Air frying chicken is considered a healthier cooking method compared to deep frying or pan frying in oil. Air fryers use hot air and a little oil to crisp and cook food, resulting in chicken that has significantly less fat and calories than traditional fried chicken.
Is air fried chicken healthy?
Air fried chicken can be a healthy option if prepared properly. Some key considerations:
- Use skinless, boneless chicken breasts or thighs for the healthiest option.
- Use just 1-2 teaspoons of oil to lightly coat the chicken before air frying. This helps promote browning and crispiness.
- Avoid battering or breading the chicken. The extra carbs and calories from batter are not necessary.
- Season simply with herbs, spices, salt and pepper instead of sugary sauces.
- Check internal temperature to ensure chicken reaches 165°F when cooked.
When air frying chicken using these guidelines, it contains far less fat, calories and sodium compared to take-out fried chicken or chicken that is deep fried at home.
Here is how the nutrition of air fried chicken stacks up against deep fried and pan fried chicken per 3 ounce serving:
|Cooking Method||Calories||Fat (g)||Carbs (g)||Protein (g)|
As you can see, air fried chicken has significantly less fat and calories compared to other frying methods, while still offering the same amount of protein.
Is air fried chicken as tasty?
Many people are skeptical that air fried chicken can match the taste and texture of deep fried. While it may not be exactly the same, air fried chicken can still be quite delicious, especially when using these tips:
- Use thigh meat instead of breast meat for more flavor and juiciness.
- Brush chicken with oil or spray oil to help crisp the skin.
- Preheat air fryer properly – air fryers need 5-10 mins to fully preheat.
- Flip chicken halfway during cooking for even browning.
- Allow chicken to rest 5 minutes after cooking for juiciness.
- Season well with salt, pepper and spices of choice.
Many people find air fried chicken to be nearly as tasty as deep fried. While it may not have quite as much grease or crispiness on the outside, the flavor can be very similar, especially when using proper techniques.
Is air fried chicken healthier than grilled or baked?
Air fried chicken has some advantages over grilled and baked chicken as well:
- Less burnt flavor – Grilled chicken risks getting burnt or charred over an open flame, especially with chicken breast which dries out easily. Air frying avoids that.
- Crispier skin – Air fried chicken develops a crispier, more fried-like skin than baked or grilled chicken.
- More tender – The circulating hot air of the air fryer helps keep chicken tender and moist, unlike grilling where meat can toughen.
- Faster – Air frying cooks chicken faster than oven baking.
However, grilled and baked chicken still have some advantages:
- Grilled chicken imparts a smoky, charbroiled flavor.
- Baked chicken is simpler – no special equipment needed.
- Grilling and baking avoid any added fat from air frying.
So air fried chicken can be slightly healthier due to added crispiness and flavor while using less oil. But grilled and baked chicken are still great options too.
Tips for the healthiest air fried chicken
Here are some final tips for making sure your air fried chicken is as healthy as possible:
- Remove skin to reduce fat, calories and cholesterol.
- Use boneless, skinless thighs or breasts.
- Keep oil to 1 tsp or less – just enough to promote browning.
- Avoid heavily breading or battering chicken.
- Use reduced sodium seasoning or herb rubs.
- Avoid sugary sauces and dips.
- Go for fresh lemon juice, vinegars, mustard or hot sauce as toppings.
Air frying chicken is a healthier alternative to enjoy juicy, crispy, fried-like chicken at home. Compared to deep frying or pan frying, air fried chicken has significantly less fat, calories and sodium – especially when following best practices. While it may not match deep fried chicken exactly, many find it nearly as tasty. Air fried chicken can be a nutritious way to add variety and satisfy fried chicken cravings as part of a healthy diet.