Quick + Easy Chicken Breasts in the Air Fryer

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If you love chicken breasts and want to know how to make them in the air fryer, you are in the right place! I consider myself an air fryer connoisseur (self proclaimed) and have made chicken breasts in the air fryer countless times. Keep reading to learn about the tips and tricks that worked for me, and my favorite recipe for air fryer chicken breasts.

How long to cook the chicken breasts

There are a few things to consider when it comes to how long you should cook the chicken breasts for. First, it depends on what temperature you cook them at, and second, it depends on the thickness of the chicken breast.

Honestly, I’m all about quick and efficient meals, which is why I always slice my chicken breasts in half and cook just about everything at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. I notice that if I try to cook the whole breast, without cutting them, the inside is nice and juicy, but the outside is super hard and dry.

Since this is such a staple recipe, I recommend experimenting with a few different methods to find out what works best for you and what you enjoy the most. But, to get you started, here are some of my recommendations:

  • Thin Breast (.5 inch): 6-8 minutes
  • Medium Breast (.75 inches): 8-10 minutes
  • Thick Breast (1 inch): 10-12 minutes

What air fryer do I recommend?

Honestly, I’ve only used one air fryer, but I absolutely am in love with it! It works so well and cooks food so quickly and evenly. Plus, it only takes a minute or two to preheat, which is wild to me. When I say I use it every single day, I’m not exaggerating at all. In fact, I typically use it 1-2 times per day if we are being honest.

This is the air fryer that I have and love so very much (I make a small commission if you purchase using my link): 

It’s a little more on the pricey side, it’s 100% worth it. The compartment is big enough to fit 1-1.5 lbs of chicken breast (believe me I’ve tried it out so many times) and it always cooks evenly. It’s easy to clean and so convenient!

chicken breast in air fryer

Why is using the air fryer the best method?

For me, any method that is quick and easy reigns supreme. The air fryer wins almost every single night because of this. There are a few perks in particular that have one me over:

  • Fast preheat time (usually only a few minutes)
  • Fast cook time (cooks 3x faster than an oven)
  • Evenly cooks everything
  • Adds a nice crispy coating without drying out the inside

Because of these main features, I cook every night with my air fryer. As for downsides, buying an air fryer can be pretty expensive. But, in my opinion, the amount of time I’ve saved has made it worth it.

What recipes can I use this chicken in?

You can use this chicken in a variety of recipes. Personally, I love using this chicken to throw on top of salads, use in a sandwich, or throw on top of nachos with some cheese, refried beans and peppers. Yum!

Along with this, you can shred the chicken and throw it into soups, make it into a pulled chicken sandwich (just add some BBQ) or a chicken salad.

There are a ton of things you can do with this recipe, but more often that not, I will pair this chicken breast with two sides, typically a carbohydrate rich food and a veggie. My favorite meal is this air fryer chicken breast with mashed potatoes and grilled asparagus (which you can also make in the air fryer).

What steps do I need to complete ahead of time?

Nothing! But if you want, I would recommend sprinkling the chicken with a bit of salt about 30 minutes before throwing it into the air fryer. This helps the salt absorb into the chicken so it isn’t just the outside that is salty. I learned this trick in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat (affiliate link). If you want to learn the basics of making food that tastes amazing I highly recommend this book.

That being said, if you are short on time, you can season the chicken right before you throw it in the air fryer. To be honest, this is what I do most of the time. But if you have some extra time, seasoning with salt beforehand makes for a better breast.

The ingredients you need to make these Air Fryer Chicken Breasts? 

This recipe is pretty easy and straightforward. You’ll likely find all the ingredients you need in your kitchen already:

  1. Chicken breast 
  2. Oil of choice
  3. Salt and pepper
  4. Italian seasoning
  5. Paprika
  6. Onion powder
  7. Garlic powder

You can also add any spices that you prefer to the recipe. I chose these spices because I love the flavor they create, plus the paprika adds that nice reddish color which makes the chicken breast prettier (and taste better).

As for the oil, I like using olive oil or avocado oil. These oils taste best with the chicken breast in my opinion and they coat the breast nicely. 

Is using oil necessary for this recipe?

I would highly recommend using oil. The fat in the oil will help the chicken breast stay crispy on the outside. Plus, it will make the best more flavorful and delicious. 

Chicken breasts are lean proteins, meaning they are low in fat. If you have health concerns about adding oil to the recipe, remember that olive oil and avocado oil are high in monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which can help reduce risk of heart disease when compared to saturated fats. As long as you choose liquid fats (olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil) over solid fats (butter, coconut oil), you don’t have to worry about harming your health.

Can I use frozen chicken breast?

Yes, you can use frozen chicken breast! That’s the beauty of the air fryer. That being said, the recipe won’t turn out as great if you are using frozen. I would recommend thawing out the chicken breasts in the fridge before cooking them, but if you are in a rush, frozen chicken breasts will do.

chicken breast in air fryer

How do I store the chicken breasts?

After cooking, let the chicken breasts cool down for no more than two hours. Any longer and the risk of foodborne illness will increase. Then, put it in a sealed tupperware container and keep it in your fridge for up to 3-4 days. 

You can also freeze the chicken in an airtight container for up to 2-6 months. This is a great option if you need to keep some emergency food on hand.

Why you should invest in a meat thermometer

Investing in a meat thermometer was probably the best thing I have done in my cooking journey (other than buying an air fryer). I would always just rely on the color of the meat to determine if it was ready or not, and this would often lead to super dry, flavorless meat.

I got this meat thermometer off Amazon (affiliate link) and it has made cooking so much easier. I usually check the temperature every 2 minutes once the chicken breast has been cooking for about 8 minutes. Once all the breasts are above 165 degrees Fahrenheit, I know they are done cooking, so I take them out of the air fryer right away.

A few things to consider if you are using a thermometer:

  • Check the temperature at the thickest part of the chicken breast. It takes longer to cook there, so once that is fully cooked, you can assume the thinner parts are fully cooked as well.
  • Disinfect the tip of the thermometer after using it. A lot of bacteria can sit on the tip after poking the chicken, so be sure to use hot water and soap to kill any leftover bacteria. 

Should I let the chicken breast sit out before cutting it?

Yes, yes, yes! I like letting the chicken breast sit out for about 5-10 minutes before cutting it into slices. This ensures the juices settle into the chicken and don’t spill out the second you cut into it. If you want a nice juice breast, let that baby sit for a bit before cutting! You can thank me later.

The steps to prep to chicken breasts for the air fryer

Step 1: Cut the chicken breasts in half so they are thinner and cook fast. Cover in olive oil.

Step 3: Sprinkle the chicken breasts with seasonings.

What the final product will look like

Not only is the final product going to look delicious, it’s going to smell amazing and taste amazing. I recommend letting the breasts sit out for 5-10 minutes before cutting them up. I usually let them sit out for 30 minutes to an hour before storing in the fridge.

chicken breast in air fryer
chicken breast in air fryer

Air Fryer Chicken Breast

Quick, easy and juicy chicken breast that you can make in the air fryer.
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 12 mins
Resting Time 5 mins
Total Time 22 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 4
Calories 177 kcal

Equipment

  • Air Fryer

Ingredients
  

  • 1 lb Chicken breast
  • 1 tbsp Oil of choice
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp Paprika
  • 1 tsp Garlic powder
  • 1 tsp Onion powder
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning

Instructions
 

  • Preheat air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Cut chicken breasts in half to make them thinner.
  • Coat both sides of each breast with olive oil.
  • Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt, pepper, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder and italian seasoning.
  • Place chicken breasts into air fryer and cook for 8-12 minutes, depending on the thickness of the chicken breast.
  • Measure the temperature of the thickest part of the breast. Ensure it is above 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Let rest for 5-10 minutes, cut into smaller pieces and enjoy!

Notes

Cooking time is going to vary depending on the thickness of the chicken breast. I recommend checking the temperature of the chicken after 8 minutes and add time in 2 minute increments. Continue to check temperature after each 2 minute interval and stop cooking once it is above 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

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