Air Fryer Fried Chicken is everything you love about fried chicken for two but healthier without frying oil! Crispy and golden on the outside while remaining juicy on the inside, it’s the perfect balance of flavor and crunch in every bite.

Air fryer fried chicken on blue plate with lime and cilantro

When I posted my waffles for two, it got me thinking about chicken and waffles.

Except I realized I never published my recipe for Air Fryer Fried Chicken, so here I am begging you for forgiveness while offering you a plate of golden brown, crispy deliciousness.

I mentioned this with my air fryer coconut shrimp and I’ll say it again.

I hate deep frying.

It’s not that I hate plunging my food into hot oil. I just hate the splattering then dumping all that used fryer oil THEN trying to get rid of the fried food smell days after cooking.

Plus the whole not for healthy for you part.

That’s where making fried chicken in the air fryer comes in handy!

You get crunchy chicken skin and juicy meat while using only a small amount of oil from cooking spray.

Winner winner fried chicken dinner.

Fried chicken in air fryer basket

What is an air fryer?

An air fryer is a countertop appliance that uses hot air rather than oil to “fry” anything, similar to a convection oven.

This rapid air circulation makes the food crisp, similar to deep frying but without the oil.

Sometimes I’ll use it to reheat tater tots or chicken strips. Other times I make a quick snack of homemade pita chips to serve with hummus.

You can even make air fryer cheesecake in one!

At first glance it may seem like a trendy appliance you’ll only use once, but honestly I use mine multiple times a week.

It’s also the perfect appliance when cooking for one or two because the basket is just the right size for small portions, such as when you make my air fryer fajitas.

Which air fryer to buy?

The air fryer I personally use is Gourmia with a 6 quart basket (although mine is an older model so it looks different).

However, there are plenty of brands in the market. The key is knowing the quirks of how your air fryer works so you can adjust recipes if needed.

Air Fryer Fried Chicken made with legs and thighs

Why Make Fried Chicken in Air Fryer

Cooking fried chicken in the air fryer has many benefits, including:

  • Uses less oil: Not only is air fryer chicken healthier than a deep fryer, you don’t need to dispose of the used fryer oil then try to get rid of the fried oil smell. Seriously, that smell lingers for days.
  • No preheating: Unlike a deep fryer that has to heat up, you can add your fried chicken and cook right away.
  • Consistent cooking: When you deep fry, the oil temperature fluctuates so you have to constantly monitor it. With an air fryer, you set the temperature then walk away.

Fried chicken on blue plate with biscuits

Ingredients For Air Fryer Fried Chicken

Here’s what you need to make your air fried chicken:

  • Bone-in skin-on chicken: I’m a dark meat girl so I opted for legs and thighs. However, you can also use chicken breast and wings.
  • Buttermilk: Not only does it add a bit of tang, it helps tenderize the chicken to ensure a crispy exterior. Once you’re done making your chicken, check out my other 20+ recipes with buttermilk.
  • Lime juice: A little extra acidity for both flavor and tenderizing
  • Egg: Adds a bit more structure to the breading as well as helps the flour to stick better
  • Flour: Flour is what gives fried chicken its crispy coating.
  • Cornstarch: Makes the coating crispier because it absorbs moisture. Moisture = soggy skin
  • Baking powder: Helps draw moisture to the surface to evaporate which is key for crispy skin.
  • Salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, and paprika: Spices to season your chicken
  • Cooking spray: You do need a little bit of oil to make the skin nice and crispy.

Making Fried Chicken For Two

Because this is small batch fried chicken, you only need 4 pieces (2 legs and 2 thighs preferably). However, it can get pricey buying thighs and drumsticks separately (not to mention all that chicken!)

What I did was I bought a pack of chicken quarters then separated the thighs and legs with my knife (which you can watch this video on how to separate chicken quarters).

If you have leftover chicken quarters, save them to make roasted chicken quarters with carrots and potatoes for a future dinner.

Making air fryer fried chicken

How To Fry Chicken In Air Fryer

Here’s how to make your easy air fryer fried chicken:

  1. Brine: Whisk together buttermilk, lime juice, egg, garlic, and salt then pour over chicken in a freezer bag or container. Refrigerate at least 4 hours or overnight.
  2. Dredge: Mix together flour, cornstarch, baking powder, and spices. Remove chicken from the brine then dredge with the flour mixture until completely coated.
  3. Fry: Add chicken to a greased air fryer basket then cook chicken in air fryer at 400F for 20-25 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165F.

Fried chicken is best eaten right away. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days.

Air fried chicken on blue plate

What To Serve With Air Fried Chicken

The best sides to serve with fried chicken are creamy ones, like my Amish potato salad, Amish macaroni salad, or coleslaw.

Want something healthier to balance the fried? Check out my green onion salad (which can be made ahead of time!)

Air Fryer Fried Chicken FAQ

How do I reheat fried chicken in air fryer?

Reheat fried chicken at 400F for 5 minutes.

Can I substitute milk for buttermilk?

I highly recommend buttermilk for the flavor, but if you don’t have any you can stir together whole milk with yogurt or sour cream. You can use whole milk plus vinegar but please note it won’t be as flavorful.

Can I double this recipe?

Yes! Double the ingredients then cook in batches.

More Chicken Recipes

Enjoyed this air fryer fried chicken recipe? Check out these other recipes for chicken:

Air fryer fried chicken on blue plate with lime and cilantro

Air Fryer Fried Chicken

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Brine Time: 4 hours
Total Time: 4 hours 35 minutes

Air Fryer Fried Chicken is everything you love about fried chicken for two but healthier without frying oil! Crispy and golden on the outside while remaining juicy on the inside, it’s the perfect balance of flavor and crunch in every bite.


  • 4 pieces bone-in skin-on chicken (thighs, legs, breast, or wings)
  • 1 cup whole-fat buttermilk*
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/4 cup fresh lime juice (optional)
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Cooking spray


  1. Place chicken into a large zip-top plastic bag or small casserole dish.
  2. Whisk together buttermilk, egg, lime juice, 1 teaspoon garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon salt then pour over chicken, coating completely. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to 24 hours.
  3. When ready to cook, in a shallow bowl whisk together the flour, cornstarch, baking powder, remaining 1 teaspoon salt, black pepper, remaining 1 teaspoon garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and cayenne.
  4. Remove chicken pieces from brine, letting excess buttermilk mixture drip off. Coat in flour mixture, ensuring they're completely coated.
  5. Grease air fryer basket with cooking spray then add two chicken pieces without overcrowding. Spray chicken with cooking spray.
  6. Cook at 400F degrees for 10 minutes. Flip then spray again with cooking spray. Cook another 10-15 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165F degrees. Repeat with remaining 2 chicken pieces.

    Fried chicken is best eaten shortly after it's made. Refrigerate leftovers for up to 3 days. Reheat chicken in air fryer at 400F for 5 minutes.


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