Can you air fry chicken schnitzel? Yes! With this air fryer chicken schnitzel recipe, we’re skipping the frying in this classic Austrian dish. Using pork panko instead of traditional bread crumbs means this is a keto friendly entrée. With only 239 calories and 0.4 grams of net carbs per chicken cutlet, this schnitzel is a surprisingly low carb option. The whole family is going to love how delicious this is!
You know I’m all about easy and tasty air fryer recipes, and this one does not disappoint. I’m serving up fried chicken schnitzel in the air fryer. It's a seriously good entrée.
My son can be a little picky about protein foods, and even he gobbled this one up! He ate even more than my husband at dinner (a rare occurrence) and took the leftovers for himself the next day.
I think schnitzel is one of those entrees that is just plain appealing to kids. This chicken schnitzel has an even higher breading to chicken ratio than chicken nuggets. I guess it’s not so surprising that kids love it!
What’s great is that this isn’t just kid food. I think everyone will enjoy these moist cutlets with the crisp panko coating. With a squeeze of lemon, it’s definitely a cut above your standard chicken nugget meal.
What is schnitzel?
Before I go on, I suppose I should clarify what schnitzel is for those who don’t know. In its simplest form, schnitzel is a thin cut of breaded meat that has been fried in fat. It has similarities to the chicken fried steak of the U.S. Southeast and the milanesa of South America and Italy.
It would be safe to say that breaded and fried meat cutlets are enjoyed worldwide. I’ve even seen vegetarian versions made with cheese or soy.
Wiener schnitzel, a famous Viennese dish, may be the best-known schnitzel. Wiener schnitzel is always made with veal, but other schnitzels (e.g., chicken, pork, and beef) have also become very popular.
The type of meat typically used in a schnitzel varies by geographical location. Pork schnitzel is popular in Belgium and the Netherlands. In Israel you’re likely to find turkey schnitzel, aligning with the kashrut laws that prohibit pork.
For this recipe, I decided to go with a chicken schnitzel. Chicken is an inexpensive and easily obtainable lean protein. I thought chicken provided a nice balance against the higher fat pork panko, keeping the dish from getting too greasy.
Why make chicken schnitzel in the air fryer? Here’s why I’m loving this recipe:
- No added oil: Authentic schnitzel is breaded and fried, and that can leave the finished dish a bit oily. With this air fried schnitzel, we’ve skipped the frying in oil entirely. This is a no butter and no oil schnitzel recipe (aside from the pork fat present in the pork panko).
- Low carb and keto diet entree: Lots of people are using a low carb plan for weight loss or as medical nutritional therapy for diabetes. It can be tough to maintain these diets if you’re missing breaded foods. With this simple recipe, you get that “bready” taste you miss without the carbs!
- Gluten free chicken schnitzel: Aside from being keto and low carb friendly, this schnitzel is gluten free.
- Easy to adapt meal to a variety of needs: You can easily modify this meal to make it appropriate for family members who want more carbs. Add some starchy veggies, rice, or buttered egg noodles on the side, and they’ll be all set!
- Protein-packed entrée: Chicken schnitzel is great if you’re looking to boost your protein intake. Chicken is also a great source of a variety of other nutrients, such as niacin and vitamin B12.
- So freaking delicious: Listen, we’re breading thin chicken cutlets in seasoned and crushed pork rinds. You know that it is going to be completely AMAZING. Let’s get more into the ingredients below, shall we?
You should be able to find most of the ingredients you need for air fryer chicken schnitzel from a regular supermarket. Here’s the round up:
- Thin chicken cutlets (skinless and boneless)
- Large eggs
- Dijon mustard
- Pork panko
- Garlic powder
- Dried parsley
- Grated parmesan cheese
- Salt and pepper
- Lemon wedges, for serving
The chicken cutlets I used were very thin, only ¼ inch thick, and they only weighed about 3 ounces each. I saved a lot of work by purchasing raw chicken breast that was already cut and pounded to this thickness and weight.
If you are using larger chicken breasts, you will need to pound them thin with a mallet. You’ll also need to cut them down with a knife. Using chicken breasts that are the correct thickness and size helps ensure this recipe’s cooking times will work for you.
The only ingredient on the above list that you probably won’t find in your grocery store is the pork panko. You can find pork panko on Amazon. Pork panko is made of pork rinds cooked in pork fat (then crushed) plus salt. That’s it.
Pork panko contains 6 grams of fat, 0 grams of carbs, and 10 grams of protein per ½ ounce serving. It is higher in fat and protein*, but lower in carbs, than whole grain bread crumbs and flour.
*(I should mention here that pork rinds often have labeling listing them as “not a significant source of protein.” Pork rinds are largely collagen, an incomplete protein source, so please don’t try to live on them.)
You need an air fryer to make this recipe. I prefer larger capacity air fryer ovens, though smaller fryers with an air fryer basket should also work. With a smaller air fryer, you will likely need to cook this breaded schnitzel in more batches.
I developed this recipe with a 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven. However, if you have a Ninja Foodi, NuWave air fryer, Philips air fryer, or other fryer, you can still enjoy schnitzel! You may need to adjust the cooking times slightly if you are using a different air fryer than I am using.
Luckily, it’s really easy to make small adjustments to the cooking time if that’s what you need to do. You’re going to be switching the position of the trays in the air fryer oven every five minutes or so for even browning. You’ll be able to easily see if you need to add or subtract a few minutes of air frying.
How to Air Fry Chicken Schnitzel
So, let’s make some chicken schnitzel in the air fryer! If your chicken cutlets aren’t ¼ inch thick and about 3 ounces each, start by pounding and trimming them to size.
Next, whisk the eggs and mustard together in a bowl. In a second bowl, stir together the pork panko, garlic powder, dried parsley, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
Bread each chicken piece by coating it first with the egg mixture and then with the panko mixture. Be sure to pat the panko on to the cutlet so it sticks well.
Put the breaded cutlets on an air fryer tray in a single layer. My air fryer has two trays, and I was able to cook four cutlets at a time (two per tray). I had to cook the schnitzel in two batches since there are six breaded cutlets in this recipe.
Cook Time and Temperature
You’re going to air fry chicken schnitzel for a total of 13 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. The chicken is done when it reaches a minimum safe internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You can use a meat thermometer if you’re wondering how to tell when chicken schnitzel is done cooking.
To air fry the schnitzel, cook for 5 minutes at 375F. Then switch the position of the trays in the air fryer oven (don’t flip the chicken). Air fry the chicken an additional 5 minutes at 375F.
Now, switch the position of the trays in your air fryer oven once more (again, don’t flip the chicken). Air fry for 3 more minutes at 375F. Serve with the lemon wedges and have a great meal!
What to serve with Air Fryer Schnitzel
When thinking about side dishes for schnitzel, many of us may recollect the song “My Favorite Things” from The Sound of Music. Schnitzel and noodles are a classic pair, and we enjoyed a side of buttered noodles with our chicken schnitzel. I was unable to find wide egg noodles that were completely whole grain, so I settled for a half whole wheat option.
We also had side salads with fresh leafy greens and tomatoes with our schnitzel. If you are following a keto diet, pairing your schnitzel with a salad packed with non-starchy veggies is a great choice.
When we enjoyed schnitzel at a restaurant in the Netherlands, it was served with a vegetable salad and fries. If you’d like to serve your schnitzel air fry in a similar way, here are some options for fries and veggies. (The jicama fries are low-carb friendly too!)
- Air Fryer Frozen French Fries
- Air Fryer Jicama Fries (skip the dipping sauce if serving with schnitzel)
- Chop Salad Bowl (Wildflower Bread Salad Copycat)
Whatever you do, don’t forget to add some lemon wedges to your plate. A little squeeze of lemon really brightens up the flavors in schnitzel! Meyer lemons are my favorite lemon variety to use (when I am lucky enough to get my hands on them).
Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Here’s the deal. One piece of this scrumptious air fryer chicken schnitzel is a mere 239 calories and 0.4 grams of net carbs. With 37.3 grams of protein per serving, this satisfying entrée is a good fit for many low calorie and low carb dietary patterns.
That said, it is generally better for weight loss (and overall health) to choose plain chicken breast versus chicken breaded with crushed pork rinds. Though the pork panko is low carb, it adds more calories to this entrée than the chicken! If you aren’t on a low carb diet, whole wheat panko is a lower calorie choice than pork panko.
I know that sometimes I simply feel like eating something breaded. Completely depriving myself of schnitzel (and other breaded foods) wouldn’t be sustainable for me. If you’re the same, and you’re using a low carb or keto approach, I hope this tasty air fryer recipe helps you out!
To keep this meal at level one, I recommend paying attention to the sides you pair with your schnitzel. Pile on the non-starchy veggies to keep things keto and low calorie. If you have a salad, I would choose a low or no oil dressing, since the pork panko already has plenty of fat.
To make a higher calorie meal, add buttered egg noodles, rice, or fries on the side. (Note: I had difficulty finding short, wide egg noodles that were 100% whole grain. I found a brand that was half whole wheat and half refined grain. The other option is to make your own noodles, but that’s too much work for me on a weeknight.)
If your chicken schnitzel is not browning, ensure you are not crowding the breaded chicken, allowing optimal air circulation in the air fryer. If your air fryer oven has multiple rack positions, place the schnitzel on the tray that is closest to the heating element. Also, make sure to flip the cutlets as directed in the recipe so that both sides of the cutlet get a chance to brown.
Yes, this recipe can easily be modified using whatever meat you choose. Make sure the cutlets are pounded to an even thickness. You may need to adjust the cooking times a bit depending on your air fryer and the meat you are using.
Air fryer chicken schnitzel is best enjoyed shortly after air frying. Leftovers will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, though the panko breading may not be as crisp.
Yes, you can freeze your chicken schnitzel in a single layer on a parchment-lined baking tray. After it has frozen, pack the schnitzel into freezer bags for longer freezer storage. Freezing the schnitzel in a single layer first will help keep the breaded cutlets from sticking together.
Yes, you can air fry frozen schnitzel. Place the frozen chicken schnitzel in a non-touching single layer on your air fryer tray(s). Air fry at 375 degrees Fahrenheit, flipping every 5 minutes, until they reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Other Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
Chicken is a crowd pleaser and cooks up quickly and easily in the air fryer! If you’re searching for more air fryer recipes that use chicken, look no further! Check these out:
- Air Fryer Breaded Chicken Breasts
- Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Nuggets
- BBQ Chicken in the Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Strips
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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.
"Keto" recipes on the web may not be appropriate for those using ketogenic diets as part of their medical nutrition therapy. That includes this recipe.
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 my overnight oats with yogurt post. Let's get cooking!
Air Fryer Chicken Schnitzel
- Pound your chicken breasts to ¼-inch (0.64 cm) thick and trim them to about 3 ounces (85 grams) each. (Or just purchase thin chicken cutlets that are the right size and save yourself a lot of work!)
- Whisk the eggs and mustard together in a bowl. In a second bowl, stir together the pork panko, garlic powder, dried parsley, Parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper.
- Bread each chicken piece by coating it first with the egg mixture and then with the panko mixture. Pat the panko on to each cutlet so it sticks well.
- Put the breaded cutlets on an air fryer tray in a single layer. My air fryer has two trays, and I was able to cook four cutlets at a time (two per tray). I had to cook the schnitzel in two batches since there are six breaded cutlets in this recipe. If you have a smaller fryer, you may need to cook the cutlets in three batches.
- Air fry the chicken for 5 minutes at 375°F (190°C). Then switch the position of the trays in the air fryer oven (don’t flip the chicken). Air fry the chicken an additional 5 minutes at 375°F (190°C). Switch the position of the trays in the air fryer oven once more (again, don’t flip the chicken). Air fry for 3 minutes at 375°F (190°C). (That's 13 minutes of air frying time total.)
- Half batch directions: If you only have schnitzel on the top rack, air fry for 7-8 minutes total at 375°F (190°C). No need to flip the chicken!
- Use a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken has reached a safe minimum internal temperature of 165°F (74°C).
- Serve the chicken schnitzel with the lemon wedges. Squeeze a bit of lemon juice on the chicken right before eating. Enjoy!