This easy and delicious recipe for Air Fryer Blackened Chicken is ready in less than 15 minutes, and requires just a few simple ingredients. This easy dinner recipe is gluten-free, dairy-free, low carb, and keto.
Blackened chicken is a New Orlean’s classic that first became popular in the 1980’s. The chicken was rubbed with a blend of spices and cooked on high heat in a skillet with oil or butter, rendering a black exterior, with a perfectly cooked, tender inside.
If you’ve ever had blackened chicken, you are probably familiar with the delicious and spicy taste. This version that I’ve adapted for the air fryer is not as black as one made in a skillet, but that’s not for a lack of experimentation.
I tested searing the breast before placing it in the air fryer, as well as cooking it at a higher temperature. While both gave it a blackened color, the texture and taste of the chicken were not as delicious as when I used this simple and easy method.
So while you won’t see the hardened dark-colored exterior, you will get all of the flavors of blackened chicken. The blend of spices is perfect, with just a hint of heat. If you like things hot, just increase that cayenne pepper a bit more and you should get all the satisfying heat you need!
Why You’ll Love This Recipe:
- It’s great for a variety of dietary needs: gluten-free, keto, dairy-free, low-carb, paleo, AND whole30.
- Ready in less than 15 minutes thanks to easy prep and a quick cooking time in the air fryer.
- The perfect easy dinner recipe. Serve it with air fryer sweet potato cubes for a satisfying weeknight dinner.
- Easy to prepare in bulk for a delicious and healthy meal prep option.
- Chicken breasts: For a single batch you will need 2 large chicken breasts, cut in half widthwise to make 4 chicken cutlets. This allows them to cook super quickly, and yields a great texture and crispiness.
- Avocado oil: I like to use avocado oil for many recipes since it has a high smoke point, but you can use your favorite neutral-flavored oil. Olive oil works well too if you don’t mind the flavor.
- Seasonings: The essential part of blackened chicken is the spices. You’ll need smoked paprika, ground cayenne, cumin, thyme, onion powder, white pepper, and salt.
- Air Fryer: You’ll need an air fryer to make this recipe, and either a basket-style or oven-style will work. I like this Ninja basket model and the Instant Pot vortex for an oven-style model.
- Whisk or silicone spatula
How to Make Blackened Chicken in the Air Fryer
Before you get started, remember to preheat your air fryer to 375ºF for at least 3 minutes, or according to the instructions for your particular model.
Prepare your chicken breasts by cutting them in half widthwise to create two thinner pieces from each breast. Set aside.
Add 1 tablespoon of avocado oil to a large bowl and add in the smoked paprika, ground cayenne, cumin, thyme, onion powder, white pepper, and salt. Whisk the seasonings together with the oil until a thin paste is formed.
Add the chicken breast pieces to the bowl of oil and seasonings, tossing to coat each of the pieces in the seasoned oil.
Cooking the Blackened Chicken
Once the chicken pieces are well coated, add them in a single layer to the basket of the preheated air fryer. Leave plenty of room between each piece of chicken, working in batches as needed.
Cook the chicken for 6-10 minutes in your air fryer, or approximately 3-5 minutes per side. Flip the chicken halfway through the time to ensure for even cooking and browning.
Check the internal temperature of the thickest part of each chicken piece. It is cooked through once the chicken reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165ºF.
Remove from the air fryer using a clean fork or tongs and place on a plate. Repeat with any remaining seasoned chicken pieces.
Once all of the chicken is cooked, serve and enjoy however you like! We like to serve ours with white rice, roasted sweet potatoes (these air fryer sweet potato cubes are our favorite), and some curry mayonnaise on the side for dipping.
Variations and Substitutions
Air Fryer Blackened Chicken Tenders: Substitute the 2 chicken breasts for 6-8 chicken tenderloins. Cook in the air fryer for 3-5 minutes per side, or for a total of 6-8 minutes, turning halfway through. They are done when they have reached a minimum internal temperature of 165ºF. Serve with your choice of dipping sauce, such as ranch dip or curry mayo.
Air Fryer Blackened Chicken Breasts: If you want to leave the chicken breasts whole, you can cook them for 12-14 minutes, turning them halfway through cooking for even browning. The chicken is done when it reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165ºF at the thickest part of the breast.
How to Prepare for Meal Prep
This air fryer blackened chicken recipe is great for serving as a quick and easy dinner, but it’s also great for healthy meal prep or even adding a spicy protein option to salads.
- Allow the chicken to cool completely before adding it to meal prep containers.
- Serve with a vegetable or complex carb such as my recipe for Air Fryer Sweet Potato Cubes or steamed broccoli.
- Add a starchy side if desired. I like to make a batch of Instant Pot White Rice for adding to a variety of meal preps (like my Air Fryer Chicken Fajitas).
- Fill a small container with a dipping sauce of your choice. I recommend my easy Curry Mayonnaise recipe for both blackened chicken and sweet potato cubes.
- Alternatively, you can cut the chicken into slices and arrange on top of a prepared salad.
- Top with a lid and store in the fridge for up to 3 days.
More Easy Air Fryer Dinner Recipes
- Air Fryer Chicken Tenders (without Breading)
- Air Fryer Sausage and Peppers
- Whole Chicken in the Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Chicken Fajitas
- Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Tenders
- Air Fryer Chicken Breasts – Well Plated
Air Fryer Blackened Chicken
- 2 chicken breasts cut in half widthwise into cutlets
- 1 tablespoon avocado oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon ground cayenne
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin
- ¼ teaspoon dried thyme
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon white pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- Preheat your air fryer to 375ºF for at least 3 minutes, according to the manufacturer’s instructions for your particular model.
- Cut your chicken breasts in half widthwise to create two thinner pieces from each single chicken breast.
- Add 1 tablespoon of avocado oil to a large bowl, then add in all of the seasonings. Whisk the seasonings and oil together until completely combined.
- Add the halved chicken breasts to the bowl of oil and seasonings, tossing to coat each of the pieces in the seasoned oil.
- Once the chicken pieces are well coated, add them in a single layer to the basket of the preheated air fryer. Leave plenty of room between each piece of chicken, working in batches as needed.
- Cook the chicken in the air fryer for 6-10 minutes, or for 3-5 minutes per side. Make sure to flip the chicken halfway through the cooking time for even browning.
- Once the chicken reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165ºF at the thickest part, it’s cooked through. Remove from the air fryer to a plate.
- Repeat with any remaining chicken.
- Serve and enjoy with your choice of dipping sauce, or how you prefer to serve blackened chicken.
This air fryer blackened chicken was so tasty, and it was perfect for adding to my salad. Nice and spicy – but not too much.