Crispy air fryer chicken katsu recipe! Juicy chicken cutlets double-coated in crunchy panko breadcrumbs and fried until perfectly browned and super crispy, no deep frying required!
I love making chicken in the air fryer; it is truly life-changing! I especially love converting tried and tested recipes to air fryer recipes like this air fryer katsu chicken recipe!
You won't believe that this katsu chicken isn't deep fried - I was amazed at how crispy and tasty this katsu chicken in the air fryer was. I made this recipe and knew I had to share it! It is perfect for busy weeknights or for a fancy meal on the weekend; it's just so easy!
Juicy, tender chicken cutlets coated in ultra-crispy panko breadcrumbs and fried to perfection, all in the quick convenience of the air fryer! This easy homemade recipe for chicken katsu is healthier and faster than deep frying. You're going to love this easy weeknight dinner recipe!
- 📋 Why You'll Love This Recipe!
- 🙋🏼♀️ What is Katsu Chicken?
- 🍗 Ingredients for Air Fried Chicken Katsu
- ✔️ Ingredient Substitutions
- 📖 How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Katsu
- 🥘 Variations
- 🧂What to Serve with Chicken Katsu
- ⏲ Equipment
- 🍶 Storage and Reheating
- 🙋🏻♂️ FAQs
- 👨🏻🍳 Top Tips!
- 📒 Recipe Card
- Air Fryer Chicken Katsu
- 🍳 More Chicken & Air Fryer Recipes!
📋 Why You'll Love This Recipe!
Using the air fryer to make chicken katsu at home is game-changing. Here's why you'll love this recipe:
- Ready to devour in just 15 minutes active cooking time.
- Uses just a few common ingredients you probably have on hand.
- Yields the crispiest crust without deep frying!
- Keeps chicken tender and juicy inside.
- Easier and healthier than takeout chicken katsu!
- Endlessly customizable with substitutions and variations.
- Perfect quick and easy weeknight dinner option.
- Kid-friendly recipe the whole family enjoys!
When you crave the crispy crunch of chicken katsu but want a fast and simple cooking method, this air fryer recipe delivers big time!
🙋🏼♀️ What is Katsu Chicken?
Katsu chicken is a popular Japanese dish made from thin chicken cutlets coated in panko bread crumbs and fried for a crispy, crunchy coating. It's sometimes described as a Japanese version of chicken schnitzel.
The fried katsu chicken is served with a tangy savory sauce, typically a katsu sauce made with Worcestershire, soy sauce, ketchup, oyster sauce and spices. It's a flavorful accompaniment to the crispy panko coated chicken.
Katsu chicken is a staple of Japanese cuisine, and a popular Japanese recipe loved for its tender chicken cutlets encased in a crispy, crunchy exterior. It exemplifies Japanese fried chicken at its finest. Try this classic popular Japanese dish for something new and delicious!
🍗 Ingredients for Air Fried Chicken Katsu
You'll need just a handful of simple ingredients to make this easy homemade chicken katsu recipe. When combined and prepared properly, these few ingredients create the signature taste and textures of perfect chicken katsu.
- Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts: Chicken katsu typically uses thin chicken cutlets. To achieve this with regular chicken breasts, simply slice them horizontally into thinner cutlets, then pound to an even 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch thickness. This helps them cook up tender and juicy on the inside with an extra crispy exterior.
- Salt and Black Pepper: Seasoning the chicken cutlets lightly with salt and pepper before breading adds essential flavor to the meat.
- All-Purpose Flour: Lightly dusting the chicken pieces in flour first helps the egg wash and breadcrumb coating adhere better to the meat for a super crisp crust.
- Beaten Egg: Dunking the floured chicken into a beaten egg coats the surface and allows the panko breadcrumbs to stick firmly and fry up oh-so-crispy.
- Panko Breadcrumbs: Panko breadcrumbs give chicken katsu its signature light, flaky crunch. Their airy texture allows them to fry up extra crispy and crunchy compared to regular breadcrumbs. Look for Japanese panko for authentic chicken katsu texture.
- Katsu Sauce: No chicken katsu is complete without a dollop of sweet and savory katsu sauce! This easy 4 ingredient homemade katsu sauce balances the crispy chicken with a tangy-sweet flavor punch.
See the recipe card for precise quantities and instructions!
✔️ Ingredient Substitutions
This basic chicken katsu recipe is super versatile and customizable. Try out these easy ingredient swaps:
- Chicken: While boneless, skinless chicken breasts are standard, you can also use chicken tenders or boneless thighs for quick cooking katsu. Turkey or pork cutlets work too!
- Breadcrumbs: For gluten-free chicken katsu, use gluten-free panko or regular bread crumbs.
- Flour: If you don't have all-purpose flour, corn starch or potato starch can dredge the chicken too.
- Oil: Opt for a heart-healthy avocado oil spray rather than vegetable or canola oil to coat the chicken.
📖 How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Katsu
Frying up restaurant-worthy chicken katsu is so easy when using the air fryer. Follow these simple steps for tender, juicy chicken cutlets encrusted in an ultra-crispy layer of panko.
- Step 1 - Pound the Chicken Cutlets: The first step after slicing the chicken breasts horizontally into thinner cutlets is to gently pound them with a meat mallet or rolling pin until about 1⁄4 inch to 1⁄2 inch thick. This helps the chicken cook up evenly and aids in a tender texture. Covering the chicken with a piece of plastic wrap before pounding prevents tearing. You can also cover your cutting board with plastic wrap for easy clean-up!
- Season each piece of chicken with salt and pepper on both sides. You can also add a dash of garlic powder for extra flavor! Set the chicken aside while setting up your breading station.
- Step 2 - Prepare the Breading Station: Set up a breading station by placing the flour, beaten egg, and panko crumbs each in a separate shallow bowl or pan. Having them in separate containers keeps the ingredients from getting mixed up before coating the chicken.
- Step 3 - Bread the Chicken: When your breading station is prepped, start by dredging the chicken cutlets lightly in flour, shaking off any excess. This coats the surface and helps the egg wash and breadcrumbs adhere later.
- Next, dip the floured chicken pieces into the beaten egg, fully coating on both sides. Let any excess drip off before moving to the panko pan.
- Finally, press both sides of the egg-coated chicken into the panko crumbs. Packing the panko firmly ensures it sticks and provides that ultra-crispy crust.
- Step 4 - Spray and Air Fry: Lightly coat the air fryer basket with oil or cooking spray. Make sure each spot is sprayed with a little bit of oil. Place the breaded chicken cutlets in the basket in a single layer without overlap. Then, generously spray oil over the top of the chicken as well. A generous spray of oil gives the best results!
- Air fry at 350°F for 10 minutes initially. This high heat helps the crust get super crispy and brown.
- Step 5 - Flip and Finish Cooking: After 10 minutes, flip each chicken katsu piece over. Give them another generous spray of oil on the surface before air frying for an additional 5-7 minutes until golden brown and cooked through. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165°F.
- Step 6 - Make the Tonkatsu Sauce: While the chicken katsu cooks, whisk up the quick homemade tonkatsu sauce. Simply combine the ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, soy sauce, and brown sugar in a small bowl. Set aside until ready to serve.
- Step 7 - Slice and Serve Chicken Katsu: After air frying, let the chicken katsu rest for 3-5 minutes before slicing into strips or bite-sized pieces. Then serve the hot, crispy chicken katsu over cooked white rice with shredded cabbage and drizzle with the prepared katsu sauce. Enjoy this tasty chicken katsu meal!
Cooking the chicken katsu in the air fryer yields an incredibly crunchy panko coating while keeping the chicken breast meat inside tender, moist, and juicy. Way better than takeout!
Hint: If you have a large air fryer, you should be able to air fry all the chicken katsu at once. But if your air fryer has a smaller basket, air fry the chicken in batches to avoid overcrowding the air fryer. Overcrowding the air fryer means the chicken katsu will not be as crisp and evenly cooked.
Change up your basic chicken katsu preparation with any of these fun variations for something new:
- Chicken Katsu Curry: For a popular takeout dish, serve the chicken katsu over rice with Japanese curry sauce instead of katsu sauce. Absolutely delicious!
- Chicken Katsu Sandwiches: Stuff chicken katsu, shredded cabbage, and sauce between sandwich buns for an easy handheld meal!
- Katsu Bowls: Build a bowl with chicken katsu, rice, sautéed veggies like carrots and broccoli, a fried egg, etc.
- Chicken Parmesan: Swap tomato sauce for katsu sauce to give this Italian favorite a Japanese twist.
- Leftover Chicken Katsu Pizza: Top baked pizza crusts with leftover chicken katsu pieces, cheese, and additional veggies for an easy weeknight dinner.
The possibilities are endless when it comes to turning basic chicken katsu into fun new dishes! Get creative with the ingredients!
🧂What to Serve with Chicken Katsu
Chicken katsu works well with several classic Japanese sides:
- White Rice: Steamed white or sushi rice is the perfect base for serving chicken katsu over. The rice soaks up all the tasty katsu sauce drizzled over the top.
- Shredded Cabbage: A side of vibrant shredded green cabbage adds freshness and crunch.
- Katsu Sauce: Drizzle the sweet, savory homemade katsu sauce over the chicken and rice.
- Sesame Seeds: Sprinkled over the finished dish, toasted sesame seeds add decorative flair.
- Miso Soup: Miso soup's salty, comforting taste balances the fried chicken wonderfully.
- Edamame: Blanched and salted edamame beans make a bright, protein-packed accompaniment with some crunch!
A traditional Japanese chicken katsu meal comes together easily with components you likely have on hand!
The air fryer gives you that quintessential panko fried flavor with a crispy coating and less oil and mess. Plus, it allows you to cook restaurant-worthy chicken katsu from your own kitchen with minimal effort.
I have two air fryers I use all the time, and I have tested this recipe using both models. The two air fryer models I mainly use are:
- Instant Vortex Plus 6-Quart Air Fryer Oven. This air fryer has a useful viewing window that allows you to monitor the food as it cooks. This model always cooks food a bit quicker than my Cosori model, so reduce the cooking time as needed. This model is also great as it does the preheating for you and tells you when to turn over the food.
- Cosori Max XL Large Cooker. It has a capacity of 5.8 quarts which is quite large. The basket is smaller than my Instant Pot model but has very good hot air circulation.
- Oven Thermometer: Whatever air fryer model you have, test the temperature with an oven thermometer to see if your air fryer runs hotter or cooler than others. All air fryers are different, so results will vary!
- Oil Sprayer Bottle: I don't recommend using non-stick spray in your air fryer as it can react with the non-stick coating and cause damage. I prefer to use an oil sprayer bottle and fill it with a neutral oil like canola or olive oil.
🍶 Storage and Reheating
Storing Leftover Chicken Katsu: Follow these tips for storing leftover chicken katsu to maintain its texture:
- Always let cooked chicken katsu cool completely before storing.
- Place chicken pieces in an airtight container, bowl, or zip-top bag. Limit air exposure to keep the breading crisp.
- Refrigerate for up to 4 days.
- Freeze for longer storage of 2-3 months. Reheat directly from frozen.
Proper storage keeps chicken katsu from drying out and losing its crispy panko coating.
Reheating Chicken Katsu: Have leftover chicken katsu? Reheat it to crispy perfection with either the oven or air fryer:
- Oven Method - Place chicken katsu pieces on a wire rack set on a baking sheet. Bake at 400°F for 4-5 minutes until heated through and crust is crispy.
- Air Fryer Method - Air fry leftover chicken katsu at 300°F for 4-5 minutes, flipping halfway, until hot and crispy again.
The key is using dry heat to recrisp the panko coating. Avoid microwaving, as this will make the panko breading wet and soggy.
Get answers to all your common chicken katsu questions here:
From start to finish, this easy air fryer chicken katsu recipe takes only 30 minutes. Just 15 minutes is active cooking time.
Yes, freezing cooked chicken katsu is totally fine for longer storage. Let it cool completely first, then store chicken pieces in an airtight container in the freezer for 2-3 months.
To reheat frozen chicken katsu, use the oven or air fryer. Oven bake at 400°F or air fry at 300°F for 4-5 minutes until hot and crispy again.
Chicken katsu is traditionally served with sticky white rice, shredded cabbage, homemade katsu sauce, and often sides like miso soup, edamame, seaweed salad, etc.
👨🏻🍳 Top Tips!
- Pound the chicken between plastic wrap to prevent tearing and help it cook evenly. Aim for 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 inch thickness.
- Allow the chicken cutlets to sit at room temperature for 5 minutes after seasoning them with salt and pepper. This is called a dry brine and makes the chicken katsu even crispier!
- Chill breaded chicken cutlets in the fridge for 15-20 minutes before cooking. This helps set the coating so it fries up extra crispy.
- Use genuine Japanese panko breadcrumbs rather than regular for the lightest, crunchiest texture.
- Press and pack the panko onto the chicken so it adheres tightly to the surface.
- Generously spray both sides of the chicken with oil before and during air frying. This prevents drying out.
- Fry at a high temperature of 350°F for the crispiest results. Lower temps lead to soggier breading.
- Let chicken rest 3-5 minutes before slicing into it for the juiciest interior.
📒 Recipe Card
Air Fryer Chicken Katsu
- Rolling Pin or Meat Tenderizer
- Plastic Wrap
- Sharp Knife
- Cutting Board
- 2 large chicken breasts
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- ½ cup all purpose flour
- 1 large egg lightly beaten with a fork
- 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
For Katsu Sauce:
- ¼ cup ketchup
- 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1 tablespoon soy sauce
- ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- White rice cooked
- Thinly sliced green cabbage
- Sesame seeds for garnish
- Slice each chicken breast in half horizontally to make 4 thin cutlets. Cover with plastic wrap and pound with a meat mallet until about ¼-1/2 inch thick. Season with salt and pepper on both sides and set aside.2 large chicken breasts, 1 teaspoon salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Prepare your breading station by placing the flour, beaten egg, and panko in separate shallow dishes.½ cup all purpose flour, 1 large egg, 1 cup panko breadcrumbs
- Dredge the chicken in the flour, dip in the egg, then press into the panko, coating both sides. Ensure the coating sticks by gently pressing the panko onto the chicken.
- Spray the air fryer basket with cooking spray. Place the breaded chicken cutlets in a single layer, spacing apart. Spray the top with more cooking spray.
- Air fry at 350°F for 10 minutes. Flip chicken and spray again with cooking spray. Cook 5-7 minutes more until golden brown and chicken reaches 165°F internally.
- While the chicken air fries, make katsu sauce by mixing all the sauce ingredients together. It's also a good time to prepare any sides you want.¼ cup ketchup, 2 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, ½ teaspoon brown sugar
- Let chicken rest 3-5 minutes before slicing. Serve with rice and shredded cabbage. Drizzle with katsu sauce and garnish with sesame seeds. Enjoy!
- Pound chicken between plastic wrap for even thickness
- Chill breaded chicken 20 mins for crispiest crust
- Use Japanese panko breadcrumbs for ultra crunchy texture
- Generously spray chicken with oil before and during cooking
- Air fry at 350F for best results
- Let chicken rest before slicing into it
- Refrigerate leftovers up to 4 days
- Reheat in oven or air fryer to recrisp
- Try fun variations like chicken katsu curry or sandwiches
- Substitute ingredients to customize the recipe
- Serve with white rice, shredded cabbage, katsu sauce
- Delicious, quicker and healthier than takeout chicken katsu
This recipe was tested with these air fryers: