Air Fryer Southern Style Fried Chicken

There’s nothing quite like Southern fried chicken—crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and bursting with flavor. However, the traditional deep-frying method can be a bit heavy on the grease. Enter the air fryer, a modern kitchen marvel that delivers all the crunch and taste of classic fried chicken without the excess oil. Ready to transform your kitchen into a Southern haven? Let’s get started!


Table of Contents

For the Chicken:

  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  • 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken drumsticks
  • 1 cup buttermilk
  • 1 tablespoon hot sauce (such as Tabasco or Louisiana hot sauce)
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cornstarch
  • 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Olive oil spray

Optional Garnish:

  • Fresh parsley, chopped
  • Lemon wedges


Marinating the Chicken:

  1. Prepare the Marinade: In a large bowl, combine the buttermilk and hot sauce. Add the chicken pieces, ensuring they are fully coated. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight for the best flavor.

Preparing the Coating:

  1. Mix the Dry Ingredients: In a separate bowl, combine the flour, cornstarch, Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, salt, and black pepper. Mix well to ensure the spices are evenly distributed.

Coating the Chicken:

  1. Preheat the Air Fryer: Preheat your air fryer to 375°F (190°C) for about 5 minutes. Preheating ensures that the chicken starts cooking immediately and helps achieve that perfect crispy crust.
  2. Dredge the Chicken: Remove the chicken from the buttermilk marinade, allowing any excess to drip off. Dredge each piece in the flour mixture, pressing firmly to ensure an even and thorough coating.
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Air Frying the Chicken:

  1. Arrange the Chicken: Lightly spray the air fryer basket with olive oil spray to prevent sticking. Arrange the coated chicken pieces in a single layer in the basket. Avoid overcrowding to allow hot air to circulate around the chicken.
  2. Spray with Oil: Lightly spray the tops of the chicken pieces with olive oil spray. This step helps to achieve a golden, crispy exterior.
  3. Cook the Chicken: Air fry the chicken at 375°F (190°C) for 25-30 minutes, flipping halfway through the cooking time and spraying again with olive oil spray. The chicken is done when it reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) and is golden brown and crispy.

Serving the Chicken:

  1. Garnish and Serve: Remove the chicken from the air fryer and let it rest for a few minutes. Garnish with fresh parsley and serve with lemon wedges for a burst of freshness.

Tips for Perfect Air Fryer Fried Chicken

  • Marinate Well: For the juiciest and most flavorful chicken, marinate the pieces in buttermilk and hot sauce for at least a few hours or overnight.
  • Even Coating: Press the chicken firmly into the flour mixture to ensure an even coating that will crisp up beautifully in the air fryer.
  • Oil Spray: Using an olive oil spray helps to achieve a golden crust without the need for deep frying. Don’t skip the mid-cook spray for the best results.
  • Check Doneness: Use a meat thermometer to check that the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F (74°C). This ensures the chicken is fully cooked while remaining juicy.

A Southern Feast at Your Fingertips

Air Fryer Southern Style Fried Chicken is a game-changer. It brings the delightful crunch and mouth-watering flavor of traditional fried chicken to your table with a fraction of the oil and effort. Whether you’re preparing a family dinner, hosting a gathering, or simply craving some comfort food, this recipe delivers every time.

As you take your first bite, you’ll be transported to the heart of the South, where food is crafted with love, and each meal is a celebration. This recipe is perfect for creating those cherished moments and satisfying your cravings without the guilt. So, dust off your air fryer and get ready to enjoy a healthier twist on a Southern classic. Happy cooking!