I've got a super simple weeknight dinner entrée coming at you with this air fryer BBQ chicken! We're going to season chicken breasts with smoky paprika, garlic, and onion powder. Then we'll air fry the chicken and brush it with your favorite barbecue sauce. After air frying again for a short time, you'll be ready to have this winning chicken dinner.
Have you tried air frying chicken breasts yet? If not, what's stopping you?
I've shown you in a previous post how to air fry a whole chicken. Unfortunately, cooking a whole chicken takes an hour, not the best when you're hungry now.
With these air fried BBQ chicken breasts, you'll be eating in under 30 minutes. It's going to make things easier on those days when you're tired and want something quick to eat.
You may be able to throw this together even faster than you could go out and get a fast-food order. That's assuming, of course, that you already have some chicken and barbecue sauce at home. A little planning can go a long way in helping you to eat healthier.
Some nights I love to take my time with recipes. I might whip up a batch of homemade BBQ sauce to go on this chicken. Other evenings, however, I just don't have the time for that.
Good thing we live in a time when we have so many choices. There are so many great store-bought barbecue sauces available! You're bound to find one that meets both your taste preferences and health needs.
Choosing a Barbecue Sauce for Air Fryer BBQ Chicken
It's pretty easy to have some fun with this one. Since you're making air fried barbecue chicken, why not experiment with a variety of BBQ sauces? Your family may find a new favorite in the mix.
We decided to try out The New Primal Classic BBQ Sauce as well as the Primal Kitchen Classic BBQ Sauce. It's kind of funny that they both use "classic" in their names. Each of these barbecue sauces have some attributes that make them a bit non-traditional.
Of the two sauces, The New Primal was our favorite. It was almost like a regular sweet barbecue sauce, but it had a faint pineapple flavor that was a really lovely touch. Here's some nutrition-related info on this sauce:
- 35 calories per 2 tablespoons (8g net carbs)
- Gluten-free and Whole 30 approved
- Uses pineapple juice concentrate and tamarind concentrate for sweetness
- Contains beef bone broth powder (i.e., not vegetarian friendly)
Something to know about this BBQ sauce is that it does contain added sugar in the form of fruit concentrates. Blended whole fruits do not count as added sugars in recipes, but concentrated fruits may. This tends to be a huge area of confusion for people!
Making Low Carb BBQ Air Fryer Chicken
You don't have to give up BBQ chicken if you are following a lower carb or keto diet. Luckily, there are some BBQ sauce options for the folks trying to limit their intake of added sugars. If this sounds like you, the next sauce we tried is going to be better for you.
Here's some information on the Primal Kitchen Classic BBQ Sauce:
- 15 calories per 2 tablespoons (3g net carbs)
- Gluten-free, vegan, low-carb, and keto-friendly
- No added sugar or sweeteners
- Heavy on the vinegar flavor
In our opinion, neither sauce was terrible. However, if you expect some sweetness in your BBQ sauce, you'll enjoy The New Primal sauce more. On the other hand, the Primal Kitchen sauce works well if you are using a keto, lchf, or low-carb diet approach.
Each of these brands also carries other BBQ sauce flavors that may (or may not) align with your dietary needs. For example, Primal Kitchen has a Carolina Gold BBQ sauce, while The New Primal offers a Mustard BBQ Sauce.
Pineapple makes a reappearance in The New Primal's Mustard BBQ sauce as well. However, this one is listed as low-carb and keto friendly because it has 3g of net carbs per serving. It might be worth trying out if your tastebuds prefer a slightly sweeter sauce than Primal Kitchen's offering.
To be honest, I'm intrigued by that mustard barbecue sauce. It receives pretty good reviews, so I'm thinking I'll be adding it to our grocery list soon.
Some Final Tips for Air Frying BBQ Chicken
All air fryers are different, so the cooking times for your air fried barbecued chicken may vary. I own a 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven. It has a large capacity with two frying racks; I could easily fit all of the chicken breasts in one batch.
If you have a smaller air fryer with a basket, you may need to cook your chicken in two batches. Alternatively, if you have a small household, you could cut the recipe in half.
One of the nice things about air frying (aside from short cooking times) is that it's easy to adjust cooking times. In order to air fry foods, you need to flip them and/or switch the position of the trays in the oven often. This provides you with many opportunities to check on the food and adjust the recipe as needed.
If your chicken looks like it's done before the cooking time is up, simply remove it from the oven. On the other hand, if your air fryer BBQ chicken is not quite done in the cooking time I've listed, go a little longer. The seasoned cooks already know this, but recipes for the air fryer should be treated as a guide, not the law.
I adjust air fryer recipes that I find on the web all of the time. It's the best way to ensure that my air fried food turns out perfectly every time!
And now for the disclaimer…
All recipes on this website may or may not be appropriate for you, depending on your medical needs and personal preferences. Consult with a registered dietitian or your physician if you need help determining the dietary pattern that may be best for you.
The nutrition information is an estimate provided as a courtesy. It will differ depending on the specific brands and ingredients that you use. Calorie information on food labels may be wildly inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
For more information on how the three recipe levels may help with a weight management goal, refer to this post. Let's get cooking!
Air Fryer BBQ Chicken
- 4 chicken breasts (approximately 1½ lbs.)
- 1 tablespoon melted bacon fat or cooking oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper, to taste
- cooking oil spray of choice
- ½ cup BBQ sauce of choice (we used ¼-cup The New Primal Classic BBQ Sauce and ¼-cup Primal Kitchen Classic BBQ Sauce)
- Mist your air fryer baking trays with the cooking spray. Put your chicken breasts on the trays in a single layer.
- Brush your chicken breasts with the melted bacon fat or cooking oil.
- Mix the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, and pepper together. Sprinkle this mixture on your chicken breasts.
- Air fry your chicken for 10 minutes at 350°F. Then flip the chicken breasts over, switch the position of the trays in the oven, and air fry for an additional 10 minutes at 350°F.
- Flip the chicken breasts over again and brush with the BBQ sauce. (Check out the recipe video!)
- Air fry the BBQ chicken breasts for 3 minutes at 350°F. Then switch the position of the trays in the air fryer oven (don't flip the chicken) and bake for 3 more minutes at 350°F.
- Let your chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before enjoying.
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). The calories and other nutrition information for this recipe will depend on the BBQ sauce you use. The no added sugar barbecue sauces are often lower in calories. These may be your best bet if you have a fat loss goal. Chicken breast is a lean protein that many find highly satiating. This easy entrée is a great pick to build a healthy meal around. I served mine with a mix of roasted cauliflower and potatoes, plus my loaded air fryer radishes. To keep this meal under 30 minutes, serve with a large side salad packed with non-starchy vegetables. Stick with 1-2 tablespoons of salad dressing if you're looking for a level 1 meal. Nutrition information is for one serving of the recipe.
Winner, winner chicken dinner! If chicken is what you want on your menu, this Chicken Southwest Salad is healthy, beautiful, and tastes amazing. Trust me, you are going to want to make that one!
Or maybe you want your chicken in the form of this low-carb Buffalo Chickenetti. I stuffed spaghetti squash boats with Buffalo chicken and veggies and finished things off with a drizzle of ranch. Yum, yum, yum.
Did you try this air fryer BBQ chicken recipe? Don't be shy, leave a comment and a rating below!
Also, feel free to share your favorite barbecue sauce because we're always looking for new suggestions! Thanks for stopping by!