Air-Fried Chicken Sandwich

This air-fried chicken sandwich delivers all the pleasure and satisfaction of a fried chicken lunch, but with much less guilt! Air-frying keeps it nice and moist, but fulfills your fried food fix without the mess and stress of deep-frying.

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It’s true this sandwich takes a little work. It’s not as simple as putting some deli meat between two slices of bread, but the payoff in flavor is so worth the effort. The juicy fried chicken with the tang and crunch of coleslaw, the sweet bread and butter pickles and the zesty special sauce between two toasted bun halves is something you won’t soon forget. It may take a little time, but none of the work required to put this sandwich together is difficult.

Coated chicken pieces in an air fryer basket being sprayed with oil.

Start by getting chicken breasts that are not too big so that when you cut them in half and pound them a little, they are a reasonable size to put in a sandwich. If over-sized chicken breasts are all you can find, try slicing them in half horizontally so that they are thinner to begin with and then cut each half into two pieces. Marinating the chicken in buttermilk does help keep it moist and tender, so don’t skip that step if you can help it.

Air-fried chicken pieces in an air fryer basket.

Spritz the chicken a couple of times during the cooking process. A little extra oil will help brown and crisp the coating on the outside of the chicken and if you are using an EVO bottle of olive oil it will only deliver ¼ teaspoon with each trigger pull – enough to do the job without breaking the calorie bank.

The makings of an air-fried chicken sandwich on a wooden board - coleslaw, special sauce, buns and fried chicken.

You can use coleslaw that you’ve made yourself or you can purchase a bag of coleslaw. It’s also a great way to use up any leftover coleslaw that you might have around. If you don’t have coleslaw, just a slice of tomato and lettuce will finish the sandwich off nicely too. Of course, you could always do both – tomato and lettuce on the sandwich and coleslaw on the side. For that matter, why not throw some Homemade French Fries into the air fryer and make a serious meal of this sandwich! 

Assembling an air-fried chicken sandwich with a bottle of beer in the background.

If this seems like too much work for lunch… make it dinner. Either way, just make it. You won’t regret it. I should have called this the No Regret Air Fried Chicken Sandwich.

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Air Fried Chicken Sandwich

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 25 m
  • Marinating Time: 3 h
  • Total Time: 40 m
  • Servings:


  • 2 boneless chicken breasts (6- to 8-ounces each)
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • juice of ½ lemon
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons powdered sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon celery seeds
  • ¼ teaspoon dried sage
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 Kaiser or brioche rolls
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter softened
  • cup coleslaw
  • bread and butter pickle chips
Special Sauce:
  • 4 tablespoons mayonnaise
  • 1 tablespoon BBQ sauce
  • ½ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • pinch of cayenne pepper


  1. Cut the chicken breasts into two pieces, making the thicker end slightly smaller than the thinner tapered end. Pound each piece with the flat side of a meat mallet, so both pieces are even in size and thickness.
  2. Combine the buttermilk, lemon juice and cayenne pepper in a bowl. Add the chicken and coat both sides with the mixture. Refrigerate the chicken and let it marinate for at least 3 hours to overnight.
  3. Set up a dredging station with two bowls. Place the beaten eggs in one bowl. Combine the flour, powdered sugar, salt, black pepper, celery seeds, dried sage, dried thyme and baking powder in the second bowl.

  4. Working with one piece of chicken at a time, remove the chicken from the buttermilk marinade, letting it drip for a second or two before transferring it to the flour bowl. Coat the chicken on all sides in the flour and then transfer the chicken to the egg bowl. Coat all sides of the chicken with the eggs and then transfer it back to the flour a second time, making sure all sides are coated.
  5. Pre-heat the air fryer to 380°F.
  6. Place the coated chicken in air fryer basket and spritz well with oil. Air-fry at 380°F for 12 minutes. Spray the chicken again and increase the temperature to 400°F. Air-fry for 4 minutes. Flip the chicken over and air-fry for an additional 4 to 5 minutes until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F on an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken.
  7. While the chicken is air-frying, make the special sauce by combining the mayonnaise, barbeque sauce, apple cider vinegar and cayenne pepper in a small bowl. Cut the rolls in half and butter each half. Transfer the cooked chicken to a resting plate. Working in batches, air-fry the rolls, buttered side up, at 390°F for 2 minutes until toasted.
  8. Assemble the sandwiches. Spread the sauce on the toasted buns. Place a piece of the air fried chicken on the bottom of each bun. Top the chicken with coleslaw and pickles and finish with the top bun. Serve with Homemade French Fries or Potato Chips.
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Comments (38)Post a Reply

    1. Definitely! You could use gluten-free flour or any gluten-free flour substitute like rice flour or corn starch.

  1. 5 stars
    Looks delish! I was just wondering why do you use baking powder? Does it make the coating better? Thanks!

    1. Hi Katheleen. If you click on “Print Recipe”, it should take you to another page with a printable version of the recipe. From there, just print from your browser and it should work.
      Thanks. ML

  2. 5 stars
    Wow! Worth every bit of the effort! My family gave the highest of praise to these sandwiches! Thank you for this recipe and all of your recipes and videos. You make everything seem doable! BTW- I’ve got your pizza dough waiting in the fridge for tomorrow. Can’t wait to see how it turns out for me. Making Strombolis instead of pizza, though.

  3. Just curious where the celery seed come into play? Did I miss it in the instructions? I guess you add it to the seasoned flour? Sounds yummy!

  4. When you increase the temp to 400 degrees, do you remove the chicken or leave it in the basket while it increases the temp. I’m new at air frying. Thanks!

    1. Hi Karen,
      You can leave the chicken in the basket and just increase the temperature. It won’t take long for the air fryer to increase just 20ºF.

  5. 5 stars
    I have the power xl airfry oven. I did put a little oil on the rack but the coating still stuck pretty badly. Do you have any tips on how to keep things from sticking when it is a wet coating like this? Thank you. The taste was fabulous. I will definitely make this again.

    1. Hi Julia. If you’re really having trouble with sticking, cut a small piece of parchment paper and put that down underneath the chicken. It’s best if it doesn’t cover all the holes in the bottom of the basket, but the chicken will still cook well even if it does. Remember to spray the chicken well – a coating of oil on the chicken is still way better than deep-frying it.

  6. As usual another recipe that is a winner. One question….I bought a big air fryer the last time you were on the Q. Found it to be a bit too big for just two of us so gifted it to my daughter (grandchildren were so happy). Bought a small on but it’s too small. What size do you suggest for just too people? Thanks, Kate

    1. Hi Latrice. The powdered sugar helps gives the coating a nice crispy finish. It is not overly sweet and the flavor balances nicely with the other spices in the breading.

  7. Any chance of getting the sodium content just for the cooked chicken breasts? The sodium for the entire recipe is way beyond what I can handle but if the chicken alone is low enough I can make other adjustments.

    1. Hi Cathy. Technically the sodium content for all the ingredients in the recipe would be 1294 mg per serving, BUT the salt is mixed into the flour and in most cases you do not need all the flour to coat the chicken. I add 2 teaspoons of salt to the flour which certainly can be reduced or omitted all together to meet your dietary needs. If you like, skip the salt in the coating and just sprinkle a little on the finished chicken and then you really can control the amount.

  8. 5 stars
    I’ve been married for 37 years and my husband just said this was the best sandwich he’s ever eaten! Only thing I need to make sure of next time is to pound the chicken thinner. My air fryer cooks on the hot side and I almost burned it. Very juicy inside though!

  9. 5 stars
    Absolutely worth it! My family of four, including the 9 and 7 year old, ate every bite. Tastes like restaurant quality and definitely satisfied a craving! Yum, thank you for sharing this!

  10. 5 stars
    Since my husband is on a low sodium low fat low carb diet, I would just season my chicken breasts with paprika, onion & garlic powder, a little lemon pepper, black pepper and a touch of salt, and a spray of olive oil. I wrapped it in aluminum foil let it marinade in the fridge for a couple of hours. I made them tonight for dinner and they were perfect. My husband is a red meat man all the way. He doesn’t care for chicken, but he loved this chicken and is requesting more! He’s making suggestions on different ways to serve it. That’s saying a lot!
    One of his suggestions is served on a bun, with lettuce, tomatoes and your delicious sounding sauce! 😋 I can’t wait to try that.

  11. 5 stars
    Great air fryer recipe. I used Kentiuy Kernel seasoned four and added cayenne pepper and followed frying temp and times. No parchment and came out PERFECT……

  12. I butterfly my chicken breast as the thinner cooks so nicely with meals. About how long should I air fry them for these sandwiches?

  13. 3 stars
    Ended up being overcooked. Bottom half stuck to the basket even though it was oiled. I think some airfryers run hotter. Still tasted good, especially with the sauce. I just won’t cook it as long next time.

    1. Air fryers can vary in temperature. You could use an instant read thermometer to test the chicken a few minutes before the end of the cooking time to make sure it doesn’t over cook. You don’t want the chicken breast to go over 170° F. You can try some parchment paper or foil on the bottom of the basket to prevent the coating from sticking. Make sure you poke some wholes in it so the air can circulate around the chicken.

    1. If not using an air fryer, I would probably resort to gently frying the chicken in a little oil in a skillet on the stovetop. But, you could spritz the chicken well and put it on a rack over a baking sheet in the oven. It will take a little longer in the oven and the timing will depend on the size of your chicken breasts. The internal temperature should reach 165˚F and the chicken should be nice and brown.

    1. So sorry you were disappointed Sue. The timing of the chicken will depend on the size of your chicken breasts and how thick they are. Checking the chicken for the internal temperature will help you not overcook the chicken. As for the sticking, different air fryers have different baskets (some mesh, some perforated) and non-stick coatings. If you have trouble with your foods sticking in the basket, try lining with a little piece of parchment paper – that will help.

  14. 5 stars
    This is a terrific recipe! My whole family loved it and I passed it on to a few friends as well. Also, your Beef Barley Soup is fantastic too. I’m looking forward getting your Air Fry Genius cookbook. I’ve enjoyed all your recipes, not only because they are delicious, they are easy to follow as well.

  15. Watch you on the Q from the start. Always enjoy you. Can’t wait to try the airfryed chicken. Looks delicious. D

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