Ridiculously Good Air Fryer Chicken Breast Recipe - Pinch of Yum
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Ridiculously Good Air Fryer Chicken Breast

57 reviews / 4.9 average

My go-to everyday air fryer chicken! Thinly sliced chicken breast pieces, coated to the max in spices, plus a bit of brown sugar and cornstarch, and air fried to golden, juicy perfection.

This Air Fryer Chicken Breast Is Ridiculously Good

Two things I’ve never been big on:

  1. Air Fryers
  2. Chicken

But my life has changed in such a big way out here in the year 2024, and I’m now making this air fryer chicken almost on the daily. It’s so juicy, so delicious, and those crispity little browned bits! Ugh.

How I got here: Bjork has been going hog wild on all things protein in the last few months. As resident cooker of all the food in our house, I decided it’s time for me to figure out a really foolproof way to make chicken – for him (#protein), and for me, so that I actually like it.

So even though I’ve resisted it for years… I bought an air fryer (affiliate link). Almost exclusively to make chicken. And guess what? The one recipe I keep coming back to is these thinly sliced chicken breast pieces, coated to the max in spices, plus a bit of brown sugar and cornstarch, and air fried to golden, juicy perfection. I LOVE THIS CHICKEN SO MUCH!

There’s an excessive amount of seasoning and flavor that doesn’t taste like any one single thing – it’s just a beautiful blend of smoky, savory, and sweet. But it’s the golden crisped exterior with little edge bits that you will die for. And all the while it stays nice and juicy on the inside.

Takes 15 minutes to make and it’s such a family winner for us. I hope you love it!

How To Make This Air Fryer Chicken

1

Thinly slice the chicken.

No thank you for thick chicken breasts. I always slice the chicken breasts into thinner, smaller flat pieces (not bite-sized – save that for the end). Goal: flat, thin pieces for more even cooking, more juicy chicken, and more flavor coating surface area.

Slicing chicken breasts in half with a knife.

2

Toss with spices.

Toss the chicken with your spices and the avocado oil. No piece left behind – we want every bite SUPER well-coated!

Coating chicken in spices in a bowl.

Tossing chicken with spices in a bowl.

3

Air fry at 415 degrees for 10 minutes.

Preheat the air fryer and place the pieces in a single layer so they get good air flow around them (hello, browning)! Sometimes I have to do this in two batches depending on how much chicken I have. Don’t overcrowd.

Chicken in air fryer basket before cooking.

4

You’re Done! Yum!

When that timer goes off, you’re done. Slice and serve! Hot, juicy, golden browned and full of flavor. *drool* I always slice it up and serve it on a big cutting board right at the table with dips, or in rice bowls, or salads, or whatever you like!

Chicken in air fryer basket after cooking.

Watch How To Make This Air Fryer Chicken

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Sliced chicken on a cutting board.

Ridiculously Good Air Fryer Chicken Breast


  • Author: Lindsay Ostrom
  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: 24 servings (perfect for our household of 2 adults and 2 small kids) 1x

Description

My go-to everyday air fryer chicken breast! Thinly sliced chicken breast pieces, coated to the max in spices, plus a bit of brown sugar and cornstarch, and air fried to golden, juicy perfection.


Ingredients

Units Scale

The Spices

  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt (I use Morton table salt for this because it’s fine and better for coating)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cornstarch

The Chicken

  • 2 teaspoons avocado oil
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts – if you have closer to 1.5 pounds in your package, increase the amount of spices above by 1.5x to make sure you have enough seasoning for your chicken

Instructions

  1. Cut the the chicken into thin pieces: Cut each chicken breast into thin, flat pieces (not bite-sized but something that looks like a thin chicken breast). For example: if a one-pound package gives me two chicken breasts, I’m often cutting it into 3-4 thin pieces per breast. Thin chicken is essential! And delicious! Pat the chicken breasts dry if they have a lot of moisture on them.
  2. Coat the chicken with spices: Toss the spices together so they’re mixed well; sprinkle mixture over the chicken pieces in a bowl. Add the oil and toss (I use my hands but tongs will work). You want to thoroughly coat the chicken. You can give it a short rest if you want, but I find that the flavor is excellent even if it just goes straight into the air fryer, and that’s how I usually make it.
  3. Air fry: Preheat the air fryer. Place the chicken on the air fryer basket / grate in an even layer, leaving a bit of space for air to circulate around. Air fry the chicken at 415 degrees for 10 minutes. If you have larger pieces of chicken, you’ll want to go closer to 13 minutes. You’re looking for an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
  4. You’re done! Yum! It should be a gorgeous sight for hungry eyes. Crisped on the outside, full of flavor, and juicy to the max. Let it rest for a moment; then slice into it and enjoy. We often eat at least half of it just hot out of the air fryer while standing over the cutting board. I am on a kick with dunking the chicken pieces in a house-made gochujang dipping sauce which is in the notes below!

Notes

Salt Depends on The Amount of Chicken: And the salting is important. Here’s what I recommend.

  • 1 pound of chicken breasts: 3/4 teaspoon table salt (as written)
  • 1.5 pounds of chicken breasts: 1 teaspoon table salt
  • If using coarse kosher salt: 1 teaspoon salt for 1 pound of chicken breasts 

Marinating: You can let the chicken sit with the spices for an extended period of time – up to 24 hours in the fridge – but for best results, wait to add the cornstarch until just before you throw it in the air fryer.

Paprika: For this recipe, paprika refers to the ground spice labeled “ground paprika” or “paprika”. Paprika is great here for flavor and color. There are tons of varieties of paprika out there, including smoked paprika, hot paprika, Hungarian paprika, or sweet paprika. If you follow the amounts as written, you’ll get just a teeny tiny bit of the smoky paprika so it’s just a bit more rich and savory – just that little extra something that makes you go “mmmm” – without being overwhelmingly smoky. To me, as written, it’s the perfect blend. But if you like to play, try other paprika ratios or bring in other spices to your tastes!

Cheat Code for the Seasoning: This recipe is very clutch with McCormick Rotisserie Chicken Seasoning blend. Not sponsored, just so easy and so good. I found a neglected bottle of it when I was cleaning out my spice cabinet and it is DELICIOUS on this chicken. For a pound of chicken, just use about 1 tablespoon of the seasoning mix in place of the paprika, salt, onion and garlic powders. Then add your cornstarch and brown sugar to it and love your juicy, delicious chicken life!

Amazing Gochujang Dipping Sauce: This is my current favorite sauce to have with this chicken, either in a bowl, a salad, or just dipping the chicken pieces straight in. Mix 1/2 cup mayo with about 2 tablespoons gochujang sauce (table sauce, not paste), 1 clove grated garlic, a shot of soy sauce, and a dash of rice vinegar if you want. Season with salt and pepper. Oooof. So good.

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
  • Category: Dinner
  • Method: Air Fryer
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: air fryer chicken, air fryer chicken breast, chicken breast recipe

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Frequently Asked Questions About This Air Fryer Chicken

How do you serve/use this chicken?

We use this chicken in all sorts of things – bowls, salads, soups, tacos, or just plain and dipped in some amazing sauce (like the gochujang sauce in the notes of the recipe). For serving, I’d suggest a side like the simple green salad, Liz’s roasted broccoli salad, or the house favorite brussels sprouts. If you want this chicken on a salad, I’d suggest the roasted peanut kale salad or the avocado kale caesar with the sweet potato fries. This is also great thrown alongside a vegetarian pasta like the creamy kale pasta or the mushroom gnocchi.

How do you keep the chicken from drying out?

Traditionally you can brine the chicken in advance, but I’ve found that with thinly slicing the chicken you don’t need to brine it. There’s so much flavor on every surface area and the flash-cooking of the air fryer prevents it from overdrying. Make sure to take it out right away after it’s done for the juicest chicken!

Can you use frozen chicken breast?

If using frozen chicken, I’d suggest thawing it first before coating with spices and cooking it in the air fryer. In my experience, this creates the best texture for your chicken rather than putting your frozen chicken directly in the air fryer.

Does the cooking time change if you’re using whole chicken breasts (not sliced thinly)?

If using thicker (un-sliced) chicken breasts, air fry at 415 degrees for 13 minutes minimum and check the temperature at that time to confirm they’re done (165 degrees).

Do you need to preheat the air fryer?

I do preheat the air fryer. Mine has a setting for “preheat” that says 400 degrees for 4 minutes. When I put the chicken into the air fryer, the surface of the basket is hot enough that it sizzles.

Can you use a different type of oil besides avocado oil?

Olive oil or any kind of neutral-flavored high-heat oil would work great here, too.

What air fryer do you use?

This is the air fryer that I used for this recipe! (affiliate link) I’m still new to the air fryer world, so there are a few others I’m in the process of trying but this is the one I’ve used so far.

My air fryer only goes up to 400 degrees. How should I adjust the cook time?

Other readers have added 1-2 minutes more to the cook time and it’s worked great!

Could I do this with tofu?

Yes, you can! Just a few small changes will get you super crispy, delicious tofu. Here’s the recipe for Air Fryer Tofu!

Three Life-Changing Chicken Breast Recipes

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101 Comments

  1. Pinch of Yum Logo

    If you have a toaster oven style air fryer do the temp or times change? It’s really helpful to give directions for both kinds of air fryers! Thanks for all the great recipies!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      We’re new to air fryers, so haven’t tried it with the toaster oven style! 🙂 Can you set it to 415 degrees for 11 minutes? If so, it could possibly work! Just be sure to choose a tray or grate that allows for tight air flow around the chicken as that’s what helps it get browned.

  2. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Since an air fryer is essentially just a tiny convection oven, do you have any suggestions for doing this with a regular oven on the convection setting? Thanks!

  3. Pinch of Yum Logo

    How would you recommend making the gochujang sauce with paste instead of table sauce?

  4. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I’ve been waiting for this one!! I’m on a no sugar diet right now- will it’s still be wonderfully crispy without the brown sugar? Any adjustment you’d recommend?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      We haven’t tried it without the sugar! The brown sugar is nice to a little bit of sweetness, browing, and caramelization, but I think it would still taste delicious without.

  5. Pinch of Yum Logo

    HelP! I want to make this and I have a similar style air fryer – the Ninja but it only goes to 400* what would you suggest the cook time be? I feel like this is the perfect way to include more protein at lunch time!!

  6. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I just bought a pack of chicken tenderloins with no really plan for how to use them yet – do you think they would work with this method? It looks amazing!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Deb,

      Chicken tenderloins are by far a very healthy source of protein. How do you normally prepare your Chicken? In the oven, steaming, or baking?

    2. Pinch of Yum Logo

      They should work well. I use tenders for most recipes. I would remove the tendon and that thin membrane that is sometime on the tender. If they are large/thick, pound them gently with the heel of your hand or a mallet just to even out the thickness.

  7. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I am fan of eating fried chicken food especially when its recipe is detailed like this. Super helpful!!! will definitely try this at home!

  8. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I’m always on the lookout for healthy tips, and your air fryer chicken breast recipe sounds like a total game changer. The combination of spices you’ve chosen seems like it would give a fantastic flavor boost to the chicken. What really caught my eye was the use of the air fryer, which may be a great way to get that crispy texture without all the oil. This recipe looks like it could be a great addition to my weekly meal rotation. Thanks for sharing this culinary inspiration.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Chicken is currently in the air fryer, for the 3rd night in a row. Tastes great and is so easy. I recently introduced chicken back into my diet after over 25 years of being a vegetarian. So, I’m somewhat of a chicken beginner and this is my new go to. I struggle to evenly slice the breasts and end up with all kinds of wonky pieces of different sizes. This requires a little bit of guesswork and luck for cooking times, but still comes out great! My air fryer only goes to 400 (Ninja). I’ve ended up cooking the larger pieces about 11 minutes, and 9-10 for smaller.

  9. Pinch of Yum Logo

    This chicken is SO good. My air fryer only goes up to 400 and I did thin cut chicken breasts for 11 min and it worked great. SO delish.

  10. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I made this last night and it was a huge hit with my whole family! So not to be the person that completely changed a recipe BUT I did use thigh’s because that is what I had and baked them on the air fry setting of my oven at 425°. They turned out fairly crispy and absolutely delicious.

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Nic,

      Next time you make a virtually award-winning dinner, monetize it and make a video for YouTube so we can hopefully see! 🙂

  11. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I substituted this air fry chicken into your summertime slaw chicken burger recipe, and it was SO GOOD and much healthier than the fried chicken. Thank you!!! I love every recipe of yours I make #obsessed

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Loved it! Instead of corn starch I used panko bread crumbs and it tasted great with a nice crunch and juicy inside! Also used own spices. Thank you!

  12. Pinch of Yum Logo

    DELICIOUS!!
    Just finished eating or actually devouring this! Looking forward to lunch tomorrow already! Only reason there are any leftover is that I instantly made a second batch after my first taste!

  13. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Just made these in my Ninja air fryer that is more like a toaster oven. Flavor was great but they didn’t crisp up like i was expecting… I don’t usually have this issue with the air fryer when i make my chicken cutlets. Wondering if skipping the step where you pat down the chicken first before adding the seasoning and oil was detrimental here? will for sure try again!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      I don’t think I’ve ever heard of a Ninja air fryer before. How long does it take to completely cook a chicken in it?

  14. Pinch of Yum Logo

    So great! We had this with coconut rice and it’s immediately going into high rotation. Going to try the dipping sauces next time. Thank you

  15. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Question… a lot of people don’t have countertop air fryers, as a lot of new ovens now have an air fry option. I see countless recipes for countertop air fryers but nothing for oven air fryers, and since they don’t exactly work the same; I was wondering if you had any insight as to how to make this recipe work with an oven air fryer… it’s so frustrating to see all these Greta recipe that won’t work in a traditional oven air fryer 😞
    This recipe looks amazing and it would suck not to be able to use it lol! Thanks!!

  16. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I have an Aria air fryer (ceramic) and it only goes to 400°, but this cooked to perfection. I forgot to use the oil and it still turned out awesome. Exactly as you describe w crispy edges. Normally when u use my air fryer, I use the parchment liners for ease of cleanup. I was nervous to try that with this recipe and I wish I had; I don’t think ceramic cleans up quite as easily as nonstick but the trade offs are that you don’t have the nonstick chemicals. Given the sugar content in this recipe I might need to put more elbow grease into cleaning it but it was worth it!

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Try using hot water and white vinegar… if you google how to clean ceramic pots, pans, air fryers – you’ll find a lot of helpful hints. For some reason oil residue, etc loves to bake onto ceramic.

  17. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Ridiculously Good Air Fryer Chicken Breast

    This recipe sounds great, but I do not have an air fryer. Will it work in other forms of cooking?

    1. Pinch of Yum Logo

      Made this tonight using the convection setting on the oven at 415 roast setting for 15 minutes. Delicious.

  18. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Yum, yum, yumm-ity, yum! This chicken is too good, like I could eat it multiple times a week. I took the easy route and purchased thin sliced chicken breast, then cut them into pieces. I didn’t have any leftovers to say how this is cold, although I am guessing it would be amazing in a wrap or on a salad if you didn’t eat every last bite.

  19. Pinch of Yum Logo

    Most air fryers do not reach 415 degrees. Can you tell me the time for to cook at 400 degrees?

  20. Pinch of Yum Logo

    I’ve been searching for a method to cook chicken in the air fryer to achieve crispy, juicy perfection. Finally found it. Tweaked the temp and time to work with my air fryer, but the seasoning/brown sugar/cornstarch blend and thin cut tip is a game changer.