Can you cook marinated chicken in air fryer? You bet! Making air fryer marinated chicken breasts (no breading) is so easy you’ll wonder why you didn’t try it sooner. Marinades are a healthy way to infuse chicken with a lot of flavor. You’re going to love this wet marinated chicken air fryer recipe; it’s low carb, Paleo, gluten free, and keto friendly!
Time to break out our mini convection oven (AKA air fryer) once again! This time we’re air frying marinated chicken. The bright and citrusy marinade is added sugar free and oh-so-good.
When you air fry lean proteins, such as chicken breast, it’s really easy to dry it out. Luckily, there are a few ways to help ensure recipe success. Keeping the skin on chicken breasts can help to keep it moist.
Another way to have success with air fryer chicken recipes is to use breading. The protective layer (particularly if it contains fat, such as with pork panko) helps keep the chicken from drying out. This is the technique I used in my air fryer chicken schnitzel recipe.
You can also make a moist marinated chicken breast in the air fryer without breading. This is the perfect option for those who choose chicken breast because they want a dish that’s lower in fat. Chicken with skin and pork rind bread crumbs are high in fat, while most marinades are low fat.
This air fryer chicken breast marinade isn't just great for keeping the chicken juicy and tender, however. It also adds flavor to our otherwise bland chicken breast.
Unlike a lot of seasoning blends and sauces, homemade marinades are often low in sodium. This also makes them a great option for flavoring meat, poultry, and fish for those on low-sodium diets.
- 📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
- ⭐ Benefits
- 🥘 Ingredients
- 🍽 Equipment
- 🔪 How to Make Air Fryer Marinated Chicken
- ️⏲ Cooking Time and Temperature
- ️🌡️ Leftovers
- 🍗 Marinades for Air Fryer Chicken
- 🥗 Side Dishes
- 💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
- 👩🏻🍳 More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
- The Disclaimer…
- 📖 Recipe
📋 Calories, Net Carbs, Protein
One serving of marinated chicken in the air fryer has 204 calories, 0 grams net carbs, and 38.3 grams protein. This nutrition information is for the chicken only. The marinade is mostly discarded; the small amount that is absorbed may contribute additional calories and net carbs.
What are the benefits of making marinated chicken in the air fryer? Here are some reasons to make this tonight:
- Packed with lean protein: Chicken breast is a protein-packed main dish that can be used to create a variety of filling yet low-calorie meals. It is what we call “protein dense,” which means it provides a lot of protein per calorie.
- Essential nutrients: Chicken is also rich in a variety of essential vitamins and minerals. This includes many of the B complex vitamins, phosphorus, and potassium. The vitamin B12 in chicken cannot be found reliably in unfortified plant foods.
- Simple: You only need a few simple ingredients to make this main dish air fryer recipe. You shouldn’t need to take a trip to the health food store or a specialty food store to make this one.
- Keto Marinated Chicken: This chicken with marinade is compatible with a number of special diets. This includes keto, low carb, gluten-free, as well as many Paleo and ancestral diet patterns.
- Delicious: No one wants to eat healthy food that doesn’t taste good! Lucky for us, this chicken recipe is a tasty crowd pleaser. It makes a nice weeknight family dinner.
Here’s what you need to make marinated chicken in an air fryer:
- Skinless, boneless chicken breast
- Fresh squeezed orange juice
- Orange zest
- Fresh squeezed lemon juice
- Lemon zest
- Fresh squeezed lime juice
- Lime zest
- Olive oil
- Minced garlic cloves
You don’t need cooking spray for this recipe. I sprinkled the chicken with some black pepper and crushed red pepper flakes for the photos, but these are optional.
The most important tip I have for ingredients is to make sure to use chicken breasts that are the right size. If you use smaller or larger chicken breasts than I did, the air frying times will be different. Very large chicken breasts tend to become overly dry outside before they cook properly in the middle.
Use chicken breasts that weigh about 24 ounces (680 g) total or 5-6 ounces (142-170 g) each. They should be ½-inch (1.27 cm) thick. Use a mallet and knife to flatten and trim large chicken breasts or (if in the U.S.) use Perdue Perfect Portions.
It’s possible to air fry bone-in skin-on chicken that was marinated. However, it will take longer than the boneless skinless chicken I’m cooking in this recipe.
To make air fryer marinated chicken, you need:
- Air fryer
- Juicer (I use an inexpensive manual juicer)
- Zester (microplane)
- Large container or gallon-size Ziploc baggie (for marinating chicken)
- Meat thermometer
I use a 10-Quart Kalorik Digital Air Fryer Oven to develop air fryer recipes. The Ninja Foodi, Cosori, Pampered Chef Air Fryer, Actifry, Nuwave, Instant Vortex, Cuisinart, Philips, Power Air Fryer, etc. can also air fry marinated chicken. However, you might need to make slight adjustments to the air frying time depending on the air fryer you use.
My air fryer oven has two large trays, so I can cook 4 chicken breasts at once. If you have a small air fryer basket, you may need to cook this recipe in batches.
Fresh citrus juice is critical to the flavor of the lemonade. Please don’t substitute with bottled juice. A small manual juicer and zester can be purchased inexpensively if you don’t have one.
Another thing that is important is the meat thermometer. It’s important to cook poultry to a safe internal temperature to prevent food poisoning. If you regularly cook meat, poultry, and fish, you should have a digital meat thermometer in your kitchen.
🔪 How to Make Air Fryer Marinated Chicken
The first thing to do is make the chicken marinade. Juice the oranges, lemon, and lime. (Remember- fresh juice is important!)
Zest the orange, lemon, and lime as well. Try to zest mostly the orange, yellow, or green part of the rind (depending on the fruit you use). Too much white pith in your zest can make your marinade bitter.
Next, mince the garlic cloves. Mix all of the juice, zest, olive oil, cumin, and garlic together. Your marinade is complete!
Put your chicken breasts in a food safe container or Ziplock bag. Pour in the marinade to cover the chicken. Seal the bag (or cover the container) and allow the chicken to marinate for 4-8 hours in the refrigerator.
After the marinating time is up, preheat the air fryer to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175C) for 5 minutes. Discard the marinade and put the chicken on the hot air fryer trays.
Don’t crowd the air fryer basket or trays. I used both of my air fryer trays for this recipe.
️⏲ Cooking Time and Temperature
How long to air fry marinated chicken? What temp to cook marinated chicken in air fryer? Air fry marinated chicken for a total of 20-22 minutes in an air fryer preheated to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (175C).
Air fry the marinated chicken for 12 minutes. Then flip the chicken over with a metal spatula, and switch the position of the trays in the air fryer. Air fry an additional 8-10 minutes at 350F (175C).
Some pieces of chicken may need a little longer in the air fryer. The best way to know for sure is to check with a meat thermometer in the thickest part of the chicken. The minimum safe internal temp for chicken is 165F (74C).
Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute throughout the chicken breast, making it extra moist.
You can make a seasoned chicken breast if you wish by adding your favorite spices. I added some red and black pepper for these photos.
Leftover marinated chicken can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days. (This is for chicken that is fully cooked.) You can reheat it in the microwave, on the stovetop, or in the air fryer.
Marinated chicken also freezes well. Vacuum seal it or store it in food-safe freezer bags with the air pressed out.
Use leftover chicken in soup, casseroles, soft tacos, nachos, or chicken salad. Make extra to have an easy source of protein ready for meal prepping!
🍗 Marinades for Air Fryer Chicken
I think the best air fryer chicken marinade is the lemon, lime, and orange one I’m sharing with this recipe. YUM!
That said, if you don’t like this citrus marinade, switch things up! Here are some other ways to marinate chicken:
- Sugar-free teriyaki sauce (don’t thicken it if using as a marinade)
- Soy sauce marinade
- Italian dressing
- Yogurt or buttermilk-based marinade with Indian spices
- Pickle juice (I’ve heard pickle brine is Chick-Fil-A's secret for juicy marinated chicken)
Be careful with using marinades that contain brown sugar, honey, maple syrup, and other added sugars. The chicken may burn easier than when you use marinades without sugar.
🥗 Side Dishes
How to serve marinated chicken? Here are a few side dishes that go with marinated chicken made in the air fryer:
- Air Fryer Cabbage Steaks
- Air Fryer Green Bean Fries
- Kale Apple Slaw
- Air Fryer Frozen Sweet Potato Fries
- Air Fryer Frozen Broccoli
💭 Expert Tips from a Dietitian
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Is air fried chicken healthy? In most cases, air frying chicken gives you a chicken dish with less added oil than deep frying. Your air fried meal may be lower in calories, lower in saturated fat, and more nutrient dense than if it was deep fried.
Of your options for chicken, skinless white meat chicken (like the chicken breast used here) is the leanest choice. (Well, it’s possible to find ground chicken that is nearly fat-free and a bit leaner, but I digress.) The downside of white meat chicken is that it can dry out more quickly than dark meat chicken.
We’re circumventing any potential dry chicken problems by using a zippy marinade. As previously mentioned, this is one of the lowest calorie options for making juicy air fryer chicken.
If you’re trying to lose weight, I’d complete the meal with some low-oil non-starchy veggies. A big garden salad, some roasted broccoli, or pan-fried zucchini would be great with this chicken. Aside from being low in calories, your meal will also be low-carb friendly.
For a higher energy meal, add some starches to your plate. Mashed potatoes, rice, corn, peas, and sweet potatoes are all delicious with chicken. They’re also considerably higher in calories (and carbs) than most of their non-starchy counterparts.
Frozen chicken doesn’t absorb marinade well. You should defrost your chicken in the refrigerator or air fryer before marinating. An alternative (with slightly different results) is to brush the marinade on the frozen chicken every so often as it cooks.
Yes, you can make an air fryer marinated whole chicken! The cooking directions will be similar to this air fryer rotisserie chicken recipe. I don’t recommend using a marinade with concentrated sugars (such as honey or brown sugar). The chicken skin is more likely to burn with a syrupy or sugary marinade.
Marinating chicken in the fridge for no more than 24 hours is generally considered optimal. According to the USDA, after 2 days chicken sitting in marinade may begin to break down and become mushy.
Yes, you can freeze raw chicken in the marinade. You can also freeze marinated chicken that has been cooked. Don’t try to save used chicken marinades. Once they’ve had raw chicken sitting in them, they should be discarded.
Yes, you can brush sauce on air fryer chicken, as I did in this air fryer BBQ chicken breast recipe. A risk with air frying chicken in sauce is that the sauce may dry out too much. You can prevent this by securely covering the pan you’re using in the air fryer with foil.
👩🏻🍳 More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
Want more air fryer recipes for chicken? You may enjoy trying these next:
- Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Wings
- Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Thighs
- Chicken Legs in the Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Tenders
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 my overnight oats no sugar post. Let's get cooking!
Marinated Chicken in Air Fryer
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 24 ounces/680 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 or use Perdue Perfect Portions)
- black pepper (optional)
Chicken marinade ingredients:
- ⅓ cup orange juice, freshly squeezed (from 1-2 oranges)
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice, fresh squeezed (from 1 lemon)
- 1 tablespoon lime juice, fresh squeezed (from 1 lime)
- 1 tablespoon orange zest
- ½ tablespoon lemon zest
- ½ tablespoon lime zest
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- Start by making the chicken marinade. Juice and zest the orange, lemon, and lime. (A manual juicer and microplane are handy tools here!)
- Mince the garlic cloves and mix them with the juices, zest, olive oil, and cumin. Your marinade is complete!
- Put your chicken breasts in a food safe container or Ziplock bag. Pour in the marinade to cover the chicken. Seal the bag (or cover the container) and allow the chicken to marinate for 4-8 hours in the refrigerator. If the chicken is not completely immersed in the marinade, flip it every few hours.
- Preheat the air fryer to 350°F (175°C) for 5 minutes.
- Discard the marinade and place the chicken on the hot air fryer trays. I could fit two chicken breasts per tray.
- Air fry the marinated chicken for 12 minutes at 350°F (175°C). Then flip the chicken with a spatula, and switch the position of the trays in the air fryer. Air fry an additional 8-10 minutes.
- Check the thickest part of the chicken breasts with a meat thermometer. The minimum safe internal temp for chicken is 165°F (74°C). Some of the pieces of chicken may need a little longer in the air fryer.
- Let the chicken rest for about 10 minutes before serving. Garnish with a sprinkle of black pepper, if desired.
This is a level 1 recipe (may help support fat loss). Is air fried chicken healthy? In most cases, air frying chicken gives you a chicken dish with less added oil than deep frying. Your air fried meal may be lower in calories, lower in saturated fat, and more nutrient dense than if it was deep fried. Of your options for chicken, skinless white meat chicken (like the chicken breast used here) is the leanest choice. (Well, it’s possible to find ground chicken that is nearly fat-free and a bit leaner, but I digress.) The downside of white meat chicken is that it can dry out more quickly than dark meat chicken. We’re circumventing any potential dry chicken problems by using a zippy marinade. As previously mentioned, this is one of the lowest calorie options for making juicy air fryer chicken. If you’re trying to lose weight, I’d complete the meal with some low-oil non-starchy veggies. A big garden salad, some roasted broccoli, or pan-fried zucchini would be great with this chicken. Aside from being low in calories, your meal will also be low-carb friendly. For a higher energy meal, add some starches to your plate. Mashed potatoes, rice, corn, peas, and sweet potatoes are all delicious with chicken. They’re also considerably higher in calories (and carbs) than most of their non-starchy counterparts. Nutrition information is for one serving, and counts the chicken only. The marinade is mostly discarded; the small amount that is absorbed may contribute additional calories and net carbs.