Double-breaded, crispy fried chicken coated with a sweet and spicy hot honey sauce. Forget traditionally fried chicken, and dig into this Air Fryer Hot Honey Chicken instead! Get ready to meet your new favorite chicken leg recipe!
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Air Fryer Hot Honey Chicken
We really don’t know how we all, as a society, survived as long as we did without air fryers. We’ve become so accustomed to the little-to-no time it takes for them to preheat, and the fact that they can make all of our fried favorites with none of the grease. They’ve really spoiled us!
Recipes like this hot honey chicken, for example, are SO EASY to make in the air fryer! First chicken legs are marinated for an hour in a savory blend of seasonings. Then, they are dredged and air fried to crispy perfection. Lastly, we coat them with a sweet and spicy hot honey sauce that’s guaranteed to make your mouth water. Hungry yet?
This air fryer hot honey chicken is spicy, sweet, seasoned, and incredibly easy to make. Pair it with your favorite sides for a well rounded and satisfying dinner. Or, serve these chicken legs as an appetizer or afternoon snack!
Finally, if you’re looking for more air fryer chicken recipes, try this crispy chicken cutlets recipe as well!
Why You’ll Love This Hot Honey Chicken Recipe
Hot honey chicken is a family favorite chicken recipe! Here’s why we’re so obsessed with it:
- Crispy and saucy. These chicken legs are crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside, and smothered in a sticky, sweet and spicy sauce that will wow your taste buds!
- Quick and simple. This recipe requires 15 minutes of prep work, 25 minutes of cook time, and then you’re done!
- A healthier choice. You can make perfectly crispy hot honey chicken with very little oil! If you’re looking for a healthier fried chicken recipe, this is it.
What Is Hot Honey Chicken?
The name “hot honey chicken” comes from the sauce. These crispy fried chicken legs are smothered in a spicy (aka “hot”) sauce made with honey. It will have you licking your fingers, it’s so good!
What’s the Best Air Fryer to Use?
Air fryers come in two different styles. The more popular type has a drawer/basket that slides in the front and usually doesn’t require preheating. The second type looks like a toaster oven and opens with a door, like a mini version of a regular oven.
We have personally tried a few different styles of air fryers and these are our three favorites. Depending on your budget and air fryer style preference, you should find one that will work for you below:
- Large Budget Friendly Basket Style: 8 Qt Gourmia Air Fryer
- Best Large Basket Air Fryer: Power XL 10 Qt Air Fryer
- Toaster Oven Style Air Fryer: Cuisinart Air Fryer Toaster Oven
Whatever you do, we recommending getting a large air fryer (8 qt minimum if you can!). Smaller air fryers don’t have enough space when you are cooking multiple chicken legs, breasts, etc. Once you get started air frying, you are going to want to cook a lot in it!
Here’s a quick overview of what you’ll need to make hot honey chicken. Be sure to scroll down to the recipe card for specific amounts and the full set of directions.
- Buttermilk: Don’t have any on hand? That’s okay – you can make your own buttermilk by combining a tablespoon of vinegar with a cup of whole milk. True buttermilk will provide the best results, but it’s okay to sub if you need to.
- Eggs: These will ensure that the chicken comes out nice and tender.
- Seasonings: We like to combine salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and smoked paprika.
- Chicken Legs: Use skin-on chicken legs for the best, crispiest results.
- Flour: All-purpose flour works just fine for this recipe.
- Cornstarch: This is the secret to getting the air fried chicken perfectly crispy.
- Honey: Use a rich, dark honey for the best flavor. Avoid the little plastic bear that just tastes like sugar!
- Butter: Salted or unsalted both work, it’s up to you!
- Cayenne Pepper: You can alter the level of spice by adjusting how much of this you add.
How to Make Air Fryer Hot Honey Chicken
These crispy chicken legs come together in a handful of straightforward steps:
For the Chicken
- Marinate the chicken. In a large container, combine the buttermilk, eggs, salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, and paprika together. Add the chicken and let it marinate in the refrigerator for at least 1 hour, but it can stay for up to 24 hours.
- Prep the air fryer. Brush the inside of the air fryer basket with olive or vegetable oil, then set it aside. You can also mist it if you have one of the oil misters instead.
- Mix the coating ingredients together. Once you’re ready to cook the chicken, mix the flour, cornstarch, salt, and pepper together in a shallow bowl. Then, set them aside.
- Dredge the chicken. Remove the chicken from the marinade and drain any excess liquid from it. Then, dredge the chicken in the flour, being sure to coat it completely. Set the coated chicken on a plate, then repeat the process with the remaining chicken legs.
- Re-dip the chicken. Let the chicken legs sit for 5 minutes to soak up the flour, then re-dip them once again in the flour to make sure they are coated them completely.
- Brush or mist the chicken. Place the chicken legs in the air fryer basket in an even layer and generously brush the tops of them with more oil. If you have a sprayer, you can mist them instead with the oil.
- Cook the chicken. Cook the chicken legs in the air fryer at 375°F for 20-25 minutes, or until they’re golden and crispy. Flip them halfway through cooking.
For the Hot Honey Sauce
- Make the sauce. While the chicken cooks, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the honey and cayenne pepper, stirring to combine.
- Let the sauce simmer. Bring the sauce to a simmer and then add the remaining garlic and onion powder. Let the sauce simmer for 2-3 more minutes, then remove it from the heat and let it cool for 5 minutes.
- Brush the sauce onto the chicken. Once the chicken legs are cooked through, generously brush the sauce onto them when they come out of the air fryer. Then, cook them for just 3 more minutes. Serve them immediately with more of that delicious hot honey sauce on the side!
Tips for Success
This hot honey chicken recipe is pretty easy, but it never hurts to have some tricks up your sleeve. Here are some recommendations:
- Fry the chicken in a single layer. Make sure your chicken legs are in a single layer in your air fryer and not stacked on top of each other. This will ensure that they are crispy and perfectly cooked!
- Do not overcook the chicken. If you overcook your legs they will become dry and will no longer be tender inside. If you are not sure if they are done, use a meat thermometer to make sure they have reached an internal temperature of 165ºF.
- Preheat the air fryer, if needed. Most air fryers do not require preheating. However, please read your manual to find out if your air fryer does need to be preheated for the best results.
- Adjust the level of spice. How spicy your hot honey becomes depends on the amount of cayenne pepper you add. We don’t like things crazy spicy, so we start with 1 teaspoon, but you can always add more!
What goes with hot honey chicken? A bunch of side dishes work, but here are some of our favorites:
- Fries. Some crispy French fries or roasted baby potatoes would go so well with this meal!
- Veggies. Roasted green beans, roasted broccoli, or your favorite easy veggie side dish are all great options.
- Coleslaw. Fresh coleslaw or something like this creamy cucumber salad will pair perfectly with hot honey chicken.
How to Store & Reheat Leftovers
This saucy fried chicken really is best fresh, right when it comes out of the air fryer. You can reheat it again, but it’s never as good as it was the first time.
- Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This chicken will stay fresh for about 3-4 days.
- To reheat the chicken, do NOT use the microwave! Instead, reheat your leftovers back in the air fryer! Set it to 375°F and let them heat up for about 4-5 minutes.
More Easy Air Fryer Recipes
Keep that air fryer plugged in for more of these delicious easy dinner recipes:
- Juicy Air Fryer Steak Kabobs
- Air Fryer Eggplant Parmesan
- Tender Air Fryer Shrimp
- Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Legs
- Air Fried Avocado Tacos
- Air Fryer Chicken Wings
Air Fryer Hot Honey Chicken
- 2 cups buttermilk
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons salt, divided
- 2 teaspoons ground black pepper, divided
- 2 teaspoons garlic powder, divided
- 2 teaspoons onion powder, divided
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 ½ pounds skin on chicken legs, 5-6 legs
- 1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- ⅓ cup honey
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- In a large bowl or ziplock bag, combine the buttermilk, eggs, 1 teaspoon of salt, 1 teaspoon of pepper, 1 teaspoon of garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of onion powder and paprika together. Add the chicken and let it marinate in the fridge for 1 hour (or up to 24 hours).
- Brush the inside of the air fryer basket with olive or vegetable oil and set aside.
- Once ready to cook chicken, mix the flour, cornstarch, remaining 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper together in a shallow bowl and set aside.
- Remove the chicken from the buttermilk marinade and drain any excess milk off chicken. Then dredge the chicken in the flour, coating it completely. Set coated chicken on a plate then repeat the process with the remaining chicken legs.
- Let chicken legs sit for 5 minutes to soak up the flour, then re-dip them once again in the flour, to coat them completely.
Place chicken legs in the air fryer basket in an even layer and generously brush the tops with more oil (you can also mist them with oil if you have it in a sprayer).
- Cook chicken legs at 375°F for 20-25 minutes, or until they are golden and crispy. Flip chicken legs halfway through cooking.
- While chicken cooks, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Add the honey and cayenne pepper and stir to combine. Bring the sauce to a simmer and then add the remaining garlic and onion powder. Let the sauce simmer for 2-3 more minutes, then remove it from the heat and let it cool for five minutes.
- Once chicken legs are cooked through, generously brush the sauce onto the chicken legs when they come out of air fryer and cook for 3 minutes more. Serve immediately with extra sauce on the side!
- To store. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator. This chicken will stay fresh for about 3-4 days.
- To reheat. To reheat the chicken, do NOT use the microwave! Instead, reheat your leftovers back in the air fryer! Set it to 375°F and let them heat up for about 4-5 minutes.