Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Breast Recipe

This delicious BBQ chicken recipe is ready in 30 minutes and enjoyed by the whole family. We use boneless chicken breasts to ensure a juicy center and baste in BBQ sauce to finish for a crispy outside.

This recipe tastes straight off the grill, however we have utilized the ease of our Ninja Foodi air fryer. The air fryer cooks quickly and accurately to save you from firing up the grill or heating your home with the oven.

If your air fryer doesn’t require preheating like mine, just rub, add to the basket, flip, and baste. A healthy and delicious meal sure to be frequently requested. 

  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 23 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings

What You’ll Need

  • 1 1/2- 2 lb boneless chicken breast (3-4 chicken breasts)
  • ½ teaspoon paprika 
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ cup BBQ sauce
  • spray oil

Ingredient Notes

Chicken Breasts

I like to use boneless skinless chicken breasts in this recipe. I find it maintains a juicy center and the final basting of BBQ sauce creates a crispy outside that resembles grilling.

Chicken breasts can vary in size and shape. I find it helps to either pound chicken or cut in half. By making sure your chicken breasts are similar in size you create an even cooking temperature.

If you have smaller or larger chicken breasts, be sure to adjust your cooking time up or down a few minutes. Reaching 165° F with a food thermometer is the best way to tell. I have used larger chicken breasts in this recipe. 

My basket holds 3 large chicken breasts perfectly. They are fine to touch, but you’ll want to avoid overcrowding.

Fresh or frozen chicken breast will work in this recipe, just be sure to thaw completely before cooking. 

Spices

The spices we use for the rub create a base of flavor and seasoning for the chicken.  These can be easily adjusted to omit or add your preference. If you dislike spicy flavors, you may want to leave the cayenne pepper spice out. 

Spray Oil

I chose to use Primal Kitchens Avocado Oil Spray. Avocado oil makes for the best spray for an air fryer. It can reach a cooking temperature of 500° F.  and is a much healthier option.

Avocado oil has a mild flavor that won’t transfer like other stronger flavored oils such as coconut or sesame. You simply add the spray to your food or the basket.

You don’t need to cover the basket with oil as air fryers don’t require oil when cooking. We spray the chicken with the avocado oil so the rub will stick. 

BBQ Sauce

When it comes to this sauce it’s best to go with your favorite bottled or homemade. I look for something that balances sweet, smoky and tang.

It’s important not to cook the chicken the entire time with the BBQ sauce. We only add it for the last three minutes, so it doesn’t blacken and burn. The recipe has enough to baste and additional sauce. 

How to Make It

Step 1: Get your Ingredients Ready

The first step is getting your ingredients out and portioning the exact amounts you’ll need. You can omit this step if you want to save time and dishes. You’ll want to add your spices together in a bowl, measure your BBQ sauce and remove chicken breasts from packaging. 

Step 2:  Spray the Oil and Add Seasoning

You want to spray the avocado oil on both sides of the chicken and mix the spices together. Once the chicken is coated with the avocado oil you can generously season all sides of the chicken. 

Step 3: Add the Chicken to the Air Fryer 

Add the chicken top side/presentation side down into the air fryer making sure not to crowd each other. Heat at 375° for 20 minutes

Step 4: Flip the Chicken

After ten minutes, flip the chicken. Place back in the air fryer and cook for an additional ten minutes or until the chicken has reached 165°F internal temperature in the thickest part. 

Step 5: Baste the Chicken

Once the chicken has reached 165°F, generously spread the BBQ sauce over all sides of the chicken. Place back in the air fryer for 3 minutes.  The sauce cooks fast so keep an eye on the time. 

Step 6: Cutting and Serving 

Remove the chicken and allow 2 minutes to rest before cutting. This allows the juices to go back into the chicken rather than running out when cutting. Slice chicken at an angle and serve. There is plenty of BBQ sauce to drizzle over or serve extra.

Alternative Ingredients

How To Make It Keto Friendly

You can substitute a keto friendly BBQ sauce like Sweet Baby Ray’s with no sugar. Primal Kitchens also makes an unsweetened version. These can be found at most grocery stores. 

Can I Use Different Seasoning?

The spice mix is classic for a BBQ rub. You might add some onion powder or herbs like thyme, oregano, or cilantro. Turmeric is a nice addition for a kick of flavor and anti-inflammatory properties. For extra smoky flavor you can substitute paprika for smoked paprika or ancho Chile powder. When servings kids it may best to stick to the original rub recipe and omit the cayenne. 

Can You Make This Ahead of Time?

This recipe is great for meal prep. The chicken can be stored separately in the refrigerator for up to four days in an airtight container.

The sauce as well can be prepared in advanced and stored for four days in an airtight container.

This recipe freezes up to two months in the freezer. I like to wrap in either parchment paper or foil then put in a plastic freezer bag.

Try to remove as much air as possible. You can make this recipe ahead of time to add to salad, wraps, and sandwiches. 

Garnish Options:

Fresh chives, parsley, cilantro or lemons

What to Serve with This Dish

  • Mac and Cheese
  • Coleslaw
  • Mashed Potatoes and Green Beans
  • Baked beans
  • Cornbread
  • Corn 
  • Collard Greens

Tips and Tricks:

  • Try to use similar size chicken breasts. You can cut or pound them to the same size. When pounding, place the chicken between plastic wrap to prevent the mallet from touching the raw chicken and juices from splattering.
  • Do not add the BBQ sauce for the full time of cooking. This can lead to blackened or burnt chicken. We have tested the last few minutes basting work best.
  • If you don’t have a baster for the BBQ sauce a clean unused paint brush works well.
  • Let your chicken rest before slicing. This allows the juices to go back into the chicken instead of running all over your cutting surface.

Cooking Times By Air Fryer Model

ModelCooking TimeTemperature
Ninja Foodi23 minutes375°F
Phillips Airfryer XXL (HD9630)20 minutes360°F
Nuwave Bravo XL Grill22360°F
Power XL 2&3 Qt Vortex20 minutes360°F
Cuisinart18 minutes375°F
Cosori22 minutes375°F
Breville Smart Oven22 minutes375°F

You may have to increase or decrease your cooking time by a few minutes depending on the size of your chicken. For larger breasts pieces use the time listed above.

For lean and thin cut chicken strips, be sure to remove a few minutes from the time listed above. 

You can always pause your air fryer to check the internal temperature with a thermomotor or eyeball how crispy you prefer it.

The chicken reheats great in the air fryer. Just add with a cooking time of 5 minutes to reheat the larger breast pieces and 3 minutes for the thinner cuts. 

Be sure to comment below and tell us about your experience with this delicious recipe! This recipe yields a serving of 4.

BBQ Chicken Breast in Air Fryer

BBQ Chicken Breast in Air Fryer

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 23 minutes
Total Time: 28 minutes

This delicious BBQ chicken recipe is ready in 30 minutes and enjoyed by the whole family. We use boneless chicken breasts to ensure a juicy center and baste in BBQ sauce to finish for a crisp outside.

This recipe tastes straight off the grill, however we have utilized the ease of our Ninja Foodi air fryer. The air fryer cooks quickly and accurately to save you from firing up the grill or heating your home with the oven.

If your air fryer doesn’t require preheating like mine, just rub, add to the basket, flip, and baste. A healthy and delicious meal sure to be frequently requested.

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2- 2 lb boneless chicken breast (3-4 chicken breasts)
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)
  • ½ cup BBQ sauce
  • spray oil

Instructions

    1. Measure your spices in a bowl and measure out your BBQ sauce. 
    2. Spray your chicken with the avocado oil and generously apply your spice mixture.
    3. Add your chicken to the air fryer basket and heat to 375°F for 20 minutes.
    4. When ten minutes have passed flip your chicken and cook the remaining ten minutes.
    5. When your chicken has reached an internal temperature of 165°F baste with the BBQ sauce and cook the remaining 3 minutes.
    6. Remove the chicken from the basket and allow at least 2 minutes to rest. Cut the chicken and serve.

    Notes

    Chicken Breasts

    I like to use boneless skinless chicken breasts in this recipe. I find it maintains a juicy center and the final basting of BBQ sauce creates a crispy outside that resembles grilling.

    Chicken breasts can vary in size and shape. I find it helps to either pound chicken or cut it in half. By making sure your chicken breasts are similar in the size you create an even cooking temperature.

    If you have smaller or larger chicken breasts, be sure to adjust your cooking time up or down a few minutes. Reaching 165° F with a food thermometer is the best way to tell. I have used larger chicken breasts in this recipe. 

    My basket holds 3 large chicken breasts perfectly. They are fine to touch, but you’ll want to avoid overcrowding.

    The fresh or frozen chicken breast will work in this recipe, just be sure to thaw completely before cooking. 

    Spices

    The spices we use for the rub create a base of flavor and seasoning for the chicken.  These can be easily adjusted to omit or add your preference. If you dislike spicy flavors, you may want to leave the cayenne pepper spice out. 

    Spray Oil

    I chose to use Primal Kitchens Avocado Oil Spray. Avocado oil makes for the best spray for an air fryer. It can reach a cooking temperature of 500° F.  and is a much healthier option.

    Avocado oil has a mild flavor that won’t transfer like other stronger flavored oils such as coconut or sesame. You simply add the spray to your food or the basket.

    You don’t need to cover the basket with oil as air fryers don’t require oil when cooking. We spray the chicken with avocado oil so the rub will stick. 

    BBQ Sauce

    When it comes to this sauce it’s best to go with your favorite bottled or homemade. I look for something that balances sweet, smoky, and tang.

    It’s important not to cook the chicken the entire time with the BBQ sauce. We only add it for the last three minutes, so it doesn’t blacken and burn. The recipe has enough to baste and additional sauce. 

    Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 657Total Fat: 16gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 10gCholesterol: 289mgSodium: 1672mgCarbohydrates: 15gFiber: 1gSugar: 12gProtein: 106g
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