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This is a quick, healthy, flavourful chicken recipe you must try! Easy, tender and delicious protein-rich chicken breast coated in an incredibly flavourful Parmesan breadcrumb mixture, then air-fried to crispy, juicy perfection. This air fryer chicken recipe is practically foolproof and so easy. So crazy good with almost no oil! Can you believe it?
If you’ve ever wanted to make perfectly crispy chicken without the hassle of actually frying it, and more importantly, without it being dry, this recipe is what you need!
This 20-minute air fryer chicken breast is easy to prep, and we feel better about serving them than a processed bag of chicken nuggets!
I am skipping the traditional flour/egg/breading routine in favour of a simpler and faster way of getting things done. I make it with a simple, deliciously seasoned breading technique that adds so much flavour and gets extra crispy in the air fryer. The texture of this chicken breast is very similar to Schnitzel, rather than KFC’s fried chicken.
It has all the yummy flavour and crispy texture of classic fried chicken tenders, minus the oil and deep-frying! It’s way healthier to air-fry those chicken fillets than deep-fry them. We’ve tested it, and the air-fried version is just as delicious as deep-frying. But it’s pretty healthier as you can use just 1 tablespoon of oil if you’re air frying, but you will need 2 cups of oil if you’re deep-frying on the stove. You’ll be super happy with the results without the fatty, deep-fried version. Give it a try, and you’ll be hooked on cooking everything with the air fry method.
What about the oven? Chicken breast in the air fryer is much quicker. First, you don’t have to pre-heat the regular large oven for just a few of the breast fillets. Second, frying in the air fryer takes much less time, about 12 minutes, almost half of the time in the oven.
Cooking chicken breast in the Air Fryer is SO easy! So next time you crave crispy fried chicken, follow this recipe, and you’ll have perfectly golden and crisp air-fried chicken breast ready in just 20 minutes! You and your family will love the lightly crispy and crunchy exterior and the perfectly moist and juicy interior of these chicken breasts.
Seriously. Once you go air fried. You’ll never go back. Having an air fryer has changed my life! It’s true! I am a fan of Air fryers. The hot circulating air from the air fryer makes them crispy and unique. It’s a great way to get a quick and easy dinner.
Cooking becomes quick. If you compare it to cooking the same recipe in the oven or on the stove, then cooking in the air fryer takes less time. I love the convenience, and to add to that, you can whip out healthy versions of most recipes in the air fryer.
It’s very convenient, and it doesn’t leave a mess. All you’ll need to wash after cooking is the Air fryer basket, which can go in the dishwasher.
It’s economical since you don’t need as much oil as cooking on the stove. It also uses less electricity than the oven.
Thanks to the air fryer (this is the model I own and would recommend), “fried” foods are now easy and healthy to create at home!
I have got some excellent Air fryer recipes combining deliciousness and convenience.
- Air-fryer breaded fish fillets
- Crispy air fryer breaded pork chops
- Air Fryer Sea Scallops
- Air Fryer Sweet Potato Fries
- Perfect Air Fryer Juicy Steak
- Crispy oven-baked/air-fried fish fillets
- Crispy air fryer coconut shrimp
Keep checking, as I will post more and more.
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- 1/2 cup Panko - or regular Bread crumbs
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- 1/4 tsp Paprika - optional
- Salt - to taste
- Pepper - optional to taste
- 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese - grated
- 1/4 tsp Thyme - optional – fresh or dried
- 1/4 tsp Parsley - optional – chopped fresh or dried
- 1/4 tsp Basil - optional – chopped fresh or dried
- 1/4 tsp Oregano - optional – dried
Instacart is available in the US only at the moment.
Prepare the breast filets
- Slice the large, thick boneless skinless chicken breast in half lengthwise, creating thinner fillets.
- Note: For the chicken to cook quicker, you will need thinner strips. If you find a piece with uneven thickness, pound the wide portion to make it even.
- Spray olive oil and distribute with a pastry brush so that the chicken is well coated in oil.
- Drizzle lemon juice and season both sides of the chicken fillets with salt and pepper.
Prepare panko (or breadcrumbs) mixture
- Combine the panko (or breadcrumbs) in a bowl with your favourite seasonings.
- Note: The seasoning is essential, they are added with the breading here, so if you skip this step, you will end up with bland-tasting chicken.
Preheat the air fryer to 180-200˚C/360-400˚F for 3 minutes.
- This ensures that the chicken does not dry out.
Coat with the panko mixture.
- Use your fingers to mound the panko on top of the filet, then press it to adhere. Flip and make sure that the chicken is well-coated and there are no excess breadcrumbs.
- Place the filet on a large plate or platter and repeat with the remaining fillets.
Cook the chicken breast
- If necessary, working in batches, place breaded chicken breast in a single layer on a greased tray in the air-fryer basket without overlapping.
- Note: Ensure there’s enough room around the fillets when you place them in the air fryer. If there isn’t enough room, the breading will not crisp up, and the whole point of a breaded filet is to get the crispiest, crunchiest crust.
- Note: I spray the chicken breast before adding the breadcrumbs. And I do spray the basket to avoid sticking, as I don’t want to lose any breading when I flip.
- Cook until golden brown for about 5-10 minutes.
- Turn fillets over and cook until golden for 5-10 minutes, until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 71-74°C/160-165°F.
- Note: Use tongs to flip the chicken as the basket can be too hot, so handle it carefully.
- Remove from the air fryer basket and keep warm in a pre-heated 85˚C/185˚F oven.
- Repeat until all chicken breasts are cooked.
- Let the chicken rest for a few minutes after cooking before slicing.
- Serve with lemon wedges and chopped fresh parsley.
Chicken breastsYou can use any size of chicken breasts you want for crispy air fryer chicken, but the cooking time will vary depending on size. I prefer to use a good thick, plump chicken breast and then slice them in half lengthwise, creating two thinner fillets which will still result in crazy juicy amazing chicken. If you find a piece with uneven thickness, pound the chicken into an even thickness to ensure it cooks evenly; if you skip this step, the thinner ends will be dried out by the time the thick middle part is cooked.
Pat dry the chickenDry the chicken breast well with a clean paper towel before you dredge it. This will help you get super crispy chicken once it is breaded and cooked.
Can frozen chicken be used?Yes, unless you are using already breaded chicken, I recommend that your chicken is well thawed before breading it, so the breading will stick. The thawed chicken will be a little wet, so make sure you pat it dry with paper towels before starting the breading process.
Should you marinate the chicken beforehand?There is no need to marinate the chicken for this specific recipe of breaded chicken breasts. However, if you're making unbreaded chicken breasts, then marinating the chicken will give it more flavour. If you want to take your chicken game to the next level, you can use flavourings such as honey, lemon slices, fresh herbs, etc. It adds so much flavour to the chicken.
Make sure not to overcrowd your Air Fryer basket - Work in batches if necessaryIf you overcrowd the air fryer basket, the chicken won't crisp up as it will just steam. Leave plenty of room around your food for the hot air to cook it effectively. If there isn't enough room, the breading will not crisp up, and the whole point of a breaded filet is to get the crispiest, crunchiest crust. If so, preheat your oven to 180-200˚C/360-400˚F to keep the cooked fillets warm and crisp while the remaining fillets are cooking.
Cook the chicken at high heatCooking this chicken at high heat allows it to cook through and get super crispy on the outside while still keeping it super juicy on the inside. Flipping it halfway through the cooking time will also help it become evenly cooked on all sides. If you do not have a metal rack for your air fryer, place the chicken on the bottom of the tray. However, it will be crispier if you use one.
Can you put raw chicken in the air fryer?Yes, you absolutely can! The air fryer will do all the cooking of the chicken directly in the air fryer.
How long should you cook chicken In an Air Fryer?After 12-15 minutes of cooking, the chicken breast in the air fryer should become golden and crispy. However, all air fryers are different; some cook much hotter than others. Once you cook your first batch, you'll know more about what works for your air fryer model and the food's size. Note: If your chicken breasts are too large, you may need to cook them for a bit longer. Keep checking, preferably with a kitchen thermometer.
Do you have to flip the chicken in the air fryer?Yes, I recommend flipping your chicken in the air fryer approximately halfway through cooking. This will ensure that everything is cooked evenly and nice and crispy, too! Always check the doneness of the chicken breast to ensure that it's cooked and safe to eat Check the internal temperature of the chicken by using a kitchen thermometer. Insert the thermometer in the centre of the chicken, and the internal temperature of the chicken should read 160-165F or 71-75C.
If you don't have a thermometer, you could also check the doneness of the chicken by using a fork and a knife and cutting through a small piece to see if the meat is well cooked.
Let it rest before slicingAfter taking out the air-fried chicken, allow it to rest and cook for 5 minutes before you want to slice them.
Panko or regular BreadcrumbsYou could substitute breadcrumbs for panko if you must, but it’s not the same. Panko is best as it gives the crispiest texture. I used plain white panko crumbs for the crispy breading, but you can also use whole wheat.
If you prefer, use Panko Seasoned, Whole Wheat Seasoned with Pecorino Romano Cheese or Bread Crumbs, Seasoned with Pecorino Romano Cheese.
I don’t recommend using all-purpose flour as a breading option, as it ends up soggy and not good in texture.
Can I make this recipe keto or Paleo?If you follow Keto, swap the breadcrumbs for air fryer pork rinds. Some people have reported that swapping the breadcrumbs for pork rinds works great and adds some flavour.
Gluten-free or Paleo versionIf you follow gluten-free or Paleo, swap the breadcrumbs for some similar gluten-free and paleo-friendly Panko Plain or Gluten-Free Seasoned Bread Crumbs. I have not personally tried the Keto, Paleo or gluten-free version. Please, leave a comment if you try this recipe with pork rinds or GF breadcrumbs or any other alternatives!
SeasoningsAdd your favourite seasonings. There is nothing worse than plain and boring breadcrumbs on your breaded chicken. A mix of Parmesan cheese, dried basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, salt, garlic, onion and smoked paprika are added to the panko crumbs to season the breading. Feel free to substitute with other dried herbs and spices such as rosemary, bay leaf, and sage, among others. Note: Using Parmesan ensures the chicken tastes appealing. For a hot air fryer chicken, add a pinch of cayenne. Or, try serving your air-fried chicken with hot sauce.
Do you need any oil to air fry the chicken?Yes, you have to use a little bit of oil! This helps the breading to stick to the chicken, get that extra crispy texture, stay moist and tender and have a delicious flavour. Even if you’re making unbreaded chicken breast in the air fryer, I recommend using a little oil for better flavour. I usually use olive oil for the air-fry chicken—however, avocado oil or any neutral oil like vegetable oil works. Do not worry your food will not be saturated in oil like it is when deep fried.
One perk of air fryer cooking is that very little oil is needed. I use 1 teaspoon of extra virgin oil per 1/2 pound (200-250g) of chicken. Note: You do NOT need any extra oil spray on top.
Chicken breasts or chicken thighsI use boneless skinless chicken breasts and slice them in half horizontally to get two thin filets. You could also use this breading with boneless skinless chicken thighs, adjusting the cooking time as needed.
Use another cut of meatYou can also make this recipe with pork cutlets, veal, beef, turkey, and venison. The trick to a successful dish is to get it to cook evenly. Making sure each cut of meat is the same thickness will help with that. Your cooking times may differ a little bit using different meat.
You have two options to bread the chicken:In this recipe, I bread the raw chicken breast in seasoned dried Panko breadcrumbs and some oil drizzled directly over the chicken. This oil will help the breadcrumbs stick, and together they will create that lovely crispy texture to the air fryer chicken breast. Or you could use the traditional way of breading chicken just like our mothers and grandmothers always did, by using the egg and flour method (like I did in my Air-fryer breaded fish fillets. This is also a good option, but the breadcrumbs method is my favourite. Whichever way you choose, please make sure to season the coating (breadcrumbs/panko and flour if using), as that’s where most of the flavour comes from.
Making unbreaded chicken in the Air FryerIf you want to cut a little bit on the calories, then go for the unbreaded version. However, the breaded crispy chicken breast in the air fryer is my favourite! Now you might be wondering how to cook chicken breast in the air fryer if you don’t wish to bread it.
- Drizzle oil over your boneless skinless chicken breasts.
- Seasoning chicken depends on your taste, so add your favourite seasonings. I like this fajita seasoning mix I have used in my Chicken Fajitas.
- Place the seasoned chicken breasts in the Air Fryer breast side down, and air fry for 12-15 minutes, flipping halfway through using kitchen tongs.
- When cooking is up, immediately remove it from the Air Fryer so the chicken does not dry.
- Allow to rest for 5 minutes, and serve.
Storing leftoversIt is best enjoyed hot and crispy, so I suggest serving it as soon as it comes out of the air fryer. But, if you have leftovers, let it cool completely, transfer it to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for 3-4 days. Just note that the breading on the chicken will soften in the fridge.
To FreezeFreeze breaded chicken breast (cooked or raw) in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator.
How do you reheat leftover breaded chicken?Reheating leftover breaded chicken might seem tricky if you want them to keep that delicious crunch, but it’s easier than you think. Pop them in your Air Fryer and cook at 195-200˚C/380-400˚F for 3-6 minutes, or until they are heated, and the breading is crispy. Be careful not to heat the chicken for too long, as it will dry out. That is the beauty of the Air Fryer. It is versatile and excellent for cooking and reheating recipes while keeping crunch! You can also reheat it in a lightly greased pan over medium heat.
If you don’t want to reheatIt is also good served at room temperature or cold on top of salads.
I don’t have an air fryer. What are my options?An air fryer does a fine job, but don’t feel obligated. If you don’t have an air fryer, you can also bake it in the oven, pan-fry it, or even deep-fry it.
Baking in the ovenPreheat the oven to 220-230°C/425-450°F and bake (uncovered) on the top rack until it is ready (internal temperature 71°C/160°F). Make sure to flip it about halfway through so you don’t have a crispy side and a mushy side.
Pan-fryingIf you go with pan-frying, use enough oil to coat the bottom of your pan. Again, high heat is your best friend. Add 2 or 3 filets and cook until browned. Repeat with the remaining filets, wiping out the skillet and adding more oil as needed.
Deep-fryingEnsure your cooking oil is heated to the right temperature, which is 160-175°C/325-350°F.
- Too cool, and the panko will absorb oil, making the coating heavy and greasy.
- Too hot, and the panko will overcook before the filet is cooked through, resulting in a burnt coating and perfect meat or a perfect coating and undercooked meat.
How to tell if the oil is just right?Once you’ve heated it, test it by poking the end of a wooden spoon or chopstick.
- If the oil bubbles steadily around the wood, it’s hot enough for frying.
- If no bubbles pop up, or just a few lazy ones, it’s too cool.
- If the oil bubbles crazily, it’s too hot.
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