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Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Sandwich

If you are in the mood for a crispy chicken sandwich, emphasis on crispy, then look no further.

You’d never know that this was fried up in an air fryer with absolutely no oil!

Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Sandwich

How does this air fryer chicken sandwich compare to some of the popular chicken sandwiches out there?

Well, this sandwich has 485 calories, and 46g of protein.

You may be thinking “nearly 500 calories isn’t much lower than some of the popular sandwiches out there.”

And I suppose you’d be right. Well, Popeyes Crispy Chicken Sandwich has 700 calories, but Chick-fil-A’s Chicken Sandwich only has 440 calories.

The difference? A chicken sandwich from Chick fil A has only 29g of protein, and the entire sandwich weighs about 6 ounces. For our sandwich, the chicken alone weighs 6 ounces, and that doesn’t include the breading, toppings, or bun.

Needless to say, the crispy chicken sandwich we’re making is a monster, and sure to fill you up even without any sides!

 

 

How to make crispy air fryer chicken

Crispy Chicken Sandwich Photo

Making juicy, crispy chicken in the air fryer isn’t difficult, but it takes some specific instruction to get it right!

To make things as easy as possible for ya, I put together a 1 minute recipe walkthrough…

But if you want a more in-depth breakdown, keep on scrolling.

 

Important Note: Preheat the air fryer!

I honestly never knew you were supposed to preheat your air fryer. I always assumed that the whole point of those things was that they got hot very quickly, so they didn’t require preheating.

Sure, you can do without it if necessary, but even 3-5 minutes of preheating makes a huge difference.

This isn’t the only air fryer recipe that I’ve utilized preheating the air fryer: my air fryer donut holes, churro donuts, and air fryer pita chips are just a few examples.

Plug the air fryer in and let it heat up at 380 degrees while you prep the chicken. Trust me!

1. Pound chicken cutlets

I cut my skinless chicken breasts into 6oz portions. This makes for nice big sandwiches. If you want smaller sandwiches, you can cut the chicken into 4oz portions and it will still be plenty large. Once you trim and cut the chicken to size, cover them with some plastic wrap, and pound them down a bit.

This flattening helps to ensure a nice even cook in the air fryer.

If you prefer chicken thigh to chicken breast, I’d make sure ton use skinless chicken thighs. Otherwise, you can likely follow these same instructions with chicken thighs.

2. Prep the coating

When I made my original Spicy Chicken Sandwich recipe, I used only flour to coat the chicken. This certainly works, but the result resembles chicken patties rather than crispy chicken

First, we’re going to fully coat the chicken in a mixture of flour & seasonings, then into some egg, and then we’re going to finish with Panko breadcrumbs mixed with a little bit more flour and shredded Parmesan Cheese.

Believe me, I don’t like the taste of parmesan cheese on its own, but when mixed into the coating, it creates an insane crunch! You could leave it out and just use Panko, but I highly suggest rolling with the parmesan cheese.

3. Make sure you fully coat the chicken cutlets

When you pound down the chicken, you might find that it frays a bit. If it does, it’s important to make sure you fully cover every area with flour! The flour helps the egg and breadcrumbs to stick, which is essential to the crispiness of this sandwich.

After the flour, dip into the egg mixture, and then finish in the panko, flour, and parmesan cheese mixture.

4. Air fry at 380 degrees F for 18 minutes

Add your chicken to the air fryer (I was only able to fit 2 at a time, but it depends on your air fryer). Spray the chicken with butter spray or nonstick spray to wet the coating. This isn’t necessary, but wetting the chicken a little bit will eliminate any of those dry flour spots. More than anything, it’ll make the chicken look much nicer.

After air frying for 9 minutes, carefully flip the chicken with tongs to allow both sides to brown up nicely, and give it one more quick spray.

5. Assemble those sandwiches!

We’ll explore some different options for toppings, and you can get really creative with these.

Note: I was only able to fit 2 of the chicken cutlets in my air fryer at a time. So, once the first two were done, I went through the same process for the final two, then let those cook for 18 minutes while I enjoyed my dinner! The leftover cutlets heated up very well in the air fryer the next day.

 

Toppings for the air fryer crispy chicken sandwich

I wanted to keep my sandwich classic with minimal toppings, but definitely feel free to get creative!

If you want to make this a spicy chicken sandwich, you have few couple options:

  1. Add some extra cayenne pepper into the dry mixtures
  2. Stir hot sauce or buffalo sauce right into the egg mixture
  3. Do both!
  4. At the very end, toss your chicken in some hot sauce or just add a whole bunch of hot sauce to your sandwich.

Heat aside, there are two important aspects here: the bun, and the sauce.

A toasted brioche bun takes these over the top.

If you can get your hands on “St Pierre Bakery” brioche buns, I cannot recommend them enough! Not only are they the most beautifully perfect brioche buns out there, but they’re also only 140 calories each! Much better than any others I’ve come across. But, any other buns or bread should do just fine.

The thing with brioche buns in general (especially those with low calories) is that they are very soft, so I consider it essential to toast them up.

I’m all for using real butter if you want a buttery toasted bun, but I find using butter spray to just be much easier, calories or not. I get a pan going over medium heat, then spray my buns with butter spray on each side and lay them butter side down. They should toast up perfectly in about 3 minutes or so.

Note: it helps to cover the pan if you can. If you don’t cover the pan, the buns will toast up on one side, but stay very soft on the other side. Covering the pan allows them to heat all the way through.

 

The best sauce for air fryer chicken sandwiches

For this sandwich, I decided to go with sriracha mayo. I actually don’t like mayo at all, but it lends itself very well to a crispy chicken sandwich.

Mayo is generally very high in calories, so I went with a fat-free version instead. Combined with a little sriracha (and pickles, of course), it created the perfect sauce for this sandwich.

I didn’t measure the exact amount used, but combining mayo with sriracha to create Sriracha Mayo for the topping worked out extremely well. And, you can easily adjust the amount of sriracha used based on how much heat you like.

If you’re not a fan of mayo, I also created a quick Greek yogurt condiment that you can whip up (makes enough for 2 sandwiches):

  • Hot Sauce of Choice
  • 50g Nonfat Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1 tsp White Vinegar
  • 1/8 tsp Chili Powder
  • 1 dash Ground Cayenne
  • 2 dash Salt, Pepper, & Garlic Powder to Taste

Or, you can top the fried chicken with my Spicy Feta Dip!

This air fryer chicken makes for the perfect main dish, and if you need a side dish to pair it with, I recommend checking out these Spicy Nacho Cheese French Fries or Cauliflower Rice Balls.

 

Air Fryer Chicken Sandwich

Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Sandwich

Yield: 4 Sandwiches
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes

This is definitely the crispiest chicken sandwich you're ever going to make without deep-frying! By using the air fryer, we're lightening up the typical fried chicken sandwich without sacrificing any of the flavor (or crunch).

Ingredients

Chicken

  • 24oz Chicken Breast (trimmed and cut into four 6oz portions)

Dry Mixture

  • 84g Flour (roughly 2/3 cup)
  • 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Pepper
  • 1/4 tsp Ground Cayenne
  • Dash of Garlic Powder
  • Dash of Paprika

Liquid Mixture

  • 2 Large Eggs

Second Dry Mixture

  • 45g Flour (about 1/2 cup)
  • 60g Panko Breadcrumbs (about 1 cup)
  • 30g Shredded Parmesan Cheese (about 1/4 cup) *Not grated Parmesan cheese!
  • Pinch of Salt & Pepper

Toppings

  • 4 Brioche Buns
  • 64g (4 Tbsp) Fat Free Mayo
  • Sriracha
  • Pickles

Instructions

  1. Trim your chicken breasts of any fat, and cut them into 6oz portions. Note that 6 ounces makes for a large sandwich, so you can cut them into smaller 4oz portions if you prefer (that will still be plenty large for a sandwich). We made 2 chicken sandwiches and had 2 extra for leftovers the next day. Also note that if you trim off any of the chicken to make your patties, you should save them and turn them into nuggets with the same coating!
  2. Cover the chicken breasts with plastic wrap, and use a meat tenderizer (or another tool) to pound the chicken down a bit. This helps to ensure an even cook in the air fryer.
  3. Preheat air fryer at 380 degrees F while you prep the chicken. Preheating the air fryer for about 5 minutes makes a big difference in crisping up the chicken.
  1. Make the two dry mixtures and liquid mixture in separate bowls. Your first mixture will be the flour and seasonings, your second mixture will be the whisked up eggs, and your final mixture will be the panko, flour, and parmesan cheese.
  2. Take your air fryer basket (be careful, because it's hot) and spray with some nonstick cooking spray. The size of your air fryer will dictate how many batches you have to make- just make sure your chicken isn't overlapping or they won't get crispy. For mine, I was able to fit 2 at a time.
  3. Pat your chicken breasts dry with a paper towel to remove any excess moisture, and coat one chicken breast in the first flour mixture. Make sure the entire thing is coated, then shake off any excess flour.
  4. Add the chicken to the eggs, making sure the eggs coat the entire thing. Then, add directly to your last mixture. Use your hands to pat the chicken to make sure as much coating as possible is stuck on. Then, put in your air fryer basket. Continue for the second chicken breast.
  5. Spray the chicken with some of your cooking spray to wet the coating (it will help make sure there is no dry flour left at the end). Air fry at 380 degrees for 18 minutes. Flip the chicken halfway through and spray them once more.
  6. While the chicken is cooking in the air fryer, toast the brioche buns in a stovetop pan over medium heat until browned to your liking. You can prep any toppings you'd like, but I went with a sriracha mayo by simply stirring together fat-free mayo and a little sriracha (can adjust the amount of sriracha to your liking)
  7. Remove the air fryer fried chicken and add to your bun, then top with pickles and your sauce. Before sitting down to eat, I followed these instructions for the final 2 chicken cutlets and let them cook while eating to have them as leftovers.

Notes

  • If you're wondering why we use flour with the Panko at the end, it's because Panko can be tricky and leave naked spots, which we want to avoid. You can leave it out if necessary, but it's not going to save a ton of calories if that's the concern!
  • This recipe makes enough crispy chicken for 4 sandwiches, but I only made 2 sandwiches for dinner. We reheated the remaining 2 chicken cutlets for lunch the following day- this chicken heats up VERY well the next day in the air fryer.
  • If you find that you need more mixture to coat your chicken (depending on the size of your chicken, the moisture content, etc,) feel free to make more.
  • For the nutrition, I estimated how much of the coating I used. If you want to be incredibly precise, you can weigh the entire bowl before & after coating to see how much went unused. But, that's a lot of work. I estimated as closely as possible!
  • Nutrition for each crispy chicken cutlet without bun or toppings: 335 calories, 8g Fat, 26g Carbs, 41g Protein

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Nutrition Information
Yield 4 Sandwiches Serving Size 1 Sandwich
Amount Per Serving Calories 485Total Fat 11gCarbohydrates 51gProtein 46g

Did you make this recipe?

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Mikki M

Friday 11th of March 2022

I recently joined your email list and the first recipe in my inbox was this sandwich..and it made me very glad I hit that subscribe. Best crispy chicken I have made in the air fryer. Just as the title states very crispy with moist chicken. Easy process and clean up and will definitely be trying again with different spices.

Matt

Monday 21st of March 2022

Thank you so much! :) Glad you enjoyed it!

Kim g

Wednesday 3rd of November 2021

This is an amazing recipe my whole family loved it I have made it twice the first time I made it as written in the recipe. The second time I doubled the salt and pepper in the first flour mixture and brined they chicken breasts in pickle juice for several hours in the fridge both ways were fantastic this is going to be a regular!!!!

Matt

Monday 8th of November 2021

Brining the chicken is a pro move!! That must have been amazing. Thanks so much for the comment!

John F. Bramfeld

Monday 6th of September 2021

Next time include the weight of sandwich and the party. For most of us, bigger is better all else equal.

Matt

Tuesday 21st of September 2021

@John F. Bramfeld, I included the size of the chicken breast I use here! Definitely a big sandwich.

Michelle

Sunday 29th of August 2021

When I add the sandwich ingredients into MyFitnessPal, it comes out to a total of 520 calories per sandwich without bread. I like Matt’s numbers better and can’t figure out where the difference is coming from. Any help would be appreciated?! I can’t wait to try this sandwich!

Matt

Tuesday 21st of September 2021

@Michelle, I added some notes in the recipe, but I definitely should have made it more clear. This recipe doesn't require using the full flour coating & breading- I make more than needed so it's easier to coat. I calculated the nutrition based on how much of the coating was used, and I used those calculations here so you don't have to do any of the math to figure out EXACTLY how much you use of each. My guess is that you're entering in the full recipe, so there is extra flour, breadcrumbs, etc.

Jessica Menendez

Thursday 25th of March 2021

Hands down, the best chicken sandwich out there! With very little prep work, the decision is too easy, skip the drive thru line and make these at home! You won't regret it.

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