This air fryer BBQ chicken breast recipe is a fast and easy weeknight dinner entrée. We're going to season chicken breasts with smoked paprika, garlic, and onion powder. Then we'll air fry the chicken for 9 minutes at 350F (177C), brush it with your favorite barbecue sauce, and air fry 2-3 minutes more. Get ready to have the best barbecue chicken breast in the air fryer!
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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 rotisserie 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 15 minutes. It's going to make things easier on those days when you're tired and want something quick to eat.
Table of Contents
⭐ Air Fryer Barbecue Chicken Breast
What do you need to make air fryer BBQ chicken breast? Here are the ingredients:
- 2 small boneless skinless chicken breasts (5-6 ounces or 142-170g each)
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon each garlic powder, onion powder, dried oregano
- Salt and black pepper
- Cooking oil spray
- Your favorite BBQ sauce (about 2 tablespoons)
Get a printable recipe card at the end of the post!
It’s important to use thin, small chicken breasts in this recipe. Chicken breasts sold in the US tend to be larger than this. If your chicken breasts are large, pound them with a mallet to a ½-inch thickness and cut them down to about 5-6 ounces each.
Large chicken breasts may dry out on the outside in the air fryer before they reach the safe minimum internal temperature. That is why I recommend small chicken breasts for this recipe. Using chicken breasts that are about ½ inch thick also helps to ensure more even cooking.
If your chicken breasts are really thick in the middle and thin at the edges, they won’t cook evenly. The edges will become overly dry while the middle of the chicken breasts may remain raw (or undercooked).
One of the nice things about air frying is that it's easy to adjust cooking times. 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 breast is not quite done in the cooking time I've listed, go a little longer.
The seasoned cooks already know this, but air fryer recipes should be treated as a guide, not the law. You can use your Ninja Foodi, Philips, Actifry, Instant Pot Vortex, Cosori, or any air fryer to make baked BBQ chicken this way.
🍗 How to Make Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Breast
Here are the step-by-step instructions to make BBQ chicken breast in air fryer:
- Before you get seasoning and cooking, make sure you are using chicken breasts that are the right weight and thickness. You want 5-6 ounce boneless and skinless chicken breasts (142-170g) that are about ½-inch thick (1.27cm). If your chicken breasts are larger, use a mallet to pound them to ½ inch thick. Then use a knife to trim them to the desired weight.
- Mist the chicken with cooking spray. Mix the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, and pepper together for the dry rub. Sprinkle these spices on both sides of the chicken breasts. Place the chicken in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Time to air fry!
⏲️ Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Breast Cooking Time
How long to cook BBQ chicken in air fryer? Air fryer BBQ boneless chicken breast takes 11-12 minutes total. Here’s the breakdown of the air frying procedure:
- Air fry for 9 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177C). (Use the top rack position if you have an air fryer oven.)
- Flip the chicken breasts and check the temperature with a meat thermometer. If it’s at least 155-160F (68-71C), brush on the BBQ sauce.
- Air fry for an additional 2-3 minutes at 350F (177C).
- Ensure the chicken reached a minimum safe internal temperature of 165F (74C). Once the chicken is properly cooked, allow it to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving.
After air frying, it’s important to use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You may need to extend the air fryer time slightly if the chicken is not done.
🌡️ Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Breast Cooking Temperature
Cook BBQ boneless chicken breast in air fryer at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (177C). This temperature is perfect to get the chicken thoroughly cooked while remaining moist and tender.
Can you put BBQ sauce in an air fryer?
Yes, as this recipe shows, you can use BBQ sauce on air fried items. I recommend brushing the sauce on towards the end of cooking so that it does not burn.
Why was my chicken breast rubbery in air fryer?
Air fryer chicken breast turns rubbery when it is overcooked. To prevent overcooking, make sure to use small chicken breasts. Chicken with sauce or marinade, chicken with skin, and higher fat cuts of chicken are less likely to dry out.
How to make air fryer BBQ chicken breast from frozen?
Defrost frozen chicken breast in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours before making this air fryer chicken breasts recipe. You could also quick thaw frozen chicken in airtight packaging in a bowl of cold water. Thawing frozen chicken breasts takes about 1 hour with this method (USDA).
How do you BBQ chicken breast without drying it out?
If you’re making BBQ chicken, prevent overcooking to keep it from drying out. Using small chicken breasts with an even thickness in this recipe will help it cook evenly. If you’re cooking on a grill, using a brine or marinade on the chicken can help prevent drying out.
🐓 BBQ Chicken Breast Side Dishes
Here are a few side dish ideas for barbecue chicken breast in air fryer:
- Air Fryer Frozen French Fries
- Frozen Green Beans (Air Fryer)
- Corn on the Cob
- Costco Mac and Cheese
- Kale Apple Slaw
- Air Fryer Mexican Cornbread
- Air Fryer Radishes
- Accompaniment Salad
You could also cut the chicken into air fryer BBQ chicken breast strips and make a salad. This BBQ chicken breast air fryer recipe will keep for up to 3-4 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
👩🏻🍳 Other Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
Looking for more ways to cook chicken in an air fryer? I’ve got you covered! Here are some easy chicken air fryer recipes to get you started:
- Frozen Chicken Thighs in Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Chicken Shawarma
- Ninja Foodi Breaded Chicken Breast
- Frozen Chicken Wings in Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Rotisserie Cornish Hen
- Air Fryer Chicken Leg Quarters
Watch How to Make It!
Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Breast Recipe (Air Fryer Barbecue Chicken)
- 2 boneless and skinless chicken breasts (about 12 ounces/340 g total or 5-6 ounces (142-170 g) each; ½-inch (1.27 cm) thick. Use a mallet and knife to flatten and trim large chicken breasts)
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- ⅛ teaspoon garlic powder
- ⅛ teaspoon onion powder
- ⅛ teaspoon dried oregano
- salt and pepper, to taste
- cooking oil spray
- 2 tablespoons BBQ sauce (plus more for serving, if desired)
- If your chicken breasts are large, use a mallet to pound them to ½-inch (1.27 cm) thick. Use a knife to trim them to 5-6 ounces (142-170 grams).
- Mist the chicken breast with cooking spray. Mix the paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, salt, and pepper together. Sprinkle this mixture on both sides of your chicken breasts.
- Air fry your chicken for 9 minutes at 350°F (177°C). Then flip the chicken breasts over and check the temperature with a meat thermometer. If it’s at least 155-160°F (68-71°C), brush on the BBQ sauce. Air fry the BBQ chicken breasts for 2-3 minutes more at 350°F (177°C).
- After air frying, use a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F (74°C). You may need to extend the air fryer time slightly if the chicken is not done. Let your chicken rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing and serving with more BBQ sauce (if desired).
💭 Expert Tips from a DietitianThis is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Is eating BBQ chicken healthy? This barbecue chicken breast is a rich source of lean protein, as well as many B vitamins. This includes niacin, vitamin B6, and vitamin B12. As long as you don’t use a barbecue sauce loaded with added sugar, BBQ chicken is a nutrient-dense food I’d consider healthy. In addition, skinless boneless chicken breasts in the air fryer cooks in under 30 minutes. Depending on the barbecue sauce you use, this recipe can be gluten free, low carb, keto, dairy free, and soy free. It’s also great for healthy meal prep. Barbecue chicken freezes well and is the perfect protein to add to your meal prepping repertoire. No added sugar barbecue sauces are often lower in calories and may be your best bet if you have a weight loss goal. Nutrition information is for one serving of the recipe and varies depending on the BBQ sauce you use.
nutrition info 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 inaccurate, so please don't sweat the numbers too much.
Hello! I'm Summer, a registered dietitian and home chef who loves to cook, eat, and create high quality content for you! Every recipe on this site has been tested by me to help ensure your success in the kitchen. All eaters are welcome here 🙂