How to make air fryer chicken breast in just 20 minutes - a healthier crispy breaded chicken that is crispy, juicy and delicious! Made with a simple breading technique that gets extra crispy in the air fryer.
The air fryer is ideal for achieving crispy and delicious food, quickly! From air fryer crispy air fryer chicken parmesan, to crispy air fryer chicken thighs, lemon pepper air fryer chicken, and this breaded air fryer chicken breast recipe - you can't go wrong!
With deliciously seasoned breading and juicy meat, this 20 minute air fryer chicken breast is beyond easy to prep. Our kids go nuts for this recipe (along with these air fryer chicken tenders), and we feel better about serving them than a processed bag of chicken nuggets!
Best of all, we're willing to bet you've never made a breaded chicken recipe that is this simple before! We are skipping the traditional flour/egg/breading routine in favor of a simpler and faster way of getting things done.
Reasons You'll Love This Recipe
- it has all the yummy flavor and crispy texture of classic fried chicken tenders, minus the oil and deep frying!
- you don't even need to turn on the oven
- it cooks the chicken through in just 6 minutes, and dinner can be on the table in just 20 minutes
Wondering how this all comes together? Watch the 1-minute video below. It’s so easy! You can find more of my recipe videos on my YouTube channel.
- chicken breasts - we take boneless skinless chicken breasts, and slice them in half horizontally to get two thin cutlets. You could also use this breading with boneless skinless chicken thighs, adjusting the cook time as needed (see our air fryer chicken thighs recipe!)
- bread crumbs - we tested three different types of breading and found regular breadcrumbs to have the best results (see more on that below)
- olive oil - for brushing, you could swap for avocado oil if preferred
- seasonings - we were aiming for KFC-style flavor using a blend of garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, and a touch of cayenne. Feel free to omit any of these spices; note these chicken tenders are not spicy - the cayenne just adds a tiny hint of heat
Step by step directions
Heat air fryer to 390°F / 200 °C. Slice chicken breasts in half horizontally to make two thin chicken breast halves from each. Brush each side lightly with olive oil.
Stir together the breading ingredients. Dredge the chicken breasts in the breading multiple times until they are thoroughly coated.
Shake off excess breading, and place in a single layer in the air fryer (2 chicken breast halves at a time). Cook for 4 minutes.
Note: depending on your air fryer model you may be able to fit more in the basket.
Flip, then cook for two more minutes. Precise cook time will depend on the size and thickness of your chicken breasts, so either check with a digital thermometer that chicken has reached 165°F or cut one in half.
Testing breading options
We tested three different options for breading:
- all purpose flour ended up soggy and not great in texture
- panko gave the crispiest texture, but all the seasonings sank to the bottom of the bowl, so it was lacking in flavor
- regular bread crumbs is the winner in this recipe as it gave the best compromise between crispy texture and great flavor
Bottom line: make sure that you use regular breadcrumbs for best results with this chicken breast air fryer recipe.
Basket Versus Oven Air Fryers
This air fryer chicken breast recipe was tested in a basket-style air fryer, but you could also cook it in an oven-style air fryer. Here are the two air fryers we recommend:
Confused by all the air fryer models out there? Check out Which Air Fryer is Best for you.
Some readers have had success with this recipe by swapping the breadcrumbs for pork rinds! We have not personally tried.
Some readers have reported back in the comments that gluten-free breadcrumbs worked great! Leave us a comment if you try this recipe with GF breadcrumbs or any other alternatives!
This recipe reheats really well, making it ideal for busy week nights or meal prep lunches. Reheat in the air fryer for 2-3 minutes, until heated through and breading becomes crispy again, or enjoy cold.
We haven't tried freezing this recipe, but suspect it would work well. Flash freeze breaded chicken breast (cooked or raw) on a cookie sheet before transferring to a freezer bag for longer term storage (3 months). You should be able to cook them from frozen, though we don't have precise cook times to offer you.
Storage + Reheating
- Fridge - Cool completely, then store in an air-tight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Freeze- while we haven't tested this particular recipe, we've had success in freezing other breaded chicken recipes (raw or cooked). Flash freeze the breaded chicken on a baking sheet for 2-4 hours, then transfer to a freezer bag or container for longer term storage (3 months). Cook from frozen or thaw first (we do not have precise cook times to cook from frozen).
- Reheat - Reheat in a pre-heated air fryer at 390°F/200°C for 2-3 minutes, until heated through and breading becomes crispy again!
- 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts roughly 2 large
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ¼ cup bread crumbs see * note 1
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon onion powder
- 1/16 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Prepare - Heat air fryer to 390°F / 200 °C. Slice chicken breasts in half horizontally to make two thin chicken breast halves from each. Brush each side lightly with olive oil.
- Bread - Stir together the breading ingredients. Dredge the chicken breasts in the breading multiple times until they are thoroughly coated. Shake off excess breading, and place in a single layer in the air fryer (2 chicken breast halves at a time).
- Cook - Shake off excess breading, and place in a single layer in the air fryer (2 chicken breast halves at a time). Cook for 4 minutes.
- Flip- Flip, then cook for two more minutes. Precise cook time will depend on the size and thickness of your chicken breasts, so either check with a digital thermometer that chicken has reached 165°F or cut one in half.
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