Air Fryer Chicken Katsu Recipe

The best fried chicken in the world is crispy, golden brown, and full of juicy flavor. Chicken Katsu, the Japanese take on standard fried chicken, is no exception to this rule. 

It’s traditionally served with rice and tonkatsu sauce, but it’s versatile enough to use in sandwiches, curries, soups, etc. and it’s great as a main meal or a late night savory snack.

Unfortunately chicken katsu is usually deep fried in oil which makes it a less appealing option for those trying to reduce the amount of oils and fried foods in their diet.

Thankfully, you can make this recipe crispy (or extra crispy if you finish it off in a broiler!) and juicy with an air fryer instead!

That’s why today I’ll be sharing an air fryer chicken katsu recipe with you that meets the minimum requirements of crispiness and juiciness while also being much healthier than its deep-fried counterpart!

Chicken Katsu Ingredients

To make your air fryer chicken katsu, you’ll need a few staple ingredients that you may already have on hand in the house. Specifically for the katsu breading, you’ll need:

  • Chicken (breasts work best, but you can also use thigh or tenders)
  • All-purpose flour or cornstarch, can substitute for whole wheat flour if you desire
  • Egg, one will do just fine but use two if you have more chicken
  • Panko breadcrumbs, we used pre-seasoned bread crumbs
  • Salt & pepper, to taste as needed!

To make the tonkatsu sauce, you’ll need a few wet ingredients like:

  • Ketchup, we used regular Heinz ketchup but you can use sugar free
  • Soy sauce, we used regular soy sauce but you can use low sodium
  • Worcestershire sauce, any brand will do
  • Minced garlic, or powdered garlic would work fine as well!
  • OPTIONAL: brown sugar or honey to taste, if you want a sweeter sauce 

Chicken Katsu Directions

Step 1: Prep your Tonkatsu Sauce.
Before you air fry your chicken, it’s a good idea to make the tonkatsu sauce and have it ready for dipping!

In a mixing bowl, combine ½ cup of ketchup, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, 2 teaspoons of worcestershire sauce, and one medium clove of garlic, finely minced OR 1 teaspoon of powdered garlic.

Stir until fully mixed together and taste to see if it’s up to snuff for your flavor palette. Add more ketchup or brown sugar/honey if you want a sweeter tonkatsu sauce, add more worcestershire or soy sauce if you want a tangier tonkatsu sauce.

Step 2: Prep your chicken.
Take about one pound of chicken breasts out of the package, pat dry, slice in half and hammer to even size.

If you’re using chicken thighs or chicken tenders, you can skip slicing them in half but I still recommend pounding them so that they are all even in thickness. Lightly season the chicken with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Step 3: Prep your breading station.
In a bowl, pour out about ½ cup of flour or cornstarch. In another bowl, crack one egg and whisk until yolk and white are mixed together. In a third bowl, pour out about 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs.

Keep all the bowls next to each other in an “assembly line” fashion: egg first, then flour, then panko breadcrumbs.

This will be your chicken breading station! Note: if you want to skip the flour step, just double dip your chicken pieces in egg, then panko, then egg and panko again.

Step 4: Preheat your air fryer.
Set to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (adjust based on your air fryer model, see below).

Step 5: Bread your chicken.
Take one piece of chicken and dredge it in the bowl of flour to coat both sides, then dip it in the egg, and finally coat it in the panko breadcrumbs and set aside on a piece of foil or clean plate while you bread the remaining pieces. Note: do not use the same plate for raw chicken as you do for the cooked chicken!

Step 6: Air fry your chicken.
Lightly spray the coated chicken pieces with cooking spray on both sides, place in the air fryer basket and fry for 10 minutes on one side. Flip and cook for 8-10 minutes on the other side, depending on how crispy you want your chicken katsu.

Air Fryer Chicken Katsu

Step 7: Serve & enjoy.
Cut your chicken katsu into strips and serve over white rice with green onions and tonkatsu sauce, dip & eat with sauce of your choice, add it into curry or soup, or find your own way of enjoying this savory dish!

Chicken Katsu Substitutes and Modifications 

There are a few ways you can alter this recipe, including:

  • Change up the chicken you’re using. We used thinly sliced chicken breast for this recipe to achieve maximum crispiness with our katsu but you can use boneless chicken thighs if you prefer darker, juicier meat or chicken tenders if you like the hand-held options! 
  • Use a different breading option. For an extra crunch, you can substitute cornstarch for flour in this recipe. Skip the flour altogether and instead do a double layer of egg and breadcrumbs. For a keto or gluten free option, use chickpea or almond flour and gluten free breadcrumbs. 
  • Adjust your sauce flavor. We skipped sweetener in our tonkatsu because we used regular ketchup which already comes sweetened but you can add 1 tablespoon of honey or brown sugar if you’d like. For a more savory sauce, add 1 tablespoon of sherry. 
  • Switch up the spices. We used fresh minced garlic for the recipe but you can swap out garlic powder just the same, or use a teaspoon of ginger/garlic blended paste instead to give your tonkatsu a different kick.
  • Add oil for extra crispiness. We used an olive oil cooking spray on top of our katsu before putting it in the air fryer but if you’d like a little extra crispy you can drizzle a little fresh olive oil on your katsu cutlets instead. Or substitute olive oil spray for avocado or peanut oil spray.

Serving Options for Chicken Katsu

  • Serve with rice and tonkatsu sauce. The traditional way to serve chicken katsu is with steamed white rice, chopped green onions, and a drizzle of tonkatsu sauce on top. 
  • Serve as a sandwich. Add chopped up chicken katsu pieces to sourdough bread (or other bread of your choice), top with asian cabbage slaw and drizzle with tonkatsu sauce to make a chicken katsu sandwich.
  • Serve as curry. Add chicken katsu pieces to your favorite curry sauce and simmer together for a tasty & crunchy curry dish.
  • Serve as ramen. Add ramen noodles (or any other wheat or rice noodles), broth, and vegetables of choice along with your chicken pieces to make chicken katsu ramen.

Cooking Times by Air Fryer Model

ModelCooking timeTemperature
Ninja Foodi20 minutes340 F
Philips Airfryer XXL (HD9630)25-30 minutes325 F
Nuwave Bravo XL Grill18-20 minutes325 F
Power XL 2&3 Qt Vortex20-25 minutes350 F
Cuisinart18 minutes350 F
Cosori20 minutes300 F
Breville Smart Oven25-30 minutes400 F

Recipe Notes

  • Chicken Katsu is best served fresh! If you want to prepare this recipe ahead of time, you can make the katsu and then reheat it in a regular oven at 350 F for a few minutes until warmed through. However we recommend eating it as soon as it’s made.
  • For extra crispy chicken katsu, cook in your air fryer for about 5 minutes longer or pop it in your oven on broil for a few minutes (usually less than 5) until it’s nice and brown and crispy on top.
  • For extra juicy katsu, marinate your chicken in buttermilk for 2 hrs up to overnight before you make the recipe.
Air Fryer Chicken Katsu

Chicken Katsu in Air Fryer

Yield: 4
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 18 minutes
Total Time: 38 minutes
The best-fried chicken in the world is crispy, golden brown and full of juicy flavor. Chicken Katsu, the Japanese take on standard fried chicken, is no exception to this rule. 

It’s traditionally served with rice and tonkatsu sauce, but it’s versatile enough to use in sandwiches, curries, soups, etc. and it’s great as a main meal or a late-night savory snack.

Unfortunately, chicken katsu is usually deep fried in oil which makes it a less appealing option for those trying to reduce the number of oils and fried foods in their diet.

Thankfully, you can make this recipe crispy (or extra crispy if you finish it off in a broiler!) and juicy with an air fryer instead!

That’s why today I’ll be sharing an air fryer chicken katsu recipe with you that meets the minimum requirements of crispiness and juiciness while also being much healthier than its deep-fried counterpart!

Ingredients

  • For Tonkatsu Sauce
  • ½ cup ketchup
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons worcestershire sauce
  • 1 teaspoon garlic (minced or powdered)
  • For Chicken Katsu
  • 1 pound chicken breasts sliced and pounded into thin cutlets
  • ½ cup flour or cornstarch
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

    1. In a mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for tonkatsu sauce. Set aside.
    2. Slice chicken breast in half and pound to even size. Lightly season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
    3. In a bowl, pour out about ½ cup of flour or cornstarch. In another bowl, crack one egg and whisk until yolk and white are mixed together. In a third bowl, pour out about 1 cup of panko breadcrumbs. 
    4. Preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
    5. Dredge chicken in flour, then dip it in the egg, then coat it in the panko breadcrumbs and set aside while you bread the remaining pieces.
    6. Lightly spray the coated chicken pieces with cooking spray, place them in the air fryer basket and fry for 10 minutes on one side. Flip and cook for 8-10 minutes on the other side, depending on how crispy you want your chicken katsu.
    7. Cut your chicken katsu into strips and serve over white rice with green onions and tonkatsu sauce.

    Notes

  1. Chicken Katsu is best served fresh! If you want to prepare this recipe ahead of time, you can make the katsu and then reheat it in a regular oven at 350 F for a few minutes until warmed through. However, we recommend eating it as soon as it’s made.
  2. For extra crispy chicken katsu, cook in your air fryer for about 5 minutes longer, or pop it in your oven on broil for a few minutes (usually less than 5) until it’s nice and brown and crispy on top.
  3. For extra juicy katsu, marinate your chicken in buttermilk for 2 hrs up to overnight before you make the recipe.
  4. Nutrition Information:
    Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
    Amount Per Serving: Calories: 702Total Fat: 18gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 12gCholesterol: 257mgSodium: 1518mgCarbohydrates: 62gFiber: 3gSugar: 11gProtein: 68g
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