How to Fry Chicken in an Air Fryer, 6 Ways

Ready for the the most flavorful, tender chicken of your life? It's time to learn how to fry chicken in an air fryer.

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air-fryer loaded baked potato chicken strips
Taste of Home

Chicken Tenders

Air-fryer chicken tenders are an easy way to whip up a snack, appetizer or quick-and-easy dinner. The air fryer should fit about a pound of chicken, but that could be anywhere from three to eight tenders depending on the size of the chicken strips.

Instructions: This recipe works for both homemade breaded chicken strips and store-bought frozen chicken tenders. Set the air fryer to 390° and cook the chicken in a single layer. After 6 minutes, flip the chicken and cook for an additional 6 to 8 minutes, until the chicken is crispy and no longer pink. Make your homemade air-fryer chicken tenders taste like fast-food by serving them with Chick-fil-A sauce.

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Sweet gingered chicken wings
Taste of Home

Chicken Wings

The key to successful air-fryer chicken wings is to cook the chicken in batches. You want the wings to lay in a single layer, barely touching each other, so each wing can get crisped by the hot air. Most air fryers can comfortably fit about a pound (10 to 12 drumettes).

Instructions: The wings turn out best if you cook them in stages: 350°F for 25 minutes, flipping the wings halfway through. Then, increase the heat to 400° and continue to cook until the outsides are nice and crispy, about 5 minutes.

Here’s an air fryer cooking guide from our Test Kitchen pros.

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Chicken Breasts

Tired of boring, dried-out chicken breasts? Cook ’em in your air fryer! (We found the best air fryer.) The convection airflow works wonders at keeping the meat juicy. You may only be able to fit one or two chicken breasts in the air fryer at once, but you can return all the chicken to the basket at the end, and they should be reheated in about 2 to 3 minutes.

Instructions: Feel free to bread the chicken first to make spicy air-fryer chicken breasts, or skip the breading for a low-carb meal. Either way, we recommend using a brine or chicken marinade before cooking chicken breasts to keep them juicy. (Learning how to brine chicken is easier than you’d think!) Then, cook the breasts in the air fryer at 375°. Flip halfway through, cooking for 15 to 20 minutes total.

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We love making chicken thighs under the broiler or on the grill, and it turns out our recipe for crispy garlic broiled chicken thighs works in an air fryer, too! Most air fryers will fit about six to eight chicken thighs, depending on whether they’re boneless or bone-in.

Instructions: A 360° temperature seems to work best, but the cook times will vary: 15 to 17 minutes for boneless and 22 to 25 minutes for bone-in, flipping halfway through. If you bought chicken thighs with the skin on, increase the heat to 400° at the end and cook for an additional 5 minutes to crisp things up. Air-fryer chicken thighs are tasty on their own, but we love serving them with a good sauce like a sweet-hot Asian dipping sauce or curry mayo dipping sauce.

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Oven-fried chicken Drumstick
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The drumsticks can be challenging to cook because they have more tendons than other chicken cuts. That said, they turn out super juicy and delicious if you cook them right. You may only be able to fit six drumsticks in the air fryer at once, but you can cook them in batches and it only takes 2 to 3 minutes to reheat them when everything’s finished cooking.

Instructions: Add a breading to your drumsticks to create an incredible air- fryer Southern-style chicken. You can’t go wrong by adding a tasty glaze to make jalapeno lime chicken drumsticks, either. No matter how you prepare them, chicken drumsticks cook best when the air fryer is set to 375°. Cook the drumsticks for 15 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, until the chicken is golden brown and cooked through.

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Homemade Rotisserie Chicken with Herbs and Lemons
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Whole Chicken

A whole chicken in the air fryer tastes like a rotisserie chicken: crispy on the outside and juicy and moist inside. You shouldn’t even have to cut the chicken into pieces; most air fryer baskets can fit a whole chicken!

Instructions: Season the chicken generously and spray it with cooking oil. We love making this herbed roast chicken recipe in the air fryer, but you can’t go wrong with honey-lime roasted chicken or sweet and spicy chipotle chicken, either. Cook breast-side down in a 360° air fryer for about 40 to 50 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook it for an additional 10 to 20 minutes, until the thickest part of the breast registers 165° on an instant-read thermometer. Have a party at your place? Here are a few tips for making fried chicken for a crowd.

Don’t miss our full list of air-fryer chicken recipes!

Lindsay D. Mattison
Lindsay has been writing for digital publications for seven years and has 10 years of experience working as a professional chef. She became a full-time food writer at Taste of Home in 2023, although she’s been a regular contributor since 2017. Throughout her career, Lindsay has been a freelance writer and recipe developer for multiple publications, including Wide Open Media, Tasting Table, Mashed and SkinnyMs. Lindsay is an accomplished product tester and spent six years as a freelance product tester at Reviewed (part of the USA Today network). She has tested everything from cooking gadgets to knives, cookware sets, meat thermometers, pizza ovens and more than 60 grills (including charcoal, gas, kamado, smoker and pellet grills). Lindsay still cooks professionally for pop-up events, especially if it provides an opportunity to highlight local, seasonal ingredients. As a writer, Lindsay loves sharing her skills and experience with home cooks. She aspires to motivate others to gain confidence in the kitchen. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her cooking with fresh produce from the farmers market or planning a trip to discover the best new restaurants.