Quick Air Fryer Lemon Chicken Breasts (Thin Sliced)

Spring and summer call for zesty citrus flavors, and this recipe for air fryer lemon chicken breasts is one of my favorites. Now, I like to use thin sliced breasts because they cook super fast and delicious in your air fryer, but it’s really adaptable. I always make extra to use as a topping for a lunch salad the next day!

air fryer lemon chicken breasts recipe dinners done quick featured image

Why Make Lemon Chicken?

Lemon is very acidic but also bursting with flavor, which adds a lot to an otherwise kind of bland white meat. It’s also great in that it keeps your chicken lean and relatively healthier, instead of adding a bunch of sauces and seasonings that defeat the purpose.

The air fryer is a great choice for cooking lemon chicken, because it somehow manages to keep your chicken nice and juicy – even when you’re working with finicky breast meat! You can also make thighs, drumsticks, or wings with the same flavors of course.

With the bright lemon seasoning, this chicken recipe is perfect for spring and summer, and it’s great as a main course option. However, you can cut up leftover chicken for use as a salad topper, or in wraps, chicken salad, and more, so it’s extremely versatile!

holding up a piece of air fryer lemon chicken on a fork

This recipe is also naturally gluten free, as well as low carb, so it fits in with a variety of different dietary needs without even trying!

Ingredients For Air Fryer Lemon Chicken

ingredients to make lemon chicken breasts in the air fryer
  • 1 pound chicken breast cutlets (or another cut of choice)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp parsley (optional)
  • Sliced fresh lemon (optional)

Ingredient Tips and Substitutions

  • You can use full-sized (not thin sliced) breasts if you prefer. Cooking time will increase to 15-20 minutes depending on the thickness of your specific breasts
  • Other good oil choices would be avocado, rapeseed, or another high smoke point oil
  • All seasonings are adjustable to taste, and I’ll give you some variation options below!

Air Fryer Lemon Chicken Variations

Honey Lemon Chicken

Add 1 Tbsp of honey to your marinade for honey lemon chicken, which adds a bit of sweetness to balance the tart in this classic pairing.

Lemon Pepper Chicken

Instead of salt and pepper, use about 1 tsp of lemon pepper seasoning instead (or to taste) to make air fryer lemon pepper chicken breasts. If your particular lemon pepper seasoning does not contain salt, then you should still add some salt to the recipe.

Lemon Garlic Chicken

Add 1 Tbsp of fresh garlic that’s been grated or very finely minced to your seasoning mix to make air fryer lemon garlic chicken breast. Alternatively, you can use about 1 tsp of garlic powder instead to deliver similar results.

Chicken Thighs

To make air fryer lemon chicken thighs, cook for about 15-20 minutes (depending on thickness) until the center reaches 165°F. You can cook them skin on or off, depending on preference.

If you want skin on, start with the skin side facing down, then turn upright after cooking halfway, to give you the crispiest skin.

Whole Chicken

For a whole lemon chicken in the air fryer, you may need to adjust the seasoning amounts. The amount listed should work for an air fryer Cornish hen, as they’re usually about 1 – 1 ½ pounds. For larger birds, scale the seasonings proportional to weight.

A small Cornish hen takes about 35 minutes, whereas a larger 3 pound bird would take 45-50 minutes on average to cook through.

How to Make Air Fryer Lemon Chicken Breasts

  1. Trim any excess fat from your chicken breasts and place in a bowl
  2. Add the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and parsley and toss to thoroughly coat
toss thin cut chicken breasts in olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and parsley
  1. Let the chicken marinate for 10-15 minutes (but no more than 30) to allow it to absorb flavor. You can preheat your air fryer to 375°F during this time if your air fryer takes a while to warm up
  2. Place the chicken into your air fryer’s basket or rack in a single layer
place lemon chicken breasts in air fryer basket
  1. Cook on the air fry setting at 375°F for 8-10 minutes. Pause halfway through to flip the chicken, and top with fresh lemon slices when you do if you’d like some charred lemons on top (though this can make your chicken take an extra few minutes to cook). Chicken is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165°F
  2. Serve with additional lemon wedges and fresh parsley if desired
overhead view of air fryer lemon chicken breasts on a plate with charred lemon slices

What to Serve With Lemon Chicken

  • Rice
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Roasted potatoes
  • Risotto
  • Orzo
  • Couscous
  • Quinoa
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Brussels sprouts
  • Green beans
  • Asparagus
  • Roasted carrots
  • Green salad
  • Caesar salad
  • Greek salad
  • Lemonade
  • Lemon-flavored cocktails
  • Shandy style beer
  • Lemon-based desserts

My favorite pairing for air fryer lemon chicken breasts is my easy air fryer Greek potatoes recipe. However, air fryer brown sugar carrots and honey balsamic microwave brussel sprouts are also great options!

For a drink pairing, try my limoncello French 75 or blueberry lemon drop martini. A lemon blueberry mug cake makes for a simple and delicious dessert option!

Recipe FAQs

How Do I Prepare the Chicken Breasts for the Air Fryer?

To prepare the chicken breasts, trim any excess fat, and remove skin if present (optional).

If you’d like them to cook quicker, you may then slice them horizontally to make thin slices, or cut them into strips or cubes.

What Temperature Should I Cook Lemon Chicken Breasts in the Air Fryer?

Cook lemon chicken breasts in the air fryer at 375°F (190°C).

This temperature ensures that the chicken cooks evenly and remains juicy.

How Long Do I Cook Lemon Chicken Breasts in the Air Fryer?

Cook lemon chicken breasts for 15-20 minutes, flipping halfway through. Check for an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure they are fully cooked. Times can vary slightly between air fryers and based on the thickness of your chicken.

For thin-sliced breast cutlets, the cooking time should be closer to 8-10 minutes in total.

Can I Use Frozen Chicken Breasts for This Recipe?

Yes, you can use frozen chicken breasts. Thaw them completely before marinating and cooking to ensure even cooking and better flavor absorption.

It is possible to cook chicken from frozen in the air fryer, but in this application it will lack flavor if you do so.

How Do I Prevent the Chicken Breasts from Drying Out in the Air Fryer?

To prevent dryness, avoid overcooking and use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.

Marinating the chicken also helps to keep it moist and flavorful. Lemon can start to cook the chicken with acidity if it sits for too long, though, so don’t marinate for longer than 30 minutes.

What Side Dishes Pair Well with Air Fryer Lemon Chicken Breasts?

Side dishes like roasted vegetables, garlic mashed potatoes, quinoa salad, or a fresh green salad pair well with lemon chicken breasts.

Choose light and refreshing drinks and desserts, such as sorbet, vodka or gin-based lemon cocktails, shandy beers, or a white wine.

What Herbs Work Best with Lemon Chicken Breasts?

Herbs like thyme, rosemary, parsley, and basil complement the lemon flavor well.

You can add these to the marinade or sprinkle them on top before or after cooking.

Can I Make Air Fryer Lemon Chicken Breasts Ahead of Time?

Yes, you can marinate the chicken breasts ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Cook them in the air fryer just before serving.

Note, however, if you do this that the chicken will turn white and partially cook due to the acid in the lemon juice. This will result in a softer texture chicken overall.

How Do I Store and Reheat Leftover Lemon Chicken Breasts?

Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in the air fryer at 350°F (175°C) for 5-7 minutes until heated through.

For thin sliced breast cutlets, reheating should only take about 3 minutes instead, though times can vary for both based on your air fryer and overall thickness of your chicken.

Can I Use Boneless, Skinless Thighs Instead of Breasts?

Yes, you can use boneless, skinless chicken thighs. They usually require slightly less cooking time, about 15-18 minutes, due to their smaller size and higher fat content.

However, the time can vary between air fryers and based on your chicken’s overall size and thickness, so confirming with a thermometer is always a good idea.

Air Fryer Lemon Chicken Recipe Tips

  • If you do cook the chicken with lemon slices on top, note that it your chicken will not brown as much – the lemons get the browning instead (but give the chicken lots of juice)
  • You can always cook the lemons on the side instead, or char them in the air fryer separately, for about 5-6 minutes at 400°F (depending on how thick the slices are)
  • I do not preheat my Ninja air fryer to make this recipe, and it usually takes me 8-10 minutes in total to get the chicken fully cooked. If I do preheat, then it’s about 6-8 depending on thickness
closeup view of air fryer lemon chicken on a plate with charred lemon slices

Storage and Reheating of Lemon Chicken Breast

  • Store leftover lemon chicken in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 2-3 days
  • To reheat lemon chicken in the air fryer, drop the temperature to 350°F and cook for about 3-4 minutes, until warmed through. For full size (not thin sliced) breasts, it should be closer to 5-7 minutes total

More Air Fryer Chicken Breast Recipes to Try

Final Thoughts

These air fryer lemon chicken breasts cook up so quickly thanks to the use of thin-sliced breast cutlets, but even the whole version is fast and convenient. The air fryer does an amazing job of keeping notoriously dry breast meat nice and juicy!

A simple lemon seasoning is all you need for a delicious protein option that’s naturally low carb and gluten free. So, it works for a variety of dietary needs and doesn’t sacrifice flavor to do so!

I love to make extra so I can chop it up on my salad for lunch the next day, but it’s equally good in sandwiches and wraps as well. Of course, pair it with some roasted potatoes and vegetables and you have a dinner simple enough even for a weeknight!

If you love all things lemon and chicken, make sure to check out my Air Fryer Greek Chicken too, which is perfect for chicken gyros and more!

air fryer lemon chicken breasts recipe dinners done quick featured image

Air Fryer Lemon Chicken Breasts (Thin Sliced Cutlets)

This simple air fryer lemon chicken is moist and delicious, even with breast meat! Using thin sliced chicken allows it to cook up in only about 10 minutes for a quick and easy meal.
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Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Main Course
Cuisine American
Servings 2
Calories 384 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 1 pound chicken breast (regular or thin sliced cutlets)
  • 1 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp fresh lemon zest
  • ½ tsp salt (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp black pepper (or to taste)
  • ½ tsp parsley (optional)
  • 1 Sliced fresh lemon (optional)

Instructions
 

  • Trim any excess fat from your chicken breasts and place in a bowl
    1 pound chicken breast
  • Add the olive oil, lemon juice, lemon zest, salt, pepper, and parsley and toss to thoroughly coat
    1 Tbsp olive oil, 1 Tbsp fresh lemon juice, 1 tsp fresh lemon zest, ½ tsp salt, ½ tsp black pepper, ½ tsp parsley
  • Let the chicken marinate for 10-15 minutes (but no more than 30) to allow it to absorb flavor. You can preheat your air fryer to 375°F during this time if your air fryer takes a while to warm up
  • Place the chicken into your air fryer’s basket or rack in a single layer
  • Cook on the air fry setting at 375°F for 8-10 minutes (or about 15-20 minutes for a full-sized breast). Pause halfway through to flip the chicken, and top with fresh lemon slices when you do if you’d like some charred lemons on top (though this can make your chicken take an extra few minutes to cook). Chicken is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165°F
    1 Sliced fresh lemon
  • Serve with charred lemon slices and fresh parsley if desired

Notes

  • Other good oil choices would be avocado, rapeseed, or another high smoke point oil
  • All seasonings are adjustable to taste; see my variations section above for some other ideas and combinations
  • If you do cook the chicken with lemon slices on top, note that it your chicken will not brown as much – the lemons get the browning instead (but give the chicken lots of juice)
  • You can always cook the lemons on the side instead, or char them in the air fryer separately, for about 5-6 minutes at 400°F (depending on how thick the slices are)
  • I do not preheat my Ninja air fryer to make this recipe, and it usually takes me 8-10 minutes in total to get the chicken fully cooked. If I do preheat, then it’s about 6-8 depending on thickness. Adjust as needed for your specific air fryer and chicken thickness!
  • Exact nutritional values will vary based on brand, cut, and flavor of ingredients, any sauces or sides added, and quantity consumed, so please consider this a guideline only

Nutrition

Serving: 256gCalories: 384kcalCarbohydrates: 2.5gProtein: 53gFat: 16gSaturated Fat: 4.7gCholesterol: 170mgSodium: 754mgPotassium: 774mgFiber: 0.7gSugar: 1.7gVitamin A: 68.7IUVitamin C: 3.2mgCalcium: 61mgIron: 1mg
Keyword air fryer chicken breast recipe, air fryer chicken recipes, air fryer lemon chicken, air fryer lemon chicken breasts, juicy lemon chicken air fryer, lemon zest chicken, ninja air fryer lemon chicken breasts, weeknight chicken
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Katie Vine

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