This Air Fryer Chicken Sandwich is a healthier Chick-Fil-A copycat recipe perfect for a quick lunch or dinner!
Air Fryer Chicken Sandwich Recipe
In the mood for a healthy version of a crispy chicken sandwich? This chicken sandwich recipe is simple, and you only need an air fryer – no deep fryer needed!
While using store-bought breaded chicken fillets is super convenient, they’re also incredibly easy to make at home. Most ingredients needed are shelf-stable, and you probably have them in your kitchen!
You can also make these air fryer chicken breasts ahead of time and put them in the freezer to save for later or use them for meal prep throughout the week.
Making homemade chicken breasts for sandwiches is also very customizable. Are you a fan of spicy chicken? Add in some cayenne pepper. Or maybe make a quick hot sauce glaze to pour over your chicken once it’s done cooking. The options are endless.
Add all your favorite toppings to a brioche bun for the perfect juicy, crispy chicken sandwich!
Air Fryer Chicken Sandwich Ingredients
Pickle Juice: You can use any pickle juice that you like, but I like to use dill pickle juice. I feel like it works the best and has the perfect amount of acidity to soak into the chicken to help the buttermilk break down the protein in the chicken.
Buttermilk: Letting your chicken cutlets or breasts soak, or marinate, in buttermilk for a few hours will allow the chicken breasts’ protein structures to break down, allowing the chicken to become incredibly juicy and tender.
Chicken Breasts: You can use any chicken breasts that you like, but I recommend using boneless, skinless chicken breasts that are cut horizontally. I also like to tenderize them until they’re the same size so they cook evenly.
Eggs: The eggs in this recipe are the first part of the dredging process. It helps the flour and panko stick to the chicken, giving it the crispy crust once air fried.
Panko: The panko breadcrumbs mixed with seasonings create the best crispy, golden brown crust that is perfect for air frying.
All-Purpose Flour: Using flour in the dredging process helps keep all of the moisture in the chicken and keeps it from drying out while it’s in the air fryer.
Brioche Hamburger Buns: I will always opt for a brioche bun. They’re fluffy, sweet, and buttery and make delicious chicken sandwich buns.
Seasonings: Smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper are all added to the panko or the flour mixture. This simple seasoning mixture creates the best flavored chicken sandwich breading that is full of savory flavors and pairs well with the acidity of the pickle juice and buttermilk.
Optional Toppings: Pickle slices, lettuce, tomatoes, and homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce; you can add any of your favorite toppings to your chicken sandwiches.
How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Sandwiches
1. Brine the chicken. Mix the pickle juice and the buttermilk in a medium bowl, dip the chicken, and marinate for at least 1.5 hours.
2. Whisk the eggs. Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl.
3. Prepare the panko mixture. Add the panko to a medium bowl and add the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper. Mix all the ingredients until well combined.
4. Prepare the flour mixture. Add the all-purpose flour to a medium bowl and season with smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper. Mix all the ingredients until well combined.
5. Preheat the air fryer to 350° F.
6. Prepare to bread the chicken. Remove a piece of chicken from the marinating juice and drain all the excess liquid. Then, dip the chicken into the whisked eggs.
7. Dredge in flour. Add the all-purpose flour mixture to a shallow dish and dip the chicken into the flour mixture. Press enough to get a thick coating all over the chicken.
8. Bread the chicken. Add the panko mixture into a shallow dish and dip the chicken pieces into the bread crumbs. Press enough to get a thick coating all over the chicken.
9. Air fry the chicken. Place the chicken into the air fryer basket and spray with olive oil on both sides. Air fry the chicken for 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temp reaches 165 F. Flip the chicken breast filets halfway through.
10. Assemble the sandwiches. Remove the chicken filets from the air fryer and assemble the chicken sandwich with brioche buns, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and my Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce.
Tools You’ll Need to Make an Air Fryer Chicken Sandwich
There are only a few different tools that you will need to make these Air Fryer Chicken Sandwiches, most of which you will already have at home!
- Mixing bowls
- Air Fryer
- Cooling Rack
If you don’t have a cooling rack, you can ball up a few pieces of aluminum foil and place your chicken on top; this will continue to allow air circulation underneath.
Should I tenderize the chicken?
This is up to personal preference, but I strongly suggest tenderizing your chicken.
Tenderizing your chicken creates even thickness. If you don’t tenderize, make sure that your chicken breasts are the same size. You don’t want to cook a chicken breast that is super thick with a thin one because they will cook unevenly.
What can I substitute buttermilk for?
There are many different buttermilk substitutes that you can make, and you will have most ingredients already at home. Buttermilk is created by adding lactic acid bacteria into milk, which causes it to ferment.
In other words, to create buttermilk at home, you will need milk and some sort of acid. One of the most common substitutes is milk and lemon juice, apple juice, or distilled white vinegar.
You’ll need to wait for it to activate for about 5-10 minutes before adding your homemade buttermilk to your recipe. When it’s ready, the milk will look curdled.
How long to Marinate Chicken in Buttermilk
Chicken marinates the best between 12-18 hours. I don’t recommend using chicken that has been marinating for over 48 hours, as it can go bad.
The acid in buttermilk helps break down the protein structures that are in your chicken breast, which is the secret to getting tender and juicy chicken!
Fried Chicken Sandwich Fillings
There are so many different toppings that you can put on your chicken sandwich. I like to use lettuce, tomato, and pickles (extra pickles). You could also top your chicken sandwich off with cheese or bacon.
What to Serve with a Fried Chicken Sandwich
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Air Fryer Chicken Sandwich
- ½ cup pickle juice
- ¼ cup buttermilk
- 2 chicken breasts, halved horizontally
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup panko
- 1.5 tsps smoked paprika
- 1.5 tsps garlic powder
- 1.5 tsps onion powder
- 1.5 tsps salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ cup all-purpose flour
- olive oil spry, for cooking
- 4 brioche hamburger buns
- Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce
- Mix the pickle juice and the buttermilk in a medium bowl, dip the chicken and allow marinating for at least 1.5 hours.
- Whisk the eggs in a medium bowl.
- Add the panko to a medium bowl and add 1 teaspoon of smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder, 1 teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper. Mix all the ingredients until well combined.
- Add the all-purpose flour to a medium bowl and add ½ teaspoon of smoked paprika, ½ teaspoon of garlic powder, ½ teaspoon of onion powder, ½ teaspoon of salt, and ¼ teaspoon of black pepper. Mix all the ingredients until well combined.
- Preheat the air fryer to 350° F.
- Remove the chicken from the marinating juice and drain all the excess liquid. Then, dip the chicken into the whisked eggs.
- Add the all-purpose flour mixture into a shallow dish and dip the chicken into the flour mixture. Press enough to get a thick coating all over the chicken.
- Add the panko mixture into a shallow dish and dip the chicken pieces into the breadcrumbs. Press enough to get a thick coating all over the chicken.
- Place the chicken into the air fryer basket and spray with olive oil on both sides. Air fry the chicken for 15-20 minutes, or until the internal temp reaches 165 F. Flip the chicken breast fillets halfway through.
- Remove the chicken fillets from the air fryer and assemble the chicken sandwich with brioche buns, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and my Homemade Chick-Fil-A Sauce.
Nutrition information is approximate and was calculated using a recipe nutrition label generator.