Air Fryer Spicy Chicken Sandwiches

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Tender air fried chicken strips, dredged in a spicy oil sauce are layered on a bed of lettuce and topped with pickles and ranch. These Air Fryer Spicy Chicken Sandwiches are amazing!

When my family visits a restaurant, Matt and Braden scope out the menu for one thing: spicy chicken sandwiches. I don’t know why I never thought to make them at home, but after trying some air fryer chicken tenders, I knew a hot & spicy version needed to happen next!

Whether you eat these chicken fingers with a side of air fryer potato wedges or piled 3 layers high on a hamburger bun, I think you’ll fall in love with these Air Fryer Spicy Chicken Sandwiches.

closeup of a spicy chicken sandwich with pickles and white sauce

❤️ Why you’ll love this recipe:

  • Delicious hot chicken flavor.
  • Adjust the spiciness to your liking.
  • Made easily in your air fryer.
  • Perfect for sandwiches or party appetizers.
half of a spicy chicken sandwich

🔑 Key Ingredients:

  • Buttermilk. Buy buttermilk in the dairy section of the grocery store, or you can make your own by mixing 1 cup of milk with 1 Tablespoon vinegar. Let it sit for 2 to 3 minutes, stir and use in place of the buttermilk.
  • Hot sauce. I used Cholula hot sauce, but others such as Tapatio, Slap Ya Mama, Sriracha will work fine.
  • Panko. I used an herb seasoned panko, but any panko is fine.
  • Cayenne pepper. Ground cayenne, gives the spiciness and color to the chicken strips.
  • Brown sugar. Gives a bit of a sweet flavor to counter the spiciness.
  • Smoked paprika. I prefer smoked paprika, but you can use regular if that’s what you have.
  • Garlic powder. Don’t use garlic salt, it will be too salty.
chicken tenders with breading

How to Make Air Fryer Spicy Chicken

Plan ahead if your air fryer is small. You want to leave enough space between the chicken tenders so that all sides can get browned. Each batch will take about 15 minutes, but that may vary depending on the size of the chicken and the type of air fryer you have.

  • In a flat dish, mix the buttermilk, eggs and hot sauce together.
  • In a separate flat dish combine the flour, cornstarch and salt.
  • In a third flat dish place the panko.
  • Dip the chicken in the flour, making sure to cover completely. Then dip it in the buttermilk, then lay it in the panko and spoon panko on top. Press down gently to help the panko stay on the chicken.
  • Place 4 to 5 chicken pieces in the air fryer basket, and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place the basket in the air fryer and set to 360° Fahrenheit . Set the timer for 8 minutes.
  • After the 8 minutes, flip the pieces over and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Return to the air fryer and set the timer for 3-5 more minutes. Chicken should reach 165° Fahrenheit internal temp.

What to Put on Spicy Chicken Sandwiches

The possibilities are endless, but I prefer bread & butter pickles and ranch dressing. The ranch helps cool down some of the spice.

You can also load it high with tomato slices, lettuce and onion. And you can even add a slice of pepper jack cheese.

**Pro Tip: Want to make your sandwich taste better? Toast the bun! You can toast the bread on a pan with a little butter or some nonstick cooking spray if you would like. It adds more flavor to the entire sandwich.**

spicy chicken sandwich in a basket with fries

🥘 What if I have leftovers?

It is best to store the meat in an airtight container in the refrigerator. To serve, warm the meat in the air fryer for a minute or two and serve on the sandwich.

Make burgers in your air fryer too!

closeup of a spicy chicken sandwich with pickles
closeup of a spicy chicken sandwich with pickles

Air Fryer Spicy Chicken Sandwiches

5 from 2 votes
Tender air fried chicken strips, dredged in a spicy oil sauce are layered on a bed of lettuce and topped with pickles and ranch.
Servings 6
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes

Ingredients
 

For the Chicken Strips:

  • 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast strips
  • 3/4 cup buttermilk
  • 2 large eggs beaten
  • 3 tablespoons hot sauce (such as Frank's Red Hot Sauce)
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 1/2 cups panko bread crumbs
  • nonstick cooking spray
  • hot sauce (recipe below)

For the Hot Sauce:

  • ½ cup hot oil (vegetable, olive, your choice!)
  • 2 tablespoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pepper
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder

For the Sandwiches:

  • 6 hamburger buns
  • 1 cup shredded lettuce
  • ½ cup bread and butter sliced pickles
  • ½ cup ranch dressing
  • chicken strips

Instructions
 

Make the Chicken Strips:

  • In a flat dish, mix the buttermilk, eggs and hot sauce together.
  • In a separate flat dish combine the flour, cornstarch and salt.
  • In a third flat dish place the panko.
  • Dip the chicken in the flour, making sure to cover completely. Then dip it in the buttermilk, then lay it in the panko and spoon panko on top. Press down gently to help the panko stay on the chicken.
  • Place 4 to 5 chicken pieces in the air fryer basket, and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Place the basket in the air fryer and set to 360° Fahrenheit . Set the timer for 8 minutes.
  • After the 8 minutes, flip the pieces over and spray with nonstick cooking spray. Return to the air fryer and set the timer for 3-5 more minutes. Chicken should reach 165° Fahrenheit internal temp. The exact timing will depend on how big the chicken tenders are.
  • Remove the chicken and repeat until all the chicken has been “fried”.
  • Dip the chicken in the hot seasoned oil (recipe below) and turn to coat, if the sauce gets too thick, add more hot oil. Place chicken on a plate.

Make the Hot Sauce:

  • Make this while the chicken is air frying.
  • Heat oil in a small saucepan or skillet over medium low heat.
  • Make sure the oil is nice and hot, then add all the ingredients and stir.
  • Let this sit for 5 minutes before using.

Make the Sandwiches:

  • You can toast the bread on a pan with a little butter or some nonstick cooking spray if you would like, or just serve them as they are.
  • Place a good serving of lettuce on the bottom of the bun. Stack pieces of chicken on the lettuce, add plenty of pickles and drizzle with ranch. Place the top bun back on and serve.
  • These are delicious served with french fries and pickles or any side dish you choose.

Notes

The calories shown are based on the recipe making 6 sandwiches, with 1 serving being 1 sandwich with all the fixings (hot oil sauce, ranch, pickles, bun, etc). Since different brands of ingredients have different nutritional information, the calories shown are just an estimate. **We are not dietitians and recommend you seek a nutritionist for exact nutritional information. The information in the nutrition box are calculated through a program and there is room for error. If you need an accurate count, I recommend running the ingredients through your favorite nutrition calculator.**

Nutrition

Calories: 804kcal | Carbohydrates: 62g | Protein: 47g | Fat: 41g | Saturated Fat: 20g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 167mg | Sodium: 1805mg | Potassium: 838mg | Fiber: 4g | Sugar: 9g | Vitamin A: 1137IU | Vitamin C: 7mg | Calcium: 193mg | Iron: 5mg
Course Main Dish
Cuisine American
Calories 804
Keyword air fryer recipe, chicken, comfort food, game day

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About Julie Clark

I'm Julie Clark, CEO and recipe developer of Tastes of Lizzy T. With my B.A. in Education and over 30 years of cooking and baking, I want to teach YOU the best of our family recipes.

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