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Air Fryer Firecracker Chicken

by Karly

Better-Than-Takeout Firecracker Chicken is fried nice and crispy in the air fryer and then tossed in a sweet and spicy firecracker sauce!

Two forks next to a plate of firecracker chicken.

Chicken is an absolute go-to dinner option for almost everyone. We love to cook it at home and we love to order it at restaurants. Lately, we’ve been loving creating restaurant favorites at home, like our captain crunch chicken strips, our flavorful Greek chicken wings, and our popular copy cat chick-fil-a nuggets!

This time around we’re taking on Firecracker Chicken – a popular order at many Asian American restaurants, like Pei Wei.

The spicy sauce is balanced out with brown sugar to cut the heat a bit and add some sweetness. It’s an addicting combo and, once tossed on the chunks of chicken, it’s really hard to resist!

This Air Fryer Firecracker Chicken is perfect served over a pile of white rice or next to our air fryer fried rice.

Ingredient Notes:

Firecracker chicken ingredients spread out on a countertop.

Chicken– We prefer boneless, skinless chicken breasts here. Thighs would likely work as well.

Breading– You’ll need cornstarch, salt, pepper, and eggs.

Firecracker Sauce– You’ll be doctoring up buffalo sauce with brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, salt, and – if you love heat – red pepper flakes.

How to Make Firecracker Chicken:

Collage of breading pieces of chicken.

Bread the Chicken- Chop your chicken into bite-sized pieces and pat dry. In a shallow dish add cornstarch, salt, and pepper then stir to combine. In a second shallow dish, add eggs and a bit of water and whisk that to combine. Dip your chicken in the starch, then the egg, then back into the starch mixture. This will give the chicken a great breading.

Air fry the chicken- Spray your air fryer basket with oil and arrange the chicken in an even layer. Take care to not let the pieces of chicken touch each other at all. This will keep them crisp. Then spray your chicken pieces with an oil mist. Air fry them for 5 minutes at 380 degrees F, then flip and spray again and cook for another 5 minutes. The chicken is fully cooked when the internal temp reaches 165 degrees F.

Fiirecracker sauce cooking in a saucepan.

Make the sauce- While your chicken is in the air fryer, grab a small saucepan and put it over medium-low heat. Add the buffalo sauce, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and red pepper flakes. Stir this often and cook for about 5 minutes or until the sauce thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon you are stirring with.


This sauce is pretty spicy thanks to the buffalo sauce and red pepper flakes. If you’d like to cut the heat, skip the red pepper flakes!

Serving Suggestions:

We like to serve our firecracker chicken over a pile of white rice with extra sauce on the side for dipping.

The sweet and spicy sauce pairs well with the rice. A serving of steamed broccoli goes well with this dish. I’ve even been known to drizzle extra sauce on my broccoli.

Close up of firecracker chicken being served.


How can I tell when firecracker chicken is done cooking?

The internal temperature of the chicken should be 165 degrees when finished cooking.

What is firecracker chicken?

It is a breaded, fried chicken that is served with a sweet and spicy sauce. This dish is popular at many Asian-American restaurants.

More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes:

Close up of a green onion on top of firecracker chicken.

Let us know your opinion!

We’d love to hear what you think of this recipe! Leave a comment and star rating down below! And don’t forget to pin and share!

Close up of a plate of fire cracker chicken next to a couple of forks.

Air Fryer Firecracker Chicken

Yield: 4 servings
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 20 minutes

Our Firecracker Chicken features crispy chunks of breaded chicken tossed in a sweet and spicy sauce. We love to serve this over white rice with extra sauce for dipping.


For the Chicken:

  • 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon cracked pepper
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon water

For the Firecracker Sauce:

  • ½ cup buffalo sauce, such as Frank’s
  • ¾ cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes


To make the chicken:

  1. Chop the chicken into bite-sized pieces. Pat dry with a paper towel.
  2. Add the cornstarch, salt, and pepper to a shallow dish and stir to combine
  3. Whisk the eggs and water together in a second shallow dish.
  4. Dip each piece of chicken into the cornstarch to coat. Dip in the egg, and then back into the cornstarch. 
  5. Spray an air fryer basket with non-stick spray and arrange the chicken in an even layer, leaving space for air to flow between each piece. 
  6. Spray chicken liberally with non-stick spray, making sure to coat each piece. 
  7. Air fry at 380 degrees for 5 minutes.
  8. Carefully flip the chicken and spray again with non-stick spray. Continue cooking for 4-5 minutes or until an internal thermometer reads 165 degrees. 

To make the sauce:

  1. While the chicken is cooking, prepare the sauce by adding all of the ingredients to a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Whisk well to combine
  2. Cook, stirring often, until the sauce has thickened enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. 
  3. Remove the chicken from the air fryer and drizzle with enough sauce to coat the chicken. 
  4. Serve extra sauce on the side for dipping.


The breading is a bit delicate and it can be a bit tricky to flip the chicken in the air fryer basket. If you're struggling, you can skip this step - the breading just won't be quite as crisp on the underside. Still delicious!

For a less spicy sauce, omit the red pepper flakes. It may not seem like a lot, but as the sauce cooks down they really amp up the heat.

Nutrition Information:
Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 612Total Fat: 12gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 7gCholesterol: 245mgSodium: 1691mgCarbohydrates: 64gFiber: 0gSugar: 34gProtein: 58g

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