a whole cut-up chicken, thighs, breasts, drumsticks, chicken legs, chicken wings, diced thigh or breast, or a any combo of the above)
- Salt and pepper
- Cornstarch (optional)
- Paprika (optional)
- Spray oil or vegetable or olive oil
How Do you make it?
Making air fried chicken is super easy. Here’s how:
- Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
- Mix the flour, cornstarch, and paprika together in a shallow bowl (or just put the flour in the bowl).
- Whisk the eggs in a separate shallow bowl.
- Dunk the chicken pieces first in the flour mixture, then in the egg, and then in the flour mixture again to coat.
- Place the chicken pieces in a single layer in the basket (put a parchment paper liner in first if using).
- Spritz or brush the chicken pieces with oil.
- Air fry for 15 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
Air Fryer Fried Chicken Frequently Asked Questions
Really whatever air fryer you have will work. I use this 6-quart GoWise air fryer and I love it. There are lots of great options out there these days.
You can use any cut of chicken you like. A lot of people like to get a whole chicken and cut it up into pieces (or have the butcher do it). This is cost effective and also means that you can make everyone happy if your people prefer different cuts.
Some people like to use chicken wings or just drumsticks and chicken legs, and that’s great, too!
I like to use boneless chicken thighs. The thigh meat is juicy and flavorful, and boneless fried chicken can be eaten on its own, but it’s also perfect for filling an air fryer fried chicken sandwich.
You can dice the chicken thigh first and make chicken nuggets.
You can use chicken breasts, but since breast meat is so lean, it can dry out during air frying. My advice is to use chicken breast tenders or fillets. The smaller pieces will cook faster, preventing them from drying out so much.
You can use whichever you prefer. I usually like to use skinless chicken simply because the skin is where much of the fat is, so skinless chicken is just a bit lighter.
If you aren’t going for light, go ahead and use skin-on chicken. It will air fry up super crispy and juicy. I leave the skin on when doing drumsticks or wings.
When I’m doing a basic fried chicken in the air fryer, I use a combination of all-purpose flour and cornstarch (in a two-to-one ratio: 1 cup flour mixed with ½ cup cornstarch).
The cornstarch helps create the crispy, golden brown crust.
If you only have flour, it’s fine to just use that. You can also substitute other starches, like potato starch, for the cornstarch.
I like to spray the chicken pieces with cooking spray oil after dredging them in the flour. This helps prevent the finished fried chicken pieces from having spots of powdery, raw-tasting flour on the outside. You want the whole outer coating to be nice and golden brown.
If your air fryer has a nonstick basket, you should spray cooking oil spray on the chicken pieces before you place them in the basket. Or you can use olive oil or vegetable oil and brush it onto the chicken pieces while they are in the basket.
Coating the chicken pieces in egg gives them something for the flour/starch mixture to stick to. It also helps make a really nice golden brown, crunchy crust for the chicken.
I like to dredge the chicken in the flour or flour-starch mixture first, then dunk in the beaten eggs, then dredge again in the flour mixture.
If you are using a thicker marinade, like the buttermilk marinade I use in my Air Fryer Buttermilk Fried Chicken, you can skip the egg.
You do not have to marinate the chicken first, but you certainly can.
For my basic recipe, I just season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper before dredging them. Then you can add whatever sauce you like after it’s cooked.
If you want to make Air Fryer Korean Fried Chicken, Air Fryer Sesame Chicken, Air Fryer Orange Chicken, Air Fryer Buttermilk Fried Chicken, or other delicious variations, you can and should marinate the chicken first.
I recommend using a parchment paper liner in the air fryer, but you absolutely don’t have to.
If you don’t use a liner, some of your breading will stick to the air fryer basket and come off of your chicken. This isn’t the end of the world, but I prefer to keep as much of that crispy, delicious breading on my chicken as possible. The liner also makes cleanup a lot easier.
The truth is that some of the breading will stick to the parchment paper, too, but it will be a lot less.
I buy these perforated parchment paper liners, which fit my Gowise air fryer basket perfectly. If you don’t have these perforated liners, you can make your own with a hole punch and plain parchment paper.
If you don’t like using disposable paper liners, reusable silicone air fryer liners are a great option.
I like to use either a plain starch like cornstarch or potato starch or a one-to-one mixture of all-purpose flour and cornstarch or potato starch.
Cornstarch or potato starch gives you the crunchiest coating, but flour browns better. For the best of both worlds, I like to use a 50-50 combination of the two.
I do like to coat my dredged chicken pieces with oil before air frying. If you don’t, the flour-starch mixture ends up looking and tasting a bit raw.
I either brush on cooking oil or use a mister to spritz it on. You want to make sure that the entire surface of the chicken is wet with oil in order to ensure that you don’t end up with raw flour-y parts.
If you are using an air fryer with a nonstick basket, don’t use aerosol cooking spray to coat the chicken. An ingredient in the aerosol cooking sprays causes the nonstick coating to degrade an peel off.
If you are using an air fryer with an uncoated metal basket or tray, you can go ahead and use aerosol cooking spray if you like.
If you’re looking for a low-carb version, you have to try this Keto Fried Chicken!
Air Fryer Fried Chicken
crispy on the outside and tender and flavorful on the inside. This basic recipe is delicious as is, and it's also a great jumping off point for lots of different variations on Air Fryer Fried Chicken.
- 1 pound boneless chicken or 1 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, breasts, wings, drumsticks, or a combo
- 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
- 3/4 cup cornstarch or potato starch
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt divided
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 ½ teaspoons black pepper divided
- 2 large eggs beaten
- Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon of the salt and ½ teaspoon of the pepper.
- In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, the remaining
teaspoon of salt, the remaining teaspoon of pepper, and the paprika.
- Dredge each chicken piece in the flour mixture first, then dunk
it into the egg, then dredge again in the flour mixture so that it is
completely coated. Repeat with the remaining chicken pieces.
- Line the air fryer basket with a perforated parchment paper
liner, if using.
- Spritz or brush the chicken pieces with oil so that all of
the flour is wet.
- Place the coated chicken pieces in the air fryer basket (on
top of the liner) in a single layer (you may have to cook the chicken in 2 batches).
- Air fry at 400ºF for 8 minutes.
- Flip the chicken pieces over, spritz or brush with more oil,
and fry for 7 more minutes at 400ºF.