It’s the chick’n you’ve been missin’: Air Fryer Chicken Breast.
Seasoned outside and tender inside, this juicy chicken breast defies the (often justified) stereotypes that come along with boneless, skinless chicken breast—namely that it is rubbery, dry, bland, and something to be eaten out of an obligation to be “healthy,” versus actual craving. (No bland chicken with my Spicy Chicken Sandwich either!)
With one simple tip, you can transform your chicken breast into a juicy, versatile protein that is ideal for keeping on hand for fast, healthy meals throughout the week.
- This guide will tell you how to make sure your air fryer chicken turns out juicy, not dry.
- You can rub the chicken with any of your favorite herbs and seasonings (I’ve included my go-to blend below).
- This is air fryer chicken with no breading (but if you prefer a crispy breading texture, try Air Fryer Fried Chicken Breast). It’s my favorite to meal prep, because it is so versatile. You can add it hot or cold to salads, wraps, sandwiches, and more.
Using the Air Fryer for Chicken
Ever since getting my air fryer a few months ago, I’ve become hooked.
An air fryer is a high-powered, countertop convection oven that blows hot air down and around the food to cook it. It’s more versatile than I expected!
You can use an air fryer to…
- Make healthy versions of fried favorites (Air Fryer French Fries; Air Fryer Chicken Wings; Air Fryer Grilled Cheese).
- Roast extra crispy vegetables in a fraction of the time (Air Fryer Brussels Sprouts).
- Cook juicier proteins (Air Fryer Pork Chops; Air Fryer Tofu; Air Fryer Salmon; today’s air fried chicken breast!).
- View a full list of air fryer recipes here.
Since chicken breast is lean, it benefits from high-temperature baking for a shorter period of time, and the air fryer offers it in spades.
After testing a variety of temperatures, I found that 375 degrees F is the best temperature for air frying chicken.
Because the air fryer uses convection heat, you do not need to set it as high as you would an oven (in a regular oven, 425 degrees F is best for baking chicken, like Bacon Wrapped Chicken Breast).
How to Cook Juicy Chicken in the Air Fryer
My #1 secret to juicy chicken breast is brining.
Even just 30 minutes of brining can make a massive difference in your results.
- Brining is the process of salting meat and letting it rest prior to cooking.
- During brining, the meat absorbs extra liquid and salt. The salt flavors the meat all the way through, so your chicken tastes completed seasoned, versus seasoned outside and bland inside. The liquid helps keep it moist.
- You can use a wet brine (saltwater solution) or a dry brine (sprinkling the meat with salt). Personally, I prefer a dry brine because it is less messy.
My other secret to juicy chicken is DO NOT OVERCOOK THE CHICKEN BREAST. I really cannot overstate this.
If your air fryer chicken breast is dry, it is mostly likely because you overcooked it.
- Use an inexpensive instant read thermometer to check for doneness.
- Chicken is considered cooked at 165 degrees F.
- I typically remove my chicken around 155 to 160 degrees F. During the resting period, the carryover cooking will bring the chicken to temperature and make it safe to eat.
How Long to Cook Chicken in the Air Fryer
The amount of time it takes to cook chicken in an air fryer will vary based on the size of your chicken breasts.
- Small Breasts (5 to 7 ounces): 7 to 10 minutes
- Medium Breasts (8 to 10 ounces): 10 to 12 minutes
- Large Breasts (11 ounces or more): 12 to 16 minutes
You do need to flip the chicken halfway through cooking to ensure it cooks evenly.
How to Make Air Fryer Chicken
Ready to make the melt-in-your-mouth tender chicken? Let’s do it!
- Chicken Breasts. Despite their reputation for being dry and boring, chicken breasts can truly shine when prepared correctly. Not only are these air fryer chicken breasts tender and succulent, but they’re also packed with lean protein and vitamins.
- Olive Oil. A little olive oil helps the seasonings adhere to the chicken breasts and keeps them moist.
- Seasoning Blend. While there are endless options for how to season your chicken breasts, my favorite mixture is paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper. It’s flavorful, versatile, and delish!
- Lightly pound the chicken on a cutting board.
- Season the chicken with salt, then refrigerate it for at least 30 minutes.
- Let the chicken come to room temperature.
- Stir the spice mixture together.
- In a bowl, combine the chicken, olive oil, and spice mixture.
- Cook the chicken (smooth side down) at 375 degrees F for 6 minutes.
- Flip the chicken over. Cook for 2 to 8 more minutes. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes, then ENJOY!
Ways to Use Air Fryer Chicken Breast
Once you’ve made your chicken in the air fryer, here are some tasty ways to use it:
- Salad. Top your favorite salad recipe with this air fryer chicken. We love adding ours to Spinach Strawberry Salad with Balsamic Poppy Seed Dressing.
- Pasta. Pack extra protein into a veggie pasta dish by adding chicken. It would be tasty tossed in this Brussels Sprouts Pasta with Brown Butter.
- Pizza. Use your air fryer chicken to make this scrumptious Buffalo Chicken Pizza.
- Stir Fry. Vegetable Lo Mein would be delicious with some air fryer chicken.
- Sandwiches or Wraps. Use the chicken to make this Chicken Caesar Wrap, or add it to this Avocado Grilled Cheese Sandwich with Herbed Goat Cheese and Garlic for extra protein.
- To Store. Refrigerate chicken breasts in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- To Reheat. Gently rewarm chicken in the air fryer or oven at 350 degrees F.
- To Freeze. Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Air Fryer. The one I own and love!
- Non-Slip Cutting Board. This cutting board won’t slip away from you while you’re prepping ingredients.
- Instant Read Thermometer. The #1 way to ensure your meat is cooked through.
Buh-byeeee bland. Hello, crave-worthy air fryer chicken breast!
Air Fryer Chicken Breast Video
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Air Fryer Chicken Breast
- Place the chicken breasts on a cutting board and cover with a large sheet of plastic wrap. With a rolling pin, meat mallet, or your palm, lightly pound into an even thickness.
- To Dry Brine*: Place the chicken on a plate and sprinkle all over with the kosher salt. Place in the refrigerator uncovered for at least 30 minutes or up to 1 day—if you will not be dry brining, skip this step.
- When ready to air fry: remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let stand at room temperature for 15 minutes.
- In a small bowl, stir together the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper (if you did not dry brine the chicken, add the salt now)
- Place the chicken in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil. Sprinkle the spice mixture over the top. Toss to coat the chicken, ensuring you rub the spices evenly over both sides.
- Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees F (my model takes 3 minutes to heat). Place the chicken presentation side (smooth side) down in the air fryer and let cook 6 minutes.
- Remove the air fryer basket, then with tongs, carefully flip the chicken over. Continue cooking until the chicken registers between 155 and 160 degrees F, 2 to 8 minutes more. Chicken is considered safe to eat at 165 degrees F, but I like to remove mine a few degrees early, then let the carryover cooking finish the job. The total cook time will vary based on your model and the size of your chicken. Smaller breasts (about 6 ounces each) will need only around 8 minutes total; larger ones may need 14 or more. Check the chicken often towards the end to monitor its progress. DO NOT overcook or it will be dry.
- Remove the chicken to a plate. Cover and let rest 5 to 10 minutes. Slice and enjoy!
- *While dry brining isn’t 100% mandatory (the spices, cooking temperature, and cook times listed in this recipe are still correct for the best air fryer chicken breasts), brining works magic on meat. It improves its texture (it makes it juicy, plump, and meaty, not rubbery) and its flavor, because the meat will taste more seasoned all the way through, not just on the outside. If you have time for brining, I highly recommend it.
- This is the air fryer I used for testing. Total cook time may vary based on your model.
- No air fryer? Make my juicy Baked Chicken Breast instead.
- TO STORE: Refrigerate chicken breasts in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
- TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm chicken in the air fryer or oven at 350 degrees F.
- TO FREEZE: Freeze leftovers in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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