Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Cutlets

These crispy air fryer chicken cutlets are a weeknight winner the whole family will love. They cook up in minutes and can be served in so many ways. Plus, you’ll have some to freeze for a quick meal in the future.

I realize I’m a little late to the air fryer trend, but I’m quickly becoming better acquainted with this magical mini convection oven by air frying pretty much anything I can get my hands on these days.  

Sad veggies from the back of the fridge? Air fryer.

Homemade chicken tenders straight from the freezer? Air fryer. 

Leftover french fries? Air fryer.

Banana bread? Air fryer. (Stay tuned for that gem of a recipe coming soon!) 

And of course, these crispy chicken cutlets, which I now have a constant stash of in the freezer.  

They save my life about once a week when all hell breaks loose and what I planned to make for dinner doesn’t actually happen.

If that sounds all too familiar, then you, my friend, need this recipe. Let’s get to it!

Top-down image crispy, golden chicken cutlets in air fryer basket with some on the table next to it

What are chicken cutlets?

Chicken cutlets are simply chicken breasts that have been cut in half horizontally to make two thinner pieces. Then, the chicken is typically pounded with a meat tenderizer to make it thinner, so it cooks more quickly and evenly.

How to slice chicken breasts into cutlets

  • To cut chicken breasts into cutlets, simply slice them horizontally in half. Using cold chicken straight from the fridge and a sharp knife will help you slice the chicken more easily.
  • Next, pound the chicken to ¼- to ⅙-inch thick. If you don’t have a meat mallet, you can use a rolling pin, wine bottle, or even the palm of your hand.

Ingredients for air fryer chicken cutlets

To make these chicken cutlets, you’ll need: 

  • Boneless skinless chicken breasts (thin-sliced or whole)
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Eggs
  • Mayonnaise
  • Panko breadcrumbs
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Paprika
  • Garlic powder
  • Cooking spray

How to make chicken cutlets in the air fryer

Slice and pound your chicken breasts. Season and bread your cutlets while your air fryer preheats, laying the breaded cutlets in a single layer on a baking sheet until you have 2-3 ready to cook.

When your air fryer is hot, lightly spray each cutlet with olive oil or cooking spray. Depending on the size of your air fryer, place 2-4 cutlets, oil-side down, in a single layer in the air fryer basket.

Spray the other side and cook until the cutlets are golden brown and cooked through, about 8-10 minutes. Repeat until all cutlets are cooked.

Tips for making breaded chicken cutlets in the air fryer

  • Preheat your air fryer to the cooking temperature (like you would a traditional oven) before adding your chicken. 
  • Don’t overcrowd the basket. Cutlets should be placed in a single layer and not overlap to ensure they cook evenly and come out crispy. 
  • Lightly spray the cutlets with olive oil cooking spray just before putting them in the air fryer. This will help keep them moist and enhance their crispy, golden coating. 
  • Follow cooking times closely. These cutlets cook quickly and can dry out quickly if they cook for too long. 
a plate of crispy, closeup of crispy, golden air fryer chicken cutlets on brown paper

How long to air fry chicken cutlets?

Air fry chicken cutlets that are ⅙-inch to ¼-inch thick at 375°F/190°C for about 8 minutes, or 10 minutes if frozen. Add 1-2 extra minutes for thicker cutlets.

How to freeze uncooked chicken cutlets

Place uncooked, breaded cutlets onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or aluminum foil and put the baking sheet in the freezer for at least 1-2 hours. Once firm, transfer cutlets to an airtight freezer bag, and press out as much air as possible before sealing. Frozen chicken cutlets are best when cooked within 3-4 months.

How to store leftovers

Transfer cooled chicken cutlets to an airtight container or food storage bag. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days, or freeze cooked cutlets for up to 3 months. I love these silicone Stasher bags because they take up minimal space in the fridge or freezer.

How to reheat leftover chicken cutlets in the air fryer

Place leftover chicken cutlets in a single layer in the air fryer basket (no need to preheat). Cook at 350°F (175°C) for 3 minutes, or until heated through and crispy on the outside.

How to make these in the oven

No air fryer? No problem! They come out a tad less crispy than in the air fryer but these crispy chicken cutlets can be baked in the oven, too.

Here’s how:

  1. Set your oven to Convection Bake (if your oven has this feature) and move one rack to the lowest position and another to the top. This will help both sides crisp up when cooking. Preheat your oven to 400°F (205°C) and lightly spray a foil-lined baking sheet with some oil.
  2. Bread the cutlets as described in the recipe below and place them onto the prepared baking sheet. Lightly spray the tops of the chicken with oil.
  3. Bake the cutlets on the lower rack of the oven for 15 minutes, or until cooked through.
  4. Quickly set the oven to Broil and move the cutlets to the top rack. Watching carefully to avoid burning, broil the cutlets for 1-2 minutes more or until golden and crispy on top.

Crispy chicken cutlet sliced and served on top of a salad with tomatoes, cucumber, and bell pepper

Chicken cutlet recipe ideas

These cutlets are crispy, tender, and oh-so versatile. Here are some quick, easy, and delicious ways to serve them.

  • Crispy chicken salad: Slice your chicken into strips and serve over fresh lettuce and veggies. Top with your favorite dressing.
  • Buffalo chicken wrap: Place a chicken cutlet in the center of a large tortilla. Drizzle with this luscious and super easy homemade Buffalo sauce (made with cashews!), a little Ranch or bleu cheese, and top with lettuce, cucumbers, and halved cherry tomatoes. Wrap and enjoy!  
  • Crispy chicken sandwich: Put your chicken cutlet on a soft bun. Top with crunchy lettuce, tomato, red onion, and your condiments of choice.
  • Air fryer chicken parmesan:  After the chicken cutlets have cooked in the air fryer for 5 minutes, top each with marinara sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese. Cook for an additional 3 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Serve your chicken parmesan over pasta, your favorite veggie noodles, on a bun, or solo with a side of veggies.
  • Chicken schnitzel: Top with a squeeze of lemon and fresh parsley, and serve with homemade spaetzle (or other small pasta) for a German-inspired meal.

Other easy chicken and air fryer recipes you’ll love

You can also find all of my air fryer recipes here.

A plate of crispy, golden air fryer chicken cutlets on brown paper with dipping sauce, garnished with parsley, on white background
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Recipe

Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Cutlets

These crispy air fryer chicken cutlets are a weeknight winner. They cook up in minutes and can be served in so many ways.

  • Prep Time:
    15 minutes
  • Total Time:
    25 minutes
  • Makes:
    8 large cutlets 1x
  • Prep Time:
    15 minutes
  • Total Time:
    25 minutes
  • Makes:
    8 large cutlets 1x
  • Ingredients

    • 2 pounds of boneless skinless chicken breast (whole or pre-sliced fillets) 
    • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
    • ½ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
    • 2 large eggs
    • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise
    • 2 cups Panko bread crumbs
    • 1 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
    • 2 teaspoons paprika
    • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
    • Olive oil cooking spray

    Instructions

    1. Prepare and season the fillets. Slice whole chicken breasts in half horizontally and pound to ¼- to ⅙-inch thick. Combine the salt and pepper in a small bowl and season the chicken cutlets on both sides; set aside.
    2. Make the egg mixture. Add the eggs and mayonnaise to a shallow bowl and whisk to combine. 
    3. Prepare the Panko mixture. In a separate, medium-sized shallow bowl, combine the Panko, Parmesan, paprika, and garlic powder and mix until well incorporated. 
    4. Preheat the air fryer to 375°F. If you will be freezing some or all of the chicken fillets, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or foil.
    5. Bread the cutlets. Using a fork, transfer 1-2 chicken fillets to the egg mixture and turn to coat evenly on both sides. With the same fork, transfer the chicken to the Panko bowl. Use a spoon to sprinkle the top of the chicken with the breadcrumb mixture and gently press down on the chicken to help the breadcrumb-mixture stick. Using tongs, transfer the breaded chicken to a clean plate or prepared baking sheet if freezing. (See freezing instructions in the notes section below.) Repeat until all fillets are breaded. Lightly spray both sides of the cutlets with olive oil or cooking spray just before cooking.
    6. Cook cutlets in the preheated air fryer. To cook, air fry the fillets in a single layer at 375°F for about 8 minutes (10 minutes if frozen), or until golden brown on the outside and cooked through. Remove them from the air fryer and allow them to cool slightly. Repeat with the remaining chicken until all cutlets have been cooked.

    Notes

    Favorite Equipment

    Freezing Instructions

    Place uncooked, breaded cutlets onto a parchment-lined baking sheet in a single layer. Put the baking sheet into the freezer for 1-2 hours. Once the chicken is firm, transfer the uncooked cutlets to a freezer bag, pressing out as much air as possible when sealing, and return to the freezer.

    Ingredient Prep

    • Chicken: Slice and pound the chicken up to 3 days in advance. Store in the refrigerator.
    • Panko mixture: Mix the Panko mixture ahead of time and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to use.

    Little Helpers

    Involving little ones can decrease picky eating and increase appetite and willingness to try new foods. Here are a few ways they can help:

    • Toddlers: Let them help prepare the egg and Panko mixture and have fun breading the chicken.
    • Little Kids: All of the above, plus let them preheat and transfer the cutlets into the air fryer —supervised, of course. 😉
    • Big Kids: Give them the recipe and see how they do!

    Nutrition Notes

    Nutrition information calculated is based on using regular mayonnaise and a half-second spray of olive oil on each side of the cutlet. 

    Nutrition

    • Serving Size: 1, 4-ounce cutlet
    • Calories: 355
    • Sugar: 0 g
    • Sodium: 818 mg
    • Fat: 15 g
    • Saturated Fat: 4 g
    • Unsaturated Fat: 11 g
    • Trans Fat: 0 g
    • Carbohydrates: 11 g
    • Fiber: 0 g
    • Protein: 42 g
    • Cholesterol: 168 mg

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    Top-down image of crispy, golden chicken cutlets in air fryer basket with title text overlay

    Author: Elle Penner M.P.H., R.D.

    I'm Elle, Registered Dietitian and minimalism-obsessed mama with a thing for simplifying, particularly when it comes to clutter, calendars, and family meals. Favorite things include carbs, cooking, kid-free workouts, and high-waisted yoga pants.

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