There’s so much to love about these air-fryer chicken thighs. They’re crispy, juicy, tender and flavorful. And, thanks to the air fryer, they’re ready in under 20 minutes. The air fryer uses a fan to circulate hot air around the chicken thighs, cooking them faster than the grill or oven could.
When it comes to seasoning your chicken thighs, you have lots of choices. Everything pairs well with chicken! Since the thighs have a robust natural flavor, we want to avoid completely overpowering it with spices or sauces. A humble, homemade spice blend—salt, paprika, garlic powder and pepper—is all the chicken needs to shine. The thighs cook up well-balanced and full-flavored without being too spicy.
You can serve these air-fryer chicken thighs with your favorite quick and easy side dishes, or use them as the protein for your favorite salad or grain bowl. The meat is so good you won’t even have to pair it with a sauce.
How to Make Air-Fryer Chicken Thighs
Air-frying chicken is an easy three-step process. First, brush the chicken with olive oil. This adds flavor to the chicken and helps the seasonings stick. Next, sprinkle the chicken with herbs and spices. Finally, place the chicken in the basket of a preheated air fryer. Cook until the thighs reach an internal temperature between 170° and 175°F. It’s that simple!
How Long to Cook Chicken Thighs in the Air Fryer
For this recipe, our Test Kitchen recommends cooking the chicken thighs for 15 to 17 minutes in a 375° air fryer. You might need to cook yours for more or less time depending on the thigh size/weight and whether they’re bone-in or boneless. The cook time can also vary depending on your specific air fryer. Cooking times vary from brand to brand, so it’s best to use the correct temperature of cooked chicken as a guideline.
Air-Fryer Chicken Thighs Ingredients
- Chicken thighs: We use bone-in chicken thighs for this recipe. The skin crisps up beautifully in the air fryer, and the bone keeps the meat juicy as it cooks. If you substitute boneless chicken thighs, they won’t take as long to cook. Pay attention to the chicken’s internal temperature to avoid overcooking.
- Olive oil: Oil helps the chicken skin achieve a gorgeous golden color. It’s also helpful for getting the seasonings to stick to the meat. You can use cooking spray, but we prefer to rub olive oil over the chicken thighs for even coverage.
- Seasonings: We use salt, paprika, garlic powder and pepper to season these air-fryer chicken thighs. Paprika isn’t as spicy as other pepper powders, and it contains slightly smoky, pleasantly earthy elements.
Step 1: Season the chicken
Preheat the air fryer to 375°. Brush the chicken evenly with the olive oil.
In a small bowl, combine the salt, paprika, garlic powder and pepper. Sprinkle the seasoning blend over the chicken.
Step 2: Air-fry the chicken
Place the chicken, skin side up, in a single layer on the tray in the air-fryer basket. Cook until a thermometer inserted in the chicken reads 170° to 175°, 15 to 17 minutes.
- Make air-fryer lemon chicken thighs: Lemon flavoring is a fantastic addition to chicken thighs in the air fryer. Mix together 1/4 cup softened butter, three minced garlic cloves, 2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary, 1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Spread 1 teaspoon of the butter mixture under the skin of each chicken thigh. Spread the remaining butter on the skins of the thighs. Then, sprinkle the chicken lightly with salt and pepper before cooking (about 1/8 teaspoon each, if you want to measure).
- Change up the spices: Try swapping in herbs de Provence, blackening seasoning or your favorite spice blend.
- Give them a barbecue glaze: Coat the chicken in a store-bought or homemade barbecue sauce to give them a sweet-and-sticky finish (like we do in this air-fryer chicken legs recipe).
- Finish with fresh herbs: Give the chicken an ultra-fresh flavor, and sprinkle on chopped fresh rosemary, parsley, rosemary or cilantro before serving.
How to Store Air-Fryer Chicken Thighs
Store leftover air-fryer chicken thighs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to three or four days. To reheat, pop them back in the air fryer until warmed through.
To freeze chicken thighs, let the cooked meat cool, then remove the meat from the bone. Store in a freezer-safe container in the freezer for up to four months. Thaw the chicken in the refrigerator overnight, and use the chicken in your favorite leftover chicken recipes.
Air-Fryer Chicken Thighs Tips
Do you need to flip chicken in an air fryer?
For this recipe, you do not need to flip the chicken thighs in the air fryer. However, with some other air-fryer chicken recipes (like air-fryer chicken Parmesan), we recommend flipping the chicken to promote even browning.
What should you serve with air-fryer chicken thighs?
Air-fryer chicken thighs cook quickly, so we like to serve them with make-ahead side dishes like coleslaw or a chopped garden salad. Create a balanced meal by serving chicken thighs with roasted vegetables such as asparagus or green beans, or hearty sides such as mac and cheese or mashed potatoes.