This healthy air fryer BBQ chicken breast recipe comes together in 15 minutes and calls for three ingredients. The tender, juicy chicken is covered in a sweet, tangy barbecue sauce that caramelizes as it air fries. Perfect weeknight dinner and meal prep!
The best air fryer BBQ chicken recipe
BBQ chicken is so good. But, let’s be honest, most recipes are either (a) unhealthy or (b) super complicated to make. That’s why I came up with this super easy, healthy, 3-ingredient, 15-minute recipe. This air fryer BBQ chicken is next-level delicious next to my viral air fryer buffalo chicken breasts!
The tender and moist chicken has slightly crisp edges and is covered in a tangy BBQ sauce that caramelizes as the chicken cooks. Typically, BBQ chicken recipes require marinating, dry rubs, brining, etc., but now, with a trusty air fryer, you can make fancy barbecue chicken in just 15 minutes.
Air frying chicken ensures the juices are locked in and that the chicken is super tender and moist on the inside and slightly crisp on the outside. It’s honestly my favorite way to cook chicken since clean-up is a breeze, and you don’t have to wait for an oven to preheat or the chicken to marinate.
This air fryer BBQ chicken is perfect for weeknight dinners, meal prep, lunch, and summertime cookouts. They only take 15 minutes to air fryer and only require three ingredients. I cannot wait to hear what you think! We love serving it with this kale crunch salad for an easy weeknight dinner.
Why you’ll love this easy recipe:
- 15 Minutes: This easy air fryer chicken recipe takes 15 minutes.
- Kid Friendly: It’s perfect for kids with just three ingredients and a non-spicy option.
- Healthy: A nutritious recipe low in sugar, high in protein, and gluten-free.
- Keto Friendly: Fits into a low-carb and keto diet with a sugar-free BBQ sauce.
- Gluten-Free: A gluten-free option for those with dietary restrictions.
- 3 Ingredients: A super easy recipe with just three basic components.
- Quick & Easy: Ready in under 15 minutes, ideal for a speedy weeknight dinner.
- Meal Prep: Make ahead and store in the fridge for up to 4 days; this is perfect for meal planning.
- High-Protein: Each serving has 36 grams of protein!
- Try these Air Fryer Chicken Tenders and these Air Fryer Chicken Thighs next!
Ingredients and substitutions
You need three simple ingredients, plus some spices, for this healthy air fryer BBQ chicken breast recipe. No marinade is required, so grab your favorite barbecue sauce, and let’s get cooking! Here is a list of ingredients so you have everything prepared:
- Chicken Breast: First up, grab three medium-sized boneless and skinless chicken breasts. When air-fried, they are tender, juicy, and super moist. You can also use chicken thighs, I left instructions in the recipe card.
- BBQ Sauce: The star ingredient in this recipe is 1/3 cup of your favorite barbecue sauce. This gives the chicken the best tangy, slightly sweet, smoky flavor. This is my favorite!
- Spices: We use a combination of paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper to season the chicken and give it a ton of flavor.
- Cooking Spray: This prevents the chicken from sticking to the bottom of the air fryer.
How to make air fryer BBQ chicken breast
This super juicy air fryer BBQ chicken breast recipe is so easy to make; it’s crispy, the BBQ sauce is caramelized, and you don’t need to marinate the chicken. Here are detailed step-by-step instructions for any level cook:
First, preheat the air fryer to 360°F; then lightly grease the basket with olive oil or avocado spray.
Mix paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper in a small bowl to create the seasoning mix.
Then, pat chicken breasts dry with a paper towel; then use your hands to season evenly with the spices.
Finally, air fry for 10 minutes, then flip the chicken breasts with tongs and air fry for another 4 – 6 minutes. Remove the chicken breasts from the air fryer and generously top them with BBQ sauce. Return to air fryer and cook for another 1 – 2 minutes, until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F and the BBQ sauce is warm and caramelized.
Let chicken breast rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving!
Expert recipe tips for air fryer chicken
- Rest Time: Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before cutting to preserve its maximum moisture. This is my #1 tip.
- Even Thickness: Pound the chicken for uniform cooking; this prevents overcooking on one side and undercooking on the other.
- Chicken Thighs Option: You can even use chicken thighs instead of breasts. Air fry for 8 minutes, then flip them over and air fryer for another 4 – 6 minutes until cooked through.
- Don’t Crowd the Basket: Arrange the chicken in a single layer, leaving space between each piece. Overcrowding can lead to uneven cooking and may prevent the chicken from getting crispy. Work in batches if you have a small air fryer.
- Flip Midway: For even cooking, flip the chicken halfway through the cooking time or shake the basket. This helps achieve a uniform crispiness.
- Sauce Versatility: Enjoy the flexibility of using any BBQ sauce for this versatile recipe. You can even use buffalo sauce.
- Adding the Sauce: Apply BBQ sauce in the last 2 – 3 minutes so it caramelizes but doesn’t burn.
- Meal Prep: Store cooked BBQ chicken breast whole when preparing ahead for meal prep to prevent dryness.
You can serve BBQ chicken in so many ways! Each way is a new meal. Here is a list:
- Fresh salad – try this kale crunch salad or this cucumber carrot salad.
- Grilled or roasted vegetables – try this air fryer broccoli and cauliflower or these cauliflower pizza bites.
- Quinoa or brown rice
- Sweet potato fries – try these air fryer sweet potato wedges.
- Corn on the cob
- Garlic bread – we love this easy garlic bread recipe.
- Pasta salad – try this Greek chickpea pasta salad or add cut-up BBQ chicken to this Caesar pasta salad.
- Mash potatoes
- Cornbread – we love this healthy almond flour cornbread.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use frozen chicken breasts?
Yes, you can use frozen chicken for this recipe, but it must be thawed first. Thawing in the refrigerator overnight or in a warm water bath for 1 – 2 hours is recommended.
Can I use chicken tenders?
Yes, you can use chicken tenders. Simply adjust the cooking time to 4 – 5 minutes per side since chicken tenders are thinner and smaller than chicken breasts. Make sure the internal temperature is still 165°F.
Is this recipe healthy?
This BBQ chicken recipe is healthy for a handful of reasons: (1) it’s made with sugar-free barbecue sauce, (2) there is no added oil since we are air frying the chicken, (3) it is gluten-free, low-carb, and has no breading, (4) it calls for three simple ingredients plus a few spices, (5) there are 36g of protein per serving. So yes, the barbeque chicken is healthy.
Is BBQ chicken gluten-free?
Yes, this BBQ chicken recipe is 100% gluten-free since there is no breading.
Do I have to let the chicken rest before cutting into it?
Yes! For the juiciest air fryer chicken, you must let it rest for 5 minutes so all the juiciest moisture is trapped inside. Trust me!
How do you tell if air fryer chicken is done cooking?
You will know when it is done when the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F.
Is BBQ chicken spicy?
It depends on the type of BBQ sauce you use. Some are mild, and some are hot, so make sure you buy the one you want in the store.
Can I use chicken thigh?
For this recipe, you can use chicken thigh instead of chicken breast; just adjust the cooking time. Air fry for 8 minutes, then flip them over and air fryer for another 4 – 6 minutes until cooked through.
What’s the best temperature to air fry chicken breasts?
It is best to air fry chicken breasts at 360°F for a total of 14 – 18 minutes or until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F.
How long does it take to air fry a chicken breast at 360°F?
It takes a total of 14 – 18 minutes to air fry a chicken breast at 360°F. You will know when it is done when the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F.
How to store and reheat leftover air fryer BBQ chicken:
Store leftover air fryer BBQ chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. To reheat, use an air fryer for a few minutes until heated through, ensuring the chicken retains its crispiness. Alternatively, use a microwave for a quick reheating option.
If you loved this air fryer recipe, try this chicken recipe next!
- Healthy Chicken Penne alla Vodka
- Air Fryer Teriyaki Chicken
- Air Fried Buffalo Chicken
- Air Fryer Chicken Meatballs
- Air Fryer Orange Chicken
- Easy Chicken Enchiladas
- Air Fryer Chicken Cutlets
- Nashville Hot Chicken Tenders
- Crispiest Hot Honey Chicken Tenders
Did you make this recipe?
If you make this recipe, be sure to comment and rate it down below. Also, don’t forget to tag me @healthfulblondie on Instagram and use the hashtag #healthfulblondie so I can see your delicious creation and share it with my followers!
Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Breasts
- Preheat your air fyrer to 360°F and lightly grease basket with olive oil or avocado spray.
- In a small bowl, combine paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper to create the seasoning mix.
- Pat chicken breasts dry with a paper towel, and then use your hands to evenly season with the spices.
- Air fry for 10 minutes, then flip the chicken breasts with tongs and air fry for another 4 – 5 minutes.
- Remove the chicken breasts from the air fryer and generously top with BBQ sauce.
- Return to air fryer and cook for another 2 – 3 minutes, until chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Let chicken breast rest for 5 minutes before cutting and serving!
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