Make this Crispy Air Fryer Chicken for the perfect crispy chicken sandwich or to use as a simple main course. Juicy and well-seasoned, this easy fried chicken will surely be a dinner winner!
Crunchy and Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Recipe
Who doesn’t love fried chicken?! This is one of my family’s all-time favorite foods, especially when served hot and crispy on a warm sandwich bun. Add some tomato, mayo, and lettuce – I’m hungry just thinking about it! Of course, deep-frying chicken is an overall production and not what you want to do on a busy weeknight, but don’t pull into that drive-thru just yet: instead, pull out your Air Fryer! This easy air fryer chicken is even better than fast food and just as quick.
I love biting into a piece of chicken that’s perfectly crispy on the outside yet juicy and tender on the inside. That’s the treat this chicken recipe delivers. This isn’t your typical fried chicken – it’s better, thanks to the air fryer that ensures each piece is cooked to crispy perfection without the excessive oil. Whether you’re craving a classic chicken sandwich with all the toppings or a simple yet flavorful main course, this recipe is your quick ticket to a satisfying meal.
Why You’ll Love This Crispy Chicken Recipe
- Versatile: Serve it as a crispy chicken sandwich or a standalone protein in a salad or alongside a veggie side dish, offering flexibility for various meal options.
- Quick and Easy: With a straightforward recipe and quick cooking time, this is a great choice for busy nights.
- Healthier Option: Enjoy the fried chicken experience with less oil, thanks to the air fryer technology.
Ingredients For Air Fryer Chicken
This recipe includes a secret ingredient to make the chicken even more flavorful: pickle juice! That little touch of tangy pickle flavor creates a piquant, savory dish. Just ask Chick-Fil-A.
- Chicken: Chicken cutlets cook up extra juicy in the air fryer, thanks to their thinness!
- Salt and Pepper
- Eggs: Lightly beaten. Room temperature is best.
- Pickle Juice: Don’t use the juice from sweet pickles – go with sour pickles like kosher dills or hamburger chips.
- Mustard: A little bit of your favorite mustard enhances the breading mixture – yellow, spicy, deli, Dijon… use what you love.
- Seasonings: Sweet paprika (or go with smoked paprika for a smoky taste), garlic powder, onion powder, and a tiny bit of cayenne pepper.
- Breadcrumbs: Use pork rind crumbs for a low-carb option, or plain bread crumbs.
- Flour: All-purpose flour, or again you can go low-carb and use your preferred nut flour.
- Cooking Spray
- For Serving: Lettuce cups or leaves, sandwich buns, tomatoes, pickles, or whatever you like!
How to Make Crispy Air Fryer Chicken
Making this easy dinner recipe couldn’t be simpler, especially if you set up your “breading station” before you start cooking. That way, you can bread the chicken easily and place it straight into the air fryer basket without any hassle. Here are the steps:
- Season the Chicken and Make the Egg Mixture. To get started, sprinkle the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper, and set them aside. Then combine the eggs, pickle juice, mustard, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper in a shallow dish. Whisk gently to combine.
- Set Up Your Breading Station. Place the bread crumbs in a separate shallow bowl, and the flour in a third shallow bowl. Set the seasoned chicken and the bowls next to a clean plate or tray.
- Bread the Cutlets. Dip a chicken cutlet into the flour, and then the egg mixture. Let the excess egg mixture drip off, and then coat the chicken in breadcrumbs, pressing them down with your fingers to help them stick. Place the breaded chicken on a plate, and continue to bread the rest of the cutlets.
- Cook! Coat the air fryer basket with cooking spray, and place two chicken cutlets inside. Spray the chicken generously with cooking oil, and air-fry at 400˚F for 5 minutes. Flip the chicken, and cook for another 5 minutes, or until cooked through. (To check for doneness, use an instant-read meat thermometer; chicken is done when the internal temperature registers at 165˚F.)
- Repeat. Remove the cooked chicken from the air fryer and place it on a clean plate. Cover it loosely and set it aside. Repeat the air-frying process until all the chicken cutlets are done.
- Enjoy! Serve the crispy chicken on buns, in lettuce cups, or with your favorite sides.
Can You Put Raw Chicken in an Air Fryer?
If you primarily use your air fryer for vegetable dishes or prepared foods (hello, frozen jalapeño poppers 🤚), then putting raw meat in there might seem a little odd. But it’s perfectly safe! The high heat of your air fryer and basket will cook the chicken thoroughly and safely.
Is Air Fried Chicken Good?
It’s not just good – it’s fantastic! The high convection heat in your air fryer is suitable for creating ultra-crispy food with great caramelization without overcooking or drying out the ingredients. I’m a huge fan of air fryer chicken, from these Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Thighs to my Air Fryer Stuffed Chicken Breast to this recipe for perfectly crunchy chicken cutlets.
Helpful Tips For Success
- Make Your Own Cutlets: If you don’t see chicken cutlets at the store, you can make your own using boneless, skinless chicken breast. Slice each breast into two flat halves and pound them thin with a meat mallet.
- Avoid Aerosols: Some oils and nonstick sprays are packaged in aerosol cans, but aerosol can damage the finish on your air fryer basket over time.
- Don’t Crowd the Basket: To get crispy, browned chicken, make sure to arrange the cutlets in a single layer, with their sides not touching. This will let the hot air circulate around the food and get it completely crispy.
Create chicken sandwiches with buns, tomatoes, pickles, and your favorite condiments, or go low-carb with lettuce cups instead of buns. You can also serve this dish as a simple main course with sides like…
- Something Green: Salad, green beans, asparagus, broccoli… there are so many ways to add green to your plate. For something a little different, these Sesame Snap Peas are a great option. Made with soy sauce and sesame oil, they deliver tons of flavor with a totally easy prep.
- Something Roasted: Start a sheet pan of pretty Roasted Acorn Squash before you make your chicken, and enjoy a fabulous winter meal. Acorn squash is a little sweet, a little salty, and nourishing.
- Skillet Veggies: These Sweet and Spicy Carrots and Green Beans are a mouthwatering medley of apples, bacon, and crisp-tender veggies, all in a simple pan sauce made with brown sugar and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce.
Storing and Reheating Leftover Chicken
- To store leftover air fryer chicken, place it in an airtight container or zip-top bag. If you can keep the pieces from touching, that will help the breading stay put. Store in the fridge for 3 to 4 days.
- To reheat, place the chicken in your oven (or back in the air fryer) at 375˚F for a few minutes or until heated through.
- To freeze, place the cooled chicken pieces on a baking sheet or tray and stick them in the freezer for a couple of hours or until frozen solid. Pack the frozen chicken pieces into freezer bags or airtight containers and store them in the freezer for up to 3 months. When you are ready to serve, reheat the chicken directly from frozen. It will need additional reheating time.
More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
- Air Fryer Chicken Breast
- Air Fryer Chicken Tenders
- Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
- Air Fryer Cornish Hen
Crispy Air Fryer Chicken
- 1 pound chicken cutlets, about 4 to 6 cutlets
- salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons pickle juice
- 1 tablespoon mustard, use your favorite mustard
- ½ teaspoon sweet or smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 cup pork rind panko crumbs, or panko crumbs
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour, you can also use nut flour
- cooking spray
- lettuce cups
- hamburger buns
- Season the chicken cutlets with salt and pepper and set aside.
- In a shallow bowl whisk together the eggs, pickle juice, mustard, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper.
- Place the crumbs in a separate shallow bowl.
- Place the flour in a third shallow bowl.
- Dip one chicken cutlet in the flour, then dip it into the egg mixture, letting excess drip off, and finally coat it in the crumbs, pressing down with your fingers to adhere.
- Place the breaded chicken on a plate and continue to do the same process with the rest of the cutlets.
- Coat the air fryer basket with cooking spray. Place 2 chicken cutlets in the air fryer basket and spray the chicken generously with cooking oil.
- Cook at 400˚F for 5 minutes; flip, lightly grease the chicken with cooking spray and continue to cook for 4 to 5 more minutes or until cooked through. To check for doneness, use an instant-read meat thermometer – chicken is done when internal temperature registers at 165˚F.
- Remove the chicken from the air fryer basket and transfer it to a plate; cover and set aside until all the chicken cutlets are done.
- Serve in lettuce cups or bread buns, and top with lettuce (if using bread buns), tomatoes, and pickles.
- Chicken Cutlets: If you can’t find chicken cutlets at the store, make your own by slicing a chicken breast in half horizontally to make two thinner pieces.
- Flour: You can use any flour you prefer or have on hand. I use either all-purpose flour or coconut flour.
- Breadcrumbs: Again, use your favorite. I often go for the panko bread crumbs because I like to keep things low-carb, but you can use whatever you prefer.
- Don’t Crowd the Basket: Air flow is vital when cooking in the air fryer. So, arrange the cutlets in a single layer without touching each other.
- Cooked Chicken: Most importantly, do not dry out the chicken, a.k.a. do not overcook the chicken. Chicken is cooked through when the internal temperature registers at 165˚F.
Nutritional info is an estimate and provided as courtesy. Values may vary according to the ingredients and tools used. Please use your preferred nutritional calculator for more detailed info.