This air fryer chicken breast is seasoned with sesame oil and spices, then cooked to perfection in a little gadget that I never thought I’d enjoy this much. Yes, I absolutely love my air fryer. What do you think can be better than a perfectly caramelized, delicious pan-fried chicken breast? Or a crispy oven-roasted chicken breast? That’s right, an air fryer chicken breast beats them both. And I am not afraid to say it. Of the air fryer recipes that I’ve tried so far, this one is the most impressive.
Lately, I’ve been experimenting with convection baking and have had a lot of success with it. I love the results that fast-moving hot air produces. Well, an air fryer is just that, a small convection oven. Only it’s compact and requires no preheating. How cool is that? True, you can’t do large batches in an air fryer but, oh boy, it’s so worth it.
What makes an air fryer chicken breast so good?
It’s the crispy and super crunchy skin on the outside and the incredibly moist interior on the inside. The skin on this chicken is so crispy that you can literally hear a crunching sound as you bite into it. That’s what intense and constantly moving heat does – it caramelizes the surface without drying out the meat. It’s all because of quick cooking and, most importantly, lack of contact with a hot surface.
So, how do you fry these delicious chicken breasts in an air fryer?
After some experimenting, what worked best for me was to fry chicken breasts skin up for 20 minutes, then flip and fry for another 10 minutes. Flipping is a must. You can’t get away without flipping. First of all, it prevents one side from browning way too much. Secondly, the top part always browns much better than the bottom part in an air fryer, so flipping make the bottom nice and crispy. Just like the top. Check out this picture below, do you see what I am talking about? You really want that crispy, crunchy goodness on both sides. It’s never too much.
How many chicken breasts can you fry at the same time?
My 6.5 quart air fryer can easily fit two chicken breasts. They shrink during cooking too. I strongly recommend leaving some space, at least a 3/8″ between breasts for best results. The most I can fit in my air fryer is four chicken breasts. When making four, I place two in the opposite corners and line up the other two diagonally. I also push the sides in and under, sort of like when tucking in a blanket. This creates more room between chicken breasts. After a little while they will shrink and there will be even more space.
Which chicken breasts, bone-in vs. boneless, skin-on vs skinless?
Surprisingly, bone-in and boneless chicken breasts resulted in identical texture and moistness of the meat. As such, I strongly recommend removing the bones as they are such a nuisance when slicing chicken breasts. Skin-on vs skinless turned out to be an entirely different matter. It was very apparent that skin protected the delicate white meat in my tests and the meat tasted noticeably better. The skin and the rendered fat made the meat taste much more flavorful too. So, my recommendation is to definitely use skin-on chicken breasts for air frying.
Letting the chicken rest
It’s common knowledge that you should always let meat rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing to let the fiber re-absorb some of the liquids that were forced out by heat. An air fried chicken breast is no exception. Let it rest for 5 minutes, and you will be rewarded with succulent meat enveloped into delicious, crunchy chicken skin.
Looking for more tasty air fryer recipes? Make sure to check these out:
- Air Fryer Chicken Wings
- Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
- Steak In an Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Shrimp
- Crispy Air Fried Brussels Sprouts
Equipment used and shown on the pictures above: Chefman 6.8 Quart Air Fryer.
- 2 chicken breasts (skin-on, boneless or bone-in)
- 2 Tbsp sesame oil
- 1 tsp kosher salt (plus more to taste)
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1 Tbsp sweet paprika
- 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
- 1 Tbsp granulated garlic (or garlic powder)
- 1 Tbsp granulated onions (or onion powder)
- Rub the chicken breasts with sesame oil. Sprinkle salt, pepper and the rest of ingredients all over. Pat down and rub gently to ensure even coverage.
- Place chicken breasts on the rack inside the air fryer, ensuring some space between the chicken breasts, skin side up.
- Plug in your air fryer, set the temperature to 380F and the time to 20 minutes. When the 20 minutes of cooking is up, flip the breasts and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. See notes.
- Remove chicken breasts from the air fryer and set on a plate. Let rest for 5 minutes, then serve.
This was very tasty and moist I did chicken thighs will definitely make again
Do I have to preheat air fryer first
I never do, works for me.
Amy L Sylvester
Delicious! Tried this with boneless skinless chicken breasts, it turned out SO juicy and delicious! Can’t wait to make it again!
Happy to hear it, Amy. Enjoy!
Can I do this recipe using chicken legs
Yes. I actually have an air fryer chicken leg recipe on my blog.
I used all of the spices and this recipe was pretty good but kind of dry. I think I will try again but not cook as long
Excellent recipe! Made it exactly as instructed. Will definitely make again!
I used skinless, boneless breasts that I pounded thin and omitted the cayenne pepper. The cooking time was reduced by about 12 minutes, so this was super quick to prepare. My husband and daughter loved it and asked me to “keep the recipe” as this was some of the best chicken they had had in a long time.
This turned out awesome with the butter and sesame oil. And spices very fast and easy!
I just made this super good chicken. So easy and so great. I did the recipe exactly and love it. Thank you
You are very welcom. Enjoy!
Didn’t use all the indregrents, but still turn out delicious
These air-fryer sesame chicken breasts are so delicious! I tried them out one day and they turned out great! All those seasonings form a crust over the chicken, and when you cook it, it tastes almost like fried chicken but without all those carbs and oil. So good! I did need to adjust the time and temperature, too.
What did you have to do to adjust time and temp? Thanks
Wow! I am new to air frying but this is the best thing I’ve made so far. I’m typically not a huge fan of chicken, mostly because it usually dry and I have to smother it in some sort of sauce to choke it down. The flavoring of this chicken was amazing and it was so juicy. I used boneless skinless chicken thighs and started with 15 minutes at 380 degrees, flipped, did three more 5 minute intervals flipping each time until I felt they were done. I need to cut back on the pepper next time, but that’s a personal preference. Will be making this often for sure! Thanks for the great recipe!
You are very welcome, Dawn. Be sure to try my other air fryer recipes. I love the convenience, the speed of cooking and the flavor I am getting from cooking in my two air fryers. One of the best inventions, really.
Tried it tonight with boneless breasts with the skin on them. They turned out great. Thanks so much for sharing your recipe.
You are very welcome!
Absolutely the best chicken ever! We have prepared bone in with skin and with boneless/skinless breasts and both were to die for! We leave the salt out due to a family member with congestive heart failure issues but you can’t tell the difference. Full of flavor, juicy, and tender…just amazing. Really coat the chicken well and it makes a wonderful crust on even skinless chicken!
I love cooking new recipes. I love experience new foods. It keeps things things from getting in the same old things. Thanks alot.
Wow! I made this for the first time tonight. This is the juiciest, most flavorful bone-in chicken breast I have ever made. Absolutely fantastic!! I cannot say enough!
Can’t go wrong with this recipe; so simple and comes out delicious. Thank you so much for introducing me to sesame oil!
It’s about 12-15 minutes in the air fryer if your chicken breasts are thinner, skinless and boneless. Still comes out juicy. Next time I will try this with skin on, bone in chicken thighs. I quite enjoyed the rub.
I have a Ninja Foodi. Going to try this recipe. Sounds really good and my wife will like it if I do it correctly.
I made this exactly as instructed with boneless chicken breast and oh my! The chicken was very flavorful, juicy, and tender. I will definitely make this again. Thank you for sharing.
Didn’t get the stars clicked on prior. Sorry!
Tried it with 6 chicken tenders. 15/8 minute cooking. Turned out great!
AMAZING!!!!! Flavor is super wonderful!!!!
This was great. My chicken breasts were pretty big. The timing was perfect. I cheated and used a lemon pepper marinade that I had on hand. They were very juicy and not the least bit dry. Will definitely use this again. Thanks.
Yum yum yum!! Love this chicken so much!
We have this every week with veggies or salad – so delicious!!!
Can you use olive oil instead of sesame oil?
This has a good flavor but 30 minutes in the air fryer is wayyy.too long. I stopped at 20 and the chicken was dry
I’ve noticed that different air fryers cook differently. Could be the amount of heat they put out or the proximity of food to the heating element. The size of chicken breasts is a big factor too.
Made this for dinner tonight and really enjoyed it! Used boneless skinless breasts and followed recipe exactly (except my fryer wouldn’t do 380 so I cooked at 375). Chicken was good but could have cooked a few minutes less and next time I’ll go a little lighter on the rub.
Anxious to try this recipe, Is it necessary to preheat the air fryer?
Camille, I never pre-heat my air fryer. All my air fryer recipes are designed for starting in a cold air fryer. I don’t find pre-heating necessary.
Janice E. Sorensen
Thank you for this excellent recipe.
You are very welcome, Janice.
Very good took exactly 30 minutes as in recipe
Dawn @ The Kitchen and a Latte
I have to get myself one of these air fryers! It is one of the only kitchen gadgets at the moment that I don’t have, but I have been finding some amazing recipes for it. I do like cooking with boneless skinless chicken, but I think in this case I would keep it on the bone as well. The skin and the bones add flavor to it and the rib cage would help hold the moisture in 🙂
Thank you for doing all of the work! I just followed directions with my 2 boneless organic Smart chicken breasts . Beautiful and tasty!
Thank You for sharing !! This is delicious !
The looks delicious. Do I need to adjust anything to use chicken thighs?
I suggest you use my air fryer chicken thigh recipe.
Can’t wait to try this . Are you able to include temperatures in Celsius on all of your recipes for us in Australia?
Hey Rob, thanks for dropping by. Will do, just give me some time…
I have not tried this chicken but I will thank you
I’ve made these breasts many many times and they’re awesome. So easy to make!
Could you do this with skinless chicken breast?
I am still working on a recipe for skinless chicken breasts in an air fryer. They dry out very quickly without the skin’s protection. The best solution for skinless I know of to get decent results is to cook skin-on, then remove the skin if you are calorie conscious. As well, wrap them in bacon and cook as if they were skin-on.
Can you do this with skinless and what if you dont have a rack for the AF
I never tried but I am planning to in the near future. Bear in mind, skin protects chicken meat. Without it the meat may and probably will dry out. You may just have to flip the breasts a few times to minimize that.
So good! I have only had my air fryer since Christmas 2018 and I’m still figuring it out. This recipe was fabulous. My family loved it. I cooked 3 breasts on 375 degrees as my cooker doesn’t have the 380 degree option. I kept the bone in and next time I’ll try it boneless. The chicken was so soft and juicy and the skin so crispy. This is going to become part of the weekly dinner menu since it’s quick and easy. Thanks for posting.
My regular oven has a convection feature. I would image you would prepare the breast the same way in it??
Donna, an air fryer is more like a broiler with convection, not a regular oven with convection. A convection oven cook longer and dries out white chicken meat. I was never fond of chicken breast cooked in a convection oven.
perfect! I cooked exactly as stated other than I don’t have a rack for my AF and just put it in the bottom of the insert. cooked for 20, flipped then for 15 instead of 10 as my machine doesn’t have a ten minute interval. juicy on the inside and crunchy on the outside. we used for fettuccine Alfredo and it was perfect. Thank you!
Great! Happy to hear that you liked my recipe. We made some tonight actually, sliced and served along with a mushroom risotto. Delicious.
So, so, so delicious! I did not change a thing and the breasts came out perfect. I cooked two at a time for better browning and was not disappointed.