Air Fryer Buttermilk Brined Lemon Garlic Chicken

My friend Judith asked me to teach an air fryer class, so I had to learn to use an air fryer. I’m usually all about the Instant Pot, but one thing you don’t get with an Instant Pot is crispy chicken skin, so it seemed like a good time to give cooking a whole chicken a whirl. It was pretty good without brining, but I knew it could be better. Here’s what I came up with!

Buttermilk Brined Lemon Garlic Chicken

Cobbled together from Bon Appétit’s Master Buttermilk Brine and  Jennifer Banz’s Air Fryer Whole Chicken.


  • 1 whole chicken, 3-5 pounds, defrosted, giblets removed
  • 1 qt. buttermilk
  • 2 lemons sliced thinly
  • 5 or more cloves of garlic, crushed
  • ¼ c. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • High heat spray oil (I like coconut or avocado)


  1. Place the chicken in a gallon-size ziplock bag with legs pointing to the top of the bag. Add the lemons and garlic around and inside the chicken. Add the salt.  Carefully add as much buttermilk as you can and zip.
  2. Place the bag in a large bowl (just in case) and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to 24 hours.
  3. Drain the chicken, remove it from the bag, and pat dry with paper towels.
  4. Spray the bottom of the air fryer basket with oil then place the chicken breast-side down in the basket.
  5. Cook at 350° for 50 minutes. Flip over and cook for another 10 minutes.
  6. Check several places on the chicken with a meat thermometer. If any reading is less than 165°, cook longer.
  7. Rest for 10 minutes before carving.
OTHER FLAVORS (from Bon Appetit)

Instead of the lemons and garlic, try these flavors when brining your chicken:

Add 4 teaspoons curry powder, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, and 2 teaspoons ground turmeric.

Add 2 tablespoons adobo sauce from a can of chipotle chiles in adobo.

Add 2 tablespoons smoked paprika, 2 tablespoons Tabasco, and 2 teaspoons celery seeds.

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