Air Fryer BBQ Chicken

This easy method for Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Breast produces a tender piece of chicken with a sweet and tangy coating of BBQ sauce in just 20 minutes. Serve in a sandwich, toss into a salad, or use as the main protein with any side dish! 

one piece of air fried bbq chicken on plate with rice and broccoli

Cooking meats in the air fryer is my new favorite way to get a healthy protein fast. Since the air fryer is a small convection oven, it circulates dry heat around all surfaces of the food which helps create a crust on the outside. This packs a lot of flavor, but it also helps keep the inside tender which is perfect for chicken breast.

In this recipe, I’ve taken chicken breast and seasoned it with a simple blend to help enhance the flavor. Cook it in the air fryer before adding the BBQ sauce. Brush the BBQ sauce onto the chicken breast and cool a few additional minutes to caramelize the sauce and give it a nice sticky, sweet, and tangy BBQ coating that everyone will enjoy.

Customize this chicken by using your favorite BBQ sauce and use it in so many different ways. Shred-it up for salads, sandwiches, and wraps. Add to a summer pasta salad, or serve it as is along with your favorite side dishes any time of the year. It’s also great for meal prep throughout the week!

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

  • You’ll have perfectly tender BBQ chicken in just 20 minutes.
  • You can use it in wraps, salads, or eat it as the main protein with sides. 
  • There’s much less clean-up when using your air fryer. 
  • You can use your favorite store-bought BBQ sauce or homemade sauce. 
  • No need to heat up the grill or oven on a hot day. The air fryer doesn’t heat up the house or use much electricity. 
  • Great for meal prep to have on hand as a healthy protein throughout the week. 
air fryer bbq chicken ingredients

Ingredients You’ll Need

  • Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts – 2-3 chicken breasts are tenderized and coated with seasonings. You can also use chicken thighs! 
  • Seasonings – You’ll need garlic powder, paprika, kosher salt, and red pepper flakes to season the chicken breast as they help enhance the flavor of the BBQ sauce. For extra BBQ flavor, use a dry BBQ seasoning blend. 
  • BBQ Sauce – Feel free to use your favorite BBQ sauce to coat the chicken whether it’s homemade or store-bought. 
chicken in the air fryer before and after cooking

How To Make Air Fryer BBQ Chicken 

  1. Prepare the chicken breast: Pat the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel. You’ll want to make sure your chicken is an even thickness to make sure it gets cooked through in 20 minutes. You can pound out your chicken to make sure it’s ¾” thick. 
  2. Season the chicken: Add dry seasonings to a bowl, then whisk together and sprinkle combined seasoning all over the chicken breasts. 
  3. Air fry the chicken breast: Add the seasoned chicken to a preheated air fryer at 375 Fahrenheit and cook for 10 minutes. Then flip halfway and cook for another 8 minutes. Open the lid and brush on the BBQ sauce. Air fry for another 2 minutes to caramelize the BBQ sauce. Then remove, let rest 5 minutes before serving. 

Recipe Tips

  1. There’s no need to preheat the air fryer for this BBQ chicken recipe. 
  2. Because BBQ sauce often contains sugar, you don’t want the chicken to stick to the air fryer basket, so make sure it’s greased properly. You can use cooking spray or add oil to a paper towel and coat the air fryer basket. 
  3. When preparing chicken, it’s important to make sure the chicken breasts are all roughly the same thickness. This will help them cook evenly and at the same time. Since all chicken breasts come in different sizes, you may need to pound out the chicken breast until they are all ¾ inch in thickness. 
  4. Do not spread BBQ sauce on the chicken until the last few minutes. Since BBQ sauce has a higher sugar content, it can burn easily in the air fryer. Adding it on in the last few minutes will help it caramelize and stick to the chicken breast without burning. 
  5. Use a kitchen thermometer to make sure the chicken is cooked to an internal temperature of 165 Fahrenheit, make sure you use a kitchen thermometer. 
  6. Don’t overlap the chicken breast in the air fryer basket. Make sure it has room to be in a single layer, or cook in batches if your air fryer basket does not fit all of the chicken breasts. 
air fryer bbq chicken on a plate with rice and broccoli

Variations

  • Spice it up by adding a pinch of cayenne or red chili flake to the dry seasonings or BBQ sauce. 
  • If you like more of a smoky flavor, use smoked paprika in the dry seasonings or a dash of liquid smoke. 
  • You can make this recipe using boneless skinless chicken thighs if preferred. They may need 5-8 minutes less of cooking time, so be sure to check with a kitchen thermometer. 
  • Switch up the flavors by changing the type of sauce you use. A Carolina mustard BBQ sauce or Alabama white BBQ sauce works well in this recipe. 
  • Chop the chicken into smaller pieces to make boneless bbq chicken wings without breading. 

FAQs

Why is my air fryer chicken dry?

The main reason chicken could get dry in the air fryer is because it needs a layer of oil or seasonings to create a crust. This will lock in the moisture and keep the chicken juicy and tender. 

Can you put sauce in the air fryer? 

In this particular recipe, the BBQ sauce goes on the chicken AFTER it’s cooked. This prevents the sugars in the BBQ sauce from burning and also helps to keep the air fryer from smoking. 

Can you put marinated food in the air fryer?

Absolutely! In this chicken recipe, the seasonings are sprinkled onto the chicken so it tenderizes and seasons it while it’s cooked.

More Easy Air Fryer Recipes

air fryer bbq chicken on a plate with rice and broccoli

Air Fryer BBQ Chicken

Yield: 2 servings
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cook Time: 20 mins
Total Time: 25 mins
This quick and easy recipe makes barbecue chicken in the air fryer!
5 from 2 votes

Ingredients 

  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, (2 to 3 breasts)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes, optional
  • 1/2 cup bbq sauce

Instructions

  • Spray your air fryer basket lightly with olive oil cooking spray and set it aside.
  • Pat the chicken breasts dry with a paper towel.
  • In a small bowl, combine the garlic powder, paprika, salt, and red pepper flakes.
  • Sprinkle the spices over the chicken, making sure to coat each piece evenly.
  • Add the chicken breasts to the air fryer basket, making sure they’re all in a single layer. Cook at 375 Fahrenheit for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken and cook for an additional 8 minutes.
  • Once the chicken registers 165 Fahrenheit on an instant read thermometer, brush each piece withB BQ sauce and cook them again at 375 Fahrenheit for 2 minutes.
  • Serve with your favorite sides.

Notes

Storing: Leftover air fryer bbq chicken breast will stay fresh in the fridge in an airtight container for 3-4 days. Reheat in the microwave, or air fry it at 350 for 5-8 minutes until warmed through. 
Freezing: Store cooked chicken breast in an airtight container or freezer-safe bag with as much air removed as possible. Cooked chicken will last up to 3 months in the freezer. Thaw overnight in the fridge before reheating and serving. 
SUBSTITUTIONS
  • You can substitute chicken breasts wit boneless chicken thighs.
  • You can substitute all the spices with 1 1/2 teaspoons of your favorite BBQ seasoning blend.

Nutrition

Calories: 386kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 49g, Fat: 6g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 145mg, Sodium: 1582mg, Potassium: 1028mg, Fiber: 1g, Sugar: 24g, Vitamin A: 512IU, Vitamin C: 3mg, Calcium: 37mg, Iron: 1mg
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
If you try this recipe, don’t forget to leave a review below or share a photo and tag @spoonfulofflavor on Instagram.

2 comments on “Air Fryer BBQ Chicken”

  1. I love my air fryer, and this recipe sounds perfect! I can’t wait to try it tonight!

  2. I have been LOVING my air fryer lately! (So nice to not turn the oven on!) So this is going to be the next thing we try

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