This Air Fryer Fried Chicken is juicy inside and crispy on the outside. You will love the crunchy coating with Parmesan cheese. It's a delicious fried chicken dinner made healthier!
Why This Recipe Works
After the huge success with my chicken nuggets, I wanted to make another chicken recipe. One that you will most likely fry in a lot of oil. Well, forget deep-fat frying! This Air Fryer Fried Chicken is crispy on the outside and juicy inside.
Marinate the chicken in buttermilk (I am sharing my quick homemade version), then coat in flour, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese breading with spices. The simple bath in buttermilk helps keep the chicken juicy while air frying. The breading is perfectly seasoned and has a hint of toasted cheese. AMAZING!
- chicken thighs: bone-in and skin-on;
- buttermilk: tenderizes the meat and ensures that the chicken stays juice inside; make a homemade version by following my recipe with half and half or milk and vinegar;
- flour: the first ingredient for making the crunchy breading;
- breadcrumbs: any kind works, I used plain because I like to add my own seasoning;
- Parmesan cheese: adds toasted cheese flavor to the breading and makes it even more crunchy;
- seasoning: paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper.
How to make fried chicken in an air fryer?
- Place chicken thighs in a large bowl and add buttermilk. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least half an hour or overnight.
- Mix breading ingredients: flour, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and seasoning.
- Preheat the air fryer to 380 degrees F.
- Shake off the excess buttermilk from each chicken piece, then dip each in breading mixture.
- Spray chicken lightly with cooking spray.
- Place chicken thighs in the air fryer, do not stack, and cook for 25 minutes.
- Check the internal temperature of each chicken piece (see info below), cook for a few more minutes if needed.
- Do not overcrowd the air fryer. Cook in batches if you have more than 3 to 4 pieces. The air circulates in the air fryer and each piece should have space around it to cook properly.
- Don't skip the buttermilk. It tenderizes the meat but also ensures that the breading sticks to the chicken.
- To prevent drips, use parchment paper. Cut a square of parchment to fit in the air fryer basket and place chicken on top. This will prevent the mess during cooking.
Instead of spraying the food with cooking oil once already in the air fryer basket, spray it when it's still on a plate. This will prevent cooked on oil on your air fryer basket and tray. It's not easy to remove. This also prevents damage to the heating element and the finish of the inside of your air fryer.
How long to cook chicken in the air fryer?
- thighs: set timer to 25 to 28 minutes and cook chicken until internal temperature is at least 180 degrees F.
- breasts: set the timer to 23 to 25 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken. Cook until internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees F.
- strips: set timer to 15 to 17 minutes, depending on the thickness of the pieces. Cook until internal temperature reaches at least 165 degrees F.
No, it is not necessary. If you do not want to wait for it to heat up, simply add 3 minutes to the cooking time.
The air fryer cooks food by circulating the hot air around it so the surface of your food needs to be exposed to the air to be cooked properly. If you want to cook more than 4 pieces, I suggest doing so in batches.
If you have frozen chicken strips or nuggets, you can cook them in the air fryer as you would in the oven. It is not recommended to use frozen chicken breast or thighs.
Any leftovers should be stored in the fridge for up to 4 days. To reheat, preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees and heat the chicken for 5 minutes.
Best sides for air fryer fried chicken:
I served it with mashed potatoes, creamy coleslaw, and sauteed spinach. Looking for something else? Here are a few more options:
- baked beans
- corn on the cob
- hush puppies
- French fries
- sauteed green beans
- cucumber tomato salad.
More air fryer recipes:
If you like this recipe and make it, let me know in the comments below! Don't forget to rate it if you enjoyed it!
Air Fryer Fried Chicken
- 4 chicken thighs skin-on, bone-in (see note)
- 1 cup buttermilk see note
- ¼ cup all-purpose flour
- ¼ cup plain breadcrumbs
- ¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Trim chicken of any excess fat. Place in a large bowl. Add buttermilk and make sure all pieces are coated. Cover bowl with saran wrap and refrigerate at least 30 minutes (up to 8 hours).
- In a bowl combine the breading ingredients: flour, breadcrumbs, Parmesan cheese and seasoning.
- Lightly spray your air fryer basket with cooking spray. Preheat air fryer to 380° F, for 3 minutes.
- Shake off excess of buttermilk of each chicken pieces and dip in breading mixture. Make sure it is well coated.
- Place chicken thighs in air fryer, do not stack. Close air fryer, set timer to 25 minutes.
- Check the internal temperature of each chicken piece (it should be at least 180 degrees F). Cook for a few more minutes if needed.
- You can use boneless skinless chicken thighs, however, they will cook faster. Check their internal temperature after 20 minutes.
- To make homemade buttermilk: combine 2 tablespoon apple cider vinegar and enough half and half to make 1 cup of liquid. Let sit for a few minutes.
- You can easily double the recipe to make more servings, however, you will have to cook the chicken in batches.
- Please note, that the nutrition value can vary depending on what product you use. The information below is an estimate. Always use calorie counter you are familiar with.
We prefer white meat chicken. How would I change the cooking time for skin on bone in breasts and wings? This is one thing I haven’t made yet in my new air fryer/toaster oven.
Mary A Meyer says
Can't wait to try this in my new air fryer my Son just bought me. I have been having a ball with my new "toy". Trying everything in it.
Ellen Jamison says
This was the first air fryer chicken recipe I tried and it did not disappoint. Followed recipe as written. Crisp and juicy! Will definitely make again and look to see if you have a crispy pork chop recipe.
Found the recipe this afternoon and decided to give it a try. So glad I did!! I had enough time to actually leave the chicken in the buttermilk in the fridge for 4hrs. I followed the recipe to the t and it turned out awesome. I've bookmarked it as i'm sure it'll be one of my go to recipes!! Thanks for sharing it.
Would this work on boneless skinless chicken thighs ?
Can I use an egg instead of buttermilk?
I recommend using buttermilk.
You didn’t have to spray these with oil or turn them halfway through cooking? Thanks!
THIS RECIPE IS DELICIOUS. It was one of the easiest dinners I’ve ever made. And so good. My husband went on and on. Keeper for sure.
Awesome! I am so glad it was a hit! Thank you for trying my recipe, Ashlee!
Hi! Is it possible to do this recipe in a regular oven with the fan on at 210 C? My friend made this in an air fryer and it was amazing but unfortunately we don't have one yet and so we wanted to try it in a hot hot oven with the convection fan going.
Brenda Allen says
I don't see why you couldn't. They both are convection and faster cooking than convention. The difference between counter top convection and an air fryer is that air fryers are smaller; therefore, they can cook the food a Bit faster. Another difference is the air fryer having a basket (a metal wire rack/basket with feet) that promotes air flow. That is no problem since you can put a rack on a low-sided tray. One other thing to keep in mind is that 210C is 410F. I would normally "fry" it at 450F, so you may need to cook higher temp or longer. If you are familiar with a convection oven, you are good to go!
What about turning the chicken over half way through?
Beverly Ann says
Could you use this same recipe for chicken breasts?
I would like to know that, too. I do not like thigh meat.
Hi Beverly Ann! You sure can! Like I mentioned in the post, the cooking time will be shorter for chicken breast. Let me know how it goes!
lois ann sanders says
Would this recipe work for chicken legs?
Do these get turned over half way through? I noticed on other air fryer recipes the upside needed to be there over to get that crispy "fried" flavor from spraying the inside of fryer so top of chicken won't be dry?
I just got an air fryer and wanted to try fried chicken in it and I found this recipe. I don't usually leave reviews but wanted to on this one. This turned out wonderful, I filled the recipe to the T. My husband has had his doubts with my new air fryer purchase but after making this recipe, I won him over! Thanks for sharing, it's a keeper.
Hi Teresa! Awesome! I am so glad the chicken was such a hit! Yay! Thank you so much for trying my recipe!
These would disappear in our house!
I'd love to give it a try! Looks amazing!
That looks so simply and delicious. Going to have to try this out over the weekend!
I hope you love it!
This looks SO crispy and delicious! I am drooling!
Can I use panko bread crumbs eggs and milk. I do not like buttermilk. Thanks
Jade Manning says
Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!
Becky Hardin says
Love fried chicken and loving this recipe using the air fryer! Healthier fried chicken.
It's amazing! Thanks, Becky!
Beth Pierce says
Chicken thighs in the Air Fryer sounds amazing! Love this perfectly crisp meal!
Laura Reese says
I am always looking for new chicken recipes. This one looks like a winner.
Omg YES! I for sure need an air fryer now b/c this deliciousness is calling my name!!!!
Can't believe the crispiness on these without even being fried!! Gotta get me an air fryer!!!