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Crispy Air-Fried Five-Spice Chicken

air fryer chicken thighs

Crispy Air-Fried Five-Spice Chicken with crackling skin that is almost as good as deep-fried. The secret is using egg whites and cornstarch.

This week, I experimented with 4 different batters to make air-fried chicken. I tried all-purpose and corn starch with egg wash and all-purpose and corn starch with just egg whites. AP with egg came out pretty crunchy while cornstarch with egg came out light and crispy!

When I used just egg whites, both AP and cornstarch came out crispy with cornstarch taking a slight lead! Whether you use AP or cornstarch is totally up to you and your preference, but I find cornstarch to have a lighter and crispier texture than the crunchy texture AP provides.

When I make fried chicken, I actually like to mix AP and cornstarch for the best of both worlds. I also like to do the double-frying method where I cook with a lower temperature first, and then I turn it up for crispy skin. Doing this allows for the meat to stay moist while the skin gets crispy.

For this experiment, I decided to make five-spice flavored chicken. Five-spice powder is usually a mix of cinnamon, fennel, star anise, cloves, and mine has annatto, but some brands have Szechuan peppercorn. You should be able to find it in the spice section of your grocery store. Hope you give it a try!

More chicken recipes:

Air-fried Vietnamese wings– you’ll never believe they were air-fried!
Air-fried sesame chicken – It’s better than takeout!
Hot honey butter wings (viral) – the crispiest wings that stay crispy for hours

Crispy Air-Fried Five-Spice Chicken

Difficulty:BeginnerPrep time: 10 minutesCook time:1 hour 10 minutesServings:8 pieces


Crispy air-fried chicken thighs with five-spice seasoning! It’s marinated for 4+ hours or overnight, then coated in egg whites, cornstarch/flour, seasonings, oil, and then air-fried. The internal chicken temperature should be 165F when done.


  • Marinade

  • Coating


  1. Mix ingredients for the marinade together. Marinate chicken and leave in the fridge for 4+ hours or overnight.
  2. Mix ingredients for the coating in a big bowl. Prepare egg wash with just egg whites in a separate bowl.
  3. Coat the chicken in egg whites, then in cornstarch, place in air fryer basket, and then brush on some neutral oil. Do not overcrowd the basket.
  4. Air fry at 325F for 25 minutes, and then pull the basket out and let rest for 5 minutes. Increase temperature to 350F and cook for about 10 minutes. Time will vary for different sizes. Use meat thermometer to check that it is 165F.
    Cooking at a lower temperature first will prevent overcooking of the meat when trying to crisp up the skin.
Keywords:air-fryer chicken, air-fried chicken, five spice chicken

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  1. What is the recommended cooking time if I’m only doing this for legs and wings?

    1. Hi Judy! For wings, I would recommend 10 min at 325F and then 10 min at 350-375F. It’ll depend on the size. For legs, I would try 15 min at 325 and 10 min at 350-375F. Let it rest between switching temps to prevent them from getting dry. The internal temp should be 165 when done.

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