Oven Bake or Air Fry Chicken 65 for a Healthier Spicy Treat

Chicken 65 is traditionally deep fried to give it a crispy golden crust while keeping the insides tender and juicy. But it doesn’t have to be done that way. There are much healthier options available. Read on to learn how to oven-bake or air fry Chicken 65.

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What is Chicken 65?

Chicken 65 is India’s version of Southern fried chicken, Korean fried chicken or Japan’s karaage chicken.

Pieces of chicken are marinated in a mixture of Indian flavours and spices, then deep fried until crispy and golden. And some versions then cook it in a spicy sauce as well.

You can learn more about the history of the dish on my ultimate guide to Chicken 65.

Alternatives to deep frying

I found a number of recipes for Chicken 65 that cook the chicken without frying the pieces in lots of oil. There are two options, depending on what equipment you have available to you:

  • If you have one, an air fryer is a popular approach.
  • If you don’t have an air fryer, you can bake your Chicken 65 in your regular oven.
A black air fryer with the drawer open and chicken pieces inside.

How to Air Fry Chicken 65

These relatively new appliances are essentially a small benchtop convection oven, but they move the air much more quickly and in a more confined space. This means an air fryer can crisp foods more than a conventional oven and cook more quickly as well.

They’ve been on the market a while now, so there are many models available from a number of well known and newer manufacturers. And they start at less than $100.

I reviewed four recipes to air fry Chicken 65. And overall they are remarkably similar to a traditional deep-fried recipe.

The most popular masala ingredients for the marinade are much the same as those found in the fried versions:

  • Red or Kashmiri chili powder.
  • Fresh ginger and garlic.
  • Pepper, turmeric, coriander and garam masala.
  • Some authors add a sour note with lemon juice or vinegar.

The differences, and there are only a couple, are in the ingredients used to create the crispy finish. Compared with a deep-fried version, air fried Chicken 65 batter:

  • Tends to have less flour.
  • Uses egg whites rather than whole eggs.

Both of these differences make sense. The dry heat of an air fryer will not cook a thick, eggy batter as well as the direct heat of hot oil. By reducing the flour and removing the fatty egg yolk, the air fryer can still create a nice crisp finish.

Air fryer temperature and cooking time

The authors’ preferred air fryer temperatures and recommended cooking times are fairly consistent on average.

Temperatures range from 350°F (180°C) to 400°F (200°C) and cooking times from 13 to 18 minutes.

If you haven’t used an air fryer before, most authors highlight the importance of spacing the chicken pieces out in the appliance’s cooking basket. This increases the crispiness and reduces the cooking time.

Regardless of temperature and time, your chicken is cooked when it’s internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).

A stainless steel oven with the door ajar.

Oven Baked Chicken 65

I also reviewed five recipes to bake Chicken 65 in the oven. And like the air fryer recipes, they are very much like the deep fried recipes, if not more so.

The masala ingredients are again very similar. The only difference here is that compared with the recipes that air fry Chicken 65 (and the deep-fried versions), every author uses either lemon or lime juice in the batter. I can’t imagine this is due to the use of the oven though – more likely it is just author preference.

As for the batter, like the air-fried versions, the oven-baked recipes tend to use less flour. Interestingly those that use egg use whole egg rather than whites.

Given that cooking Chicken 65 in the oven takes more time than either the air fryer or deep frying, it may be that the egg yolk (and the consistent use of lemon juice) are intentional to prevent too much drying out. Not sure.

Oven temperature and cooking time

There’s more variation in oven temperature and cooking time with the baked Chicken 65 recipes.

Oven temperatures range from 375°F (180°C) to 450°F (230°C). And cooking times range from as little as 10 minutes to as much as 45! There are two outliers in the group though.

Abarna from Abu’s Cookbook bakes her Chicken 65 at 375°F for just 10 to 15 minutes. Compared with the other recipes this is significantly less cooking. But watching her video, she appears to be using a microwave convection oven. On convection setting these work a lot like an air fryer. They have a small compartment in which they blow hot air over the food. In addition, the food is rotated while it’s heated, ensuring fast, even cooking. I suspect this is why Abarna can cook her chicken so quickly.

The other outlier is Rose from Nish Kitchen. She bakes her Chicken 65 at 400°F for 45 minutes (and then broils it for 5 minutes). Rose may be using larger pieces than the other authors, because this is significantly longer than the others.

The other three recipes are fairly consistent, cooking theirs at 400-450°F for 20 to 25 minutes in total.

Regardless of temperature and time, your chicken is cooked when it’s internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).

Additional broiling

As I mentioned, Rose suggests broiling (grilling) your chicken after baking it. In fact two other authors recommend this as well.

This is done to ensure a crispy finish. It doesn’t take long, with all three authors recommending only three to five minutes. But it certainly makes a lot of sense if you really like your Chicken 65 as crispy as it can be.

Healthier Chicken 65 recipes

If you want to give a healthier version a go, you can find the recipes I reviewed on my Chicken 65 Pinterest boards:

Frequently asked questions

What temperature should I set my air fryer at for Chicken 65?

350-400°F (180-200°C).

How long does it take to air fry Chicken 65?

It should cook in 13-18 minutes.

What temperature should I set my oven at for Chicken 65?

400°F (200°C).

How long will Chicken 65 take in my oven?

It should cook in 20-25 minutes.

How do I know when my Chicken 65 is done?

Your chicken is cooked when it’s internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C).

Can I oven bake or air fry Chicken 65?

Yes! Use a little less flour for a less substantial batter and you can air fry or oven bake any Chicken 65 recipe.

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