This recipe skips the deep frying and uses the convenience of those small convection ovens known as air fryers. Yet we still ensure each piece of chicken is bursting with juiciness and covered in a crisp, flavorful coating. Our secret lies in a buttermilk brine that tenderizes and infuses the chicken with flavor, paired with a breading blend that’s packed full of herbs and spices to guarantee that satisfying crunch, and all the flavor, with every bite. We’re bringing all the finger-licking goodness of fried chicken with none of the stress or mess.

Why Our Recipe?

  • Flavorful brine that infuses the meat itself with flavor and keeps it juicy.
  • Breading is packed with herbs and spices for never-bland fried chicken.
  • Blend of flour and cornstarch for maximum crunch.

An overhead view of a plate of three pieces of fried chicken that were made in the air fryer.

Whether you’re cooking for two or ten, follow our detailed instructional recipe to serve up deliciously crispy chicken that everyone will love. Don’t forget to let the cooked chicken rest for a few minutes before serving to lock in all the juicy goodness!

Ingredient Notes

An overhead birds-eye view of the ingredients needed to make our recipe for air fryer fried chicken.
  • Chicken: Skin-on and bone-in chicken is the usual choice for fried chicken. You can always use boneless chicken, but you do need skin on for fried chicken. This is a difficult combination to find, but if you want to go boneless you can buy regular bone-in chicken thighs and then cut out the bone yourself. All you need is a good pair of kitchen shears!
  • Buttermilk: the natural acidity and enzymes in buttermilk tenderize the chicken.
  • Hot Sauce: doesn’t add any heat, but it does add quite a bit of flavor.
  • Herbs and Spices: add flavor to both the brine and the breading on the chicken. Use good quality herbs and spices for best results.
  • Flour: used as the base for breading the chicken.
  • Cornstarch: used in other fried items and creates a different texture and crispiness for the ultimate crunch.

Spritzing Oil

While air frying significantly reduces the amount of oil needed compared to traditional deep frying, a small amount of oil is still essential to achieve the best results. Oil plays a crucial role in air frying by helping to conduct heat more evenly and promoting that golden, crispy exterior that is essential for fried chicken.

Use olive oil, avocado oil, vegetable oil, or a quality cooking spray.

When it comes to applying oil, a light spritz with an oil mister or a brush is all you need. You’re aiming to lightly coat the surface of the food, not soak it. This minimal application helps enhance the texture without adding excessive fat.

A hand holding up a fried chicken drumstick that has a bite taken out of it.

Storage and Reheating Instructions: 

Refrigerate leftovers in an airtight container. The USDA recommends that cooked chicken should be consumed within 3 to 4 days.

To reheat, preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees and place the leftover chicken pieces in the air fryer basket, ensuring they’re not overlapping. Heat for about 4 to 6 minutes, flipping halfway through to allow both sides to crisp. This method heats the chicken evenly, reviving its crispy exterior while keeping the inside juicy.

More air fryer chicken recipes