Air Fryer Fried Chicken

Using your air fryer to make buttermilk fried chicken lets you enjoy one of your favorite fried foods without all the guilt or the mess of deep-frying.

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Buttermilk air fried fried chicken in a parchment paper lined basket on a wooden table.

How to Make Fried Chicken in the Air Fryer

It’s hard to resist delicious fried chicken. You know the kind… the juicy moist and tender chicken inside a crunchy crispy coating that breaks off the chicken as you take a bite. Trouble is making that fried chicken requires time and labor in the kitchen, a heavy pot of oil on the stovetop and must be done right in order not to be too greasy. I have nothing against traditional deep-fried chicken and there are tricks to making it easier and tastier, but I confess I do tend to feel somewhat guilty after indulging in that deep fried favorite and tend to make it a rare treat as a result. So, it’s nice to know that by swapping out the pot of oil for an air fryer, and eliminating almost all the oil, you can enjoy air fryer fried chicken more often and save yourself the guilty feelings.

A whole raw chicken on a white cutting board with other ingredients around it.

What Pieces of the Chicken to Use

Everyone has their favorite piece of chicken. Some folks only like the white meat; others prefer dark meat; some like wings; others want to grab a drumstick. So, my answer is cut up a whole chicken and make everyone happy. Sure, the wings are going to cook faster than the drumsticks, which will cook faster than the breasts, but you can just remove those pieces as they are finished and warm them up at the end. Of course, you can buy a whole chicken already cut up for you, but if you want to learn how to do it yourself and practice your knife skills, I have a lesson on just that here

Chicken pieces soaking in buttermilk in a ceramic bowl on a wooden table with a striped tea towel near by.

Substitute for Buttermilk

Marinating the chicken in buttermilk is the first step to juicy, moist fried chicken. Buttermilk’s acidity tenderizes the chicken and the thickness of the buttermilk helps the flour coating (which comes later) stick to the chicken. Using buttermilk to marinate chicken is a great way to use up any buttermilk you have leftover in the refrigerator (if perhaps you just made buttermilk pancakes or some buttermilk biscuits), but if you don’t have any buttermilk there are a few substitutions you can use.

  • 2 cups whole milk + 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 cups whole milk + 1 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 1¾ cups whole milk yogurt + ¼ cup milk

Not having any buttermilk on hand is never an excuse to not make fried chicken. You always have options. Of course, if you bought some buttermilk, you’d have leftovers for buttermilk pancakes or biscuits! Just sayin’…

Dredged and coated chicken pieces in a mesh tray next to a shallow dish of beaten egg.

Coating for Fried Chicken

Once the chicken has marinated in the buttermilk, applying the coating is the next step. Our goal is to get enough coating on the chicken and to make sure it doesn’t fall off during the cooking process. You can learn all about how to properly dredge and bread foods here, but to ensure that coating doesn’t come off the fried chicken we double dredge it. That means remove the chicken from the buttermilk and dredge in seasoned flour. Then, coat the chicken in egg and dredge again. Double dredging.

Air fryer fried chicken cooking inside an air fryer oven.

How to Make CRISPY Air Fryer Fried Chicken

Now the key to really crispy air fryer fried chicken is twofold. First of all, make sure that you spritz the entire chicken with oil. You shouldn’t see any raw dry flour left on the chicken pieces. No matter how much oil you spritz on the chicken, you will be using less oil than if you were deep-frying the chicken, so coat the chicken liberally. An olive oil sprayer like this makes it very easy.

Next, make sure you air fry the chicken in a single layer. I know it’s tempting to pile the food into your air fryer so you only have to do one batch, but trust me, you’ll end up spending more time trying to get the chicken crispy. If your air fryer is not big enough to do it all at once in one layer, just do two batches and reheat everything together at the end. 

Air Fryer fried chicken being presented by someone in a parchment lined basket.

How to Store and Re-heat Air Fryer Fried Chicken

In the unlikely event that you have leftover fried chicken, just store it in the refrigerator in a sealed container for up to 3 days. When you are ready to enjoy it again, the air fryer is the perfect re-heating tool. Just pre-heat the air fryer to 350ºF and then re-heat your fried chicken for about 7 to 10 minutes until it reaches 165ºF on an instant read thermometer.

Serving Suggestions

What goes well with air fryer fried chicken? What doesn’t?! You could make some coleslaw or potato salad.. or both! Or if you prefer warm side dishes, go with perfect fluffy mashed potatoes and perhaps some grilled corn on the cob. It’s hard to compete with a star like fried chicken, but every star needs a good supporting cast. 

Featured Recipe Techniques

More about the skills used in this recipe.

Cooking School
How to Cut up a Whole Chicken

Breaking down a whole chicken is a great skill to have because it allows you to customize how you want...View Technique

How to Dredge and Bread Foods

Dredging and breading are two important steps in many of our favorite recipes and there are a few key points...View Technique

Air Frying 101

An introduction into Air Frying so that you can feel comfortable and confident making the recipes you find on my...View Technique

General Tips for Air Frying

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Air Fryer Buttermilk Fried Chicken

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 25 m
  • Total Time: 40 m
  • Servings:


  • 1 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • hot sauce optional
  • cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs lightly beaten
  • vegetable oil in a spray bottle


  1. Cut the chicken into 8 pieces and then submerge them in the buttermilk (with a little hot sauce if desired). A zipper sealable plastic bag works well for this. Let the chicken soak in the buttermilk for at least one hour or even overnight in the refrigerator
  2. Set up a dredging station. Mix the flour, paprika, salt and black pepper in a clean zipper sealable plastic bag. Whisk the eggs and place them in a shallow dish. Remove four pieces of chicken from the buttermilk and transfer them to the bag with the flour. Shake them around to coat on all sides. Remove the chicken from the flour, shaking off any excess flour, and dip them into the beaten egg. Return the chicken to the bag of seasoned flour and shake again. Set the coated chicken aside and repeat with the remaining four pieces of chicken.
  3. Pre-heat the air fryer to 370ºF.
  4. Spray the chicken on all sides with the vegetable oil and then transfer to the air fryer. Air-fry the chicken at 370ºF for 25 minutes, flipping the pieces over halfway through the cooking process.
  5. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to cook the chicken in two batches. Cook the first batch for 20 minutes and then after the second batch is done, flip the chicken back over and place the first batch of chicken on top of the second batch already in the basket. Air-fry at 340°F for another 7 minutes and serve warm.
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Comments (48)Post a Reply

  1. This looks so good Meredith! Love fried chicken but not in all that oil. Can you substitute whey from making homemade Greek yogurt instead of the buttermilk? Just wondering as I have lots of it leftover. Can’t wait to make some!!

  2. 5 stars
    The air fryer we own need the temperature a little higher and a little more time, especially at the beginning so it did not stick at the turn. But, my husband and I agree, it is the best, moist, and flavorful chicken we have had, without the oil, dumping the oil and the mess!

  3. I have a small air fryer , it is a 1200 watt 2 quart fryer . Would it take longer to cook ? I would like to see recipes for the small fryer . Thank you for your help.

    1. Hi Patty. It shouldn’t take longer to cook if you are cooking at the same temperature. The only reason it could take more or less time is dependent on how big or small your chicken pieces are. Remember not to over-fill the air fryer and to cook in one layer.

  4. 5 stars
    Great recipe turned out very good. I used 4 chicken thighs skin on bone in and 2 skinless boneless breast pieces. Beats the heck out of standing over a hot grease filled skillet.

    1. This recipe has not been tested with almond flour. It should coat the chicken fine but will alter the taste slightly. If you like the taste of almond flour then you should be happy with the end result.

  5. 5 stars
    This is my go to ‘fried’ chicken!! I add hot sauce to the buttermilk and marinate for at least four hours. It always turns out great!!

  6. 5 stars
    Marinade really made the difference as far as flavor. I was dreading the dredging but it’s really quick. I had a scratch my head moment when it came to the paprika. I have sweet and smoked and went with the sweet. Next time I’m going with the smoked for a deeper flavor. Did you use sweet? Your thoughts on using smoked, please?

    1. Hi Clancy. I like all forms of paprika – sweet, hot and smoked. It all depends on what you’re looking for. If you want a smoky flavor, go for the smoked. If you want more spice, go for the hot. And if you want just color and a little flavor, go for the sweet.

  7. 5 stars
    This was delicious and easy! To make it kosher I used almond milk with a few drops of hot sauce. Haven’t eaten fried chicken in 30 years due to the fat and calories. I’ll be making this often!

  8. 5 stars
    Great recipe and cayenne pepper was awesome just one
    Question how do you keep coating to stay on the chicken
    Most of it fell off

    1. It can be a little tricky, but make sure you dredge and coat the chicken really well and spray the chicken well before air-frying. Then just handle the chicken carefully in the air fryer.

  9. If I want to just use just drumsticks and I have a NInja foodie 2 air basket about how long and same temp? I am so excited to do this because I am not supposed to have fried food and I miss fried chicken.

    1. This recipe can be made in any type of air fryer and the time and temperature would be the same.

  10. My first attempt with my air fryer smart oven pro. I bought your book and studied it first then tried the fried chicken. It was delicious, juicy but not as brown as I thought so I took it out sprayed more oil on the one side and turned it up to 390 for another couple minutes, I was worried but it did get browner and was still juicy. Will put more oil next time. Thanks, love your book!

  11. Very delicious, but seems like a lot of waste with both single-use plastic bags. Could be done in bowl? Regardless, great job on the ingredients. Thank you!

    1. Of course, you can certainly use bowls instead of bags. They just help keep prep tidier, but you don’t have to use them.

  12. Any suggestions on a sprayer for the oil? I know some things in an air fryer require to be sprayed with oil. I currently don’t have a sprayer, but want to experiment with some recipes and my new air fryer.

  13. If you do not have a sprayer for oiling your air fryer you could use a basting brush and a little olive oil ! Works great !

  14. We just bought a toaster oven/air fryer combo, and this is my first air fryer. I’m having so much fun. Our first dish was airfrying frozen eggrolls and dumplings, and we couldn’t believe how crispy they were! So now, we’re going for fried chicken. I just put the chicken pieces in the yogurt/milk/hot sauce marinade, and will dredge and cook later today. Can’t wait. Instead of seasoned flour for one of the dredges, what’s your opinion on the use of seasoned bread crumbs? Would you use them for the first or second dredge, or both? Thanks Meredith.

    1. The flour coats the chicken pieces and helps the egg stick to the chicken before dredging in the bread crumbs, so it is best to use flour for the first step in dredging.

  15. Great recipe, chicken was moist and delicious. I think the flour mixture needs more seasoning but otherwise, this is excellent.

  16. 5 stars
    Hi, I’m eating gluten free and wondering what good substitutes might be for the flour ? I have white and yellow corn flour and buckwheat flour on hand. Might either or a combination be successful as substitutes? Thanks in advance.

    1. White corn flour or buckwheat flour could work well. You could also try using potato flakes for another gluten-free option.

  17. 1 star
    Terrible. I am an experienced and capable cook. This recipe is one of the worst that I have ever made. I did make some minor adjustments: I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts (sliced thin like cutlets and then tenderized), and our oven has an air fryer feature, so it is not the same as a stand-alone air fryer. I would only recommend this recipe to someone whose day I am trying to ruin.

    1. I’m sorry you didn’t have success with the recipe, Rob, but honestly, it doesn’t sound like you actually followed the recipe. Thin cutlets are never going to cook the same way that bone in chicken pieces will cook. You can’t have the chicken in the oven long enough to actually cook the exterior crust without completely drying out the chicken. Also, while ovens with air fryer features do their best to simulate stand alone air fryers, the sheer size of the oven as opposed to the compact space of an air fryer changes cooking time and the intensity of the heat.

    1. You can use boneless and skinless chicken breast but the coating won’t be quite the same without the skin. But it should still be nice and crispy. Depending on the size of the chicken breast you may need to reduce the cooking time slightly.

  18. 3 stars
    Being celiac I am always look to takes food I once loved and make them gluten free. I substituted GF flour and I am sorry but it just did not work – thank fully I only did 1/2 this receipt – 4 thighs..

    My air fryer does not have a 370 degree setting – it is either 360 or 375. I did 2 thighs at 375 for 25 minutes – I should have cute the time down because they were very very dark – not quite burnt but almost. I did the other 2 at 360 not much of a difference .. oh well I have it a try.

    1. Sorry the recipe didn’t work with gluten-free flour. It has only been tested with regular all-purpose flour. You could try lowering the temperature to 350 degrees and then start checking on the chicken after 20 minutes.

  19. I have the Airfry Oven which I don’t have to turn the chicken over. What temperature would I use and how to bake? Thank you. (I love your website).

    1. Hi Faye. All the different air fryers have slight differences and all pieces of chicken are different sizes. I would air fry at the temperature and for the time recommended in the recipe, but be prepared to tweak it as needed – a minute or two more or less.

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