Air Fryer Fried Chicken is super crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside, with no deep-frying needed! Just crunchy, golden brown goodness loaded with flavor from the spices and buttermilk-ranch marinade! This is a delicious and healthy alternative to fried chicken.
Air Fried recipes are the best because they always result in a crunchy crust and are juicy, full of flavor inside. I love pairing this dish with Southern Corn Bread, One Pot Mac and Cheese, and Crack Mashed Potatoes!
Making fried chicken in the air fryer is probably one of the best air fryer recipes ever. Firstly, you get a perfectly cooked chicken, with a golden crust and delicious skin on the outside, while maintaining a tender inside.
Also, you save a lot of calories because it is a healthier version of deep-frying since only a little oil is used. Cooking meat this way eliminated not only extra fat and calories but also the extra mess.
In addition, you don’t need to worry about splashing grease and then cleaning it. This is a pretty clean process, with minimal effort.
You simply season the meat, then place it in the basket for cooking. This Easy Air Fryer Fried Chicken is the ultimate comfort food for the whole family to enjoy.
As stated above, very little oil is used compared to the deep frying or pan-frying method. You simply spray the chicken and cook. Therefore, it is a healthier alternative but with the same crispy texture on the outside.
Also, it is very easy to clean and pretty much mess-free. All it takes is 1 minute to flip the appliance, and clean it quickly.
- Chicken: I use a whole chicken and then cut it into various pieces. However, to save time, use bone-in thighs or drumsticks.
- Vegetable oil or olive oil
- Buttermilk: This adds a lot of flavors and helps the flour mixture stick to the poultry.
- Pickle juice
- Hot sauce: Optional, but it adds some heat to it.
- Flour: Feel free to use all-purpose flour. This makes the skin extra crunchy.
- Seasoning: garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, ranch seasoning, cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. Feel free to use other seasonings such as chili powder, Italian seasonings, cajun seasoning, etc.
How to make air fryer fried chicken?
- Marinate. First, combine the marinade ingredients in a large bowl and marinate the meat in the buttermilk mixture for up to 24 hours in the refrigerator. You can skip this part and cook it right away, but marinating it really adds lots of flavor and juiciness to it.
- Coat. Then, in a medium bowl, whisk the seasonings together. Dredge the pieces in the seasoning mix on all sides.
- Prepare. Line the AF basket with parchment. Ready your seasoned pieces.
- Cook the chicken pieces. Next, place the meat in a single layer inside the air fryer basket and flip at the specified time. Spray any spots of flour with cooking spray. Continue cooking.
- Check for doneness. Check if the meat is done using a quick-read meat thermometer.
- Serve. Lastly, serve immediately with your preferred sides.
Can you substitute chicken?
Absolutely! This easy recipe works with pretty much any cut. Here are the steps:
Air fryer chicken breasts: Keep in mind that breasts meat is a leaner cut. Therefore, when cooked they can dry out faster. Also, if you use skinless breasts, the crunchy texture on the outside will be missing.
- Simply, season the breast meat and coat with the buttermilk mixture.
- Then, place the pieces in the basket in a single layer, and don’t overcrowd them.
- Air fry them for 25 minutes at 400 degrees f.
- Chicken breasts are down when they reach 165 degrees f inside.
Similarly, you can follow the same steps to cook chicken wings or chicken strips.
How long do I cook chicken in the air fryer?
This depends on a few factors. First, on the size and thickness of the meat. Also, every appliance is different, so the cooking time might vary from one to another.
Always refer to the food safety guidelines for minimal cooking meat temperatures. But generally, these are the cooking times for medium-sized cuts:
- Chicken thighs – Cooked at 370 degrees F, they will need about 30 minutes. Or, if cooked at 400 degrees F, the cooking time should be about 25 minutes.
- Chicken tenders – Cook them at 400 degrees F for 15 minutes. Flip them halfway on the other side.
- Wings – Air fry them at 400 degrees f for 8 minutes per side, or a total of 16 minutes until crisp and golden brown.
How to season chicken for the air fryer?
For my recipe, I begin infusing flavor by marinating the meat in buttermilk, ranch, and hot sauce. The longer the marinating time, the better. Once I’m ready to air fry, I coat each piece with a seasoning mix using flour, spices, and some Ranch seasoning for a tangy kick.
Can you stack the pieces in the air fryer?
I do not recommend stacking the pieces. You need that hot air to come into contact with every inch of the surface to produce a beautiful, crispy crust. Space the pieces out in a single layer and make sure they’re not touching.
Can you cook frozen chicken in the air fryer?
Yes. Hot air swirls around the food rapidly, which means it reaches all the surfaces to create that super-crispy crust. That process cooks frozen food more efficiently than deep-frying or baking.
In addition, you can cook all kinds of frozen food, such as nuggets, hamburgers, pork chops, French fries, and more!
Do I have to use buttermilk?
I would definitely recommend it. Firstly, it adds a lot of flavor to it and it helps the meat maintain a juicy and tender texture on the inside while giving it a crispy outside.
To make it easier, you can place chicken in the buttermilk mixture and refrigerate it overnight.
No Air Fryer? Then, pan-fry instead!
If you don’t have this kitchen appliance or want to rotate your menu, then try this pan-fry fried chicken recipe.
- For a crispier texture, I recommend using a cast-iron skillet.
- Also, use just enough oil to cover the poultry when frying.
- Then, heat oil to 365 degrees F, and fry the poultry in batches for about 8 to 10 minutes, not to overcrowd it.
What to serve with it?
Also, if you’re cooking for a lot of people, you can prepare sides that are easy to make in large amounts, such as mashed potatoes and coleslaw. Collard greens, potato salads, and biscuits are quite popular too!
More Delicious Chicken Recipes:
How to store leftovers?
Store the leftovers in shallow, airtight containers. Also, feel free to wrap them in plastic wrap or aluminum foil.
If properly stored, leftovers can safely last up to four days in the fridge. To reheat, cook them in the air fryer for around 10 minutes.
- Use chicken with the skin on so that the breading sticks better.
- Also, always leave enough space between each piece. Do not overlap.
- Lightly spray the surface with olive oil spray, canola, or vegetable oil to avoid spots that taste like dry flour.
- Prevent the parchment liner from getting caught in the fan by placing the pieces on top of it before starting the machine.
- Expect some of the breading to fall off, which naturally happens due to the circulating air. Using liners can lessen this.
- In addition, the cooking time can vary depending on the brand of your machine, so make sure to double-check.
- When the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, the meat is safe to consume.
Crispy Air Fryer Fried Chicken
- 1/2 whole chicken (cut into separate pieces: breast, thigh, wing, and leg)
- 1/2 cup hot sauce
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 1/2 cup Ranch dressing
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 tablespoon Ranch seasoning
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- Oil for spraying the air fryer
- Mix marinade ingredients and place chicken pieces in it. Cover and place in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or better up to 24 hours.
- In a large shallow bowl, whisk together all the Seasoning ingredients. Set aside.
Prep the Chicken:
- Place a parchment liner in the Air Fryer basket.
- Remove a piece of chicken from the marinade and toss it into the Seasoning mixture, coating all sides of the chicken, shake off.
- Arrange the chicken pieces in the basket in a single layer, for BEST results do NOT overlap and do not place too close to each other.
- Close the Air Fryer basket and set the temperature to 390 degrees Fahrenheit and the timer to 25 minutes.
- After 13 minutes, open the air fryer and spray with oil spray any "seasoning spots" left too dry on the chicken. Flip the chicken and spray the other side with oil spray as well.
- Close the Air Fryer and cook for 12 more minutes. Please keep in mind, that cooking time may vary depending on the Air Fryer brand, that's why it is important to check the internal temperature of the chicken.
- Once the timer is up, open it and check the chicken temperature with a kitchen thermometer. The internal temperature should be 165 degrees at the thickest part of the chicken.
- Some breading will fall off, which is normal, however, much less breading falls off when using the parchment liners.