Air-Fryer Southern-Style Chicken Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Air-Fryer Fried Chicken

Total Time
Prep:15 min. Cook: 20 min./batch
Air-fryer fried chicken is one of the best things about owning an air fryer. This cracker crumb-coated chicken comes out crispy, tender and juicy, just the way you like it.

Updated: Dec. 17, 2023

Air Fryer Southern Style Chicken servedTMB Studio

Air-fryer fried chicken is just the thing to serve with your favorite comfort-food side dishes and a plate of biscuits. It’s one of our fave air-fryer chicken recipes out there!

Some say fried chicken is better in an air fryer because it’s less messy—no hot oil to deal with—and better for you. We don’t disagree! Unlike other classic crispy fried chicken recipes, air-fryer fried chicken only gets a spritz of oil, so it has fewer calories and can be considered a healthier version of the picnic staple. Air-fryer chicken also cooks faster but you get the same results: fried chicken that’s crisp outside and juicy and tender inside.

Since you can’t use batter inside an air fryer, our recipe calls to dip the chicken in a liquid, then a crumb coating. Then, just pop it into the air fryer, spritz with cooking spray, and cook for 20 to 30 minutes.

Ingredients for Air-Fryer Fried Chicken

  • Chicken: For the best fried chicken, start with a whole chicken, and break it down into pieces (here’s how to cut up a whole chicken). You can also buy bone-in, skin-on chicken already cut into pieces. Just make sure you have around 3 to 4 pounds. It’s always best to cut the pieces into approximately the same size for even cooking, which means cutting each breast in half to have two chunks about the same size as the thighs.
  • Ritz crackers: Ritz crackers are flaky, a bit salty and a bit sweet. They make a great crunchy coating for fried chicken. Make sure they’re crushed well but not powdered. You want a little texture for that ultimate crunchy coating.
  • Seasonings: This coating has a nice mix of herbs and spices, including minced parsley, garlic salt, paprika, pepper, cumin and sage.
  • Egg: Because you dredge the chicken in a crunchy coating, you need the egg to help it stick.


Step 1: Make the coating mixture

Preheat the air fryer to 375°F. In a shallow bowl, stir together the crushed Ritz crackers, parsley, garlic salt, paprika, pepper, cumin and sage.

Step 2: Dip and coat the chicken

Place the egg in a separate shallow bowl, and make a sort of assembly line with the wet and dry ingredients. Working with one chicken piece at a time, dip the chicken into the egg, then dredge in the cracker mixture, patting the coating into the meat to adhere.

Step 3: Air-fry the chicken

In batches, place pieces of chicken in a single layer on a greased tray in the air-fryer basket, and spritz with cooking spray. Cook for 10 minutes. Turn the chicken, and spritz the other side with cooking spray. Cook until the chicken is golden brown and juices run clear, 10 to 20 minutes longer.

Editor’s Tip: Different chicken parts often take different lengths of time to cook through. It’s OK to remove some chicken pieces before the others are done; just watch for good even browning. We recommend using a thermometer to check the temperature of cooked chicken. White meat should reach an internal temperature of 165° and dark meat 175°.

Recipe Variations

  • Use boneless chicken: You can use boneless chicken breasts and thighs for air-fryer fried chicken, though the skin and bones serve to create more flavor and moisture as the meat cooks. That said, if you use boneless chicken, you’ll most likely need to adjust cooking time.
  • Adjust the seasonings: This recipe doesn’t have 11 herbs and spices like our copycat KFC fried chicken recipe, but you can play around with any seasonings that you prefer. Maybe sub in some smoked paprika for half of the sweet paprika, add some thyme, or add some Old Bay—all would be delicious.
  • Use breadcrumbs: Swap in bread crumbs or panko for the crackers in the coating.

How to Store Air-Fryer Fried Chicken

All the chicken to completely cool, then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to four days. To reheat the chicken, preheat the air fryer to 350°, and cook the chicken until it’s warmed through, 5 to 10 minutes.

Air-Fryer Fried Chicken Tips

Air Fryer Southern Style ChickenTMB Studio

Can you air-fry frozen chicken?

Yes, you can air-fry frozen chicken. In fact, chicken is one of the best foods for the air fryer, and you don’t even need to thaw it. When you’re ready, preheat the air fryer to 360°, place the chicken in the basket, and cook the chicken for 20 to 25 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 165° for white meat and 175° for dark meat.

How long should you cook chicken in an air fryer?

How long you should cook chicken in an air fryer really depends on your brand of air fryer and the recipe itself. In our testing, we found that cook times vary dramatically between brands of air fryers. As a result, we give wider than normal ranges on suggested cook times. Begin checking at the first time listed, and add more time as needed. Most chicken will take about 20 to 25 minutes to cook until the internal temp reaches 165°. For more tips, here’s a complete air-fryer cooking guide.

What should you serve with air-fryer fried chicken?

There are almost too many options of things to serve with fried chicken. We recommend any southern sides like collard greens or mac and cheese, or comfort foods like mashed potatoes, honeyed sweet potatoes or coleslaw.

Watch how to Make Air-Fryer Southern-Style Chicken

Air-Fryer Fried Chicken

Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 20 min
Yield 6 servings.


  • 2 cups crushed Ritz crackers (about 50)
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon rubbed sage
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1 broiler/fryer chicken (3 to 4 pounds), cut up
  • Cooking spray


  1. Preheat air fryer to 375°. In a shallow bowl, mix the first 7 ingredients. Place egg in a separate shallow bowl. Dip chicken in egg, then in cracker mixture, patting to help coating adhere. In batches, place chicken in a single layer on greased tray in air-fryer basket; spritz with cooking spray.
  2. Cook 10 minutes. Turn chicken and spritz with cooking spray. Cook until chicken is golden brown and juices run clear, 10-20 minutes longer.

Nutrition Facts

5 ounces cooked chicken: 410 calories, 23g fat (6g saturated fat), 135mg cholesterol, 460mg sodium, 13g carbohydrate (2g sugars, 1g fiber), 36g protein.