The best air Fryer ‘KFC’ fried chicken

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Air Fryer 'KFC' fried chicken recipe

Air Fryer ‘KFC’ fried chicken with buttermilk is so much healthier than Southern fried chicken and is so delicious. There is flavour packed into the marinade and the breading. The chicken is so juicy.

I’m one of the statistical millions of people who got an Air Fryer during the pandemic and now can’t imagine my life without it. It has so many amazing features I still need to explore, but I would get one just for the ease and speed of cooking vegetables. Its life-changing.

I have the Instant Vortex Air Fryer and this 4-in-one smart fryer heats up to 205C in 2 minutes 30 seconds. Ideal for last-minute dot com dinners which happen very often in my house. I have wanted to do a crispy ‘KFC’style fried chicken recipe for ages and it worked out brilliantly. I love the fact that with this recipe I can use free-range chicken.

Air Fryer 'KFC' fried chicken recipe

The Instant Vortex Air Fryer blasts heat all around the chicken ‘frying’ it in a healthier way. I discovered you do however need some oil to coat the chicken to ensure a delicious golden crust but it’s way less messy and fat-laden than deep frying.

The other important thing is to triple-dredge the chicken pieces to ensure you get an adequate coating. It’s so delicious you want as much of it as possible. Marinating the chicken pieces in buttermilk overnight tenderizes the meat and ensures that the flesh is ultra-juicy when cooked. You could even marinate for up to 3 days, but I found 1 to be perfect.

Air Fryer 'KFC' fried chicken recipe

The flour coating has so many herbs and spices and I like this combination which really does taste better than KFC. I used a mix of herbs but if you use 2 or 3 it should be fine. White pepper, paprika, mustard, and ginger give it some heat and although it seems like a lot, this is fairly mild.

Air Fryer 'KFC' fried chicken recipe

Air Fryer 'KFC' fried chicken recipe

Tips on how to make air fryer ‘KFC’ fried chicken

  1. Use bone-in chicken pieces: KFC uses bone-in chicken pieces such as drumsticks, thighs, and wings. You can use these same pieces in your air fryer to get a similar texture and flavour.
  2. Marinate the chicken pieces in the buttermilk overnight to tenderise and for the flavour to permeate.
  3. Coat the chicken with the seasoned flour and crumbs as per my recipes. You can add more or less of anything to suit your taste.
  4. Preheat your air fryer before adding the chicken. This will help ensure that the chicken cooks evenly and gets crispy on the outside.
  5. Don’t overcrowd the basket: I cooked 4 pieces at a time as I wanted to make 100% sure the chicken would crisp up, but the Instant Vortex has a very large basket capacity that could easily take all 8 pieces.
  6. Cook the chicken in batches to ensure that the chicken cooks evenly.
  7. Coat with oil: I prefer to dab the oil onto the chicken pieces at the end to prevent as little of the flour mix from falling off. I find aerosol oil sprays blow the flour off. If you have an oil spray bottle that is more gentle you can use this. 
  8. Cook the chicken at 180C/350F for 24 minutes (20 – 25 minutes depending on the size of the pieces flipping halfway through.
  9. Let the chicken rest before serving: After cooking the chicken, let it rest for a few minutes before serving. This will help the juices redistribute throughout the meat and prevent it from becoming dry.

Check out my easy oven-to-air fryer conversion guide for more tips and tricks.

You might also like:

Air fryer roast chicken (with orange and ginger)

Easy Air Fryer chicken fajitas

Air fryer choc chip cookies

All my chicken recipes

Ina Garten’s Chicken Parmesan

The crunchiest jerk chicken burger

Chipotle chicken enchiladas

Recipe – makes 8 pieces of chicken

Air Fryer 'KFC' fried chicken

Better than KFC fried chicken cooked in the Air Fryer.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:20 minutes
Cook Time:24 minutes



  • 8 pieces of free-range chicken – thighs and drumsticks bone and skin on
  • 250 ml buttermilk
  • 1 free-range egg
  • 1 Tbsp hot sauce I use Cholula chipotle hot sauce

Flour coating:

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 6 tsp dried herbs thyme, sage, parsley, oregano, basil
  • 1 Tbsp celery salt
  • 1 Tbsp fine white pepper powder or a mix. Of black and white
  • 2 tsp Hot English mustard powder
  • 1 Tbsp paprika 
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • Sunflower or canola oil for brushing / dabbing on the chicken


  • Make the day before. Mix the buttermilk, egg, and hot sauce in a bowl and then add it to a Ziploc bag with the chicken. Seal and lay this flat in a dish overnight in the fridge.
  • Take the chicken out of the fridge at least an hour before you want to cook it so that it comes up to room temperature. Mix all the ingredients for the flour coating in a bowl until well combined.
  • Get a tray set out and lined with baking/silicone paper.
  • Dredge the chicken in the following order: Take the chicken from the buttermilk into the flour mixture and toss to completely coat then set aside on the lined tray. You could dab/brush a little oil over the chicken at this stage and then proceed to the next step but first tossing it into the flour. Once all pieces are coated, quickly dip, and coat each piece 2 – 3 more times each. If some of the flour mixture clumps don't worry, try and press it onto the chicken.
  • Dab the top of each piece generously with olive oil. I used a silicone brush.
  • Preheat your Instant Vortex to 180C/350F. When it reaches temperature, spray the basket with non-stick cooking spray or olive oil / neutral oil spray. It's ok to use an aerosol spray if you have one. Or brush lightly with sunflower or canola oil.
  • Carefully place the chicken pieces in the basket and cook for 24 minutes. Turn them over halfway at 12 minutes. They should be golden brown and crunchy. Cook for a few extra minutes if you like them to be a darker colour. Serve with coleslaw or any other condiment of your choice.
Servings: 4
Author: Sam Linsell

*This post is sponsored by Instant Vortex Air Fryer



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