If you like recipes that require little effort and have a big payoff in flavor, this Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Breast is for you! This juicy, succulent chicken takes less than 25 minutes to make and will have the family begging for more. It’s perfect for an easy weeknight meal any time of the year.
Summer is the perfect time to enjoy delicious BBQ chicken.
If you want an easier version you can enjoy throughout the year, try air frying it instead of grilling.
Air frying the chicken will give you the perfect exterior and ensure it stays juicy and tender inside. It is super easy and so full of flavor.
Give it a try, and leave me a comment and let me know how it goes!
Ingredients for Making Air Fryer Barbecue Chicken
- Chicken: I used boneless skinless chicken breast, but you could use bone-in chicken or chicken thighs. Just make sure that you use an instant-read thermometer and ensure that the chicken is at least 160° F before removing it from the heat.
- Salt: I used sea salt, but kosher or regular table salt can be used. Generally, you need one teaspoon of salt per pound of chicken.
- Garlic powder: This is for flavor. You could also use onion powder if you prefer.
- Smoked paprika: This adds a great smoky flavor to the chicken.
- Black pepper: Fresh ground black pepper is best.
- Cayenne pepper: This is optional, but I like a little bit of heat. You can adjust all of the spices to your liking.
- Avocado oil: You could also use olive oil, but I don't recommend cooking with extra-virgin olive oil. Avocado oil has a high smoke point which is why it is my go-to for cooking BBQ chicken in the air fryer.
- Barbecue sauce: You can use your favorite brand of BBQ sauce. Good quality is key because this is where much of the flavor comes from. If you avoid gluten, read the label and ensure that your sauce is gluten-free. Choose sugar-free for a low-carb option.
Tips & Tricks
- Don't overcrowd the air fryer basket. If you do, the BBQ Air Fryer Chicken will not cook evenly, and the texture won't be as good. I can usually fit two to three chicken breasts in my air fryer at one time.
- Preheat your air fryer. This is important when cooking meat.
- Flip the chicken halfway through cooking. This helps ensure that it cooks evenly and that you get moist and delicious chicken that isn't dried on one side.
- Don't be afraid to experiment with different types of BBQ sauce when making BBQ chicken in the air fryer. You can even make your own!
- Oven-style air fryers typically need a little longer cook time than basket style. If you have an oven cook-style fryer, add three to five minutes to your cook time.
There are so many delicious sides that go well with BBQ Chicken Breast in the Air Fryer. Here are some of my favorites:
- Potato Salad - Try Instant Pot Potato Salad or Sour Cream Potato Salad
- Coleslaw - Jalapeno Coleslaw and Blue Cheese Coleslaw are great options. For a fun twist, try this Broccoli Slaw Salad.
- Baked Beans - These Semi-Homemade Baked Beans are quick, easy, and delicious.
- Corn - Mexican Grilled Corn or Air Fryer Corn Elote are great options.
- Potatoes - Cheesy Scalloped Potatoes or Ninja Foodi Grill Potatoes are great options.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to BBQ chicken in an air fryer?
It usually takes about 15 to 18 minutes, but it depends on the size and thickness of your chicken. Use an instant-read thermometer to ensure that the chicken's internal temperature is at least 160° F before you remove it from the heat.
Does chicken cook faster in an air fryer?
Yes, the chicken cooks faster in an air fryer than when grilling. Air frying chicken is a great way to get juicy and tender chicken cooked evenly and has a crispy coating.
Can I cook frozen chicken in an air fryer? Yes, you can cook frozen chicken in an air fryer. Just make sure that the chicken is fully cooked before you eat it. Use an instant-read thermometer to ensure that the chicken's internal temperature is at least 160° F before you remove it from the heat.
Do you put BBQ sauce on chicken before or after cooking?
Because most BBQ sauce has sugar, it is best to put it on towards the end of the cooking time to avoid burning.
I recommend putting the BBQ sauce on in the last two or three minutes of cooking your BBQ Chicken Breast in the Air Fryer.
Can you use sauce in an air fryer?
Yes! Make sure you don't put too much sauce on, or it will start to burn. I recommend putting the sauce on in the last two or three minutes of cooking.
Tools Needed to Make BBQ Chicken in the Air Fryer
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Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three days. You can reheat BBQ air fryer chicken in your air fryer or the microwave.
The chicken can be frozen for up to three months. I recommend thawing overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
How to Make Air Fryer BBQ Chicken
To air fry BBQ chicken, start by drying the chicken with a paper towel.
Next, pound it with a meat mallet to an even thickness.
Then, combine the salt, garlic powder, paprika, pepper, and cayenne in a small bowl.
Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the chicken. If desired, you can let the chicken sit in the refrigerator overnight.
Preheat your air fryer to 400° F.
Brush both sides of the chicken with avocado oil.
Place the chicken in the air fryer basket and cook for 7 minutes.
Flip and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes, or until the internal temperature registers 155° F at the thickest part of the chicken.
When the chicken is cooked through, brush it well with about ½ of the BBQ sauce.
Return the chicken to the air fryer and cook for another minute or two until the sauce is heated through.
Serve this bbq chicken recipe immediately with your favorite sides. Enjoy!
More Air Fryer Recipes to Try
- When you need a budget-friendly meal that the whole family will love, Air Fryer Steak Bites fits the bill. They are just as quick to make as they are to disappear.
- Step up your nugget game by making homemade Air Fryer Chicken Nuggets. They aren’t just for kids - these nuggets are so delicious that the whole family will love them.
- For a super-simple dessert that is always a hit, give Air Fryer Sugar Cookies a try.
- Appetizer or main course? You decide! Either way, you will love these Air Fryer Ravioli.
Air Fryer BBQ Chicken
- Air Fryer
- Pat the chicken dry and pound to an even thickness.
- In a small bowl, combine the salt, garlic powder, paprika, pepper, and cayenne pepper.
- Sprinkle the seasoning mixture over the chicken. If desired, you can let the chicken sit in the refrigerator overnight.
- Preheat your air fryer to 400° F.
- Brush both sides of the chicken with avocado oil.
- Place the chicken in the air fryer basket and cook for 7 minutes.
- Flip, and cook for another 7 to 8 minutes, or until the internal temperature registers 155° F.
- Brush the chicken well with about ½ of the BBQ sauce.
- Return the chicken to the air fryer and cook for another 2 to 3 minutes, until the internal temperature registers 160° F
- Allow the chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving.
- Serve with the remaining BBQ sauce.