Crispy Air Fryer “Fried” Chicken

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Crispy Air Fryer “Fried” Chicken is what Air Fryers were created to do! Crunchy golden seasoned outside, and tender, juicy, full of flavor inside! This is how the chicken was meant to be eaten.

Air Frying is sweeping the culinary world and with good reason. Food is done quicker, it’s juicer and has beautiful crusts. Try yours out with these absolutely delicious air fryer recipes. Salmon, Steak with Garlic Herb Butter, and this Chicken Breast.

Crispy air fryer fried chicken leg.

Perfect Air Fryer Fried Chicken

This fried chicken is going to change your life! It’s one of the best air fryer recipes ever! If you love fried chicken but hate the mess and the extra fat, then this recipe is for you!  Succulent tender chicken surrounded by a crunchy, mouthwatering, seasoned coating. Air frying chicken is much healthier than deep fat frying it and you’ll still get that amazing outside that we all love. You may never buy fried chicken out again. It’s just that good.

Using the air fryer eliminates not only the need for extra oil to fry it in, but it will also eliminate the mess. No more oil splatters all over your kitchen. And you won’t have to worry about hot oil hitting you or anyone else who might be walking by. The mess, which is minimal, is contained in your air fryer. Genius! All of the best parts of fried chicken at your fingertips are in this recipe. It’s going to become a quick family favorite for sure. And using the air fryer also just makes this so much easier to make. I’ll confess the thought of making fried chicken before seemed daunting. With this air fryer recipe, I can make it every night!

Easy Fried Chicken Ingredients

Simple ingredients boast a huge flavor in this air-fried chicken. If you don’t have cajun seasoning feel free to sub it out for your favorite spices or you can leave it out altogether. If you don’t have buttermilk don’t fret, I have the solution for you, you can make your own. Get the recipe here.

  • Chicken: bone in chicken thighs and legs
  • Salt and Pepper: To taste
  • Buttermilk: Adds flavor and helps the flour mixture adhere to the chicken.
  • Eggs: Another binding agent.
  • Flour: The base of the crunchy coating.
  • Cajun Seasoning: Full of flavor, it’s perfect for chicken.
  • Garlic Powder and Onion Powder:  Adds extra flavor
  • Paprika: Provides color and flavor
  • Salt and Pepper: Add more or less to taste.
  • Olive Oil spray: This will help “fry” any of the leftover outside coating.

How to Make Crispy Air Fryer Chicken

This is pretty straightforward. The spray oil is used to help any coating that doesn’t get “fried” get cooked. No one wants to bite into a mouthful of flour.  In step 6 you’ll open the basket to flip the chicken, you can spray any dry spots then.

  1. Season the Chicken:  Salt and pepper chicken thighs and legs.
  2. Mix: In a medium sized bowl add the buttermilk and eggs and whisk.
  3. Coating: In another medium sized bowl add the flour, cajun, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika, salt and pepper.
  4. Dredge: Using tongs, dredge the chicken in the flour, then the buttermilk, and then lastly in the flour.
  5. Cook: Place in the bottom of the air fryer basket and cook at 360 degrees for 15-20 minutes.
  6. Oil if needed: Open the basket and spray any flour with cooking spray. Turn the chicken and cook for another 5-10 minutes until internal temperature registers 165 degrees and is no longer pink.
Seasoning, and breading chicken for air fryer fried chicken.

Can you Substitute the Chicken?

  • Can I use boneless skinless chicken? I don’t recommend using boneless skinless chicken. The skin helps the coating stick to the chicken, creating that luscious crispy outside. Having the bone in also adds moisture and flavor. You can use boneless chicken, you might need to adjust the cooking time, but look for chicken with skin for the best results.
  • Can I use Chicken Breasts? I like using chicken pieces that are closer to the same size for more even cooking. If you use bone-in skin-on chicken breasts you’ll have success by adjusting the time. Again check your fried chicken with a thermometer. Also cook them separately from the smaller pieces.
Air fryer full of ready to cook fried chicken.

Tips for the Best Air Fried Chicken

Just like any air fryer recipe, there are a few things to keep in mind to make this the most perfect air-fried chicken ever. The most important thing to remember is to know your air fryer. There are so many out on the market now. Yours might be bigger or smaller than mine and so you can cook more or less. Your air fryer might also come with recommendations for cooking fried chicken. It’ll be best to follow your manufacturer’s instructions.

  • Overcrowding: Do not over crowd your air fryer. Circulating air is how the air fryer cooks, and if you don’t leave enough space between the food for the air to penetrate, it won’t cook the same. You’ll have undercooked spots in your dish. If you need to cook your chicken in batches to make sure it’s not over crowded. Keep cooked chicken warm in a 200 degree oven while you cook the other batches.
  • Know Your Air Fryer: Not all air fryers are the same and not all chicken is the same size. The times I used in this chicken recipe is a guideline. Make sure your chicken is cooked through. Insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken and make sure it reads 165 degrees.
  • Yes, you need the cooking oil spray:  This is important in creating that crunchy fried chicken. You’ll want to spray the bits of chicken that are still covered in uncooked coating. You don’t want the chicken to taste like flour instead of amazing.
  • Parchment liners:  If you want to eliminate some of the mess from the coating in your air fryer, they now sell air fryer specific parchment liners that have holes in them. Let me know how they work for you, if you use them.
Crispy ready to eat air fryer fried chicken.

Do I have to Use Buttermilk?

Yes, you really should! Not only does it add flavor but it actually helps the chicken maintain its juiciness inside while helping to create a crispy outside. If you have time you can even let the chicken sit in the buttermilk from an hour up to overnight. If you don’t have buttermilk on hand you can make your own using lemon juice or vinegar using this How to Make Buttermilk recipe.

How Come my Coating Won’t Stick?

If your coating is falling off try letting the mixture air dry on the chicken before air frying it. Place the chicken on a wire rack after you’ve to dredge it to let the coating really adhere to the skin. 10 minutes is all it will take.

Air Fryer Fried Chicken on a plate.

More Chicken Recipes to Love

Chicken is fabulous! It is a marvelous ingredient to work with. It has a mild flavor on its own, so it’s easy to marinate and flavor any way you like it. Whether your air frying it, put it on the grill, in the slow cooker or instant pot, it’s just wonderful.  Try these other incredible chicken recipes.

Crispy Air Fryer “Fried” Chicken

4.63 from 8 votes
Crispy Air Fryer "Fried" Chicken is what Air Fryers were created to do! Crunchy golden seasoned outside, and tender, juicy, full of flavor inside! This is how chicken was meant to be eaten.
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Author Alyssa Rivers
Servings: 4 Pieces Chicken


  • 1-2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs and legs
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 Tablespoon cajun seasoning
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • olive oil spray


  • Salt and pepper chicken thighs and legs. In a medium sized bowl add the buttermilk and eggs and whisk. In another medium sized bowl add the flour, cajun, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and pepper.
  • Using tongs, dredge the chicken in the flour, then the buttermilk, and then lastly in the flour. Place in the bottom of the air fryer basket.
  • Cook at 360 degrees for 15-20 minutes. Open the basket and spray any flour with the cooking spray. Turn the chicken and cook for another 5-10 minutes until 165 degrees and no longer pink.



Serves: 4

Calories351kcal (18%)Carbohydrates57g (19%)Protein14g (28%)Fat7g (11%)Saturated Fat3g (15%)Cholesterol95mg (32%)Sodium743mg (31%)Potassium346mg (10%)Fiber3g (12%)Sugar6g (7%)Vitamin A1671IU (33%)Calcium164mg (16%)Iron4mg (22%)

All nutritional information is based on third party calculations and is only an estimate. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods and portion sizes per household.

Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Keyword air fryer chicken, air fryer fried chicken, fried chicken
Tried this recipe?Mention @alyssa_therecipecritic or tag #therecipecritic

Alyssa Rivers

I am Alyssa and the blogger behind The Recipe Critic. I started my blog in June of 2012 as a place to share my passion for cooking. I love trying new things and testing them out with my family.

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  1. 5 stars
    I’m not an adventurous soul and I was terrified of trying this and ruining good chicken. But try it I did, and as Emeril used to say, Bam! It was beyond delicious! Except for the horrendous mess I made in the kitchen, it was an absolute success and will be a regular in our house. Thanks for the recipe!

  2. 3 stars
    WARNING: This recipe makes enough to double bread 5 pounds of chicken!
    The flavors are great, but the proportions are insane. I made 2.5 pounds of chicken (That’s more than the recipe suggests) and was appalled by the amount of waste. I hate wasting food, so I was furious, but the chicken was tasty. Half the recipe for the breading or double the amount of chicken at least.

  3. How much time would you add for the air fryer function of a new full-sized oven?

    And just to clarify, you don’t use any breadcrumbs or corn flakes? It’s just a batter?

    1. I haven’t cooked them in an air fryer oven before, but the cooking time should be the same on the air fryer function. Just watch them and make sure that the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit before consuming. And that is correct, no breadcrumbs or cornflakes. Just the flour mixture.

  4. 5 stars
    Just made this in our airfryer and it came out really good. We use Old Bay and I upped the amount for flavor and spice and it was perfect!
    Thanks going to make this again for family dinners.

    1. Hello! The eggs are used to help the flour stick to the chicken which is what provides it that nice, outside edge. I haven’t tried it without the eggs before but let me know how it turns out if you do!

  5. Well mine was an epic fail. My forst time using the air fryer. So i put the chicken on top of eachother to fit and it was a gummy mess after 15min. How do u cook more the 3 pieces at a time?

    1. Oh no! I am sorry to hear that. It is best to only cook how much you can in your air fryer. Mine only allows me to cook 2 large pieces of chicken or 3 small pieces. You only have them side by side to cook more evenly instead of stacking them on top. You will have to cook them separately so they fit properly for the best way to cook the chicken.

  6. 5 stars
    I made the buttermilk recipe and it wouldn’t thicken. I searched other recipes and they said the acid (I used lemon juice) is a tablespoon.

  7. Do you have to preheat the air fryer before or can I just throw the chicken in once it’s prepped without preheating?

  8. When you say let it sit in the buttermilk, you mean after you dredge it with flour, and then dip it in the buttermilk, let it sit?

  9. 5 stars
    This is the first recipe I made in my new air fryer and I’m so glad I did! It was delicious! The skin came out perfectly crispy while the middle remained juicy. I will definitely be making this again.

  10. 5 stars
    This recipe is wonderful! I made it for my family and they loved it so much. I did figure out I’m not a huge fan of drumsticks and the darker meat on them, but the flavor of the breading is what is really important and that was spot on! I made more batter the very next day and made some air fryer chicken chunks from regular chicken breast and I LOVED IT! Thanks for another great recipe!!

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