Air Fryer BBQ Chicken

by Karly

AIR FRYER BBQ CHICKEN turns out tender and so juicy thanks to a simple brine and a flavorful dry rub. Quick, simple, and a huge hit with our family and friends.

BBQ chicken breasts in an air fryer

I know grilling BBQ chicken is the most popular way to make it. But there are lots of people in apartments, lots of bad weather, and also, sometimes, you just don’t want to deal with firing up a grill, waiting for it to heat, cleaning it off, letting it cool, covering it back up… You get the point.

Enter our air fryer BBQ chicken. We’re sharing our tips and tricks for super moist and tender chicken and I just know you’re going to be obsessed.

You could really use any flavoring you like and follow this method for some perfect chicken breasts every time, but we love barbecue so we’re doing a bbq dry rub plus a little bit of bbq sauce basted on. You’ll love the results! So juicy!

Ingredient List:

Add these to your shopping list if you don’t have them in your pantry!

Chicken Breasts – Boneless and skinless for this recipe. You could also use chicken thighs.

Brine – Sounds complicated but it’s just lukewarm water and salt.

BBQ Dry Rub – Store bought is fine or try our bbq chicken rub.

BBQ Sauce – Grab your favorite bottle of sauce for this. We like them sweet and tangy.

close up of a cut bbq chicken breast

How to air fry BBQ chicken:

Brine the Chicken- Add warm water and salt to a bowl or a 9×13 baking dish. Stir the salt into the water and add the chicken to the bowl. Let this sit in your fridge for an hour prior to cooking. Don’t skip this step, it makes for ultra tender and moist chicken!

raw chicken in an air fryer basket

Air Fry- Remove the chicken from the brine and pat it dry. Season both sides of the chicken breast with dry rub. Spritz your air fryer basket with oil or brush the oil onto the basket if you don’t have a mister. Cook in your air fryer for 7 minutes at 380 degrees F. Brush both sides of the chicken with your BBQ sauce then flip the chicken and cook for 3-5 more minutes.

Chicken should always be 165 degrees F in the center before you finish cooking.

Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.

A plate of bbq chicken next to an air fryer

Why brine chicken?

Brining might seem like an extra, unnecessary step but once you give it a try you’ll understand!

Brining the chicken first ensures that it will come out extra moist (thanks to some of the liquid that the meat soaks up while brining) and extra flavorful (thanks to the seasoning in the brine).

There are all kinds of fancy recipes for brining chicken, but the basic gist is salted water. We keep it very simple with just water and salt and then add extra flavorings like dry rub just before cooking. You could also add dry rub directly to the brine, if you really want to amp up the flavors.

BBQ chicken and broccoli on a small white plate

Leftovers:

Our air fryer BBQ chicken is so good that we rarely have leftovers, but I’m always happy when we do!

Store, tightly covered in the fridge, for 3-4 days. To reheat, do so in the microwave.

Alternately, chop the chicken into small pieces and make a quick chicken salad or sandwich. No need to even heat the chicken back up.

More chicken recipes you might like:

BBQ chicken and broccoli on a white plate
BBQ chicken and broccoli on a small white plate

Air Fryer BBQ Chicken

Yield: 4 chicken breasts
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Additional Time: 1 hour
Total Time: 1 hour 15 minutes

Tender, moist, and so simple! The secret to this recipe is the brine, so don't skip it. It's not at all difficult to do and is totally worth the time.

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 6 cups warm water
  • 3 tablespoons kosher salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons BBQ dry rub
  • ΒΌ cup prepared BBQ sauce

Instructions

  1. Fill a bowl or baking dish with the warm water and add the salt. Stir to combine.
  2. Add the chicken to the bowl and place in the refrigerator for 1 hour to brine. 
  3. Remove chicken from the liquid and pat dry.
  4. Season the chicken on both sides with the BBQ dry rub.
  5. Spritz the air fryer basket with oil and place the chicken in the basket in an even layer. 
  6. Air fry at 380 degrees for 7 minutes. Brush the BBQ sauce over both sides of the chicken. 
  7. Flip the chicken and cook for 3-5 more minutes or until a thermometer reaches 165 degrees. 
  8. Let chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Notes

This recipe also works well with chicken thighs.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 241Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 105mgSodium: 5095mgCarbohydrates: 9gNet Carbohydrates: 9gFiber: 0gSugar: 7gProtein: 38g

All information and tools presented and written within this site are intended for informational purposes only. This information is provided as a courtesy and there is no guarantee that the information is accurate.

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2 comments

Mary May 25, 2021 - 2:46 pm

My comment is on the amount of sodium. 5095 mg! That’s worse than a double bacon cheeseburger at Burger King or McDonald’s.

Reply
Karly May 26, 2021 - 11:26 am

That’s taking into account the brine. Most of that is dumped down the drain. It’s hard to calculate how much of the salt actually penetrates the chicken, but the end result is not too salty at all, so I believe it’d be a very reasonable amount.

Reply

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