Air Fryer BBQ Chicken

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5 from 17 votes
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This air fryer BBQ chicken is perfectly juicy and tender and is so much faster than firing up the grill. It needs a handful of ingredients and cooks in under 20 minutes.

air fryer bbq chicken.

Craving barbecue but don’t have the patience to whip out the grill? This air fryer BBQ chicken recipe is your answer.

While I typically stick to other air fryer recipes, like air fryer chicken breast or air fryer chicken tenderloins for my family’s dinnertime protein option, dousing them in some barbecue sauce has completely elevated them! It’s my sneaky way to get my family to stop complaining about how boring chicken breasts are.

Table of Contents
  1. Why this recipe works
  2. Ingredients Needed
  3. How to make air fryer BBQ chicken
  4. Tips to make the best recipe
  5. Storage instructions
  6. Frequently asked questions
  7. More air fryer chicken recipes
  8. Air Fryer BBQ Chicken (Recipe Card)

Why this recipe works

  • It is hassle-free. All the barbecue goodness without needing the BBQ.
  • Quick and easy. Like boneless wings or chicken lollipops, no long marination time, breading, or complicated ingredients. This recipe is as simple as it gets, with little cook time, and makes a fabulously easy weeknight dinner.
  • Amazing texture and flavor. The texture of the chicken is perfectly tender, juicy, and moist. The sauce gives it a sweet and tangy barbecue flavor that leaves you craving more.
  • Easy to dress up. I like to serve this chicken as the dinnertime star and add some salad, potatoes, and corn on the cob on the side (or fries!) for a well-balanced meal.
air fryer bbq chicken breast.

Ingredients Needed

This air fryer BBQ chicken breast is so easy, and besides the chicken and the sauce itself, there isn’t much else needed to make. Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Chicken. Opt for fresh, pink, uniformly sized chicken breast fillets. The smaller they are, the easier they will be to fit in the air fryer basket.
  • Salt & pepper. To taste.
  • Onion & garlic powder. Because BBQ sauce already has tons of flavoring in it, I like to keep things simple with just a smidge of garlic and onion powders.
  • BBQ sauce. Use your favorite barbecue sauce or choose one with the least added sugar. I like the Sweet Baby Ray brand because it uses wholesome ingredients and tastes incredible!

Find the printable recipe in the recipe card below.

How to make air fryer BBQ chicken

As someone who loves a good barbecued chicken, this air fryer version has been an absolute game changer, and it’s so fast. Ready to whip some up?

Step 1- Prep the air fryer. Grease the air fryer with oil or cooking spray and preheat it at 180°C/350°F.

Step 2- Prep the chicken. Dry the chicken and rub the spice mix all over it.

seasoned chicken breasts.

Step 3- Air fry the chicken. Cook the chicken for about 8 minutes on each side.

how to make air fryer bbq chicken.

Step 4- Brush with BBQ sauce. Remove the chicken briefly from the air fryer, baste it with BBQ sauce, and cook for 1-2 minutes.

chicken in the air fryer with bbq sauce.

Tips to make the best recipe

  • Line the air fryer basket: Layer the air fryer basket with parchment paper to avoid annoying cleanup afterwards. I like to use air fryer liners which fit perfectly in most air fryers.
  • Avoid overcrowding: Layer and space the chicken evenly for the best cooking and consistent results. If needed, cook the chicken in batches.
  • Start with room-temperature chicken: To ensure the chicken is cooked evenly in the air fryer, take it out of the fridge half an hour before cooking.   
  • Use a meat thermometer: If you have variable-sized pieces, the best way to confirm the doneness of your chicken is to check its internal temperature. Stick the thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken, and once it’s 165F, it’s ready to eat!
  • Add some heat: If you are a spice fiend (remember, BBQ sauce is already heavily spiced), add some smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, or extra black pepper.

Storage instructions

To store. Allow the chicken to cool down completely. Then, place leftovers in an airtight container and store it in the refrigerator for up to three days.

To freeze. Store leftovers in a ziplock bag and keep it in the freezer for up to two months.

To reheat. If using frozen chicken, let it thaw in the fridge and warm it in the air fryer until ready. 

bbq chicken air fryer.

Frequently asked questions

Can I use any other cut to make this chicken recipe?

Of course! This recipe works well with boneless and bone-in chicken cuts, including drumsticks, chicken thighs, and chicken quarters.

Can I use frozen chicken?

If using frozen chicken, thaw it completely in the fridge, pat dry, and use it like fresh chicken. Be sure to pat dry the chicken to ensure there is no excess moisture.

Can I coat the chicken with BBQ sauce before air frying it?

I don’t recommend doing this. The sugars in BBQ sauce will burn during the long cook and yield rubbery chicken. It’s best to slather it during the last 2 minutes of the cook.

Is this recipe gluten-free?

When made with a gluten-free barbecue sauce, this recipe is suitable for celiacs.

More air fryer chicken recipes

air fryer bbq chicken recipe.

Air Fryer BBQ Chicken

5 from 17 votes
This air fryer bbq chicken is perfectly juicy and tender and is so much faster than firing up the grill. It needs a handful of ingredients and cooks in under 15 minutes.
Servings: 4 servings
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 19 minutes
Total: 24 minutes

Video

Ingredients  

  • 4 small chicken breasts
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup barbecue sauce

Instructions 

  • Preheat the air fryer to 180C/350F. Grease the air fryer basket with cooking spray. 
  • Pat dry the chicken with a paper towel. Rub the spices all over the chicken.
  • Air fry the chicken for 8 minutes, flip, and cook for another 8 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken from the air fryer basket and cover generously in the barbecue sauce.
  • Return the covered chicken to the air fryer basket and cook for another 2 minutes. 

Notes

TO STORE: Allow the chicken to cool down completely. Then, refrigerate it in an air-tight container for 3-4 days.
TO FREEZE: Toss the leftover BBQ chicken in a freezer-safe container and freeze for 2 months.
TO REHEAT: If using frozen BBQ chicken, let it thaw in the fridge and warm it in the air fryer until ready. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingCalories: 196kcalCarbohydrates: 16gProtein: 25gFat: 3gSodium: 1082mgPotassium: 522mgFiber: 1gSugar: 12gVitamin A: 117IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 23mgIron: 1mgNET CARBS: 15g
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: American
Author: Arman Liew
Tried this recipe?Give us a shout at @thebigmansworld or tag #thebigmansworld!

Recipe originally posted September 2023, but updated to include a recipe video for your benefit.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. I may earn a small commission for my endorsement, recommendation, testimonial, and/or link to any products or services from this website.

Arman Liew

I’m a two time cookbook author, photographer, and writer, and passionate about creating easy and healthier recipes. I believe you don’t need to be experienced in the kitchen to make good food using simple ingredients that most importantly, taste delicious.

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  1. 5 stars
    I’m so glad I found your page. I like making your recipes. I’ve shared so many with my friends that I finally got each of them signed on so they can look and make their own choices

    You’re a blessing