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How to Make Air Fryer Fried Chicken

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.

Air fryer fried chicken thighs in a basket lined with parchment paper.

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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 is in close competition with my Instant Pot for the award for most-loved appliance.

I love to make air 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 and Air Fryer Chinese Orange Chicken.

Overhead shot of the ingredients to make fried chicken in the air fryer.

What ingredients do you need to make air fried chicken?

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
  • Flour
  • Cornstarch (optional)
  • Paprika (optional)
  • Eggs
  • Spray oil or vegetable or olive oil

How to make air fryer fried chicken

Making air fried chicken is super easy. Here’s how:

  1. Season the chicken pieces with salt and pepper.
  2. Mix the flour, cornstarch, and paprika together in a shallow bowl (or just put the flour in the bowl).
  3. Whisk the eggs in a separate shallow bowl.
  4. Dunk the chicken pieces first in the flour mixture, then in the egg, and then in the flour mixture again to coat.
  5. Place the chicken pieces in a single layer in the basket (put a parchment paper liner in first if using).
  6. Spritz or brush the chicken pieces with oil.
  7. Air fry for 15 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
Overhead shot of air fried chicken in a basket.

Air Fryer Fried Chicken Frequently Asked Questions

What kind of air fryer should you use?

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.

What cut of chicken should you use for air fryer chicken?

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.

Should you use skin-on or skin-off chicken pieces for air fryer fried chicken?

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.

What do you use to coat the chicken?

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.

Do you use any oil in your air fried chicken recipe?

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.

Why do you coat your chicken in egg before dredging and air frying it?

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.

Do you have to marinate the chicken before dredging it?

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.

Do you have to use parchment paper liners in the air fryer?

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.

What do you coat the chicken in before air frying?

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.

Do you coat the coated chicken pieces with oil before air frying?

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.

Can you make low carb air fryer fried chicken?

If you’re looking for a low-carb version, you have to try this Keto Fried Chicken!

more great air fryer recipes you’ll love

Yield: Serves 8

Air Fryer Fried Chicken

Overhead shot of air fried chicken in the air fryer basket.

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 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.

Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 25 minutes

Ingredients

  • 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

Instructions

  1. Season the chicken with 1 teaspoon of the salt and ½ teaspoon of the pepper.
  2. In a shallow bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, the remaining
    teaspoon of salt, the remaining teaspoon of pepper, and the paprika.
  3. 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.
  4. Line the air fryer basket with a perforated parchment paper
    liner, if using.
  5. Spritz or brush the chicken pieces with oil so that all of
    the flour is wet.
  6. 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).
  7. Air fry at 400ºF for 8 minutes.
  8. Flip the chicken pieces over, spritz or brush with more oil,
    and fry for 7 more minutes at 400ºF.

Notes

You can use all flour or all cornstarch if you prefer. I like the combo because I think it makes for the best combination of crunch and browning.

Nutrition Information

Yield

8

Serving Size

1

Amount Per Serving Calories 407Total Fat 17gSaturated Fat 5gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 10gCholesterol 177mgSodium 658mgCarbohydrates 21gFiber 1gSugar 0gProtein 40g

Nutrient values are estimates only. Variations may occur due to product availability and manner of food preparation. Nutrition may vary based on methods of preparation, origin, freshness of ingredients, and other factors.

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Pinterest pin for air fryer fried chicken.

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