This air fryer chicken breast is tender and juicy inside and incredibly crispy outside. A healthier version of crispy deep-fried chicken! Both breaded and unbreaded chicken recipes are included.
Air fryers are this season’s must-have kitchen appliance, and with good reason! They produce crispy, delectable food with far less oil than typical frying would. You end up with a healthier alternative to fried meals that tastes just as good as, if not even better than, the real thing. Imagine your favorite fried chicken, crispy and golden brown on the outside, with tender, juicy white meat on the inside. Say goodbye to dry chicken, goodbye to sticky fingers, and hello to your new favorite fried chicken recipe thanks to the air fryer.
Air Fryer Chicken Breast
You might be thinking that fried chicken is reserved for Southern mothers and line cooks at American diners, but this is SO easy and it’s reliably perfect every single time. Our simple, straightforward recipe is all you need to deliver awesome fried chicken.
The great thing about air fryer chicken is that it’s not actually that different from the fried chicken you know and love. Even though we’re using far less oil to cook our food, the high-heat environment of the air fryer is perfect for making fried chicken. It’s every bit as crispy and golden as you’d expect. As they say in Kentucky, it’s finger lickin’ good.
Reasons to Love Air Fryer Chicken Breast
- 👏First off, it makes cooking chicken very fast. It’s far quicker than cooking in the oven or on the stovetop. No more lengthy downtime waiting for your food to prepare.
- 👏There’s minimal mess, too. You can just wash the air fryer basket and whatever you ate with (plus any prep surface). Plus, if you prep your chicken in the basket, you kill two birds with one stone. That’s it!
- 👏You can get away with a cooking spray. That’s right, any cooking spray is enough to fry your chicken. Because you use less oil, it’s far healthier than the alternative, and using half the oil will halve your oil budget. Air fryers also use less electricity than most ovens. It’s an economical chicken breast, too!
How To Bread Chicken
- You can go one of two ways. You can bread raw chicken with seasoned dried breadcrumbs, adding some oil along the way, but the breadcrumbs don’t stick well.
- 👍The other option is to go old-school and follow the egg method perfected by grandmothers across generations. This is a great way of making fried chicken and we actually prefer it as the egg mixture really makes the breadcrumbs stick and you get that classic crispy texture we know and love in fried chicken.
How To Cook Boneless Breaded Chicken Breast in the Air Fryer
- First, cut the breast into cutlets. Thinner strips cook faster than thick ones.
- Next, combine the egg with lemon juice and garlic in a shallow bowl.
- Mix panko breadcrumbs with your choice of seasoning in a separate shallow dish. We like cayenne pepper, oregano, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, and salt. If you don’t like it spicy, don’t use cayenne pepper. These seasonings really help flavor the chicken.
- Next, coat each piece of chicken in the egg mixture and dredge in panko breadcrumb mix. You want the chicken evenly coated with no leftover breadcrumbs.
- Spray the chicken with cooking oil spray.
- You want to switch your air fryer on about five minutes before cooking, preheating it to 390°F (200°C).
- Take your chicken and put it in the air fryer basket. You might need to cook your chicken in batches, depending on the size of your basket.
- Air frying for 10-12 minutes comes next. Flip the chicken after seven-eight minutes using tongs - you don’t want to burn your hand.
This chicken breast will be more similar in texture to chicken schnitzel than KFC fried chicken, but you’ll be licking your fingers all the same.
How To Make Unbreaded Chicken In The Air Fryer
To cook the unbreaded version of this recipe, just skip the breading step, and spray with a cooking oil spray and season the chicken before frying.
Do I Need Oil For Air Frying Chicken?
Yes! Of course, you won’t need as much as you would to fry it on the stove, but you do need a cooking spray ( recommended) or a tablespoon of oil for this recipe. Any cooking spray will work well. If you prefer to use oil, olive oil, canola oil, or vegetable oil are best as they will impart minimal flavor while still bringing out the best in your chicken breast.
Should I Marinate or Brine My Chicken Breast?
If you have the time, we recommend marinating the chicken breast. The basic brine solution of 2 tablespoons of salt dissolved in 2 cups of room temperature water (not hot water) will be more than enough to moisturize and flavor your chicken breast before cooking. Using water at room temperature also helps to bring the chicken to room temperature before cooking, guaranteeing that it cooks evenly all the way through.
The chicken sitting in salt water for as little as fifteen minutes will make a huge difference to your meal. You can marinate it overnight if you want, adding flavorings like honey, lemon, and fresh herbs to take your fried chicken from good to great.
❗ Breaded chicken breasts don’t need to be marinated or brined as the breadcrumbs will keep a lot of moisture in the chicken. Unbreaded breasts, however, benefit greatly from brining and marinating.
How Long To Cook Chicken In An Air Fryer
⏰Ten to fifteen minutes in the air fryer should be enough to get crispy, golden fried chicken. The cooking time will depend on the size and thickness of your chicken. If you’re unsure about whether your chicken is done, you can either use an instant read meat thermometer, or cut through a piece of the chicken to see if it’s cooked through. Cooked chicken will be all white with no pink left.
What Sauce To Serve With Air Fryer Chicken Breast
Homemade yum yum sauce, Japanese style, is a great place to start. You could try homemade ranch sauce, too, or even add some cayenne pepper for that extra kick.
Taco seasoning on top of chicken is great, and if that’s what you go for, use a lime crema as your sauce.
More Delicious Chicken Breast Recipes
Asparagus Stuffed Chicken Breast
If you make this air fryer chicken breast be sure to leave a comment or give this recipe a rating ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐! I will be happy to hear from you!Print
Air Fryer Chicken Breast
- Total Time: 20 minutes
- Yield: 4 1x
This air fryer chicken breast is tender and juicy inside and incredibly crispy outside. A healthier version of crispy deep-fried chicken!
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¾ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¾ teaspoon salt or to taste
- 1 cup Panko breadcrumbs
- 2 medium boneless skinless chicken breasts, cut in half horizontally to make 4 fillets
- Cooking oil spray
Breaded Chicken Breast:
- In a shallow bowl combine the egg, lemon juice and garlic.
- In a separate shallow bowl mix together paprika, black pepper, cayenne pepper, onion powder, oregano, garlic powder, salt and Panko breadcrumbs.
- Add the chicken fillets to the egg mixture and coat evenly.
- Dredge in the Panko mixture, pressing the coating onto the chicken lightly.
- Spray with cooking oil spray and transfer to your air fryer basket.
- Air fry at 390°F or 200° for 10-12 minutes. After 7 minutes, open the air fryer and flip the chicken. Then, continue cooking for 3 minutes, depending on the size of the chicken breasts. See the notes below.
Unbreaded Chicken Breast:
- Spray the chicken with cooking oil spray and season with your favorite seasonings on both sides.
- Transfer to your air fryer basket and air fry for 12-15 minutes (whole chicken breasts) or 10-12 minutes ( chicken fillets), flipping halfway through cooking with your kitchen tongs.
- Remove from the air fryer immediately to prevent the chicken from drying out. Allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to reabsorb into the chicken.
To brine the chicken: The secret to juicy, tender chicken breast is brining your meat before cooking. The meat will absorb extra liquid and salt, enhancing the chicken’s natural flavor and making sure it won’t dry out under high heat. The salt will penetrate the entire chicken breast, so it ends up tasting great all the way through rather than just being seasoned on the outside and not on the inside. Wet brine is the classic way, but in some parts of the Deep South a dry brine - simply sprinkling the chicken with salt and seasoning - is a tradition, too. Try both and see which way you like it! Dry brining is way less messy, just as a side note.
Don't overcook the chicken:The other way to get the best breast is to ensure you aren’t overcooking your chicken. Chicken is fully cooked at an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Use a meat thermometer to check your chicken’s internal temperature.
As a quick tip, removing the chicken from heat at 155 to 160 degrees F and allowing it to stand for a few minutes before checking the heat again will let it cook in its own juices. Carryover cooking will bring the chicken to temperature and you’ll have it ready to eat at a totally edible temperature!
Cooking time: Depending on the size of your chicken breasts, they might require different cooking times to reach these temperatures. As a guide, small breasts of 5 to 7 ounces will cook in 7 to 10 minutes, medium breasts of 8 to 10 ounces will cook in 10 to 12 minutes, and large breasts over eleven ounces will take 12-15 minutes. Flipping the chicken halfway through cooking will also help to ensure an evenly cooked piece of meat.
- Prep Time: 10 min
- Cook Time: 10 min
- Category: Chicken recipes
- Cuisine: American
- Calories: 213kcal
- Sugar: 1g
- Sodium: 526mg
- Fat: 5g
- Saturated Fat: 1g
- Carbohydrates: 13g
- Fiber: 1g
- Protein: 25g
- Cholesterol: 119mg
Keywords: air fryer chicken, chicken recipe, chicken breast recipes
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Christine Quinn says
What if you have an oven style airfryer?
Hey Christine! You can do it!Whether it's the air fryer basket or the air fryer oven, both will cook faster than any oven. The air fryer basket tends to cook foods a little faster than the air fryer oven, and the amount of time will depend on machines.
Wonderful! Didn’t know chicken could be this juicy and crispy outside!A keeper!
Hey Carol! I am glad you liked the recipe)))
Made it tonight! Delish!!!will make it again and again.
Hey Erin! I am glad you enjoyed the recipe!