Air Fryer Parmesan Crusted Chicken is an easy recipe for tender, juicy chicken breasts coated in a crisp layer of breadcrumbs and parmesan that can be made in 20 minutes or less!
A tried-and-true hand-breaded chicken recipe is convenient to have on hand when you do not want to put much thought into dinner. With this easy air fryer recipe, you can make crisp and juicy parmesan-crusted chicken breasts from scratch in under 20 minutes.
This simple yet delicious air fryer chicken recipe is healthier than deep-fried crispy chicken yet just as golden, crispy, and tender. This is lightened-up comfort food at its very best!
With these easy step-by-step instructions, you'll learn how to brine chicken breasts before coating each piece in a tasty breading. The air fryer does the rest of the work cooking these parmesan-crusted chicken breasts to perfection. Enjoy!
Why You’ll Love Making Parmesan Crusted Chicken in the Air Fryer
- Air fryer cooking is quicker than baking. You can bake perfectly cooked crispy chicken breasts in the air fryer in nearly half the time it takes to do so in the oven.
- Great dinner-time protein option the whole family will love. Just add a couple of sides and you have a well-balanced meal
- This recipe can be adapted with gluten-free ingredients.
- Air fried chicken is tender, juicy, and delicious.
Ingredients You'll Need
For the brine:
- Kosher Salt: The salt in a brine quickly denatures the proteins enough to allow the chicken to absorb moisture and retain that moisture while cooking.
- Warm Water: The water should be warm (not boiling) so the salt dissolves easier.
- Peppercorns (optional): adds subtle peppery flavor to the chicken.
For the chicken:
- Boneless, skinless chicken breasts: You'll need about 4 6-ounce chicken breasts. I do not recommend using thick-cut breasts as they will take longer to cook and may dry out.
- Breadcrumbs: add the perfect crisped layer on the outside of the chicken breasts.
- Finely Grated Parmesan Cheese: Using freshly grated parmesan cheese makes a world of difference. A lot of pre-shredded or grated packaged cheese contains anti-caking ingredients, so they don't melt as nicely as freshly grated cheese.
- Salt, Pepper, and Garlic Powder: to enhance flavors.
- Dried Parsley or Fresh Parsley (finely chopped): brightens the flavor of the parmesan crust. Fresh parsley can also be used as an optional garnish.
- Liquid Egg Whites: are used to coat the chicken breasts in order for the breading to adhere to the surface of each chicken breast.
- Unbleached All-purpose Flour: A small amount of flour added to the breading helps the breadcrumbs stick to the chicken and get crispy.
- Olive Oil Cooking Spray: is used to coat the inside of the fryer basket and the surface of the chicken breasts to prevent them from sticking. It also helps the breading firm up and become golden brown and toasted.
How To Make Air Fryer Parmesan Chicken
Step 1: Prepare chicken brine:
In a large bowl, whisk together the salt and warm water until the salt is completely dissolved. Transfer the brine to the fridge for a bit to cool down.
Step 2: Brine chicken:
Once the brine is cool, add the chicken and peppercorns to the bowl and place back in the fridge to brine for 20 minutes while you prep your breading stations.
Step 3: Mix dry breading mixture:
In a shallow bowl, mix the breadcrumbs, grated parmesan, salt, pepper and dried parsley together well.
Step 4: Whisk wet breading mixture:
In a separate shallow bowl, add liquid egg whites, flour, and garlic powder. Whisk well to combine.
Step 5: Prep air fryer:
Spray the air fryer pan or basket with non-stick olive oil spray.
Step 6: Bread chicken:
First, dip each chicken breast in the egg mixture, shaking off any excess, and then press the chicken breast into the breadcrumb mixture, coating all surfaces completely.
Step 7: Place chicken in the air fryer:
Transfer the breaded chicken breasts to the air fryer basket or tray and spray the top with olive oil cooking spray.
Step 8: Cook chicken in the air fryer:
Cook for 5 minutes, flip, spray the other side with olive oil cooking spray and then cook for 4 to 5 more minutes or until the chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. Garnish with fresh parsley (optional).
- It is important to use small chicken breasts of the same length and thickness. I use the individually packaged Springer Mountain Farms 4 ounce chicken breasts. They are the perfect size for my air fryer and this recipe.
- If you're working with large chicken breasts, be sure to cut them in half or in thirds (depending on how large they are). If they are super thick, you may need to pound them out a bit as well
- Make sure the brine is completely cooled down before adding the chicken breasts (you don't want the heat from the brine to cook the chicken).
- You can save time by making the brine up to a day in advance. Simply add the peppercorns and the chicken breasts to the brine 30 minutes before you are ready to start cooking.
- After brining the chicken, rinse each piece well and pat dry with paper towels before breading.
- For the best flavor and texture, freshly grated parmesan is key!
- Also, there needs to be a bit of space in between each piece of chicken so the hot air can circulate evenly around each piece.
What To Serve With Parmesan Chicken
Serve air fryer parmesan chicken alongside a couple of these delicious side dishes for a warm and comforting homemade meal. Parmesan chicken pairs perfectly with:
- Gluten-Free Parmesan Crusted Chicken: This is a simple recipe to adapt with gluten-free ingredients. Simply use gluten-free breadcrumbs and gluten-free all-purpose flour instead of regular.
- Air Fryer Chicken Parmesan: Make a quick chicken parmesan (of sorts) using these parmesan-crusted chicken breasts. Simply melt mozzarella and marinara sauce over each breaded chicken breast and serve hot.
- Parmesan Crusted Chicken Tenders: Instead of using chicken breasts, you could also use pre-cut chicken tenders. They will cook much quicker so keep an eye on the air fryer.
You can. However, the bone-in chicken will take a bit longer to cook to temperature. I recommend using a meat thermometer to ensure that bone-in chicken is cooked through.
To achieve a perfectly toasted crust on your chicken, you should use cooking spray. It doesn't have to be olive oil. Any cooking spray will help keep the breading from sticking to the fryer basket. The parmesan crust will not get nearly as crisp without cooking spray.
You can but it's not necessary for this recipe. Simply place the coated chicken in the air fryer with room in between each piece, set the time and temperature and that's it!
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Air Fryer Parmesan Chicken
- Air Fryer
- For the brine:
- ¼ cup kosher salt
- 4 cups warm water
- 1 tablespoon peppercorns optional
- For the chicken:
- 24 oz boneless chicken breasts 6 four ounce small boneless, skinless, breasts, not thick chicken breasts
- ½ cup breadcrumbs can use gluten-free
- ½ cup finely grated parmesan cheese make sure to use fresh grated parmesan
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- ½ teaspoon dried parsley or finely chopped fresh parsley
- ¼ cup liquid egg whites
- 1 tablespoon unbleached all-purpose flour can use gluten-free all-purpose flour
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- olive oil cooking spray
- fresh chopped parsley, for garnish optional
- First, prepare the chicken brine by combining the kosher salt and warm water in a large bowl. Whisk until all salt is completely dissolved. Pop the brine in the refrigerator until completely cooled.
- When brine is cool, add the chicken and peppercorns and place in the refrigerator to brine for 30 minutes while you prep the other ingredients.
- In a shallow bowl, mix breadcrumbs, grated parmesan, salt, pepper, and dried parsley.
- In a separate shallow bowl, whisk together: liquid egg whites, flour, and garlic powder.
- Spray the air fryer pan or basket with non-stick olive oil spray. Preheat the air fryer to 375 degrees F.
- Remove the chicken from the brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Dip each chicken breast in the egg mixture, then dip in the breadcrumb mixture, making sure that each breast is coated with the breading.
- Place the breaded chicken breasts in the air fryer basket or tray and spray the top thoroughly with olive oil spray, working in batches if necesary.
- Cook at 375 degrees F for 5 minutes, then flip and spray the other side with olive oil spray and cook 5-7 minutes more until the chicken reaches a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees F with a meat thermometer. Cooking time will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken breasts.
- Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired
- It's important to use small chicken breasts of even thickness for the best results. I use Springer Mountain Farms 4 oz chicken breasts that are individually packaged in the bag. They are the perfect size for this recipe. You can also slice thicker chicken breasts in half to make thinner breasts.
- Make sure that the brine has completely cooled before adding the chicken breasts. You can save time by making the brine a day ahead. Just add the peppercorns and the chicken breasts 30 minutes before you are ready to cook.