Elevate your weeknight dinners with this easy, fuss-free Ayam Bakar, or Indonesian Grilled Chicken – with an air fryer!
Ayam Bakar or Indonesian Grilled Chicken is cherished for its charry bold flavours, smoky aroma and that tender meat. Chicken in a kicap manis-based marinade, grilled ro perfection; imagine a bite of this at home, in a more convenient, quick way with an air fryer!
- Ayam = Chicken
- Bakar = literally means burn, but in the context of Indonesian cuisine, it typically refers to grilled dishes.
What is Ayam Bakar?
Ayam Bakar is a classic Indonesian chicken dish, that we also love and enjoy here in Singapore and Malaysia.
Traditionally, the chicken is cooked in a spice base rempah or bumbu, until soft and tender. The chicken is then basted with a kicap manis-based sauce, and grilled to complete the cooking.
Since the chicken is boiled in the marinade, it cooks through fully, while retaining juicy meat.
Grilling it over the fire will help it achieve that gorgeous charred skin and smoky aroma.
This Air Fryer Ayam Bakar recipe short-cuts the traditional method with the convenience of air frying!
Why You’ll Love this Air Fryer Ayam Bakar Recipe
Embracing the modern era while retaining tradition, the Air Fryer Ayam Bakar recipe offers a fresh take on a beloved classic. Here’s why you’ll fall in love with it:
- Explosion of Flavours: The marinade is a harmonious blend of sweet and salty, spices and aromatics for a taste sensation that is both bold and balanced.
- Convenience: The air fryer simplifies the cooking process. No need to constantly monitor the grill or worry about uneven cooking. The air fryer ensures consistent results with minimal effort.
- Quick Cooking: While marinating overnight will allow the flavours to fully infuse with the chicken, I have to admit I rarely do it! With the use of boneless chicken and that kicap manis coating, you can have delicious Ayam Bakar in less than 30 minutes.
Key Ingredients for Air Fryer Ayam Bakar
- Chicken: The heart of the dish, we have chicken pieces are marinated to perfection. I used boneless chicken thighs for juiciness, speedier cook time, and easy serving, but you can use any chicken you like. When I made this in an oven, I was using bone-in chicken thighs, and they roasted beautifully. If using bone-in chicken pieces, make sure to adjust the cook time. Bone-in chicken will need a longer cook time, so double check by poking the deepest part of your chicken to ensure it’s fully cooked.
- Kicap Manis (kecap manis) / Dark Sweet Soy Sauce: It’s just not Indonesian-style if there is no kicap manis! This adds a gorgeous caramelised sweetness, savouriness, and good colour to the chicken. A close replacement is dark soy sauce, which is slightly thicker than kicap manis, and not as sweet, but it will work.
- Aromatics: I used onions, garlic and ginger in the recipe. You can use any form of the ingredients, ideally a pureed or grated form of it will marinade better, but it’s not essential. Another ingredient I used would be makrut lime leaves! This is optional, BUT the citrusy fragrance and hint of flavour it adds to the chicken is next-level.
- Spices: Ground cumin and ground coriander are staples in my Malay kitchen! These add a nice depth of flavour to the chicken. A tiny secret though, sometimes I skip the ground spices!
What Type of Air Fryer to Use?
Any air fryer will work, of course! Every air fryer brand differs slightly in terms of heating strength, but in general they should all work for this recipe. The capacity of your air fryer may affect cook time as well, a larger air fryer may require a slightly longer cook time. To make double sure, always check that the internal temperature of the thickest part of your chicken has hit 74°C (165°F) with a meat thermometer.
For reference, this is the air fryer that I used:
What if I don’t have an Air Fryer?
Easy solution! You can roast this in the oven just as easily or pan-fry over the stove. I made this before in an oven – back in the days where I didn’t own the air fryer – and it worked beautifully.
For oven use, bake in a preheated oven at 375°F (190°C) for 25 to 30 minutes, depending on the size and strength of the oven.
For stovetop use, add oil to a pan and use medium heat. Once hot, lay on the chicken, and allow to cook on one side for 4-5 minutes, before flipping over to the other side for even cooking. Once chicken cooks all the way through, take it off the pan.
How to Make Air Fryer Ayam Bakar?
1. Marinade Chicken
Combine ingredients for the marinade and add chicken. Coat chicken well with the marinade. Option to marinade overnight.
TIP! Combine all of the marinade ingredients in a blender, including the makrut lime leaves if using, and blitz to a paste.
2. Air Fry
Preheat the air fryer to 190°C (375°F) for about 5 minutes.
If chicken has been marinated overnight, make sure to remove the chicken from the fridge and allow to come to room temperature before adding to the air fryer for even cooking.
Option to grease the air fryer rack so chicken does not stick. Place the marinated boneless chicken thighs in the air fryer basket in a single layer, without overcrowding. You may need to cook them in batches if your air fryer is small. If you have leftover marinade, pour over the chicken!
Cook the chicken in the air fryer at 190°C (375°F) for 15-20 minutes, or until cooked through.
3. Serve and Enjoy:
Once the chicken is cooked through and has a deep caramelised colour, remove it from the air fryer. Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes before serving. This helps the juices redistribute within the meat.
What to Serve Ayam Bakar With?
Serve your Air Fryer Ayam Bakar with steamed rice, a side of fresh vegetables, and a wedge of lime for an extra burst of tanginess.
I have to serve this over some rice, with a side of fresh raw vegetables and a dollop of Sambal Belacan on the side as a complete meal! Sambal Kicap, a spicy, tangy, kicap manis-based sauce would also go great with Ayam Bakar.
More Recipes Like This
- Air Fryer Roast Chicken Recipe (with brine)
- Ayam Kicap Manis | Kicap Manis Chicken Stir Fry
- Easy Roasted Chicken Rice
Air Fryer Ayam Bakar (Indonesian Grilled Chicken)Course: Recipes
300g boneless chicken thighs
2 tbsps kicap manis (sweet soy sauce)
2 shallots, minced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1-inch ginger, minced
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground white pepper
1/4 tsp salt, to taste
2-3 makrut lime leaves
- Serve With:
- Combine kicap manis, shallots, garlic, ginger, ground coriander, ground cumin, ground pepper, and salt to taste to create the marinade. If using makrut lime leaves, tear them in and combine with the marinade. Add chicken and coat well with the marinade. Optional: allow chicken to marinade overnight.
- Preheat the air fryer to 190°C (375°F) for 5 minutes.
- Place the marinated chicken in the air fryer basket without overcrowding. Drizzle over excess marinade over the chicken.
- Cook at 190°C (375°F) for about 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through. If using bone-in chicken thighs, extend cook time by 5 minutes.
- Once cooked, let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving.