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The perfect entree for busy weeknights — add a seasonal side for a full meal!
Air fryer chicken cutlets are thin pieces of poultry breaded and fried until crispy and golden brown. Make some today in just 25 minutes!
Perfectly tender and juicy meat coated in a crunchy layer of seasoned breadcrumbs and Parmesan cheese — this dish is bound to be one in your regular rotation!
This countertop appliance is quickly becoming a favorite because it’s so versatile. I’ve used it for appetizers like homemade onion rings and bacon wrapped jalapeño poppers. It’s even great for making easy-to-peel hard boiled eggs!
Key ingredients & substitutions for Air Fryer Chicken Cutlets
- Chicken — Check your local meat counter for cutlet or as the butcher to make some. You can also make them yourself from boneless breasts — I’ve included instructions on how to do so down below.
- Egg whites — These help the breading stick to the surface of the meat. Be sure to remove the yolks! You can either discard them or save them for another recipe.
- Panko breadcrumbs — Light and airy with an extra crunch, these are perfect for creating a deliciously crisp coating on your air fryer chicken cutlets.
- Lemon — You’ll need both the juice and the zest for this recipe. Always zest before juicing or the fruit will be too soft to handle.
- Spices — I used a simple blend of Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper. Feel free to try out different herbs and seasonings to suit your taste!
- Parmesan cheese — This adds a salty and nutty flavor to the outer coating without affecting the overall texture.
How to make chicken cutlets in the air fryer?
STEP 1 | Create the cutlets
If you can’t find chicken breast cutlets at your local store or butcher, you can make them yourself! Slice a boneless, skinless breast in half down the middle, then pound thin between sheets of plastic wrap. Repeat until you have the desired amount.
STEP 2 | Prep the ingredients
Set up a dredging station with two shallow dishes. Whisk together the egg whites, lemon juice, and cornstarch in one. In the other, mix the Parmesan, seasonings, and lemon zest into the breadcrumbs.
STEP 3 | Coat the meat
Submerge each cutlet, one at a time, into the egg mixture. Shake off the excess liquid before coating both sides in the breadcrumb mixture.
I like to place the finished pieces on a wire rack so the breading doesn’t come off before it’s cooked.
STEP 4 | Cook
If you haven’t already, preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees for about 5 minutes. Having the basket already hot helps the breadcrumb coating get nice and crispy.
Cook the chicken cutlets in the air fryer for 10 minutes, flipping halfway through. Work in batches in order to fry the meat in a single layer — whatever you do, don’t stack!
- Make your own coarse breadcrumbs out of ciabatta bread to use in place of the panko crumbs. Break the loaf info chunks, then blend in a food processor until you have coarse crumbs. Transfer them to a baking sheet and dry in a 200-degree oven for 30-40 minutes.
Frequently asked questions
Yes, but the texture will not be as crunchy. I would recommend using a mixture of the two over using all plain breadcrumbs.
Both come from the same portion of the bird, but one is thicker than the other. In fact, you can make cutlets out of skinless, boneless breasts! Remove the tenderloin, then cut the breast in half vertically (not horizontally through the middle).
Place the chicken pieces between two layers of plastic wrap and pound gently (using glancing taps) with the flat side of a meat mallet.
While best served fresh, you can refrigerate leftovers for 3-4 days. Pop them back in the basket at 375 degrees for 3-4 minutes, flipping halfway.
Air Fryer Chicken Cutlets
- 1 lb. chicken cutlets or chicken breasts
- 2 large egg whites
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs or dry coarse breadcrumbs
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- cooking spray or olive oil in a spritzer
- Pat chicken cutlets dry with paper towels and place on a plate.
- In a shallow dish, whisk together the egg whites, lemon juice, and cornstarch. In a separate shallow dish, combine the breadcrumbs with the Parmesan cheese, Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and lemon zest.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees for 5 minutes.
- While the air fryer is preheating, dip each piece of chicken into the wet mixture, shaking off the excess. Then dredge in the seasoned breadcrumbs until well coated and place on a wire rack.
- Working in batches, lightly coat the basket of the air fryer with cooking spray, then place the breaded chicken in the basket and lightly spray the chicken.
- Cook for 10 minutes at 400 degrees, flipping the chicken midway through cooking. Repeat until all the chicken is cooked.
- If using boneless, skinless chicken breasts, remove the tenderloin and cut the chicken breast in half vertically. Place the chicken between two sheets of plastic wrap and pound gently (with glancing taps) with the flat side of a meat mallet until 1/4 inch thick.
- While best served fresh, you can refrigerate leftovers for 3-4 days. Pop them back in the air fryer basket at 375 degrees for 3-4 minutes, flipping halfway.
About Sheila Thigpen
Recipe Developer, Food Photographer, Food Writer
Sheila Thigpen is the publisher of Life, Love, and Good Food — a Southern food blog — and the author of Easy Chicken Cookbook and The 5-Ingredient Fresh and Easy Cookbook. After 20+ years in the publishing industry, she retired in 2018 to focus on her own creative endeavors full time. She and her husband live near the beautiful Smoky Mountains and have a precious little granddaughter who has stolen their hearts. As an influencer, Sheila has collaborated with brands like Creamette, Kroger, HERSHEY’S, Hamilton Beach, Garafalo Pasta, OXO, Smithfield, Valley Fig Growers, and more.