If your favorite part of Ollie’s Cracklin’ Chicken is the crispy chicken skin, you should make these light and crunchy chicken cracklings (a.k.a. chicken skin chips) in an air fryer or oven! 

A woman holding a piece of crispy chicken skins cooked in an air fryer.

2-ingredient homemade chicken chips!

These two-ingredient crispy chicken skin chips are the perfect paleo, low carb, gluten free, keto friendly and Whole30-compatible snack. Although homemade chicken skins have the crunchy texture of potato chips, they’re actually a high protein snack (similar to jerky)! If you like Flock Chicken Chips, my recipe is so easy to make and there’s no icky soybean oil.

An overhead shot of a tray of crispy chicken skins cooling on a wire rack.

Where do you buy chicken skins?

Most butchers and grocery stores don’t sell chicken skins by themselves, but you can always buy bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. When you’re already removing the skins for a particular recipe (e.g. Super Easy Tandoori Chicken, Instant Pot Lemongrass + Coconut Chicken, or Doro Wat), save those skins so you can bake or air fry a batch of chicken cracklings.

By cooking up the skins, you’ll cut down on food waste and make an amazing snack—win win! (Don’t like thighs? You can use the skins from chicken breasts.)

Can you fry chicken skin cracklings on the stovetop?

Yes, you can fry them in a dry skillet on the stovetop on medium heat until they get crispy, but there can be a lot of splatter and the chicken cracklings can burn if you aren’t paying attention. Plus, the skins have a tendency to curl up in a pan, unless you’re vigilant about keeping them flat. That’s why the stovetop method’s not my favorite.

Is it better to cook chicken skin cracklings in an air fryer or an oven?

Hmmm…that’s a tough question! The crispy chicken skins are quicker to cook and have a more delicate crunch when they’re made in an air fryer, but you can only make four skins at a time due to the size constraints of the appliance. On the other hand, you can cook a whole tray of crisp cracklings when you’re baking the chicken skins in the oven. The common denominator for both methods is that the chicken skins need to be elevated—in an air fryer basket or on a wire rack in the oven—so the chicken fat can render and the cracklings get super crispy!

How can you make clean-up easier?

You can line the bottom of the air fryer or rimmed baking sheet with foil or parchment paper before adding the raw chicken skins on top of the air fryer basket or stainless steel wire rack. When you’re done cooking, just carefully lift up the foil or parchment paper and toss it!

Can you use different seasonings?

I don’t recommend seasoning the chicken skins with anything other than salt when you’re cooking them in the air fryer or oven because spices and herbs can burn. If you want, you can sprinkle on your favorite seasoning (e.g. nutritional yeast, tomato powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, or freshly cracked black pepper) after the crispy chicken skins are out of the oven.

Ingredients

You only need two simple ingredients to make crispy chicken chips:

How to make crispy chicken skin chips!

Pat the chicken skins dry with a paper towel and sprinkle salt on both sides.

A hand is sprinkling salt on raw chicken skin.

Using an air fryer?

Lay three or four chicken skins in a single layer, skin-side down, on the air fryer basket and program the air fryer to cook at 400°F for a total of 12 minutes.

A person is programming an air fryer to cook at 400°F for 12 minutes

At the halfway point (i.e. 6 minutes), flip the chicken skins over so they are skin-side up.

Flipping the chicken skins in an air fryer at the halfway point.

Air fry the chicken skins the remaining 6 minutes or until crispy. Add a minute or two to the cooking time if the skin is still a little flabby in parts.

An overhead shot of air fryer Chicken Cracklings that are golden brown and crispy

Remove the chicken cracklings from the air fryer and place on a wire rack to cool.

A pair of tongs are removing crispy chicken skins from an air fryer.

Dump out any chicken fat on the bottom of the air fryer before repeating the steps with the remaining chicken skins.

Baking crispy chicken cracklings in the oven?

Heat the oven to 400°F convection or 425°F (non-convection) with the rack in the middle. Place the chicken skin in a single layer, skin-side down, on top of stainless steel wire rack on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.

A hand placing raw chicken skins on a wire rack in a rimmed baking sheet to make oven-baked crispy chicken skins.

Pop the tray in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.

Placing a tray of chicken skins into the oven to make a keto snack.

Then, flip the chicken skins skin-side up…

A person is using a pair of tongs to flip over chicken skins that are baking in the oven.

…and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden and crispy.

A tray of crispy chicken skin chips cooling on a wire rack.

Whether you choose to cook chicken cracklings in an air fryer or bake them in an oven, you can’t go wrong!

An overhead shot of golden brown chicken cracklings cooling on a wire rack, the perfect paleo, Whole30, keto, and low carb snack.

What do you serve with chicken cracklings?

These crispy cracklings taste delicious on their own, but they’re even more amazing dipped in Guacamole, Spicy Pineapple Salsa, Whole30 Sriracha, Caesar Dressing, or your favorite hot sauce. The chicken cracklings also taste great crumbled on top of salads as a low-carb crouton substitute.

How do you store leftovers?

Leftover cracklings can get rubbery the next day, so I recommend eating them all up on the day you cook them. If you insist on keeping leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container on the counter with a desiccant packet for up to 2 days.


Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2022).


PRINTER-FRIENDLY RECIPE CARD

Crispy Chicken Skin Chips (Chicken Cracklings)

4.77 from 38 votes
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time20 minutes
Servings 4 people
These two-ingredient crispy chicken skin chips can be made in an air fryer or oven. I bet you can’t eat just one chicken crackling!

Ingredients  

Instructions 

  • Pat the chicken skins dry with a paper towel and sprinkle salt on both sides.

Air Fryer instructions

  • Lay three or four chicken skins in a single layer, skin-side down, on the air fryer basket and program the air fryer to cook at 400°F for a total of 12 minutes.
  • At the halfway point (i.e. 6 minutes), flip the chicken skins over so they are skin-side up.
  • Air fry the chicken skins the remaining 6 minutes or until crispy. Add a minute or two to the cooking time if the skin is still a little flabby in parts.
  • Remove the chicken cracklings from the air fryer and place on a wire rack to cool.
  • Dump out any chicken fat on the bottom of the air fryer before repeating the steps with the remaining chicken skins.

Oven instructions

  • Heat the oven to 400°F convection or 425°F (non-convection) with the rack in the middle. Place the chicken skin in a single layer, skin-side down, on top of stainless steel wire rack on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet.
  • Pop the tray in the oven and bake for 10 minutes.
  • Then, flip the chicken skins skin-side up and bake for 10 more minutes or until golden and crispy.

Video

Notes

What serve with these chicken chips:
These crispy cracklings taste delicious on their own, but they’re even more amazing dipped in Guacamole, Spicy Pineapple Salsa, Whole30 Sriracha, Caesar Dressing, or your favorite hot sauce. The chicken cracklings also taste great crumbled on top of salads as a low-carb crouton substitute.

Nutrition

Calories: 260kcal | Carbohydrates: 0g | Protein: 11g | Fat: 24g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Like this? Leave a comment below!

 

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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28 Comments

  1. I love making chicken skin cracklings in the oven! I bake mine between two sheet pans so they cook flat and it minimizes splatter – thank you for the tip about no spices after until they’re done!!

  2. 5 stars
    Hi,can you pls link where can I buy the wire rack/ baking tray that you used to bake the chicken skins?

    Thanks,
    Susanna

    1. Michelle has a running list of her favorite kitchen tools and pantry items on this website. Just find “SHOP” at the top of the page!

    1. As I stated in the post, leftover cracklings can get rubbery the next day, so I recommend eating them all up on the day you cook them. If you insist on keeping leftovers, you can store them in an airtight container on the counter with a desiccant packet for up to 2 days.

  3. 5 stars
    These were soooo good and super-easy to make in the air fryer! Reminded me of tasty fried chicken. I’ll definitely be making these again, thanks!

  4. 5 stars
    These were great. I seasoned them a little before putting them in the oven, and munched on them with a simple baba ganoush of eggplant, lemon and tahini. Yum!!

  5. 5 stars
    I poach about ten lbs of chicken thighs every week to ten day for a senior dogs with digestive issues, and the skin-on bone-in is so much more economical. Now I have no issue of how to dispose of the fatty skin. 12 minutes in an air fryer in one layer batches, and I do not need chicharrónes. A little sprinkling of sea salt and. viola! The perfect Keto snack.

  6. 5 stars
    Thank you for sharing!
    The recipe looks great. What is the approximate weight of the finished Chicken Cracklings from the 8 thighs? Large or medium size chicken thighs?
    I need a replacement for pork rind panko crumbs for a breading recipe.