This air fryer KFC chicken recipe is even better than the original! You know that feeling when you crave a home-cooked meal but don’t have the time to make one? Well, say goodbye to take out and hello to this copycat KFC copycat recipe! All it takes is a little planning ahead – once you get your ingredients together, cooking will be easy peasy. Get ready for finger-lickin’ good taste without all the grease.

Close up of drumsticks, thighs, and breasts made with this KFC chicken recipe.

KFC Copycat Recipe

KFC air fryer chicken tastes just like the original, but is way healthier! When you think about fried chicken, your mind automatically goes to a bucket of fried chicken from THE BEST place to purchase fried chicken. Today, I will show you how to make a copycat version in your very own air fryer that uses way less fat and unhealthy grease.

On Friday nights, either my sister or I would choose what takeout we wanted, and she always went for Chinese food. I always preferred KFC. It would come with buttery biscuits, coleslaw, mashed potatoes covered with gravy, and of course, sweet corn. To me, it was like a feast. I loved it.

My kids love a great fried chicken dinner. Marrying someone with family in the South, my kids got spoiled eating magnificent Fried Chicken and loved it. So, of course, with my air fryer, I am working on all things fried.

Today, I tried to make copycat KFC chicken, and it was pretty close! As in the recipe, I soaked my chicken in buttermilk, battered it with the seasonings and flour, and then air-fried it to perfection.

I used a combination of chicken thighs and drumsticks and I can’t wait to try this recipe again!

If you love a good air fryer chicken recipe, try my CHICKEN DRUMSTICKS WITH VEGETABLES, TRADER JOE’S HOT AND SPICY CHICKEN WINGS, or my COPYCAT BOJANGLES CHICKEN TENDERS IN THE AIR FRYER.

The Secret To Great Copycat KFC Chicken

After searching the web for the secret Fried Chicken Recipe, I found an article written by a Chicago news reporter, who happened by accident to take a picture of the original recipe.

So, the secret which I found out really due to a few reasons:

  • KFC uses 11 different herbs in their seasoning blend, including paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, celery salt, black pepper, mustard powder, ginger, thyme, basil, and oregano.
  • They add MSG for my homemade copycat version, which I omitted. However, you can add some Accent flavoring, which is said to taste the same as the MSG.

Ingredients Needed For Copycat KFC Chicken

This KFC chicken recipe in the air fryer uses a homemade (but simple!) spice blend and simple ingredients you may already have on hand. The breading recipe produces a crispy, delicious skin and tender, juicy meat for a healthier alternative to getting takeout! KFC air fryer chicken tastes like the real thing, without the added fats of deep frying.

Top view of ingredients needed for KFC copycat recipe.

The exact quantities and instructions are found in the recipe card at the end of this post.

Seasoning Blend:
  • Paprika
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Kosher Salt
  • Celery Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Dried Mustard Powder
  • Ground Ginger
  • Thyme
  • Basil
  • Oregano
Other Ingredients:
  • Buttermilk
  • Eggs
  • All-Purpose Flour
  • Cornstarch
  • Chicken: A Combination of thighs, breasts, wings, or legs
  • Olive Oil Spray

How to Make Air Fryer KFC Chicken

Step 1: Make Batter

In a large bowl, mix together the eggs and buttermilk. Whisk to combine well.

Process of making copycat KFC chicken.

In another bowl, mix together the flour, cornstarch, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, celery salt, pepper, mustard, ginger, thyme, basil, and oregano. Whisk to combine.

Step 2: Batter Chicken

Preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees for 5 minutes.

Then dip your chicken into the buttermilk mixture and allow excess to drip back into the bowl.

Then place the chicken into the flour mixture and press the flour onto the chicken to make sure it sticks. Shake off any excess.

Step 3: Air Fry Chicken

Spray the basket with olive oil, and then place the chicken into the basket. Generously spray your chicken with cooking spray. Air fry for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through and spraying with more cooking spray.

Chicken is done with it reaches 165 degrees F, and the outside is golden brown.

Plate, serve, and enjoy!

Finished product of air fryer KFC chicken

Do I have to Use Cornstarch?

One of the best ways to make your fried chicken taste as good, if not better, than any restaurant around town is with a bit of help from cornstarch. It’s an ingredient that you can find in many Asian recipes for making those crispiest broiled or deep-fried treats come alive again and take on a new life, all thanks to this one simple trick!

So whether you’re going traditional by frying up some crispy drumsticks until they hit every flavor note possible; or want something healthier without sacrificing richly textured meat, then definitely include the cornstarch.

How Many Minutes Do I Cook Fried Chicken?

To maximize the flavor and juiciness of this KFC chicken recipe, make sure you fry each piece for at least 25 to 30 minutes.

White meat will be most flavorful around 165 degrees Fahrenheit while dark meat can attain a safe temperature range from 170-175 degrees F before being fully cooked through!

Why Does The Breading On My Fried Chicken Fall Off? How Can I Avoid That?

Have you ever had trouble with the breading falling off of your fried chicken when you try to flip it over in the air fryer? It’s not a big deal, and we’re here to help. We all know that ingredients like flour and eggs usually make up the breading on fried chicken.

The problem is that these two ingredients don’t stick together well at first glance, but some tricks will keep your breading from falling off every time!

Some great tips are:

  • Shake off any excess buttermilk after you marinate in it.
  • Pat your coating mixture with your hands to make sure it stays on. This will help it stick to the buttermilk.
  • Space your chicken in the air fryer. The air fryer works by circulating hot air around the chicken, cooking it to perfection. If you crowd your basket, it will not crisp up.
  • Flip your chicken halfway during the cooking process, so both sides of the KFC air fryer chicken are cooked evenly.

How Long Is Fried Chicken Good For?

This copycat KFC chicken is best when it comes right out of the air fryer, but if you’ve got leftovers, you can quickly reheat them for another day.

For best results, let the chicken cool to room temperature and refrigerate for 2 to 3 days.

To reheat your chicken, place it in your air fryer, spray with cooking spray again and cook at 350F on the air fryer setting for 8 to 10 minutes.

Can You Reheat Fried Chicken in the Microwave?

Naturally you can reheat this KFC copycat recipe in the microwave, in that it will warm the chicken back up. However, breaded or other crispy foods tend to become soggy and limp in a microwave. If that doesn’t bother you, then go for it! Reheat each piece for 1-2 minutes.

For best results, and to crisp that skin up again, I suggest either air frying or baking this air fryer KFC chicken to reheat.

Is this KFC Chicken Recipe Good for You?

Air frying cuts back on the saturated fats and grease of deep frying, making it a healthier, leaner option to deep fried KFC chicken from the restaurant. However, even with the healthier cooking method, air fryers are only as good as the food you put inside of them!

Keep in mind that this KFC copycat recipe still calls for eggs and a fair amount of flour, adding to the calorie count as well as the included carbs. Using drumsticks and chicken thighs means there’s more fat than if you were breading and frying a chicken breast.

This is all to say that this KFC chicken recipe isn’t bad for you, but to still be aware of the nutrients in each serving. There’s a place for this recipe in any healthy lifestyle, especially if you serve it with a side of vegetables and other nutritious foods!

Some Great Items To Serve With KFC Air Fryer Chicken:

To build on the above section, you can keep this copycat KFC chicken a healthy addition to any lifestyle by serving it with broccoli or asparagus and a baked potato. For a truly comforting, takeout copycat meal, serve it with KFC Copycat Coleslaw, KFC Copycat Potato Wedges, Mashed Potatoes, or KFC Copycat Biscuits.

Air Fryer KFC Fried Chicken

Air Fryer KFC Chicken Recipe

3.90 from 94 votes
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 Servings

Description

This air fryer KFC chicken recipe is even better than the original! Say goodbye to takeout and hello to this copycat KFC copycat recipe!

Ingredients 

Chicken Ingredients:

  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 8 pieces chicken, thighs, breasts, wings, or legs

Seasoning Mix:

  • 3 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons celery salt
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons dried mustard powder
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, mix the eggs and buttermilk, whisk to combine.
  • In another bowl, mix the flour, cornstarch, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, celery salt, pepper, mustard, ginger, thyme, basil, and oregano. Whisk to combine.
  • Preheat your air fryer to 375 degrees for 5 minutes.
  • Dip your chicken into the buttermilk mixture, let any excess drip off.
    How to Make KFC Fried Chicken in the Air Fryer
  • Then place the chicken into the flour mixture and press the flour onto the chicken to make sure it sticks. Shake off any excess.
  • Spray the basket with olive oil, and then place the chicken into the basket. Generously spray your chicken with cooking spray. Air fry for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through and spraying with more cooking spray.
    Air Fryer KFC Fried Chicken
  • Chicken is done with it reaches 165 degrees F, and the outside is golden brown.
  • Plate, serve, and enjoy!

Equipment

  • Air Fryer

Nutrition

Serving: 1ServingCalories: 170kcalCarbohydrates: 30gProtein: 6gFat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0.01gCholesterol: 51mgSodium: 1216mgPotassium: 143mgFiber: 2gSugar: 2gVitamin A: 241IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 64mgIron: 2mg

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Close up of KFC air fryer chicken with overlay text reading "Air Fryer Copycat KFC Fried Chicken"