Homemade jalapeno garlic chicken jerky in the air fryer is not the same as any jerky you can buy at the grocery store. Most store bought jerky is a distant second place to say the least. I just recently started dehydrating chicken breast in the air fryer within the past year, and let me tell you, I do not buy jerky any more.
Ok, for the human jerky lovers out there, the flavor possibilities are endless. The traditional chicken jerky is flavored with Asian flavors like soy sauce, sesame oil, ginger and teriyaki. Other traditional flavors are then added like garlic, onion, and vinegar. I personally have a favorite Huli Huli chicken jerky recipe that I LOVE!
I use three good size chicken breasts for this recipe. I’ve tried chicken thighs and it does turn out delicious as well but the breast meat is my favorite meat for jerky. Trim the fat away and you have yourself a nice lean piece of meat to cook with. The breast meat also is more tender than the thigh meat.
This recipe was designed when I was feening Mexican food. I grew up in San Diego and ate a burrito at least twice a week. Mexican food lover right here. One of my favorite burritos are pollo asado (grilled chicken).
There are some strong character ingredients that make their way into a good amount pollo asado recipes that I chose to include in this recipe. Onion, garlic, jalapeno, and cilantro are the power players here. Onion, and garlic are givens in my opinion. It’s hard to go in any direction without onion and garlic.
Jalapenos with in their entirety, seeds and all, have a flavor that is irresistible, but come with a wallop of heat hard to beat. No worries about the unbearable heat because the two hour cook time will eliminate any heat transferred to the chicken breast.
Cilantro is another power hitter in this recipe definitely picked up in the end result. Using two large bunches of cilantro and three large sliced jalapenos together with the onions and garlic produces an aroma that will lift a nostril in curiosity and excitement.
Pantry ingredients of jalapeno garlic chicken jerky are quite important and carefully calculated. But, there is room for adjustment to these ingredients for different people’s tastes. For instance, whenever I cook with garlic, I add granulated garlic (garlic powder works the same way) to kick the garlic flavor into high gear. And why not do the same thing with granulated onion when using yellow onions?
Salt and Pepper are a must when cooking with meats and vegetables so they made their way into this recipe without a fight. But since we are trying to make this marinade incredibly potent, we need to add that crisp flavor of white wine vinegar. We now have a marinade that can be characterized by having intense flavors.
We can’t forget the means of transportation for these flavors. I add some olive oil to help pull the flavors from the marinade to coat the flesh of the chicken breast. Olive oil has a wonderfully mellow flavor that also contributes to the overall theme of this marinade as well.
I recommend a quality sharp knife and crosscut wood cutting board to dice one head of garlic and small chop one large yellow onion. I like to think the smaller cuts exposes more surface area allowing the flavors to dissolve into the marinade easier. Thin slice three to four large jalapenos leaving the seeds in. You can use surgical gloves if you want to keep the fiery capsaicin off your hands.
Wash, dry and chop two large bunches of cilantro. Cut the leaves off of the stems by holding the stem bunch cutting the leaves off, and then turning the bunch a little bit to cut the next bunch of leaves and so on until mostly stems are left. Add the garlic, onion, jalapeno and cilantro to a 1 gallon zip lock bag or large mixing bowl.
Add the granulated garlic and onion, salt, fresh ground black pepper, white whine vinegar, and olive oil to the garlic, onion, jalapeno, and cilantro and mix the ingredients so they are well incorporated. I recommend smelling the marinade, not to closely, to give you an idea of what you just made.
There are differences in opinions of how jerky should be cut. The jerky will differ in texture and tenderness depending on the thickness and direction of the cut. For traditional chewy chicken jerky, slice the meat about 1/8 inch thick running the blade in the same direction as the muscle fibers. It is easier to accomplish a thin slice by putting the chicken breasts in the freezer for an hour before slicing.
Personally, I like a large piece of tender chicken jerky. To do this, slice the chicken breast into 1/4 – 3/8 inch slices running the knife across the muscle fibers. This will allow the chicken to break between the muscle fibers when taking a bite or bending the piece of chicken jerky. You will have an easier chew with this type of cut.
Add the sliced chicken breast to the zip lock bag or bowl with the marinade. Use your hands to mix the chicken slices into the marinade so the marinade evenly covers each piece of chicken. Zip the bag closed or cover the mixing bowl with plastic wrap.
Let the chicken marinate in the fridge for at least an hour. I recommend 4 – 10 hours of marination for the flavors to have the chance to meld appropriately.
I cut paddle skewers with well cleaned gardening sheers to be about a 1/16 – 1/8 inch longer than my air fryer basket is wide. Skewer one end of a chicken slice so the chicken hangs from the skewer. Do enough chicken slices to fit on each skewer leaving room for air to flow around each one. With the size slices I use, I get four on each skewer. Spray the inside of the air fryer basket with olive oil.
Put one end of the skewer loaded with chicken into the top of one of the vents of your air fryer basket. Maneuver the other end of the skewer starting at the bottom of the opposing vent on the other side of the air fryer basket, sliding the skewer’s end up the vent to pinch the skewer into the basket. Do this with all of the skewers and marinated chicken slices.
Use an oil sprayer to pray the chicken with olive oil. Carefully lift and slide the basket into your air fryer. Set the air fryer to 170°F for a total of 2 hours. My air fryer‘s lowest setting is 170° and timer goes up to 60 minutes so I do two rounds of 60 minutes at 170°F.
That time works perfect for the 3/8 inch sliced chicken breast. If you are using thinner slices of chicken breast, I would check the progress of the jerky after an hour and fifteen minutes and sequentially ten minutes after that. For a 1/8 inch thick slice, I’d imagine an hour and a half would be sufficient.
When the jerky is cut with the muscle fibers, this is the way I’ve seen and read to tell if the jerky is finished. You pick up a piece and bend it. If it does not break on the bend, it is considered done.
The internal temperature will not be 165°F. To get the internal temperature of the chicken to 160°F, increase the temperature of the air fryer to 280°F and air fry for an additional 10 minutes. The meat will be safe for storage and consumption at this point.
When I do a search for air fryer chicken jerky, I get a lot of jerky for dogs. Do not get me wrong, I love our four legged best friends but I also love chicken jerky. From what I have read, the jerky made for dogs is missing all of the incredible flavors we add to our own, but made the same way. So, don’t exclude your four legged best friends if you have the time to make another batch of healthy chicken jerky.