Easy Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Recipe

What's better than BBQ chicken in the summer? Heck, the tangy, blackened meat with its crispy skin and soft, succulent center makes for good eating all year round! This version takes just 3 minutes of prep time and about a half hour to cook. Recipe developer Susan Olayinka makes this dish almost twice a month. "My husband is obsessed with BBQ chicken," she tells us. Plus, this recipe is super easy. Seriously, you have to work hard to mess it up.

The recipe prepares five pieces of chicken and this version plays with the spices a bit, blending some paprika with the BBQ sauce to give it a sweet, almost fruity, taste that provides just a slight bit of heat. What's the best part? Since the this BBQ chicken recipe uses an air fryer to prepare it, you'll save on the calorie intake. That's right, air fryers typically reduce the count by 70 to 80% on average when compared to deep-frying, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Plus, that cloying smell of cooked oil won't haunt your kitchen for hours after you've made dinner. Now, that's something to celebrate. Add some baked potatoes, corn, and a salad to this, and you've got a great backyard BBQ going. So let's start cooking!

Gather up those ingredients

The ingredients in this BBQ chicken are common. You might even have them on hand if you decide you're in the mood for BBQ at the last minute! You'll need 5 pieces of chicken (thighs or drumsticks work best, skin on), ½ a teaspoon of salt, ½ a teaspoon of paprika, ¼ teaspoon of black pepper, 2 tablespoons of olive oil and a ¼ cup of BBQ sauce. With the sauce, feel free to experiment and use the sauces you like best. Whether you like it smoky, tangy, or spicy, there are so many different kinds to experiment with! 

If chicken isn't your thing, you can also use this recipe on other meat, such as steak and fish, according to Olayinka, and, for you vegetarians, tofu can also be substituted.

Prepare the sauce and coat the chicken

The first step to delicious BBQ chicken is to combine together all the ingredients until the meat is well coated. Place the 5 pieces of chicken in a bowl, along with the salt, paprika, black pepper, and olive oil and mix. You want a slick, even covering over the chicken when you are finished.

Sometimes with a marinade, you want the meat to soak in all its goodness for a bit; this can help tenderize the meat and make it more flavorful, according to the San Antonio Express News, which advises that even an hour can enhance taste. With this recipe, though, you can skip that wait time and get to cooking!

Time to air fry the chicken

Now, it's time to cook the chicken. First, line the bottom of the air fryer with parchment paper; without this layer the chicken may stick. Place the marinated chicken into the air fryer and cook the pieces at 380 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes, turning them at the 12-minute mark. 

Be careful when you do this. The chicken will be quite hot. Tongs work well, and will easily move the chicken to the other side without any problem. This step is imperative and easy to skip, but don't do that. Rotating the food helps it crisp and you'll be happy you took the time to do so. 

Eight more minutes in the air fryer and it's time to enjoy

Once the 25 minutes of air frying is complete, take the chicken pieces out and coat them on both sides with BBQ sauce. Place the chicken back into the air fryer for an extra 8 minutes, this time at 400 degrees Fahrenheit. You want to add the sauce at this point, rather than earlier, because it will retain the flavor better and give the chicken a charred finish, according to Olayinka.

Finally, when the time is up, you should serve the chicken immediately. There are so many ways to offer this dish. It can be an appetizer before a meal. You can add a baked sweet potato and a salad for a dinner party, or make it a Southern-themed meal by pairing it with fried green tomatoes and baked beans. There are just so many delicious possibilities!

Easy Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Recipe
5 from 35 ratings
Who knew you could have fried BBQ chicken at home? This tasty recipe walks you through a few easy steps so you can serve it at your next backyard picnic!
Prep Time
Cook Time
bbq chicken on dish
Total time: 36 minutes
  • 5 pieces of chicken (bone-in, skin on)
  • ½ teaspoon of salt
  • ½ teaspoon of paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon of black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup of BBQ sauce
  1. Place into a mixing bowl the chicken pieces, salt, paprika, pepper, and extra-virgin olive oil.
  2. Mix the pieces of chicken together with the spices and oil so they are evenly coated.
  3. Place a piece of parchment paper into the air fryer.
  4. Place the marinated chicken pieces into the air fryer and cook them at 380 degrees Fahrenheit for 25 minutes, using tongs to turn them over at the 12-minute mark.
  5. After the 25 minutes, take the chicken pieces out and coat them on both sides with BBQ sauce.
  6. Place the chicken back into the air fryer for 8 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
  7. Serve immediately.
Calories per Serving 265
Total Fat 19.0 g
Saturated Fat 4.6 g
Trans Fat 0.1 g
Cholesterol 67.1 mg
Total Carbohydrates 6.0 g
Dietary Fiber 0.2 g
Total Sugars 4.8 g
Sodium 254.6 mg
Protein 16.8 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
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