This Southern Air Fryer Fried Chicken is just as tasty and crunchy as its oil-fried cousin. All the taste without the guilt.
Southern fried chicken is a wonderful thing. Prepared correctly, it’s not greasy, just crisp and flavorful. However, no matter what, the coating always absorbs a lot of that oil. Fried chicken has about 16 grams of fat, but air fryer fried chicken has about 7 grams of fat, and that’s including the fat in the skin and the fat in the low-fat buttermilk.
This is a recipe that I adapted from my Grandmother’s recipe. This was something she didn’t write down, she just did it. She had a cast iron skillet that lived on the stove and she would fry the chicken in it. Boy, did I love that chicken! Then when I got my air fryer, I decided it was time to convert her wonderful recipe to an air fryer version.
What Pieces Are Best to Fry?
Feel free to use whatever chicken pieces you like best. We like thighs, but you could use legs, breasts, wings, or even a combination. Do you have a whole chicken? Use a pair of poultry shears to cut the pieces up and then everyone gets the piece they like.
Buttermilk and Chicken
Buttermilk, because of its acidity, starts to break down the meat and make it more tender. The seasonings in the marinade also flavor the chicken. The longer you can marinate the chicken, the better. The shortest time would be about 2 hours, the longest about 24 hours. You must refrigerate the chicken so it stays under 40℉ / 4.44℃. Never marinate or defrost chicken on the counter.
Always cook chicken completely to 165 / 73.88. Find out more about food safety.
A Bag to Dredge Air Fryer Fried Chicken
The best way to dredge coating is in a bag. You can use either a paper grocery bag or a plastic grocery bag. Just put the coating in the bag with the chicken, close it up, and shake it so all the chicken gets coated evenly. When you are finished, just toss the bag. Easy-peasy!
This is not the same thing as breading, which uses flour, egg, and breadcrumbs. That is also a great way to put a coating on chicken and air fry it. I did that with my Pesto Stuffed Chicken Thighs.
- 2 pounds chicken thighs, bone-in skin-on
~~ — Marinade — ~~
- Mise en place
- To make the marinade, mix the spices together. Put the buttermilk in a large bowl.
- Add the spices and lemon to the buttermilk. Mix thoroughly.
- Add the chicken. to the marinade and refrigerate from 2 hours to overnight.
- After the chicken has been marinated, prepare the coating.
- Mix the seasonings with the flour.
- Put the coating into a large disposable bag. A grocery bag, paper or plastic, does a fine job.
- Add the chicken pieces to the coating. Close the bag and shake it to distribute the coating on the chicken.
- Put the chicken on the rack of your air fryer.
- Set the air fryer to 380 for 22 minutes.
- Use an instant-read thermometer to test that the chicken is 165. Continue to cook for 5-minute increments until it reaches the proper temperature.