If you’re looking for a juicy air fryer chicken breast recipe, look no further! This is one of my favorite ways to cook chicken breast for a weeknight dinner.
Air fryer recipes have been all the craze lately and I’ll admit I’m a little late to the party. They’re basically a counter top convection oven!
I love the way this cooks up quickly and makes a juicy chicken breast.
Plus, if you use a little bit of aluminum foil in the bottom of the air fryer basket then you don’t have much of a mess to clean up. Check out my post on using aluminum foil in an air fryer!
This chicken breast is dry brined, rinsed off, patted dry then seasoned with garlic powder, thyme, paprika, salt and pepper. The seasoning is flavorful but somewhat basic so that makes it easy to use in different dishes if you have leftover chicken.
When you air fry chicken breast it has a quick cook time, and a quick dinner is always a plus in my book! This can be a great dinner any night of the week that the whole family will love.
This Juicy Air Fryer Chicken Breast recipe is also great for meal prep! I make a batch then use them in lunches all week long!
When you’re trying to incorporate healthy meals, air fryer chicken recipes really come in handy.
See air frying directions in the Tips section or in the Notes section on the recipe card.
Why brine chicken breast?
Because you want juicy chicken breasts. That’s why.
There are two different methods you can use to brine chicken breast. A wet brine and a dry brine. When dealing with boneless skinless chicken breast I prefer a dry brine over wet brine.
There are a couple reasons for that. One is just personal preference, it’s just “easier” to me. The other is I occasionally end up with a “rubbery” texture after wet brining that I don’t care for.
How do you make chicken juicy on the inside?
Dry brining works great for me!
I use a dry brine for chicken breast, turkey breast or whole turkeys. I dry brine my turkey at Thanksgiving and it’s super moist and flavorful every single time.
When doing a dry brine it is a mixture of kosher salt and brown sugar. You rub the salt mixture all over the front and back of the chicken breasts then allow them to rest, refrigerated, for 1-3 hours.
If you’re using a larger cut of meat then the brining time can increase significantly.
For example, a Thanksgiving turkey can dry brine for 24-48 hours. Once the meat is done brining you then rinse it off and pat it dry. Add your oil and seasonings then cook.
If you’re adding salt as an after seasoning, you don’t need much at all. Just a small sprinkle really because much of the salt that was rubbed on to the meat has been absorbed into the meat now.
Essentially what happens when you use a dry brine is that the salt mixture draws out the moisture from the meat, mixes with the salt and sugar then is reabsorbed into the meat.
The muscle has also been broken down internally from the salt which This cause a reduction in the amount of moisture that is able to leave the muscle during the cooking process. Which means more moisture stays inside then the more juicy the meat is.
Using a wet brine is basically the same process but you’re soaking the meat in salted water. You can read more on wet brines in this article.
Don’t over cook the chicken
I know a lot of people are scare to undercook chicken. It’s true, you definitely don’t want undercooked chicken but all you need is a meat thermometer to make sure that it’s not undercooked or overcooked.
When cooking chicken you want to check the temp in the thickest part of the chicken. Let the chicken cook to an internal temperature of 160°F then you can remove the chicken breast from the heat.
As you let the chicken rest, untouched, it will carry over cook and the temperature will rise an additional 5°. You should let this Juicy Air Fryer Chicken Breast recipe rest for 5-10 minutes before cutting into it.
This helps the cooking process and it helps the juices stay inside the chicken instead of running out.
How long can you keep air fryer chicken breast?
After cooking your juicy air fryer chicken breast you can keep it for up to 6 days. Which makes it perfect for meal prepping.
Store the chicken in an air tight container after cooling it down. It can also be double wrapped in plastic wrap then wrapped in foil and stored in the freezer for up to three months.
Thaw the chicken in the fridge overnight before using. It will defrost more quickly if you take the foil wrapping off. It’s best to set it on a plate to catch any water.
Next time you want chicken, it’s ready to go!
Ingredients for this Juicy Air Fryer Chicken Breast Recipe
- Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast – These should be readily available at your local grocery store or butcher shop
- Kosher Salt – This is the main ingredient used in the dry brine. It will keep this Juicy Air Fryer Chicken Breast recipe moist
- Brown Sugar – Brown sugar is used in the dry brine to help with moisture and flavor
- Olive Oil – A small amount of oil is used on the chicken before air frying
- Garlic Powder – Garlic belongs in just about everything if you ask me
- Thyme – I like to use fresh thyme in this air fryer chicken breast recipe
- Black Pepper – I prefer coarse ground black pepper
- Paprika – I use sweet paprika but you can also use smoked for a more intense, distinct smoky flavor
Tips for juicy air fryer chicken breasts
- Preheat your air fryer for a few minutes before adding the chicken breasts so it’s nice and hot
- Make sure you have a meat thermometer handy. You’ll want to temp your chicken before you remove it from the air fryer
- The internal temperature of the chicken should be 160 degrees F. It will continue to rise another 5 degrees after you remove it from the air fryer to bring it up to 165 degrees
- Cooking times could vary depending on the size of the chicken breasts. Thin cutlets will have a quick cooking time where as a slightly thicker breast like I used will take a little longer
- Make sure to always wash your hands, boards and anything the raw chicken breasts come in contact with thoroughly to prevent foodborne illness
- DO NOT ever stack or layer the chicken breasts in the air fryer basket. Place them in a single layer to ensure even cooking
- Always let this Air Fryer Chicken Breast Recipe (or any meat) rest for 5-10 minutes (longer for larger meats) before slicing into it. This helps keep all the moisture inside
- Air Fryer – First and foremost you will need an air fryer. You can check out the bottom of this post for ideas on what kind to buy if you’re in the market
- Large Plate or Baking Sheet – You’ll need a large plate or baking sheet for your chicken breast to rest on while brining
- Instant Read Thermometer – You’ll want to temp this Juicy Air Fryer Chicken Breast recipe before you remove it from the air fryer. An instant read thermometer is easy to use and comes in handy more times than not. I like this thermometer and this thermometer
How to cook chicken breast in an air fryer
For the best results, follow these easy steps when making this Juicy Air Fryer Chicken Breast Recipe.
First you’ll mix the salt and brown sugar together then rub it all over all sides of the chicken breasts. Place them in the fridge on a plate for 1-3 hours. Meanwhile, mix together the seasoning blend in a small bowl.
Once it is done brining, rinse it thoroughly in the sink then pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Rub a little oil all over the chicken breast then sprinkle the seasoning mix over both sides of each breast.
To air fry the chicken breast you’ll want to preheat the air fryer to 400°F then place chicken in one layer in the basket. You may have to do a couple batches depending on the size of the air fryer. You don’t want to crowd it or layer the chicken.
Whether you have leftovers or you make this Juicy Air Fryer Chicken Breast recipe for meal prep, there are some pretty tasty things you can do with it! Here are a few of my favorites:
- Add it to my Strawberry Summer Salad recipe
- Make my Easy Chicken Pot Pie Casserole
- Use it in my Garlic Chicken Pasta
- Smear some Roasted Garlic Spinach Artichoke Dip on a pita or naan and top it with Juicy Air Fryer Chicken Breast
- Make tacos with it and add some of my Creamy Taco Truck Green Salsa Recipe
- I also love making any kind of bowl or salad with my leftover Juicy Air Fryer Chicken Breast!
Let the chicken breast cook for 8 minutes then use tongs to flip it over and cook another 7 minutes. Use your thermometer to temp the chicken and make sure it reaches 160°F. It will go up another 5 degrees while you let it rest for 5-10 minutes.
Please note that cooking time could vary. I used 8oz chicken breasts when I tested this recipe. If you are using something small then the cooking time will go down significantly. You don’t want to over cook the chicken because it can still end up dry even though it’s brined.
Go ahead and check the temperature of the air fryer chicken at 8 minutes just to see where it’s at. Air fryers use a fan to blow the hot air around making cooking times much quicker than a conventional oven.
Remove the Juicy Air Fryer Chicken Breasts at 160°F then let them rest for 5-10 minutes before serving. Store any leftover chicken breasts in an airtight container, they’re great for meal prep.
Sides that go well with this Juicy Air Fryer Chicken Breast Recipe
- Homemade Au Gratin Potatoes
- Boursin Mashed Potatoes
- Grilled Asparagus with Sherry Vinaigrette
- Glazed Shallots
- Summer Fruit Salad
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Juicy Air Fryer Chicken Recipe
- 1 air fryer
- 1 large plate or small tray
- 1½ tbsp kosher salt
- 2 tsp brown sugar
- 2 lbs boneless skinless chicken breast I use 4, 8oz breasts
- 1 drizzle olive oil
- 1 tsp fresh thyme stemmed and chopped
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- ⅛-¼ tsp kosher salt
- ⅛ tsp paprika sweet
Brining the Chicken Breast
- In a small bowl mix the salt and sugar together then rub it all over all sides of the chicken breast
- Place the chicken on a plate and let rest in the fridge for 1-3 hours
- Rinse the chicken thoroughly then pat dry with a paper towel
Seasoning and Cooking the Chicken
- In a small bowl mix the seasoning blend together
- Drizzle a little olive oil on the chicken then rub it all over
- Sprinkle the seasoning over both sides of the chicken breasts
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F
- Add the chicken in a single layer and cook for 8 minutes, flip chicken over with tongs and cook another 7 minutes
- Make sure to temp the chicken with a meat thermometer. When the chicken is 160°F remove it and let it rest for 5-10 minutes before serving