Crispy, crunchy, and bursting with flavor, air fryer crispy chicken tacos are the ultimate crowd-pleasing dish that will elevate your taco game to new heights. If you're tired of the same old soggy and greasy tacos, it's time to discover the magic of air frying. And unlike shredded chicken tacos, air fryers can give you the ultimate crispy chicken tacos that are irresistible.
The introduction of the air fryer has completely transformed our cooking methods by providing a healthier option for deep frying, all while maintaining the delightful taste and texture we love. It's the secret weapon that transforms ordinary chicken into a tantalizingly crispy delight, with a golden, crunchy exterior that gives way to tender, juicy meat inside. And when you pair that irresistible chicken with the traditional accompaniments of a taco—fresh tortillas, vibrant toppings, and zesty sauces—you have a winning combination that will have your friends and family begging for seconds.
In this blog post, we'll guide you through creating the ultimate air fryer crispy chicken tacos. We'll share our tips and tricks for achieving that coveted crunch, reveal the perfect seasoning blend to elevate the flavor profile and suggest some delectable toppings that will take your tacos from good to extraordinary. Whether you're a seasoned pro in the kitchen or a novice looking to impress, this recipe will satisfy your cravings and make you the star of your next taco night.
Air Fryer Crispy Chicken Tacos
How To Make Air fried chicken
1. Slice the chicken breasts to nugget size or strips.
2. Start by marinating the chicken breasts in pickle juice. Place the chicken in a bowl or a resealable bag, and generously pour the pickle juice over it, ensuring that the chicken is fully immersed. Let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, or marinate overnight for optimal flavor.
3. Once the brining process is complete, take out the raw chicken tenders from the pickle juice and gently dry them using paper towels.
4. Before you begin, heat up your air fryer to 400°F (200°C) for a few minutes, ensuring it reaches the desired temperature.
5. In a bowl of medium size, whisk the egg until thoroughly beaten.
6. In a shallow dish, separate from the previous one, combine flour, paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Thoroughly mix the ingredients together to form a well-seasoned coating for the chicken.
7. Dip each chicken strip into the beaten eggs, ensuring that it is completely coated with a consistent and even layer. Then thoroughly coat each chicken strip with the flour mixture by gently pressing it, ensuring the coating adheres completely. Arrange the breaded chicken breasts in the air fryer, ensuring they are placed without touching each other. Repeat this process for all the chicken strips, guaranteeing an even coating on each piece.
8. Air fry the chicken for approximately 15-18 minutes, flipping them halfway through the cooking process, until they reach an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) and the coating turns into a golden, crispy texture.
9. While the chicken is cooking, warm the blue corn tortillas either in the air fryer for a few minutes or on a skillet over medium heat.
10. While the chicken is cooking, warm the blue corn tortillas either in the air fryer for a few minutes or on a skillet over medium heat.
11. Once the chicken has finished cooking, remove it from the air fryer and allow it to rest for a few minutes. Then, slice it into strips or cubes.
12. Assemble your tacos by placing the crispy chicken on each blue corn tortilla. Top with pickled radish and shredded lettuce. Drizzle honey mustard sauce over the chicken mixture.
Once you have enjoyed your taco, don't forget to clean up your air fryer.
Tips & Notes
Marinate the chicken: To achieve optimal flavor and tenderness, it is recommended to marinate the chicken in the pickle juice for a minimum of 1 hour or preferably overnight. This process will impart delightful tangy and savory flavors to the chicken.
Use cooking spray: To enhance crispiness, apply a light coating of cooking spray to the air fryer basket or rack before placing the chicken. You can also spray the tops of the chicken strips to enhance the crispy texture.
Flip halfway through cooking: To ensure both sides of the chicken strips are evenly cooked and crispy, flip them halfway through the cooking process. This promotes an even golden exterior.
Don't overcrowd the air fryer: For the best possible crispiness, ensure that the chicken strips or nuggets in the air fryer are not touching one another. This allows the hot air to circulate around each individual piece, resulting in even browning and a delightful crunch.
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 6.3g
Saturated Fat 1g
Total Carbohydrate 33.5g
Dietary Fiber 2.3g
Total Sugars 8.9g
Vitamin D 9mcg
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calorie a day is used for general nutrition advice.
What You Will Need To Make Crispy Chicken Tacos
Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Chicken breasts are commonly preferred for this recipe due to their versatility and lean nature. They provide a solid base for the crispy chicken tacos. Boneless and skinless chicken breasts are preferred as they cook more evenly and allow the seasoning and coating to adhere well.
Eggs play a crucial role in the recipe for air fryer crispy chicken tacos. They serve as a binding agent and help create a cohesive coating on the chicken, contributing to its crispy texture. In addition to their binding properties, eggs also add moisture to the chicken. The chicken's moisture helps prevent it from drying out while cooking, resulting in a juicy and tender final product.
Pickle juice serves as a unique and flavorful brine for the chicken. It is the leftover liquid from pickles and contains a mixture of vinegar, salt, and spices. The pickle juice's acidity helps tenderize the chicken and infuses it with tangy and savory flavors. The result is chicken that is both juicy and packed with delicious pickle notes.
Flour is a key ingredient for coating the chicken and achieving a crispy texture. It provides a light and thin layer that turns golden brown when air-fried. The flour helps seal the chicken's moisture and creates a barrier between the meat and the hot air in the air fryer, resulting in a crispy exterior.
Using Japanese panko breadcrumbs in this recipe can take your air fryer crispy chicken tacos to the next level of crunchiness and texture. Panko is a type of breadcrumb from Japan and is known for its distinct characteristics. The use of Japanese panko adds an extra dimension of texture and enhances the overall eating experience of the crispy chicken tacos. It brings a lightness and crispness that traditional breadcrumbs may not achieve.
The flour coating for the chicken incorporates seasonings such as paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Paprika imparts a delicate smokiness and a gentle hint of mild heat to enhance the overall flavor profile. Garlic powder contributes savory notes and enhances the overall flavor profile. Salt and black pepper play a crucial role in seasoning the chicken and harmonizing its flavor profile.
Cooking spray is used to lightly coat the air fryer basket or rack before placing the chicken. This addition helps prevent sticking and encourages the development of a crispy texture while reducing the requirement for excessive oil, resulting in a healthier alternative to deep-frying.
Blue corn tortillas
Blue corn tortillas are made from blue corn masa, which is ground whole-grain blue corn. They have a slightly nutty flavor and a vibrant blue color, adding visual appeal to the tacos. Blue corn tortillas serve as an excellent gluten-free alternative for individuals with dietary restrictions.
While the recipe suggests using blue corn tortillas, you can use any type of tortilla you prefer, such as flour tortillas or corn tortillas. Feel free to explore and experiment with different tortilla options, as they greatly influence the flavor and texture of your tacos. Take the opportunity to find your preferred combination that suits your taste buds best.
The inclusion of pickled radish introduces a tangy and invigorating component to the crispy chicken tacos, elevating their overall flavor. The radish is thinly sliced and soaked in a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and spices, allowing it to develop a briny and slightly sweet flavor. The pickled radish contrasts the crispy chicken, adding a vibrant and crunchy component to each bite.
Shredded lettuce is a classic taco topping that adds freshness and a satisfying crunch. The mild and crisp nature of lettuce helps balance the flavors in the tacos, providing a light and refreshing contrast to the savory and tangy components.
Honey mustard sauce
Honey mustard sauce is a creamy and zesty condiment made with a combination of honey, mustard, and other complementary ingredients. It adds a sweet and tangy flavor profile to the tacos, enhancing the overall taste experience. The sauce contributes a velvety and creamy texture that harmonizes perfectly with the crispy chicken, imparting an additional layer of indulgence to the dish.
How To Elevate this Recipe
Homemade Seasoning Blend
Create a custom seasoning blend for the flour coating to add additional flavor and complexity to the chicken. Experiment with spices like cumin, smoked paprika, chili powder, or herbs like thyme or oregano. Feel free to customize the blend according to your personal taste preferences, allowing you to craft a distinct flavor profile that is uniquely yours.
Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or a dash of hot sauce to the pickle juice brine or flour coating for those who enjoy a bit of heat. By doing so, the chicken will receive a fiery kick, introducing an element of excitement and enhancing the overall experience of the tacos.
Elevate the toppings by incorporating gourmet ingredients. Consider using microgreens or arugula instead of regular lettuce for a more sophisticated touch. Add sliced avocado, crumbled feta cheese, or a drizzle of sriracha mayo for extra richness and flavor complexity.
Fresh Salsa or Guacamole
Make a homemade salsa or guacamole to serve alongside the tacos. A zesty and vibrant salsa with fresh tomatoes, onions, cilantro, lime juice, and jalapeños can add a burst of freshness. Guacamole made with ripe avocados, lime juice, garlic, and spices can add a creamy and flavorful element to the tacos.
Enhance the toppings by incorporating pickled onions, which are tangy and vibrant. Simply thinly slice red onions and pickle them in a mixture of vinegar, sugar, and salt for a minimum of 30 minutes. These pickled onions deliver a delightful tanginess that beautifully complements the flavors of the chicken.
Elevate your taco experience by crafting your own tortillas from scratch. Explore the option of preparing homemade blue corn tortillas using masa harina (corn flour) and water. This adds a fresh and authentic touch to the crispy tacos.
Create a smoky and creamy chipotle aioli to drizzle over the tacos. Combine chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, mayonnaise, lime juice, garlic, and an assortment of spices in a blender to create a tantalizing sauce. This flavorful blend adds a delightful kick and a creamy texture, enhancing the overall taste experience.
Instead of plain shredded lettuce, make a vibrant citrus-marinated slaw using cabbage, carrots, and a dressing made with citrus juices (such as orange or lime), olive oil, honey, and spices. This slaw adds a refreshing and tangy element to the crispy tacos.
Sour cream is a versatile and creamy dairy product that can be a wonderful addition to air fryer crunchy chicken tacos. It offers a cool and tangy flavor that complements the savory and crispy components of the dish. When used as a topping for crispy chicken tacos, sour cream adds a creamy and velvety element that balances out the flavors and adds a touch of richness. It can help mellow the heat if you've added spicy elements to the tacos. The tanginess of sour cream also brings a refreshing contrast to the crispy chicken and other toppings.
Use Chicken Taco Seasoning
Chicken taco seasoning is a flavorful blend of spices and herbs specifically designed to enhance the taste of chicken when making chicken tacos. It adds depth, richness, and a touch of heat to the chicken, elevating the overall flavor profile of the dish. Chicken taco seasoning commonly consists of a blend of chili powder, cumin, paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, and black pepper.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
Can I use chicken thighs instead of chicken breasts?
Certainly, chicken thighs can be used as a substitute for chicken breasts. Thighs will provide a slightly different texture and flavor to the tacos, as they are juicier and have more fat. As chicken thighs may take slightly longer to cook through, make sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.
Can I use a different brine instead of pickle juice?
Certainly! While pickle juice provides a unique and tangy flavor to the chicken, you can try other brines as well. For example, you can use buttermilk, yogurt, or a combination of citrus juices and spices to marinate the chicken and enhance its tenderness and flavor.
Can I use an oven instead of an air fryer?
Absolutely! Even without an air fryer, you can achieve crispy chicken tacos by using the oven. Follow the same steps to bread the chicken and preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Arrange the breaded chicken on a baking sheet greased with cooking spray, then bake for around 20-25 minutes, flipping the chicken halfway through the cooking process. Continue baking until the chicken is thoroughly cooked and reaches a crispy texture. However, keep in mind that baked chicken tacos may taste slightly different than air-fried chicken tacos as the chicken texture may vary.
Can I use regular breadcrumbs instead of panko?
Certainly, regular breadcrumbs can be used as a substitute for panko breadcrumbs. However, it is important to note that panko breadcrumbs offer a lighter and crispier texture compared to regular breadcrumbs. If using regular breadcrumbs, consider adding some additional seasonings or finely crushed cornflakes to enhance the crunchiness.
How to make cheesy crispy chicken tacos?
If you are craving cheesy chicken tacos, you can incorporate a generous amount of melted cheese into the filling. The combination of tender chicken, flavorful seasonings, and gooey melted cheese creates a comforting and indulgent taco experience.