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
- 1 lemon preferably organic
- 1 cup (4 1/4 ounces) raw unsalted pistachios
- Two (8-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts or 4 store-bought chicken cutlets
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Olive oil spray
- 6 cups (5 oz) baby arugula
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 ounces shaved Parmesan cheese
- 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.
☞TESTER TIP: 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.
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We’d love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This crunchy, nutty chicken cutlet recipe satisfies the need for a healthy, nutritious, and easy to prepare meal that’s also interesting in flavour and texture while not breaking the calorie bank. For those of us that expect bolder flavours, then a slight tweak is indicated.
For testing purposes, I replaced one of the four chicken cutlets for a turkey cutlet of a similar size and thickness. The cutlets were all cooked after 3 minutes per side in my oven air fryer set to 375°F as it didn’t have a 380°F setting. However, in my opinion, the chicken retained more moisture and was more flavourful than the turkey.
The most flavourful part of this recipe was the citrusy salad with the Parmesan flakes on the peppery arugula. While the cutlets were moist with a crispy pistachio crust, the crust flavour was unadventurous to the palate.
While I wouldn’t replace the pistachios in the crust due to their high nutrient value, I would choose flavoured pistachios for this recipe. Perhaps even a chili pepper or combination of Mediterranean herbs or spices paired with the lemon. Add a glass of grassy Sauvignon Blanc and a mini “pão de queijo” (although you don’t need it) and you’ve got yourself a mighty fine dinner.
Our whole family loved these crispy chicken cutlets! It was easy to prepare, delicious and made great leftovers! I think this recipe would also work with pork cutlets.
I could not find arugula so I used baby spinach instead. The tangy notes of the lemon in the dressing and the salt in the cheese were perfect in the salad and pair beautifully with the chicken cutlets.
These air fryer pistachio-crusted chicken cutlets were yummy. Easy to prepare for a weeknight dinner. Adults and teenagers liked this recipe. We felt like it could have used some kind of sauce to dip the bites into.
This is a very quick and simple recipe that really delivers on flavor. It was surprisingly quick to make taking only 20 minutes with minimal effort. If you are a pistachio fan, this is definitely a recipe to try out.
The air fryer makes quick work of cooking the chicken. The salad is a great complement to the chicken, providing some acidity and bitterness. Be sure to press the pistachio crumb into the chicken to ensure they stick properly and give them a good spray of oil.
Originally published August 11, 2022
If you make this recipe, snap a photo and hashtag it #LeitesCulinaria. We'd love to see your creations on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
I just got an air fryer (I’m always behind the zeitgeist with trendy appliances!) and have been getting to know it by crisping up leftover pizza and cooking frozen chicken nuggets. These chicken cutlets were the first time I cooked raw meat in it, so I was anxious.
Everything turned out fine! I used lightly salted shelled pistachios, so I sprinkled just a little Diamond Crystal kosher salt on the chicken (about 1/4 teaspoon between all the cutlets), but not as much as you’d add if you used unsalted nuts. I appreciated the author’s note about the texture indicators of the ground pistachios – they were spot on.
The ground nuts stuck pretty well to the cutlets, though I had better results when I misted avocado oil spray directly on the chicken, then rolled it in the pistachios, then spritzed again.
My package of chicken had two slightly thicker cutlets and four teeny ones. The thicker ones took a few minutes longer to cook through, while the thinner ones were cooked perfectly in the specified time. No burnt pistachios!
Chicken cutlets top my partner’s list of requested dishes, so he was thrilled with these air fryer pistachio-crusted chicken cutlets. He doesn’t like arugula, so that meant more salad for me! I ended up adding a few ciliegine (small fresh mozzarella balls) because I wanted something creamy with the peppery arugula and nutty cutlets. Super yum with a citrusy Pinot Grigio.