Air Fryer Fried Chicken
Yes! Fried chicken in the air fryer is totally possible! It’s crispy, juicy, and delicious. If you’re craving a fried chicken with a little less fat, give this a try!
Okay, team. Let’s set expectations here, first and foremost. I’m not going to pull your leg and tell you that air fryer fried chicken is exactly the same as cast iron or deep fried chicken. The crust isn’t quite as crispy, and the chicken isn’t quite as obviously juicy.
But you know what? It’s pretty darn close! I would say it’s even 90 percent, if not 95 percent there. The crust is crackly and tasty, and as long as you don’t forget about it in your air fryer, it’s still going to be juicy.
As with many things in the kitchen, it’s all about tradeoffs, but I think you would be silly to not try this if you have access to an air fryer. I loved the recipe and was surprised by how close it got to my traditional deep-fried version.
There are two reasons why you might want to make air fried chicken instead of classic fried chicken.
- First, there is a health benefit to air frying over deep frying or pan frying. While I do recommend very lightly spraying the fried chicken with oil before and during air frying, you don’t submerge the pieces entirely in oil, and as a result, they undoubtedly absorb less oil in the process.
- For me though, the bigger advantage is time savings. It takes 30 seconds to flip on the air fryer, and the cleanup is worlds easier than dealing with big pots of hot oil.
There are some recipes that I don’t think adapt well to the air fryer, but fried chicken works really well. The chicken will come out crispy and browned. It’s definitely worth a try!
What’s the Best Chicken To Use?
For my money and taste buds, nothing beats buying a whole chicken and cutting it up yourself. This way, you get some dark meat and some white meat. I also believe in using skin-on and bone-in chicken, which leads to more flavorful and juicier chicken.
That said, my family is not actually a huge fan of the same kind of fried chicken I like. They prefer simple chicken strips, so I did some of those, too, and they work really well.
Chicken strips cook faster than bone-in pieces, so you run the risk of overcooking them and drying them out. Be sure to check strips frequently until they’re just cooked through (165° to 170˚F in the thickest part).
How to Bread the Chicken
Any traditional fried chicken recipe can probably also be air fried. It should work.
The one exception might be if you like a very thick breading on your fried chicken. If you double dip your chicken in flour for the coating, it’s going to be hard to hydrate all that flour in an air fryer, and you’ll almost certainly end up with floury spots that haven’t really cooked.
For my air fryer chicken, I like to soak the chicken in buttermilk to give it that classic fried chicken tenderness. Then, I dip it once in very well seasoned all-purpose flour. That provides a nice layer of breading on the chicken, but it isn’t so much flour that it’ll be a problem in the air fryer.
NO AIR FRYER? PAN-FRY INSTEAD!
If you don’t have an air fryer, have no fear. People were making fried chicken before air fryers were invented!
I prefer to pan-fry my fried chicken in a cast iron skillet if I’m not using an air fryer. You only need enough oil to go about 1 to 1 1/2 inches up a skillet, and then fry the chicken at 350°F for about 8 minutes per side. Check the meat’s temperature to ensure doneness, but the pieces will be golden brown and wonderful!
Reheating the Air Fryer Chicken
You might think that it’s best to pop the air fryer chicken back in the air fryer for a few minutes to reheat it, but I don’t recommend that, actually. You run the risk of burning the exterior of the fried chicken.
If you have leftovers and need to reheat them, a 300°F oven is your best friend. Here’s what to do:
- Lay out the pieces on a baking sheet, and bake them in the oven until they are warmed through. This will keep the crust relatively crispy and heat the pieces evenly.
- Reheat for 8 to 10 minutes.
TRY THESE SIDES WITH YOUR FRIED CHICKEN!
- Classic Coleslaw
- Stovetop Baked Beans
- Quick Stovetop Mac and Cheese
- Southern Style Collard Greens
- Southern Cornbread
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