These air fryer pistachio-crusted chicken cutlets are crispy and golden, with a crunchy nutty crust. They’re paired with peppery arugula, lemon, and Parmesan salad for a healthy meal that’s ready in less than 30 minutes.
Adapted from Gina Homolka | Skinny Taste Air Fryer Dinners | Clarkson Potter, 2021
Pistachios are without a doubt my favorite nut, and using them to crust chicken cutlets, you just can’t go wrong! Served with a simple arugula salad, this dish is easy enough for a weeknight but feels fancy enough for a dinner party.
If you can’t find unsalted raw nuts, omit the salt in the recipe and use salted. When you chop the nuts in the food processor, be sure to make it chunky like a coarse crumb. If the nuts are too large, they won’t stick to the chicken, but if you overprocess them, they will turn into a fine flour or paste, which won’t work, either.–Gina Homolka
Air Fryer Pistachio-Crusted Chicken FAQs
Can I use nuts other than pistachios?
Of course. If you prefer almonds, pecans, walnuts, or some other nut, feel free to substitute those.
Can I make this recipe without an air fryer?
You can make this recipe in your oven, however, your bake time will be a bit longer, and your final results may not be as crisp. Use a meat thermometer to ensure your chicken is fully cooked.
What oils are best to use in an air fryer?
Air fryers typically use high temperatures, so it’s critical that the oil you choose will be able to retain its properties while cooking and crisping, but not burning your food. The best oils to use have fairly high smoke points, which means they’re less likely to burn and negatively affect the taste of your food (check here for more info on smoke points!). The best oils to use in an air fryer are avocado oil, extra light olive oil, peanut, and coconut oil.
If you’re using an air fryer for health reasons and calories are a concern, the differences between the best air fryer oils are pretty negligible. Avocado oil contains 124 calories per tablespoon, and the majority of other air frying oils (olive, canola, and grapeseed) contain a similar 120 calories per tablespoon. The least caloric oil is coconut, which contains a little less than 117 calories per tablespoon.
Air Fryer Pistachio-Crusted Chicken Cutlets
For these air fryer chicken cutlets, thin pieces of chicken breast are dredged in a nutty lemon coating, then air fried until crispy and golden. It’s an easy, healthy weeknight meal.
Grate the zest from half of the lemon and place it on a large plate. Juice half of the lemon and then cut the other half into wedges. Set both aside.
In a food processor, pulse the pistachios a few times until it becomes a coarse crumb, being careful not to overprocess. Transfer to the plate with the lemon zest and mix together.
Slice the chicken breasts in half horizontally to make 4 thin cutlets. (If you purchased pre-cut cutlets, skip this step.)
Place each cutlet between two sheets of parchment and use a meat mallet to pound to a 1/4-inch (6-mm) thickness. Season with 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper, or to taste.
Working with one cutlet at a time, press the chicken cutlets into the pistachio-lemon zest mixture until completely covered on both sides. Spritz both sides with olive oil spray.
If you have difficulty getting the pistachio coating to stick to the chicken, spritz each chicken cutlet with olive oil spray before pressing into the crumb mixture.
Working in batches if needed, place the chicken cutlets in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Cook at 380°F (194°C) until the chicken is cooked through in the center, to an internal temp of 165°F (74°C) flipping once, 3 to 5 minutes per side.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, toss together the arugula, olive oil, reserved lemon juice, a pinch of salt, and black pepper, to taste.
Divvy the arugula among four plates and top with the Parmesan. Set a chicken cutlet alongside and serve with the lemon wedges.