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Air Fryer Southern Fried Chicken

Ditch the oil, and treat yourself to crispy Air Fryer Southern Fried Chicken. Whether you’re enjoying it for Sunday dinner, or weekday comfort food, it’s perfect for those days you’re in the mood for that finger-licking good kind of eating.

Air Fryer Southern Fried Chicken

Best Ever Air Fryer Southern Fried Chicken

It’s no secret Southerner’s love fried chicken. Truthfully, the love of breaded and fried pieces of chicken is loved nationwide. That being said, we do know how to do it right here in the South. Most fried chicken recipes are passed down from one generation to the next, especially when it comes to technique. I come from a long line of chicken frying experts yet, each one had something they did slightly differently from the next. The end result was always delicious so, everyone wins.

Air Fryer Southern Fried Chicken

How to Make the BEST Air Fryer Southern Fried Chicken

  • Ingredients you’ll need to make homemade Southern Fried Chicken Air Fryer: One fryer chicken cut into 8 pieces, buttermilk, hot sauce, seasoned salt, all purpose flour, cornstarch, black pepper, granulated garlic or garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and large eggs. You’ll also need cooking spray or an oil spritzer.
  • Kitchen tools you’ll need: One air fryer, dredging pans or shallow bowls, 13 x 9 inch dish for brining the chicken, measuring cups and spoons, tongs, an oil spritzer or a quality cooking spray, whisk and
  • Air fryers are like any other kitchen appliance, they can vary in performance. Know how your appliance performs and you’ll be good to go.
  • I’m a firm believer in seasoning and brining the chicken pieces in buttermilk. It’s how I was taught to make fried chicken, and it stuck. Preferably using whole fat buttermilk, but low fat will do in a pinch.
  • To make your own buttermilk, to every one cup of whole milk add 1 tablespoon of white distilled vinegar or lemon juice. Let stand for 5 minutes then stir and proceed with the recipe.
  • After breading the chicken pieces, allow the breading time to rest and set. It will adhere to the chicken pieces better.
  • When spritzing the breaded chicken with oil, It’s important to cover every inch of breading. If you don’t, those areas tend to get really dark and burn.
  • You may line the bottom of the air fryer with parchment to prevent sticking. When doing so, add it just before placing the chicken pieces into the air fryer to prevent it from blowing around.
  • You can use either a quality cooking spray or make your own oil spray using an oil sprayer.
  • It’s best to cook the chicken in batches, frying similar size pieces together for even cooking.
  • To keep chicken warm while frying in batches, fit a rack into a sheet pan and preheat the oven to 200°F. Place fried chicken onto the rack and into the oven until serving.
  • When turning the chicken halfway through, spritz again with oil taking care to cover all floured areas.
  • Store Air Fryer Southern Fried Chicken chilled in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Enjoy cold or reheat at 350°F in the air fryer for a few minutes, just until heated through.
  • See how to make classic Southern Fried Chicken here.
Air Fryer Southern Fried Chicken

Best Side Dishes to Serve Along with Southern Fried Chicken

Depending on the occasion and time of year, side dishes can vary. Some side dish inspiration you may enjoy:

Air Fryer Southern Fried Chicken

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Helpful Kitchen Items:

Air Fryer Southern Fried Chicken

Prep Time15 minutes
Cook Time25 minutes
Marinade Time4 hours
Total Time4 hours 40 minutes
Course: Main Course, Poultry
Cuisine: American
Keyword: air-fryer-chicken-recipes, air-fryer-fried-chicken, buttermilk-fried-chicken, southern-fried-chicken
Servings: 8 pieces
Calories: 539kcal


  • 1 4 lb whole fryer chicken (Divided into 8 pieces)
  • 3 cups buttermilk divided
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 3 1/2 tsp seasoned salt divided
  • 2 tsp freshly ground black pepper divided
  • 3 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 1 tsp granulated garlic or garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 3 large eggs
  • vegetable oil spray or cooking spray


  • Season chicken pieces on all sides with 1 tsp seasoned salt and 1/2 tsp black pepper. Place into an oblong baking dish. Whisk together 2 1/2 cups buttermilk and hot sauce, pour over chicken. Turn to coat. Chill for at least 4 hours or overnight, turning once.
  • Remove chicken from buttermilk, discard marinade. On a plate sift together the flour, cornstarch, 2 tsp seasoned salt, 1 tsp black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder and paprika.
  • In a large shallow bowl whisk together eggs, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp black pepper, 1/2 cup buttermilk. 
  • Dredge chicken pieces in flour mixture, into egg wash then into flour again. Arrange on a baking sheet. Let stand for 15 minutes to set breading. 
  • To fry: Spray basket of air fryer liberally with cooking spray. You may also brush with oil. Preheat air fryer to 375°F for 3 minutes. (Tip: If using a parchment liner, wait to add just before chicken pieces are arranged in air fryer to prevent it from blowing around.)
  • Spray chicken pieces liberally on all sides with oil taking care to leave no dry flour spots. Arrange chicken in air fryer leaving space between pieces for air to circulate. Cook dark meat pieces together and breasts together, if needed. (You can also cut large breasts in half to make smaller pieces)
  • Cook at 375°F for 15 minutes. Gently turn pieces taking care not to disturb breading. Spray any dry spots with additional oil if needed, and continue to cook for another 10-15 minutes or until an internal temperature of 165°F is reached.
  • To keep chicken pieces warm between batches: Preheat oven to 200°F. Prepare a rimmed baking sheet with an oven safe baking rack. Place fried chicken on rack.
  • Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then serve.


Please note: Air fryers are like any other kitchen appliance, they can vary in performance. Know how your appliance performs and you’ll be good to go.


Serving: 1serving | Calories: 539kcal | Carbohydrates: 49g | Protein: 29g | Fat: 24g | Saturated Fat: 8g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 9g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 160mg | Sodium: 1394mg | Potassium: 228mg | Fiber: 2g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 388IU | Vitamin C: 6mg | Calcium: 126mg | Iron: 3mg
Tried this recipe?Mention @melissassk or tag #melissassk!


  1. 4 stars
    Like budda somethings are a must for good fried chicken and full flavored buttermilk as the brine is one,,,thanks for the reminder ,, burn up some pots mam…blessings

  2. We have a Samsung full size range with a built in air fryer. So this is much larger than a normal air fryer of course. Any suggestions on temp and cooking times? Any changes I should make? Unfortunately, Samsung does not really have much in terms of a cooking guide…which is very frustrating. Anything you can think of would be very much appreciated.

    1. Hi David, I haven’t tested your particular appliance so, it sounds as if it will be trial and error. You might do a trial run using this recipe, then test it when checking halfway through to see how your appliance performs.

  3. This looks so good! Have you tried this same technique with chicken tenders? Any suggestions on how to adjust the cook time for tenders?

    1. This works great for chicken tenders! Depending on the size, check them at around 8 minutes and turn. This is just a guide so, adapt according to the size of the chicken pieces you’re using.

  4. 5 stars
    It is an awesome recipe. Did not have hot sauce. Added panko crumbs and Italian seasoned bread crumbs. Turned out very crisp and golden brown. I had chicken thighs juicy tender just plain delicious. It was the first fried food that turned out good in air fryer. It is a keeper recipe. The instructions are spot on keeping it. I am going to use recipe tonight for fried green tomatoes.

  5. 5 stars
    This was AMAZING !!! We had it for lunch, and already looking forward to leftovers for dinner. I made it in my Air Fryer… super duper easy! Thank you!

  6. what would happen if some of the flour got missed while spraying the oil on it ?? My hubsband really wants to have an air fryer…I always thought Nija was the way to go…what are your thoughts after using your Nija…? thank you and God bless…I am always following your posts. You do a great job.

    1. When choosing an air fryer, look for reviews on performance and the size you need for your family. When spritzing the breaded chicken with oil, It’s important to cover every inch of breading. If you don’t, those areas tend to get really dark and burn.

    1. Did you get yourself an air fryer yet? If not, you MUST!!! Start the New Year off right & get one. You won’t be sorry, guaranteed!!

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