Making freezer friendly Air Fryer Meal Prep Chicken in under 20 minutes makes eating healthy and delicious meals at home a breeze.
🍽️ Why This Recipe Works
Ready When You Are – This chicken is fully cooked and ready when you are for all of your favorite recipes.
Meal Prep Lunches – If you are looking for quick and easy meal prep lunches, pull a bag out and made burrito bowls this week, chicken salad sandwiches next week, a batch of white chicken chili one week and lastly cobb salads the last week. Think about making your own Lean Cuisine Lunches for just $1.28 each with this chicken and adding in any veggies you like. No crazy preservatives and you know exactly what’s in your lunch.
Meal Prep Dinners – Whether your family loves a great chicken tortilla casserole, chicken quesadillas or loaded burritos, this shredded chicken is already cooked and ready for you to pull out and add seasonings + finalize recipe. 10 Minute Dinner Option: Chicken Taco Stuffed Avocados, 20 Minute Dinner Option: Honey Teriyaki Chicken (using this shredded chicken) or 40 Minute Dinner Option: Instant Pot Chicken Noodle Soup. Make a list of your family’s favorite chicken dishes that you can make using meal prep chicken inside your Recipe Binder so you can easily look and see what the options are that your family gravitates towards.
Cheap – Make these easy on you wallet by stocking up when chicken goes on sale. There is minimal stress if you see a deal, as it’s easy to bring the package home and pop in the Air Fryer for just 18 minutes and shred. If you’ve never gone to the market and seen the Manager’s Specials, you need to get up early and go snag these deals as they are usually 50% off and usually just have meat that has been marked “sold by….” the previous day. We like to bring them home, divide them up to freeze or meal prep using this option.
Simple and Easy – We love to give you time saving, simple and easy recipes that make you want to come back for more. This is one of those. Plus it works in almost all households.
Chicken Breasts – Simple chicken breasts are used here. We chose fresh from the grocery store but feel free to use a bag of frozen. Just allow time to defrost them. Feel free to substitute chicken thighs for this recipe. Adjust the time to be about 20-25 minutes for bone in and 12 minutes for boneless. Always watch the timing as every Air Fryer is calibrated slightly different.
Salt and Pepper – Simple, basic salt and pepper is all that is needed to season these as leaving it like this allows you to use the recipe in just about anything you like.
These are so simple to make that you will be able to do this one without ever looking at a recipe card once you make it once or twice.
Step One: Preheat the Air Fryer to 360 degrees. While it is preheating, spray the breasts with olive oil spray (or brush on if you don’t have the spray) and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Step Two: Place the chicken in the air fryer making sure that there is air flow everywhere around the chicken. Cook for 18-20 minutes or until the chicken reaches 160 degrees (final temperature needs to be 165 for chicken) and tent the chicken with foil and allow to rest for 5-10 minutes, just like you do when grilling chicken. This allows the chicken to continue to cook those extra couple degrees and also allows the chicken to keep the moisture INSIDE the chicken instead of running out, leaving you dry chicken.
Step Three: Shred the chicken using the two fork method or the stand up mixer method. Both work great, use which one you like.
Step Four: Bag up the chicken into one cup portions and freeze for up to 6 months if kept in freezer grade Ziploc bags. Hand write the date and contents or feel free to download the FREE FREEZER LABELS to track all of your inventory.
⏲️ Shredding Methods
Our two favorite shredding methods are:
The two fork method where you pull against each other and the chicken starts to make strings and pull apart. If you dig too deep into the chicken, you pull chunks instead of making the shreds. Try about a ¼ of an inch deep first and then once you get going, it goes fast.
The stand up mixer method is where you cut the chicken breast into quarters and put them in the mixer bowl. Turn it on low for a couple seconds to get the big pieces to start breaking down and then turn it to medium for up to one minute. The chicken will be completely shredded. How’s that for an awesome kitchen hack!
We experimented using a hand mixer instead of the stand mixer but it just doesn’t work out well. The chicken goes flying out of the bowl and it makes me stressed.
❗ Expert Tips
This recipe works great for any kind of chicken you can snag at the store. Pick up breasts, thighs or tenders. All of these will work the same for this recipe.
Unless you know what you are going to use the chicken for, just use a simple salt and pepper seasoning so it can be as flexible as you want.
To freeze, double wrap the chicken to extend the life. There is no need to toss chicken out because it got freezer burn when you can simply double wrap them to protect them.
Double or triple the quantity chicken as it goes fast once you get in the hang of having already cooked chicken in the freezer that you can pull out and make quesadillas tonight in minutes.
Of course, just remove the chicken from the bone and shred after cooking.
Because you are using your Air Fryer, it has convection heating which means the heat is swirling around the meat at all times and the meat tends to be more juicy and tender. As long as you don’t overcook it, you are going to be shocked how much moisture is on/around the chicken when you take it out. This is not the “choke yourself while trying to swallow” chicken breast. After it shreds, taste it and you will want to keep tasting it. It’s simple and delicious thanks to the AF.
Prepare with olive oil and salt/pepper and allow to cook about 10-12 minutes is all.
Just like you would when you pull chicken off of the grill, this allows the chicken to fully cook (remember you probably took it out at 160 or so) and allows all those awesome juices to remain inside the chicken. Just have it rest 5-10 minutes and then start to shred it. You will be happy you did as the meat is so juicy instead of dry and nasty.
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Air Fryer Meal Prep Chicken
- Air Fryer
- 3 large Chicken Breasts
- Olive Oil Spray
- Salt and Pepper to taste
- Spray each of the chicken breasts with olive oil spray and then sprinkle with salt and pepper.
- Set the Air Fryer temperature to 360 degrees. Once it has heated up, place the chicken inside and set timer for 18 minutes (turning at the 9 minute mark) unless your chicken breasts are pounded thin, then you will set yours for 10 minutes and check at 5 minutes. Chicken is done when it reaches 165 degrees.
- Remove the chicken when it has reached 160 degrees and tent it with foil as it will keep cooking for a couple minutes and reach the 165 without the risk of drying out.
- Once the chicken has been tented for 5-10 minutes, shredd with two forks as mentioned in the notes below or with a stand up mixer.
- Divide up into one cup servings (we got four cups for this batch) and place in quart sized freezer Ziploc bags for the freezer. I like to double bag mine into a gallon sized freezer Ziploc bag as well. They will keep in the freezer like that for up to six months.