This thing about fried chicken. I LOVE IT. I’m also exceptionally, unapologetically picky about it. You should be too! This crispy, juicy Air Fryer Fried Chicken Breast is up to our standards.
With fried chicken, to me even mediocre isn’t worth it.
- It needs to be crunchy outside with well-seasoned breading that is present but not overpoweringly thick.
- The meat must be juicy.
- It must never be greasy. In fact, you should almost forget that it is fried.
While I love tackling homemade versions of my favorite indulgent foods, deep frying is a line I haven’t crossed.
It sounds like a hot mess and a splurge I prefer to save for when I’m out to eat. (Hence we are a Baked French Fry kind of household).
Thanks to the air fryer (this is the model I own and would recommend), “fried” foods are now easy and healthy to create at home!
- From Air Fryer French Fries to Air Fryer Chicken Wings, this handy appliance (which is essentially a super-powered countertop convection oven) is a dream for making foods that have ultra crispy exteriors and resemble their deep-fried counterparts.
- This air fryer also cooks food quickly. Air Fryer Chicken Tenders and Air Fryer Chicken Breast, for example, are both ready in 8-ish minutes.
Add an easy seasoned breadcrumb coating and you have a knock off air fryer fried chicken even The Colonel would approve!
Love a classic cornflake coating, looking for buttermilk fried chicken, or don’t have an air fryer? Check out this Baked Fried Chicken.
How to Make Air Fryer Fried Chicken Breast
Thanks to the convection power of the air fryer, hot air crisps the outside of the chicken, while keeping the interior moist.
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast. The ultimate versatile and family-friendly lean protein! As this list of healthy chicken recipes proves, there’s about nothing chicken can’t do. The key is to keep it juicy, and the air fryer does just that.
Pound the chicken into an even thickness to ensure it cooks evenly; if you skip this step, by the time the thick middle part is cooked, the thinner ends will be dried out.
- Whole Wheat Breadcrumbs. For breaded air fryer chicken breast, I prefer to use more finely ground breadcrumbs (vs. larger panko breadcrumbs) because they adhere to the chicken more easily. If you’d like to use panko, you’ll need to dip the chicken in egg first so that the breadcrumbs adhere (see this Baked Chicken Parmesan for a step-by-step). I also like that using regular breadcrumbs means I can make this air fryer fried chicken without flour, saving myself an ingredient.
- Parmesan. Using half grated Parmesan and half breadcrumbs ensures the chicken tastes satisfying.
- Breadcrumb Seasoning. Paprika, garlic powder, thyme, and a pinch of cayenne mimic many southern fried chicken recipes.
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil. One perk of air fryer cooking is that very little oil is needed. I use 1 teaspoon of oil per 1/2 pound of chicken.
- Cut and pound the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil then toss.
- Add the breading ingredients in a bowl.
- Coat each chicken breast in the mixture.
- Preheat the air fryer and arrange the chicken in a single layer (you may need to cook two batches depending on the size of your air fryer).
- Air fry on the first side for 4 minutes, flip, then continue for 2 to 5 additional minutes (until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 160 to 165 degrees F).
What to Serve with Air Fryer Fried Chicken
- Potatoes. Air fryer chicken breast and potatoes is a classic pairing. Try Instant Pot Mashed Potatoes or Crock Pot Baked Potatoes for two classics.
- Roasted Vegetables. Take advantage of your free oven and make a batch of Roasted Brussels Sprouts or Roasted Broccoli.
- Sauteed Veggies. Don’t want to turn on the oven? Sauteed Brussels Sprouts, Sauteed Cabbage, or Sauteed Carrots to the rescue!
- Slaw. Healthy Coleslaw or Asian Cabbage Slaw would be stellar.
- Dipping Sauce. Greek Yogurt Ranch Dip and Barbecue Sauce are sure hits.
- Condiments. Pickled Onions are especially yummy paired with all-American classics like fried chicken.
- Macaroni and Cheese. The lightened up Ultimate Creamy Mac & Cheese from my cookbook is my hands-down favorite.
- To Store. This recipe is best enjoyed the day it is baked, but leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days.
- To Reheat. Leftover chicken can be reheated in a lightly greased pan over medium heat and is also good served at room temperature on top of salads.
- To Freeze. Freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Chef’s Knife. It’s special high-carbon blade and ergonomic handle make this a kitchen essential!
- Cutting Board. Thicker materials limit cuts and the built-in juice grove makes clean up a breeze.
- Glass Mixing Bowls. This durable, 10-piece set will last and cover all of your cooking needs.
From my Yankee kitchen, a healthy fried chicken rendition. I hope it hits the spot for you too.
Frequently Asked Questions
While you can place frozen chicken breast in the air fryer, when making breaded air fryer chicken, I don’t recommend it as the breadcrumbs won’t adhere to frozen breasts.
Absolutely you can make air fryer fried chicken tenders! Pound them VERY lightly and check several minutes early, as they will cook exceptionally quickly.
Certainly! Simply use gluten free breadcrumbs and you are good to go.
This depends on the size of your air fryer. When placing the chicken inside of it, it is important that the pieces do not touch so that air has room to circulate. In my basket-style air fryer, I was able to fit in half the chicken without it overlapping.
No one wants cold chicken. Keep early batches warm in a 250 degree F oven while you finish air frying the remaining chicken breast.
Air Fryer Fried Chicken Breast
- 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts about 1 1/2 pounds
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup whole wheat breadcrumbs or plain breadcrumbs
- 1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
- 1/8 teaspoon kosher salt plus additional to taste
- Cut each chicken breast in half lengthwise so that you have 6 long, narrow pieces total. Pound each piece to an even 1/2-inch thickness (I like to stretch a piece of plastic wrap over the top first to keep things tidy). Place the pounded chicken in a bowl.
- Drizzle the chicken with the olive oil and toss to coat.
- In a wide, shallow bowl (a pie dish works well), combine the whole wheat breadcrumbs, Parmesan, paprika, garlic powder, thyme, cayenne pepper, and salt until evenly blended.
- Coat each chicken breast in the breadcrumb mixture, patting as necessary so that it adheres.
- Preheat your air fryer to 390 degrees F. Coat the basket with nonstick spray, then arrange the chicken in the basket in a single layer (you will likely need to cook the chicken in two batches. If desired, keep the first batch warm in a 250 degree F oven while you finish the second).
- Air fry the breaded chicken breast on the first side for 4 minutes. Slide out the basket, flip the chicken, then continue cooking for 2 to 5 additional minutes, depending upon the size of your chicken and your air fryer model. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F and the crumbs should look golden brown (I typically remove my chicken at 160 degrees F, as the temperature will continue to rise as it rests). Enjoy hot.
- TO STORE: This recipe is best enjoyed the day it is baked, but leftovers can be refrigerated in an airtight storage container for up to 2 days.
- TO REHEAT: Leftover chicken can be reheated in a lightly greased pan over medium heat and is also good served at room temperature on top of salads.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze in an airtight container for up to 1 month. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
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