This dish for air fried chicken thighs recipe is quick, easy, and perfect for busy weeknights when time is of the essence but you still want to enjoy a simple delicious home-cooked meal. You can even add some vegetables like potatoes or carrots to the basket together with the chicken thighs and air fry for a complete meal.
I made some oven-roasted chicken thighs on my block sometime back and the result was fantastic. Here is another healthier alternative that delivers on taste and texture without compromising its juiciness.
In this air-fried chicken thighs recipe, I made use of bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs and I highly recommend this variety of meat as it produces juicy and succulent meat with rich flavor. The bones add extra depth to the dish as they help infuse their rich flavors into every tender flesh.
However, if you do opt for air fryer boneless and skinless chicken thighs, those will still work, they will retain their tenderness without any extra effort needed to navigate around bones and they cook even faster.
Read also: Oven-roasted chicken breasts
All About Air Fried Chicken Thighs Recipe
The beauty of using an air fryer is that it simply transforms this dish into a quick meal and makes it a guilt-free delight by significantly reducing oil usage without sacrificing the taste or texture of the meat.
Chicken thighs offer an abundance of flavor that is unrivaled compared to other parts of the chicken. Their higher fat content renders them incredibly delicious as it seeps into the meat during the cooking process, infusing it with richness and yumminess.
Talking about the simplicity of this recipe- it’s unbelievably easy to whip up yet feels indulgent; guilt-free and incredibly satisfying.
You can make crispy chicken thighs in an air fryer. Just begin by taking those succulent chicken thighs and immerse them in your favorite marinade infused with herbs, and spices, and then place them into your air fryer until golden brown.
The seasonings are endless, you can start with a simple combination of salt, pepper, and garlic powder. This provides a classic flavor that complements the natural taste of the chicken.
Using bone-in thighs adds even more juiciness and enhances your overall eating experience while allowing for better flavor retention throughout cooking time.
Related: Air fried chicken drumsticks
How Long to Cook Chicken Thighs in the Air Fryer
When cooking bone-in chicken thighs in an air fryer, you can set the timer to 400°F (200°C) for about 20-25 minutes. However, the cooking time may vary depending on the size and thickness of the chicken thighs. just so that you know, this cut of meat can be forgiving in terms of cooking time; they leave little room for error even if you’re new to using an air fryer.
For boneless chicken thighs, the cooking time is usually slightly less when compared to bone-in thighs. You can cook boneless chicken thighs in the air fryer at the same temperature of 400°F (200°C), but reduce the cooking time to around 15-20 minutes. Note that this will also depend on the thickness of your chicken
To ensure that the chicken is cooked thoroughly, it’s always a good idea to check the internal temperature using a meat thermometer. Make sure the thickest part of the chicken thigh reaches an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to ensure it is safe to eat.
Why you will love this air fried chicken thighs recipe
Insanely delicious- These air-fried chicken thighs are juicy on the inside yet golden and slightly crispy on the outside, and every bite delivers pure yumminess.
Simplicity- With a few simple steps and minimal cleanup required except marination, you’ll have your dinner ready in less than 30 minutes.
Time-friendly- No more waiting for the oil to heat up or dealing with oil splatters or messy clean-ups; it’s a hassle-free cooking experience from start to finish.
Customizable– These air fryer chicken thighs are made with a simple combination of seasonings with paprika, minced garlic, soy sauce, onion powder, salt, black pepper, and cajun seasoning and they are packed with a punch of savory goodness. You can use your favorite blend of spices and herbs and choose not to marinate the thighs at all.
Ingredients for Air Fried Chicken Thighs
- Olive oil is used for coating the chicken pieces to keep them moist while in the air fryer, it also helps in browning the chicken skin, resulting in a beautifully crispy and golden exterior. You can also coat the chicken with a light spritz of cooking oil or non-stick spray.
- Paprika provides a mild smoky flavor and vibrant reddish color; it adds depth to the chicken’s appearance and taste.
- Minced garlic offers a pleasant sharpness and a slightly sweet undertone.
- Cajun seasoning introduces a bold and spicy kick; it is typically made with a combination of paprika, thyme, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, and other herbs and spices.
- Onion powder delivers a subtle sweetness and an earthy undertone and also complements the other spices.
- Soy sauce infuses umami-rich notes into the chicken, providing a savory and slightly salty flavor.
- Salt is a fundamental seasoning that enhances all the other flavors and brings out the natural essence of the chicken.
- Black pepper adds a touch of heat and robust flavor to enhance the chicken’s natural taste
- Fresh thyme offers a fresh and aromatic flavor with hints of citrus and earthiness.
How to Cook Chicken Thighs in Air Fryer
Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels to help remove any excess moisture. This will help the skin become crispy during cooking. Also, cut out excess fat if there is a need for that.
Rub the thighs with olive oil to coat them nicely, and season with cajun seasoning, minced garlic, soy sauce, salt, paprika, and black pepper. Toss to combine nicely and make sure they are evenly coated with the seasonings.
Cover the bowl with a cling film and marinate the chicken thighs in the fridge for 30 minutes for the seasoning to be fully absorbed into the flesh.
Line your air fryer basket with foil and spray the inside with some cooking oil. Preheat it for 3 minutes.
Take out the chicken pieces from the marinade and spread them out evenly in the air fryer basket, placing the skin side down. This will help to cook them evenly without browning the skin too much. If you are making a large batch, be sure to, cook them in batches.
Air fry the thighs for about 20 to 25 minutes at 4000F. You can add a few sprigs of fresh thyme for added flavor. Flip the pieces halfway through to help them cook evenly until the skin is nice and crispy and they have reached an internal temperature of 1650F.
Once done, remove the chicken thighs from the air fryer and let them rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute and keeps the meat juicy.
Serve the air fried chicken thigh with your favorite side dishes, or dipping sauce. You can watch the YouTube video below for a clearer explanation.
What to Serve with Air Fried Chicken Thighs
- Roasted Vegetables: Consider serving air-fried chicken thighs with roasted vegetables. You can combine an assortment of your favorite vegetables like carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, or Brussels sprouts and roast them in the air fryer after toasting them with olive oil, salt, and pepper until they are tender and lightly caramelized.
- Mashed Potatoes- Creamy mashed potatoes are always a great option to pair with air-fried chicken thighs.
- Rice Pilaf
- Spanish rice
- Grilled Asparagus
- Air fryer french fries
- Quinoa Salad
How long does it take to cook chicken thighs in the air fryer?
It takes roughly 20 minutes to cook bone-in and skin chicken thighs in the air fryer at 4000F (2000C). You will need 5 minutes to preheat the fryer and 20 minutes to cook the chicken depending on their size and thickness. Don’t forget to flip the meat halfway through until your chicken thighs reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
How to get flavor into chicken thighs?
The secret to infusing flavors into chicken thighs is in the marinade. just before air frying your chicken thighs, begin by creating a simple marinade with a series of spices, I used onion powder, black pepper, fresh garlic, cajun spices, paprika, and salt. I also added soy sauce for that umami goodness. Allow the chicken pieces to soak up all that tasty goodness for around 30 minutes before you embark on cooking them.
Can you use boneless chicken thighs?
Boneless chicken thighs work great for making air fryer chicken thighs. They are tender and juicy; they require less cooking time, unlike bone-in thighs.
Can you cook frozen chicken thighs in the air fryer?
Chicken thighs can be cooked from frozen in the air fryer; all you have to do is preheat the air fryer to 350 for 5 minutes and then season the chicken thighs as you would typically do. Place the frozen chicken in the basket and cook for 15 minutes. Flip it again and cook the user side for an extra 10 minutes. You have to note that the cooking times will vary depending on the size and thickness of the chicken thighs. in that case, you will need to use a meat thermometer to ensure they are fully cooked before taking them out.
Can you combine chicken and potatoes to cook in the air fryer?
You can cook chicken and potatoes together in the air fryer to save time and effort. Simply cut the potatoes into bite-sized pieces, and season them with your preferred herbs and spices to enhance their flavors before placing them together with chicken thighs in the air fryer basket. This combination creates a harmonious duo, the flavors blend well together to create a satisfying and complete meal.
How do you know when chicken thighs are ready?
Once the set time has elapsed, gently pick up one thigh with a pair of tongs; its texture should be firm to the touch yet tender enough to bite. You can also slice into the thigh to check if there are traces of rawness or pink centers.
Other Variation of Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
- Classic crispy chicken thighs-This method uses only dry rub such as a mixture of salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika with no liquid seasoning included.
- Lemon-pepper seasoning- It’s a combination of lemon zest, black pepper, salt, and a bit of dried thyme or parsley for a zesty flavor. This seasoning works great with air fried chicken thighs, giving them a bright and refreshing taste.
- Italian spice- To create an Italian-inspired dish use a mix of dried herbs like oregano, basil, thyme, rosemary, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. This will give your chicken thighs a unique fragrant and savory taste.
- Honey mustard glazed chicken thighs- Another alternative is to combine together honey, Dijon mustard, soy sauce, minced garlic, and a pinch of cayenne pepper to brush on the chicken thighs just before air frying.
- Spicy Cajun chicken thighs- Rub the chicken thighs with a mixture of Cajun seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, salt, and black pepper.
- Teriyaki sesame chicken thighs- You can combine soy sauce, mirin, brown sugar, minced garlic, grated ginger, sesame oil, and sesame seeds to make a teriyaki marinade for air fried chicken thighs.
What to do with leftover air-fried chicken thighs
- Chicken Salad- Shred or dice your leftover chicken thighs and mix them with mayonnaise, diced celery, red onions, and a squeeze of lemon juice. Serve it on a bed of lettuce or in a sandwich for a tasty chicken salad.
- Chicken Quesadillas- Slice the chicken thighs into thin strips like this homemade boiled chicken and use them to fill tortillas along with cheese, sautéed onions, and bell peppers. Cook the filled quesadillas on a griddle or stovetop until the cheese is melted and the tortillas are crispy.
- Chicken with spaghetti- Leftover chicken thighs can be a fantastic base for a delicious chicken with a spaghetti dish. Cut the leftover chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces and stir them into the cooked tomato sauce along with parboiled spaghetti and mix to combine.
- Chicken Tacos- Warm up the chicken thighs and shred them, fill your taco shells with the shredded chicken, and top with your favorite toppings like salsa, avocado, cilantro, and a squeeze of lime.
- Chicken Fried Rice- Chop the chicken thighs into small pieces and add them to a hot skillet with cooked rice, mixed vegetables, soy sauce, and scrambled eggs. Stir-fry everything together until heated through and serve as a delicious chicken fried rice.
- Chicken Pizza- Use the leftover chicken thighs as a topping for homemade pizza. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce on a pizza crust, sprinkle shredded cheese, and add the chicken thighs along with your preferred vegetables or other toppings. Bake until the cheese is melted and bubbly.
- Curry sauce- Simply shred or chop the leftover chicken thighs and incorporate them into your homemade chicken curry sauce. The tender and flavorful chicken meat from the air fryer thighs will add depth and richness to the curry, elevating its taste.
- Coconut rice– Leftover chicken thighs can be a great addition to coconut rice; this combination provides a flavorful, and satisfying meal in one bowl.
Air Fried Chicken Thighs
- Air fryer
- Mixing bowl
- A pair of tongs
- cling film
- 4 medium sized bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
- 1½ tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp paprika
- 2 tsp soy sauce
- 2 minced garlic cloves
- 1 tbsp Cajun seasoning
- ½ tsp black pepper
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ½ tsp salt
- Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towels to help remove any excess moisture. This will help the skin become crispy during cooking. Also, cut out excess fat if there is a need for that.
- Rub the thighs with olive oil to coat them nicely, and season with cajun seasoning, minced garlic, soy sauce, salt, paprika, and black pepper. Toss to combine nicely and make sure they are evenly coated with the seasonings.
- Cover the bowl with a cling film and marinate the chicken thighs in the fridge for 30 minutes for the seasoning to be fully absorbed into the flesh.
- Line your air fryer basket with foil and spray the inside with some cooking oil. Preheat it for 3 minutes.
- Take out the chicken pieces from the marinade and spread them out evenly in the air fryer basket, placing the skin side down. This will help to cook them evenly without browning the skin too much. If you are making a large batch, be sure to, cook them in batches.
- Air fry the thighs for about 20 to 25 minutes at 4000F. You can add a few sprigs of fresh thyme for added flavor. Flip the pieces halfway through to help them cook evenly until the skin is nice and crispy and they have reached an internal temperature of 1650F.
- Once done, remove the chicken thighs from the air fryer and let them rest for a few minutes before serving. This allows the juices to redistribute and keeps the meat juicy. Serve the air fried chicken thigh with your favorite side dishes, or dipping sauce.