Get ready to sink your teeth into these flavourful and juicy air fryer chicken thighs! This recipe is perfect for when you’re craving a delicious, wholesome meal but you’re short on time. With just a handful of ingredients and minimal prep time, you can have dinner on the table in next to no time.
Why you’ll love air fryer chicken thighs
Air frying chicken thighs is a great way to cook them, you can grill or roast them by varying the amount of oil used (a light brush of oil for grilling, or use more for roasting). They make a great main dish for a mid-week dinner, so flavorful, easy to cook, and good value too!
If you want to make a whole meal in one go you can even air fry chicken thighs and potatoes at the same time. Check out my recipe for air fryer chicken thighs and potatoes to see how.
Scroll down for the printable card, or read on for all the details on how to air fry chicken thighs!
What do you need?
Quantities for all ingredients are given in the recipe card below.
You can use boneless or bone-in chicken thighs for this recipe. Bone-in chicken thighs have a richer flavor and tend to be juicier, but boneless chicken thighs are more convenient as they cook faster and are easier to eat (especially for kids!).
I usually use boneless skinless thighs for air frying. However, air frying is also great for skin on chicken thighs – it just about guarantees crispy skin!
If you want to air fry bone-in chicken thighs, see the details here: Air Fryer Bone-in Chicken Thighs.
You can use any seasoning you like for this recipe. I often use a store-bought chicken seasoning mix, or Italian seasoning. If you don’t have any to hand, you can easily make your own! Try this simple homemade mix:
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (or sweet paprika)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Italian herbs
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
You need approximately two tablespoons of seasoning in total.
The recipe below specifies light olive oil for this recipe, but you can substitute any type of cooking oil that you normally use for air frying. Choose something with a high smoke point to reduce the chance of your air fryer smoking during cooking. Vegetable oil, avocado oil, or canola oil are good options.
If you want to make a healthier version of this recipe, you can use an olive oil spray instead of liquid oil.
When choosing an olive oil spray for your air fryer, look for the type that spritzes rather than an aerosol. The propellant in aerosol oil sprays can damage the non-stick coating of your air fryer.
How to cook chicken thighs in the air fryer
This recipe is very simple to make, there are just a few key steps to getting it just right:
- Preheat the air fryer to 400°F/ 200°C. Preheating is important for this recipe because the air frying time is relatively short, and so you want it to be up to temperature when you put the thighs in. If your air fryer doesn’t have a preheat mode, just set it to air fry for 3-4 minutes.
- Prepare chicken thighs. Pat the chicken thighs dry. Mix the seasoning and oil in a large bowl, then add the chicken thighs and toss to coat evenly in the seasoning.
- Place chicken thighs in the air fryer basket in a single layer, skin side (or smooth side) down. Try to ensure they are not overlapping so that the hot air can reach all sides and they will cook evenly.
- Air fry the chicken thighs at 360°F/ 180°C, flipping once during cooking, until they are cooked through. Estimated cooking times:
- ~12-15 minutes for boneless skinless chicken thighs
- ~20-25 minutes for bone-in skin-on chicken thighs
- The thighs are cooked when they have reached at least 165°F / 74°C in the center of the thickest part. If required cook for additional 3-4 minute intervals until they are done.
- Rest the chicken. When cooking is finished, place chicken thighs on a plate, cover loosely with aluminum foil, and leave to rest for 5 minutes.
It is important to rest meat following cooking so the juices can reabsorb into the meat so it stays succulent and juicy.
How long to air fry chicken thighs
The exact time required to air fry chicken thighs will depend on a few factors, including the size and thickness of the thighs, whether they are boneless or bone-in, and how powerful your air fryer is.
For regular-sized boneless chicken thighs, it should take around 12-15 minutes (as per the recipe below). If you are cooking bone-in, then add an extra 7-10 minutes.
To ensure your chicken thighs are cooked safely you should always check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer. Chicken needs to be cooked until it reaches 165°F/ 74°C or higher all the way through.
Air fried chicken thighs are such a great dish because they are so versatile. Here are some ideas to make them into a meal:
- Keep things simple and serve them with a side of fries, and some steamed vegetables or a green salad
- Slice chicken thighs and serve over rice and steamed vegetables and teriyaki sauce or soy sauce
- Serve chicken thighs with a side of microwave steamed vegetables, mashed potato and gravy
- Slice chicken thighs and serve in tacos with salad, sour cream and salsa
- Make chicken burgers with chicken thighs, bbq sauce and slaw
Also want to air fry sides?
- First prepare the side dish ingredients and air fry for the cooking time minus 5 minutes. Prepare the chicken thighs while it is cooking.
- Then remove partially cooked side dish from the air fryer to a bowl and cover with aluminum foil.
- Air fry the chicken thighs, then cover to rest for 5 minutes.
- Finally, return the side dish to the air fryer to cook for a final 5 minutes while the chicken thighs are resting.
Storing and reheating
Store any leftover chicken thighs in an airtight container in the refrigerator, and use them within three days.
You can reheat the chicken thighs in the air fryer – air fry at 360°F / 180°C for 3-4 minutes until they have reached 165°F/ 74°C in the center of the thickest part.
Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
- 1 lb chicken thighs skinless, boneless or bone-in (check method for cooking time difference)
- 2 tablespoons chicken spices
- 2 tablespoon light olive oil
- Preheat air fryer to 360°F / 180°C.
- Pat chicken thighs dry and place in a bowl. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with chicken seasoning, toss to ensure they are evenly coated.
- Place chicken thighs in air fryer basket in a single layer [Note 1].
- Air fry chicken thighs, flipping once during cooking, until they are cooked through: – Approx. 12-15 minutes for boneless skinless chicken thighs– Approx. 20-25 minutes for bone-in skin-on chicken thighs The thighs are cooked when they have reached at least 165°F / 74°C in the center of the thickest part [Note 2]. If required, cook for additional 3-4 minute intervals until they are done.
- Remove thighs from the air fryer to a plate or board, cover with aluminum foil and allow to rest for 5 minutes.
- It is fine if they are touching, but try to ensure they are not overlapping.
- Use an instant-read thermometer to check the temperature in the center of the thickest part of the largest thighs has reached 165°F/ 74°C.
Nutrition information is an estimate and provided for informational purposes only.