by Olena

Air Fryer Chicken Breast

Olena's image
Olena Osipov

Perfectly cooked basic Air Fryer Chicken Breast – this chicken is lightly spiced and perfectly tender and juicy in under 30 minutes from start to finish! Even better, learn how to perfectly cook frozen, raw, and air fryer boneless skinless chicken breasts. Ready to eat immediately or save for meal prep!

Want to make more chicken basics? Check out these methods for baked chicken thighs, healthy ‘fried’ chicken, Instant Pot whole chicken, and slow cooker whole chicken (with pasta)!

chicken breast seasoned and in air fryer

Tender, Juicy, Lightly Spiced Air Fryer Chicken Breast

When it comes to enjoying tender, juicy chicken breast – I’ve made it my mission to perfect all the possible cooking methods for delicious results every single time. I’ve already shared methods for grilled chicken breast, oven-baked, and Instant Pot (from fresh and frozen). Now it’s time to perfect it in my latest gadget; air fryer chicken breasts with a light, flavorful crust and tender, moist middle. 

I think it’s essential to get the ‘basics’ right because no-one wants dry and tasteless chicken! After learning how to cut a whole chicken, it’s imperative not to let all that effort go to waste, too! Luckily, cooking chicken breast in an air fryer is simple and easy to perfect- especially with my tips and tricks.

Once you have the basic method down, then you can experiment with different spices, marinades, and more – all with the safe knowledge that you’ll never have to be afraid of lackluster air fried chicken breast again. Try this chili lime chicken, cilantro lime, lemon, honey garlic, or Greek! Even better, this air fryer method is perfect for cooking meal-prep chicken – ready to use for an entire week!

Why This Air Fryer Chicken Recipe Works?

  • Cooking chicken breast in an air fryer cuts down the cooking time! Compared to my baked chicken breasts, you can have this on the table in under 30 minutes, rather than 50!
  • Less cooking time and a smaller machine also make this recipe more economical than oven-baking!
  • The oil needed is minimal– just enough to help the spices adhere to the chicken breasts and lock in the juices.
  • You’ll get wonderfully tender and juicy air fryer chicken breasts every single time with this method! Plus, no salt-water brining is necessary!
  • You only need 6 simple spices, including salt and pepper and other pantry staples, for flavorful chicken the entire family will love. However, the spices are also super adaptable!
  • This air fryer boneless skinless chicken breast is also low-carb, keto, and Whole30 friendly!
close up for air fryer chicken breast sliced on a plate with garnish

Ingredients and Substitutions

One of the best things about this air fryer chicken breast recipe is that it is so simple and made up of entirely clean ingredients and pantry staples. 

  • Chicken: I use chicken breasts that are fairly average in size and a thickness of around 2-inches. If your chicken is larger/smaller, you may need to adjust the time by a couple of minutes. 
  • Spices: I used a simple combination of onion powder, garlic powder, oregano, and smoked paprika. These spices are in most people’s pantries and pack a ton of flavor! 
  • Oil: You need a little oil to coat the meat evenly with the spices. I used avocado oil which is neutral with a high cooking point. 
  • Salt & Pepper: To season. Feel free to adjust the amounts to your liking. 

Keep reading below (after the recipe how-to) for more information on recipe add-ins and variations!

How to Cook Chicken Breast in Air Fryer

  • Preheat the Air Fryer: Preheat it to 380F/193C for five minutes.
  • Season the chicken: Meanwhile, in a large bowl/dish, add the chicken and drizzle with oil, then toss to coat. Add all of the spice and then toss again to make sure they’re evenly coated.
  • Air fry the chicken breast: Spray the preheated air fryer with a bit of cooking spray and then add the chicken breasts in a single layer and close the basket. Allow it to cook for 16 minutes; no need to flip them or shake the basket. 
  • Check the temperature: Open the air fryer basket and insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of your chicken breasts to make sure it reaches at least 150F/66C.

Top Tip: To be safe to eat, chicken must reach an internal temperature of 165F. However, there’s no need to cook it until that point. I recommend cooking the chicken until it’s 150F/66C – the residual heat will then continue to increase the internal temperature while the chicken rests, and you get to avoid dry, overcooked chicken. It’s a win-win!

  • Allow it to rest: Once cooked, transfer the air-fried chicken breast to a large foil-covered platter and allow it to rest for five minutes to allow the juices to settle and redistribute. 
  • Slice and serve: After resting, the chicken breast is ready to serve. I recommend slicing against the grain.

Tips for the Juiciest Chicken Breast Air Fryer Results

For best results follow the below tips!

  • Air fryer models vary: It’s important to get to know your specific model as the times and temperature may vary slightly. Always check on the chicken at the shortest time recommended and then incrementally until it’s ready. Once you know the exact time for your machine, you can remember that for the future!
  • There’s no need to flip/shake the basket: While flipping can help to yield crispier results, this dry-rub chicken breast isn’t intended to be super crispy, so leaving it alone will help avoid dryer chicken. 
  • Make sure to cook in a single layer: The air needs to circulate the chicken to get the job done! Overlapping or stacking the chicken will affect the cooking results!
  • Let the chicken rest! This is critical for allowing the residual heat to reach 165F and for the juices within the chicken to settle and redistribute.
  • To cook chicken tenders: I recommend cooking them for 8-10 minutes, or until a meat thermometer (inserted into the thickest part of the chicken) reads 150F.

Add-ins and Variations

  • Other spices: You can swap out the seasonings I’ve suggested with your favorite/s. Italian seasoning with a bit of garlic would work well, cajun spice, Mexican spices, or even taco seasoning!
  • Fresh garlic: If you have a little extra time, feel free to use fresh grated/minced garlic over the chicken breasts.
  • For heat: Add a little cayenne pepper or chili powder to the dry rub.
  • Add vegetables: If you have enough space in the basket, you can add some veggies directly in with the chicken to cook simultaneously. You could include zucchini, Brussel sprouts, red peppers, broccoli, asparagus, etc. 
  • For even juicier results: You can marinate the chicken (using one of these 5 easy chicken marinades, for example) or brine it before air frying the chicken breasts!

FAQs

How long do you cook chicken breast in air fryer?


This depends on the size of your chicken breast pieces. For average-sized chicken breast that’s around 2-inches thick, I recommend between 16-18 minutes, or until a meat thermometer inserted into the chicken reaches 150F/66C.

I recommend adding/losing 4-6 minutes for every ½-inch in thickness (i.e.1 1/2 -inch would be 12-14 minutes).

Alternatively, you can adjust the time based on the weight of the chicken. For every 2 oz difference, add/remove 2-3 minutes of cooking time. Test both methods to see which you prefer.

 Make sure to allow it to rest for 5 minutes to allow the internal temperature to reach 165F and the juices to settle/redistribute.

Can you cook frozen chicken in air fryer?


You sure can! Oil and season the air fryer boneless skinless chicken breast as recommended above. Then cook at 380F for between 20-25 minutes, or until the internal temperature reaches 150F. Make sure to use even-sized pieces. I’ve found, in general, that frozen chicken takes 4-5 minutes longer than fresh meat, but this can vary in different makes and models (and based on the size of your meat). 

Is it okay to use raw chicken with an air fryer?


Of course, as long as you thoroughly wash your air fryer basket between uses, you can cook all sorts of raw meats and fish in your air fryer. 

Is air fryer fried chicken healthy?


Cooking chicken breast in an air fryer is a great way to enjoy chicken. The small size means that you can get crispier results in less time (so a reduced risk of harmful HCA’s) and with less oil. This is especially the case with ‘fried’ chicken, where you can get amazingly crispy results with just a fraction of the oil!

Can I use a marinade with air fryer chicken breast recipes?


You sure can, and it’s super easy! Just marinate the chicken with your marinade of choice. When marinated, place the chicken straight into the air fryer basket and cook. There’ll be a little more ‘cleanup’ afterward of the basket, but otherwise, it couldn’t be simpler- this air fryer chicken breast recipe with a dry rub is even simpler though!

Serving Recommendations

Turn this air fryer boneless skinless chicken breast into a meal. Here are just a few of my top suggestions on enjoying this air fryer chicken breast. 

Making in Advance

Make ahead: After rubbing the chicken with the spices, you can allow them to sit, covered, in the refrigerator overnight (up to 12 hours before cooking). 

Storing: Refrigerate the chicken in an airtight container for up to one week. Make sure to move it to the refrigerator within two hours for food safety and keep it whole for the juiciest results.

Freeze: Cool completely before transferring the chicken breasts to a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 3 months. I recommend slicing/shredding the chicken before freezing – that way, it’ll thaw faster and can be added to meals immediately. You can thaw them overnight in the refrigerator before eating or reheating. 

Reheat: I recommend reheating the air-fried chicken breast in a lidded pot with a  splash of water or broth to ‘steam’ them until warm. This will keep the chicken tender and moist compared to trying to reheat them in the air fryer or oven.

More Favorite Chicken Breast Recipes

You might also be interested in browsing through my entire collection of healthy chicken recipes!

air fryer chicken breast on plate with garnish
Air Fryer Chicken Breast

Air Fryer Chicken Breast {Tender and Juicy!}

Perfectly cooked basic Air Fryer Chicken Breast – this chicken is lightly spiced and perfectly tender and juicy in under 30 minutes from start to finish! Even better, learn how to perfectly cook frozen, raw, and air fryer boneless skinless chicken breasts. Ready to eat immediately or save for meal prep!
Print Save Rate
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 16 minutes
Resting Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 26 minutes
Servings: 8
Calories: 148kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs boneless & skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp oregano dried
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • Cooking spray I use Misto

Instructions

  • Preheat air fryer at 380 F degrees for 5 minutes.
    Air Fryer Chicken Breast
  • In the meanwhile, in a large bowl or dish, add chicken, drizzle with oil and toss to coat.
    Air Fryer Chicken Breast
  • Sprinkle with smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt and pepper. Toss to coat.
    Air Fryer Chicken Breast
  • Once air fryer is done preheating, open the basket and spray with cooking spray.
    Air Fryer Chicken Breast
  • Add chicken breasts in a single layer and close the basket.
    Air Fryer Chicken Breast
  • Cook at 380 F degrees for 16 minutes, no need to turn or shake.
    Air Fryer Chicken Breast
  • Open the basket and make sure internal read thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads minimum 150 degrees F.
    Air Fryer Chicken Breast
  • Transfer onto a platter, cover with tin foil and let rest for 5 minutes to allow juices to settle.
    Air Fryer Chicken Breast
  • Slice against the grain and serve along any side with a salad. Meal prep for the week, use in salads and casseroles.
    Air Fryer Chicken Breast

Make ahead: Rub chicken with spices, cover and refrigerate overnight (up to 12 hours before cooking). 

    Store: Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

      Freeze: Freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months.

        Reheat: Reheat air-fried chicken breast in a lidded pot with a splash of water or broth to ‘steam’ them until warm.

          Notes

          • Oil is necessary to coat meat in spices evenly.
          • My chicken breasts were average size and thickness about 2″. Adjust time by 2 minutes, up or down and accordingly to your meat size.
          • Don’t stack chicken breasts on top of each other – single layer is best.
          • Regular paprika works instead of smoked paprika.
          • Chicken tenders: Cook them for 8 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 150 degrees F.
          • Frozen chicken breasts: Cook them for 18-20 minutes depending on thickness or until meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part reads 150 degrees F.

          Nutrition

          Calories: 148kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 24g | Fat: 5g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 73mg | Sodium: 350mg | Potassium: 435mg | Fiber: 1g | Sugar: 1g | Vitamin A: 161IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 12mg | Iron: 1mg
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          olena osipov in the studio

          Hello and welcome to iFOODreal.

          My name is Olena Osipov. I'm a mom to 2 boys, a wife to Alex and we reside on magical Vancouver Island in British Columbia, Canada. This is our healthy family recipes blog. Originally from Ukraine, I grew up on real food. As an adult, I struggled with diets for years because none worked long-term. Now for over 10 years, I cook easy healthy meals for my family. I can help you with “What’s for dinner?” too.

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