Cooking chicken has always been a daunting task for even the most experienced chefs primarily because of the safety risk involved with undercooking it. Cooking chicken on the stove can be challenging because it’s hard to know when you’ve reached the right temperature, while cooking chicken in the oven is frustrating because it can feel like it takes forever.
When you get home from work and you’re starving, the last thing you want to do is have to sit around waiting first for the oven to preheat and then for 30+ minutes waiting for the food to cook so you can finally eat dinner. Then there are the times when you wait forever for dinner to be ready, only to end up with dry, unappetizing chicken.
Enter: the air fryer. This magical device is a GAME CHANGER and has completely changed the face of home-cooked meals. The air fryer cooks food faster, crispier, and all around better than your oven ever could, making it perfect for those weeknight meals when all you want to do is enjoy a tasty meal without all the extra effort or waiting!
Cooking Chicken in an Air Fryer vs. an Oven
Whether you’re making crispy chicken wings or juicy chicken breast, you can rely on the air fryer to get it cooked perfectly every time. Let’s break a few of the main reasons why air fryers are superior to ovens in cooking chicken:
1. It cooks with a convection method.
Air fryers cook using a convection method, meaning it distributes heated air throughout the device to cook food quickly and evenly. Many of the ovens you’ll find in household kitchens do not have a convection setting, giving the air fryer a definite advantage in speed while also cooking your food more thoroughly.
2. It takes less time.
When cooking with the average oven, you have to factor in not only the cooking time but also the additional ten minutes it takes to preheat the oven. With air fryers, no preheating time is necessary. Once it’s plugged in and set to your desired temperature, you can pop your food right in and start the timer. In addition to the time saved by not preheating, the air fryer also cooks food faster due to the convection method used.
3. It’s more energy efficient.
Compared to a traditional oven, air fryers put out a mere fraction of the heat and keep it contained within themselves. This means less wasting valuable heat energy and no more raising the temperature of the entire kitchen every time you cook.
4. It gives the chicken an incredible texture.
When cooked in an air fryer, chicken gets firm and caramelized on the outside and perfectly juicy on the inside. You’ll obtain the same level of perfection every time without the guessing game you have to play each time you cook in the oven.
5. It leaves less of a mess.
Unlike the oven or stove where you need to use a baking sheet or pan, you don’t need any additional cooking surfaces aside from the air fryer itself. This means less clean-up and more relaxing after the meal!
How Long to Cook Chicken in an Air Fryer
Tips for Cooking Chicken in an Air Fryer
As with any new kitchen gadget, there’s a slight learning curve as you get used to cooking with your air fryer. Here are some tips that every beginner should know:
1. Don’t use too much oil!
While you should definitely use some oil to coat your chicken for the best results, this isn’t a deep fryer. A small amount of oil goes a long way in an air fryer, so use it sparingly.
2. Don’t overcrowd the basket.
When cooking your chicken, you don’t want to have to stack pieces on top of each other. Everything should be in a single layer and the pieces should be spaced out so that they aren’t squished together. This allows your food to cook evenly and get nice and crispy.
3. Spray with more oil halfway through cooking.
I’ve found that opening up the basket and spraying your chicken with a touch more oil halfway through cooking yields the crispiest chicken. Don’t worry about letting the heat out when opening the basket, unlike with an oven it’s perfectly fine to open up the basket while cooking.
4. Flip your chicken halfway through cooking.
While you’re in there spraying your chicken with oil for a second time, go ahead and flip it over. This ensures that both sides get equally delicious, juicy, and crispy.
5. Clean your air fryer after each use.
The drawer to your air fryer is very easy to clean. Leaving it unwashed for too long makes for excessive buildup, a bad smell, and possibly even food contamination. Save yourself the trouble and just give it a quick wash after every use!
Perfect air-fryers to use
- Air Fryer Max XL Hot Oven Cooker, One Touch Screen with 13 Cooking Functions
- Smart WiFi Air Fryer 13 Cooking Functions, Keep Warm & Preheat & Shake Remind
Easy to Use Techniques for Air Fryer Chicken
There are a ton of different ways to cook chicken in an air fryer, but here are some easy techniques on getting the perfect result for a variety of cuts:
The two most important things to remember for getting perfect air fryer chicken wings are tossing them with a little cornstarch before cooking and giving them room to crisp up in the air fryer. If you can’t lay them all in a single layer without the wings touching one another, cook them in batches to get perfectly crispy chicken wings.
When cooking chicken breast in the air fryer, the best way to get it nice and juicy is by brining it first. What does this mean? A brine is made by mixing kosher salt into warm water and letting it dissolve before adding your raw chicken breasts in, then allowing the chicken to soak in the brine for at least an hour and up to six hours. This process allows the chicken to absorb more salt and moisture, making for a more juicy and flavorful final product.
For the best air fryer chicken drumsticks, you’ll want to marinate them for at least an hour prior to cooking. Many people like to coat their drumsticks in a delicious, thick sauce before cooking, but to get the perfect crispy drumsticks, you should hold off on coating them in sauce until the last five minutes of cooking.
When cooking a whole chicken in the air fryer, you’ll want to lay it in there breast side down. This keeps everything nice and juicy while preventing the legs from overcooking. The key is to cook it for the first 40-45 minutes breast side down and then flip it over for the last ten minutes.
Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
- Crispy Golden Chicken Tenders that are sure to wow the whole family
- KFC Copycat Fried Chicken for when you’re craving that perfectly fried chicken but want to make a healthier (and cheaper!) version at home
- General Tso’s Chicken that’ll fool your family into thinking you ordered takeout, but without all the added saturated fat and MSG!
- Parmesan Crusted Chicken that pairs brilliantly with pasta and tomato sauce for a truly mouthwatering meal
- Chicken and Waffles, a delicious Southern classic that makes for a show stopping brunch entree
- A Crispy Chicken Sandwich that you’ll need to make plenty of because you won’t want to share and you will definitely want more!
- Korean Fried Chicken that uses a double air fry method for the ultimate crispy, crunchy, sticky, sweet chicken dish
- Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs, an incredible gluten-free and keto-friendly recipe for those looking for a healthier meal
- Chicken and Broccoli because air fryers are great for one-pot meals too, as proven with this flavor-packed low-carb recipe
- Chicken Nuggets that are easy to make, child-approved, and crazy delicious
If those weren’t enough, here are 12 more air fryer chicken recipes to get you started.