Pull out that air fryer. We’re making Air Fryer Fried Chicken for dinner – and we still get all the crispy goodness. Score!
Everyone loves fried chicken, but the mess and the oil often leave us wondering if it’s worth it. It’s a tough call, but when you’re craving our Classic Fried Chicken without the mess, or don’t feel like heating up the house to make Oven Fried Chicken, you’ve got to try this Air Fryer Fried Chicken.
It’s the perfect solution. The chicken cooks up quickly and there’s no oil splatter. Just make sure you eat the chicken nice and hot while it’s still crispy, or learn how to reheat fried chicken perfectly over here!
Air Fryer Fried Chicken Tips:
- Use cornstarch. Cornstarch mixed with the flour helps give your chicken a crispy crust.
- Don’t overcrowd the air fryer. This is a key piece of advice for the air fryer. Without space, the chicken won’t cook properly and it won’t get crispy. Cook in batches if needed.
- Cover the air fryer basket with foil before heating then put the chicken on the foil. This is to make it easier to get the chicken out and so the crispy crust doesn’t get stuck behind on the air fryer basket.
- Spray chicken with cooking spray. Because the air fryer doesn’t actually use any oil, if you don’t coat the chicken with an oil mister or cooking spray, there will be dry flour spots, which is not ideal. Even when you give the chicken pieces a good coating of oil, you’ll still be using far less than traditional frying.
How To Make Fried Chicken In The Air Fryer
First, you’ll put the chicken in a bowl of buttermilk and let it soak in the refrigerator for four to 24 hours. I used chicken thighs and drumsticks for mine. No buttermilk? Make a buttermilk substitute by stirring in 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice to a cup of milk and use that.
Take your chicken out of the fridge about a half an hour before cooking so it can get closer to room temperature.
Next you’ll make your flour and corn starch mixture to coat the chicken pieces with. I’ve seasoned mine with paprika and cayenne, but you can add your favorite seasonings. Try this Cajun Seasoning Blend, which has garlic powder and onion powder in it as well.
When you’re ready to cook and the air fryer is lined with foil and heated to 380°F, dredge the chicken in the seasoned flour mixture. Spray the chicken generously with an oil spray and you’re ready to go. (It’ll still be less oil than deep frying, but you need that oil so the coating cooks and crisps up.)
The chicken will cook in the air fryer for 15 minutes at 380°F, then you’ll increase the temperature to 400°F for an additional three minutes. You want the internal temperature to be 165°F which can be checked with a meat thermometer. When it’s cooked, remove the chicken from the air fryer basket and put on a wire rack. Sprinkle with a bit of salt and let rest for a few.
- 1 and ½ lb. chicken legs (thighs and drumsticks)
- 1 cup buttermilk
- ¾ cup all-purpose flour
- 4 Tbsp. corn starch
- 1 tsp. paprika
- ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. salt + some for sprinkling
- Cooking spray
- Combine chicken and buttermilk together in a bowl. Refrigerate for at least four hours, or up to 24 hours.
- Take chicken out at least a half hour before cooking.
- Whisk together flour, corn starch, cayenne pepper, and 1 teaspoon of the salt in another large bowl.
- Dredge chicken through flour mixture. Repeat with all pieces of chicken.
- Meanwhile, line air fryer basket with foil and preheat air fryer for a few minutes.
- Spray chicken pieces with oil mister or cooking spray.
- Cook chicken at 380°F. for 15 minutes and then increase heat to 400°F. and cook an additional 3 minutes, or until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F. (Larger pieces will take longer, as will dark meat.)
- Remove chicken and let rest on a wire drying rack. Sprinkle with salt.
This post originally appeared in April 2019 and was revised and republished in June 2022.