Air fryer buttermilk fried chicken recipe – the ULTIMATE, easy-to-make comfort food that you’d SWEAR was deep-fried. But it isn’t – this is healthy and uses minimal oil, believe it or not!
Air fryer buttermilk fried chicken recipe? Yes please! That golden, super crispy and crunchy coating is all too easy to achieve in an air fryer and it creates so much less mess than deep-frying.
Now, in our house, Mark is the king of all fried food – it’s how he loves to cook and to be honest, large pans of hot, bubbling cooking oil isn’t the relaxing cooking experience I dream of!
(though the food does taste absolutely unreal – it’s just the method I’m not fond of, especially all the washing up after)
But since we got an air fryer… I absolutely love making food coated in that crispy, crunchy golden batter. Especially my air fryer buttermilk fried chicken recipe!
What’s changed? Well, making it in an air fryer is just a completely different experience. It’s easy, quick and you only have two bowls and all the air fryer bits to wash up after – it only takes me 15 minutes plus cooking time to make this too.
Why make my Air fryer buttermilk fried chicken?
- It’s miles healthier than buttermilk chicken that you’d need to deep fry. You only need to spray on enough oil to cover the chicken and that’s it!
- It also results in far less mess and oily pans/surfaces to clean up.
- This recipe is also gluten-free and can easily be made low FODMAP, dairy-free (and even vegan) too.
- You would NEVER know that my fried chicken isn’t deep fried. You’d swear that it was!
- It’s super crispy, crunchy and the chicken is lovely and tender beneath.
So, what does my Air fryer buttermilk fried chicken taste like?
It’s super crisp on the outside, with tons of tender chicken concealed underneath. I honestly can’t get over the texture of the batter – it’s absolutely unreal.
The, the coating is packed with flavour and a mild heat from the pepper with lots of harmonious seasoning. You’d swear it was deep-fried… but I can promise you that it most definitely isn’t!!
If I can make this, then you definitely can. So get your air fryers preheated and let’s do this…
(ok, maybe don’t preheat it this early!)
Here’s everything you’ll need for this recipe, keep scrolling until you see the recipe card for the measurements and method 👇🏻
Air fryer buttermilk fried chicken recipe: Ingredients
For the marinading
- chicken, bone in, skin-on
- buttermilk (or use dairy-free alternative listed in FAQ section and recipe card)
For the coating
- gluten free plain flour
- cornflour or potato starch
- smoked paprika
- white pepper
- oil in a spay bottle (not the 1cal kind)
So I thought I’d kick things off with a little frequently asked questions section – if you just want the recipe, then keep scrolling.
But I’ve thrown in some tips here that will be really helpful if this is your first time making this, or you want to adapt it. So here they are!
Air fryer buttermilk fried chicken recipe: Frequently asked questions
Can I make this recipe gluten free?
It is gluten free, though nobody would know just by tasting it – trust me!
Bear in mind that minimising cross-contamination is hugely important if you’re Coeliac or making this for someone who is. Here’s some tips from Coeliac UK on minimising the risk of cross contamination.
Also, make sure that all ingredients used don’t have any gluten-containing ingredients. Then make that that they also don’t have a ‘may contain’ warning for gluten, wheat, rye, barley, oats (which aren’t gf), spelt and khorasan wheat (aka Kamut).
Here’s some more info from Coeliac UK on identifying safe gluten free products.
Can I make your air fryer buttermilk fried chicken recipe dairy free?
Yup! Simply replace the buttermilk with the same quantity of dairy-free milk with 2 tbsp of lemon juice added. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until thickened and curdled.
Then use in place of the buttermilk.
Can I make your air fryer buttermilk fried chicken recipe vegan?
You might not believe this, but you can easily use this recipe to make vegan ‘buttermilk’ fried ‘chicken’.
Firstly, follow the steps above to make dairy-free buttermilk. Then, instead of using chicken, use nice big ‘meaty’ chunks of king oyster mushroom.
These won’t take half as long to cook, so pop them in your air fryer for around 15 minutes, turning half way and of course, spraying with oil to achieve a golden, crispy coating.
Is your air fryer buttermilk fried chicken recipe nut-free?
Yep, this is a nut-free recipe as far as ingredients go, BUT make sure you check the ingredients label on ALL the products you use just to be safe.
Even if the products don’t contain nuts, they may have a ‘may contain nuts’ warning due to being produced in a factory that handles nuts.
You can never be too careful so always read the labels on everything first.
Is your air fryer buttermilk fried chicken recipe low FODMAP?
It can easily be low FODMAP! Simply replace the buttermilk with the same quantity of lactose-free milk with 2 tbsp of lemon juice added. Allow to sit for 10 minutes until thickened and curdled.
Which air fryer do you use?
I use the Ninja Foodi Max (also known as the Ninja Foodi XL) which is not only an air fryer, but a health grill too (see in the photo above).
Of course, though I use this specific machine, any air fryer will do! Just remember that they all vary slightly so keep in mind that:
- Some air fryers have smaller frying compartments than others (mine is 3.8L) so if yours is considerably smaller, you’ll need to fry your chicken in multiple batches.
- Some air fryers don’t go up to 200C / 400F – in that case, just use the highest temperature possible.
- Some air fryers have a paddle that turns the food as it cooks. It’s not required for this recipe.
- Cooking times may vary from air fryer to air fryer. So use your own judgement to know when your chicken is done!
Which air fryer should I buy?
Of course, I can whole heartedly recommend mine (link here) – it’s amazing! But of course, the decision is entirely up to you.
Mine is more expensive as it has the health grill aspect too (it basically doubles up as a George Foreman which is awesome when we can’t BBQ in the winter months).
But whatever you buy, I’d recommending getting one that has around a 4 litre capacity. You simply can’t cook much in anything smaller and you’ll end up having to cook everything in loads of small batches!
Is air-fried buttermilk fried chicken healthier?
Yes, definitely! Compared to deep-frying, air frying your fried chicken always comes out on top in terms of being the most healthy cooking method.
Why? Well, instead of submerging your chicken in a boatload of oil, you’re literally just spraying the chicken with enough cooking oil to achieve a crispy finish.
But you’d never notice the difference – promise!
What chicken pieces should I use for your air fryer buttermilk fried chicken? Can I use chicken breast, or thighs? How about wings?
Use whatever you like! This recipe uses 1kg of chicken on the bone (skin-on). So in that sense, feel free to use drumsticks, thighs, or even wings.
Of course, you can use boneless chicken too – including chicken breast. I’d recommend slicing your chicken breast into strips to make goujons – that way you get lots of crispy coating instead of a whole chicken breast with more meat than crispy coating.
Bear in mind that chicken breast goujons (breast cut intro strips) will be quicker to cook and likely only take 15-20 minutes. The same goes for chicken wings too.
Can I make your air fryer buttermilk fried chicken without oil or no oil at all?
Definitely not – it’s the oil mixing with the flour coating that achieves that golden, crispy finish.
Without oil, the coating will remain floury, powdery and white – not really edible whatsoever. With chips, you can get away with using extremely modest amounts of oil, but that’s not the case here.
Using an oil spray works wonders as it means you only add just enough oil, without going overboard.
Can I make your air fryer buttermilk fried chicken with skinless chicken?
Of course – feel free to buy skinless chicken pieces or remove the skin yourself.
Bear in mind that the skin adds an extra element of crispyness to it, so it’s never a bad thing to have it on!
Can I simply make these in the oven instead? I don’t have an air fryer!
I wouldn’t recommend making my buttermilk fried chicken recipe in the oven. An air fryer has the magic ability to almost pressure cook the chicken thanks to the machine’s fan blasting it with extremely hot air.
Combine that with a little oil and you’ll get super crispy, crunchy fried chicken every time. The oven just can’t quite produce the same results as an air fryer, or deep frying, unfortunately.
However, if you use this recipe to make chicken breast/wings – it can be done in an oven. Once you’ve coated your chicken breast strips/wings, shallow fry them in a frying pan until the butter is just starting to turn golden.
Then pop them into the oven at 200C for 10-15 minutes to finish. This is possible because the chicken is nice and flat and easy to fry on both sides – drumsticks and thighs especially can work, but it’s not ideal.
Can I deep fry your buttermilk fried chicken instead?
Of course! You can actually use this recipe right up to the point of cooking, then deep fry your chicken instead. It’s totally up to you!
Simply bring a large, half-filled pot of vegetable oil to 170C and carefully submerge your chicken pieces.
Fry for 10-12 minutes until cooked through, then transfer to a wire rack over a baking tray to drain.
How can I tell when my air fryer buttermilk fried chicken is done?
Ideally, you’d have a cooking thermometer so you can check that the internal temperature of the chicken registers at 74C.
Failing this, don’t just look for a crispy coating – you need to ensure the middle is cooked! The most obvious way to check this is cut one of your chicken pieces open.
However, once you see some blacker, darker spots near where the chicken bone ends, it’s usually a safe bet that your chicken is done. You can see them at the top of my chicken drumsticks in the photo below.
Can I print your air fryer buttermilk fried chicken recipe?
Of course! Just hit the print button located on the recipe below 👇🏻 (otherwise you might end up printing this entire post which would probably make your printer go into early retirement)
Air fryer buttermilk fried chicken recipe: Method
Place your chicken into a large bowl and pour your buttermilk over the top, make sure the chicken is well coated. Allow to sit for as long as you can. 12 hours in the fridge would be great, but often I just leave mine for 15 minutes and it works really well.
In another bowl, mix together the flour, starch, herbs and spices and put to one side.
Turn on your air-fryer to preheat. I turn mine on to 190C.
Add a couple of tablespoons of the buttermilk to the coating and mix it through, it will just go a little clumpy.
Take each chicken piece, one at a time, out of the buttermilk and cover in the coating. Using your hands, compact the coating against the chicken as much as poss. Transfer onto a plate until the air-fryer is fully preheated.
Open your air-fryer and place your chicken into the basket – make sure they’re not touching each other – this means you might to do your chicken in two batches. Generously spray your chicken with oil. Set the timer for 25 minutes and close the lid.
After about 15 minutes, check on your chicken and turn it over so the other side can colour. Spray any light white, floury bits with a little more oil – these won’t turn golden otherwise. Close the lid and allow to cook for a further 10 minutes.
Your chicken should now be golden, crispy and cooked through (you can double check with a cooking thermometer (about 75C is a safe internal temperature).
Repeat with the rest of your coated chicken.
Serve up your chicken with your choice of sides and enjoy!
Ok, so here’s a printable version of my air fryer buttermilk fried chicken recipe. Please remember to give it 5 stars if you tried it and enjoyed it as it helps people know it’s worth trying too! ⭐️ Feel free to leave your written reviews in the comments below this post.
Air fryer buttermilk fried chicken - super crispy, easy to make, healthier than deep-frying and only takes 15 minutes + cook time to make! Nutritional info is estimated and not always accurate.
For the marinade
For the coating
Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 526Total Fat: 25gSaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 159mgSodium: 611mgCarbohydrates: 28gFiber: 2gSugar: 3gProtein: 45g
Air fryer buttermilk fried chicken - super crispy, easy to make, healthier than deep-frying and only takes 15 minutes + cook time to make!
Nutritional info is estimated and not always accurate.
Any questions about the recipe? Please do let me know by following me on Instagram and leaving me a comment on a recent photo!
Thanks for reading,
Don’t forget to pin this for later!