Learn how to make the BEST buttermilk fried chicken in the air fryer in under 45 minutes. Super crispy on the outside and tender and juicy, this air fried chicken is loaded with spices and tastes 1000x better than frying in oil and is so much healthier too!
Air frying is a gamer changer. Ever since I got my hands on a 6qt air-fryer, I knew the possibilities are endless. We love air-frying just about anything that can be air-fried because it’s so much healthier and faster than traditional baking or frying.
This air fryer chicken has been long in the making and we’ve tested and perfected it to make sure you make the most delicious chicken possible in your air fryer.
The man objectives to the perfect air fryer fried chicken were:
- The crunch: The chicken must be crispy & crunchy on the outside with lots of spices.
- Juicy: It must be cooked through and tender and juicy on the inside with flavor and spice.
- Save time: be able to get the chicken on the table from start to finish in under an hour.
- Healthy: have all the above without deep frying.
HOW TO MAKE CRISPY FRIED CHICKEN IN THE AIR FRYER
The secret to making air fried chicken that tastes just as good as frying is to marinate the chicken with buttermilk and spices and to bread it with a mixture of flour and corn starch.
The 2nd must is to generously spray it with cooking spray to ensure all the flour is coated with oil.
This combo will ensure air fried chicken that is tender and juicy on the inside and crispy crunchy on the outside with so much flavor and texture that we promise you will never go back to deep frying chicken.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED TO MAKE FRIED CHICKEN IN THE AIR FRYER
Chicken: you can use your favorite cuts of chicken. Whether it’s half or whole (double recipe for this) chicken (with skin on), or chicken wings, legs, or your favorite cut of chicken.
Buttermilk: The buttermilk is used to tenderize the chicken and break down the protein which will result is juicy flavorful chicken. If you do not have buttermilk on hand, scroll down for a 5 minute DIY buttermilk recipe.
Flour & Corn Starch: The chicken is breaded with a mixture of flour and cornstarch to ensure a super crispy exterior. The cornstarch helps the chicken brown on the outside and creates a seal that will keep the juices inside the chicken. If you don’t have cornstarch on hand, you can use just flour until next time.
Spices: Spices are essential in this recipe because they bring out the flavor of the chicken and will make the chicken taste like your favorite fried chicken restaurants. It might seem like we are using a lot of spices but trust me, the result is amazing and worth every bite!
Hot sauce: Hot sauce adds flavor and color to the chicken and gives it an extra kick of spice. It’s completely optional but highly recommended for maximum flavor! Use your favorite hot sauce or opt-in for Frank’s.
HOW TO MAKE 5 MINUTE DIY BUTTERMILK
Making your own buttermilk at home is much easier than you might think! Simply combine 1 cup of milk with 1 tablespoon of white vinegar or lemon juice. Stir and let rest for 5 minutes until the mixture curdles.
Now you can use this buttermilk for fried chicken, baking, and just about anything else!
The Best Air Fryer Fried Chicken
For the marinade:
- 2 lb. bone-in skin-on chicken pieces mix of cuts
- 1 cup buttermilk *
- ¼ cup hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon EACH paprika garlic powder, black pepper, salt
For the breading:
- 1 cup flour
- ½ cup corn starch or replace with more flour
- 1 teaspoon EACH paprika garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper
- Oil for spraying chicken Canola, Peanut, Vegetable, or olive oil
- Combine buttermilk, hot sauce, and spices for the marinade in a large bowl. Add chicken and mix to combine. Cover and marinate up to 24 hours or use right away.
- Pre-heat air-fryer to 375F.
- In a medium shallow bowl, whisk the flour, cornstarch, and spices for breading. Drizzle 2-3 tablespoons of the buttermilk batter into the flour mixture and mix it through with a fork.
- Working with 1 piece at a time, dredge chicken the flour mixture and press flour on the top chicken to form a thick crust. Transfer chicken to a Pre-heated air fryer in a single layer without overlapping. You may need to work in batches if needed.
- Generously spray chicken with oil or brush it down with oil. You will need to apply a generous layer enough to coat ALL the breading or the flour will not cook and create a crispy crust. If at any point during the cooking you still see raw flour, go ahead and brush it with a little more oil. The more oil you apple the crunchier the crust will be.
- Set the Air-fryer to 30 minutes and start. After 15 minutes, flip the chicken and lightly spray the other side with oil. Continue cooking for 10 minutes or until the chicken is golden and the internal temperature reaches 165°. Repeat with the remaining chicken as needed.
I just have one question before trying this recipe which looks amazing, do i dry the chicken pieces out of the marinade before dredging or just dip them in the breading mix?
To make the buttermilk, does the milk need to be room temp first? I made it with cold milk and after 10 min it’s still not curdled. 🤷♀️
Hello in the recipe is says add 2-3 tablespoons of the buttermilk mixture to the flour batter but in the video
Is does not show this step. Is it an important step ? Trying to decide whether to add the buttermilk to my flour or not
I don’t understand the attraction. The recipe sounds fabulous but After looking at the macros I don’t see a huge benefit in terms of being a healthier product.
I don’t think it’s necessarily a healthy meal, but more a yummy meal that you don’t have to deep fry in oil.
According to my husband, this recipe is equal to the chicken up the street—KFC. It’s as close to that as I’ve had!
Scrumptious flavor and juicy inside. Air fried batter is delish!
Excellent. Crispy outside and moist and super juicy inside. A definite keeper. Thank you
This is my “go to” fried chicken recipe. I do it at least once a month. I substitute 1/8 tsp of cayenne for the hot sauce. I cook it for 30 minutes.
PS. In Instruction #5, last sentence, apple should be apply.
First time I ever cooked chicken in the air fryer and this recipe was delicious. Will most differently will make it again.
Even my house mate liked it which is shocking.
I’ve made this recipe now 3 times. I don’t understand the poor results people got. I LOVE this chicken. I can finally have fried chicken again!
Frances Ferraro says
I agree! This is the best air fryer – fried chicken recipe. I make “fried” chicken strips. Oh my word! And you will never miss the oil!
Elizabeth J McFadden says
I followed the recipe pretty exactly; used boneless skin-on thighs. Maybe I didn’t shake off enough excess flour mixture? Mine, like others, didn’t get crispy and tasted very floury. I tried to spray every bit of flour I could see with cooking oil – thought I was REALLY generous.
Chicken itself was moist and juicy, so that was successful, though if I try again I’ll go heavier on the hot sauce – barely tasted that.
KAYLA Parham says
I loved the recipe, I did notice I had to turn and spray a few extra times but it came out completely cooked and crispy. Thanks 😊
This was really good..I have a hack recipe for Kentucky Fried Chicken spices so I used those..marinated the chicken for 8 hours..came out nice and crispy but had a problem when flipping after 15 mins..coating came off the one side..might have been my fault for not spraying the air fryer basket. Would make again..
Read the reviews … wondering if the people who were not satisfied with the results …. did they use a toaster oven air fryer vs a stand alone air fryer and was the excess flour removed from the chicken before cooking ? I think those 2 factors are important .
Deja Brown says
Which one was better for you
I think it turned out really well. I pressure cooked the chicken ahead of time and this helped with the complaint people had about it not cooking all the way. It was nice and crisp outside and juicy inside. I’m going to play with the seasonings but I think this was a great recipe.
Chelsey J Thomas says
Followed your instructions and the result was *amazing chicken* tons of flavor, my kids loved it, and my husband just randomly texted me thank you for the great dinner last night…so if that doesn’t say how good it is, what will?
So glad to hear that, Chelsey!
jeanne c says
tasted very flour-y. it was tender, but all i could taste was raw flour. peeled the skin off (which is my favorite part) & was able to eat it
My cooker is a ninja foodi. Was wondering, it also has a rack. Would it work better for the crisping to use it?
Yes, the rack helps air circulate around the chicken which results in a crispy texture.
I have a wall oven with an Air Fryer option to use. Will this recipe work it my wall oven? Thanks
Robin Owen says
Have just made this chicken recipe using skinless thighs and it was absolutely delicious. Next time will use a little more hot sauce as it could do with a bit more “kick”.
LINDA S BARR says
I made this recipe and it was delicious. My chicken was moist and crispy. I did let it stay in the fryer for 40 minutes.
I pretty much only used the recipe for the cook time and cornstarch. I mixed the flour, cornstarch and seasonings. I rubbed my chicken down in oil, then tossed in the mixture. The chicken tasted like it would’ve had I fried it in oil,
Michael Kiffney says
This recipe just doesn’t work. The chicken doesn’t cook enough inside and the flour burns and is dry as a coating. If you spray it with enough oil, it gets crispy – but it still didn’t cook even chicken legs in the time allotted. Stay away from this one.
A great baseline recipe for airfrying fried chicken, which can be expanded with different cuts and different seasonings. Though it is definitely important to spray the chicken with oil to make sure it properly browns and crisps. fantastic and crunchy.
This maybe a silly question but how do I keep the cooked chicken warm if I cook them in bateches? Without it getting soggy……
Ok I made this. It was Good except…… the breading when I would bite into it tasted flowery. I don’t know how really to explain it. So I don’t know if I put too much flour or pressed to hard to get the breading on???
That may be because you did not spray enough oil or if the breading was too thick!
I would keep them in a warm oven at 225F.