I’ll be honest, I wasn’t completely sold on air fryers UNTIL I made these air fryer chicken thighs. When I tell you that these chicken thighs are the most juicy chicken thighs I’ve ever had in my life, I wouldn’t be exaggerating. Add to that a deliciously crispy skin and the fact that they cook in about half the time as in the oven, and I’m SOLD. Air fryer chicken thighs are my new easy dinner go-to.
Why Cook Chicken in An Air Fryer?
If you haven’t hopped on the air fryer train yet, let me explain what makes this little machine special. Air fryers are mini convection ovens that cook using rapidly circulating hot hair. This constant flow of hot air increases evaporation and gives food a deliciously crispy exterior while cooking fast enough that the interior doesn’t dry out. And that, my friends, is exactly what you need to create super juicy chicken thighs!
What kind of Air Fryer to Use
You can cook chicken thighs in pretty much any type of air fryer. You’ll just need to make sure that the air fryer basket is large enough to cook the number of chicken thighs you’d like to make. We cooked four large chicken thighs in a 5-quart Air Fryer. The chicken thighs should have enough room around them for air to flow freely, keeping in mind that they will shrink some as they cook.
Ingredients for Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
Air fryer chicken thighs couldn’t be more simple. You only need a few ingredients and you can swap out the seasonings to suit your mood. Here’s what you’ll need for these air fryer chicken thighs:
- Bone-in skin-on chicken thighs: using bone-in thighs will create the juiciest most flavorful thighs. Boneless chicken thighs will cook much faster but will be less juicy. Skinless chicken will tend to dry out faster and not have that nice crispy exterior.
- Seasonings: You can use any seasoning mix you’d like, but today we used a simple mix of smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, cayenne pepper, oregano, salt, and pepper.
- Cornstarch: This helps the skin get extra nice and crispy!
- Cooking oil: Just a little bit goes a long way with the air fryer! The oil helps the seasoning coat the chicken evenly and helps create that crispy skin.
More Seasoning Ideas
If you want to change up the flavor of your air fryer chicken thighs, try using some of these other seasoning blends:
- Cajun seasoning
- Chili seasoning
- Garlic herb seasoning
- Taco seasoning
- Ranch seasoning
- Lemon pepper
- Jerk seasoning
What to Serve with Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
Since air fryer chicken thighs are such a fast and easy dinner staple, I suggest keeping the side dishes easy as well. You’ll want to serve the chicken thighs with something that you can prepare in the amount of time that it takes the chicken thighs to cook in the air fryer, so I’d serve them with something like three bean salad, mushroom rice, homemade mac and cheese, a simple side salad, or steamed green beans.
Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch ($0.03)
- 1 tsp smoked paprika ($0.10)
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder ($0.05)
- 1/4 tsp onion powder ($0.02)
- 1/4 tsp dried oregano ($0.03)
- 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.02)
- 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)
- 1/4 tsp Freshly cracked pepper ($0.02)
- 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2.25 lbs.) ($6.53)
- 1 Tbsp cooking oil ($0.04)
- In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch, smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, oregano, cayenne, salt, and pepper.
- Preheat the air fryer to 400ºF. Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel.
- Place the chicken thighs in a bowl and drizzle the cooking oil over top, then add the cornstarch and seasoning mixture. Toss the chicken thighs until they are well coated in oil and spices.
- Place the chicken thighs in the air fryer basket, skin side up, and cook for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken thighs and cook for 8 minutes more.
- Flip one last time so the skin side is up and cook for two minutes. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature has reached 165ºF, and if not, cook for 1-2 minutes longer. Serve the chicken thighs hot with your favorite simple sides!
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How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Thighs – Step by Step Photos
Combine the seasonings and cornstarch in a bowl. The seasoning mix we used today was 1 tsp smoked paprika, ½ tsp garlic powder, ¼ tsp onion powder, ⅛ tsp cayenne pepper, ¼ tsp dried oregano, ½ tsp salt, ¼ tsp pepper, and 1 Tbsp cornstarch.
Preheat the air fryer to 400ºF. Pat four (about 2.25 lbs. total) bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs dry with a paper towel.
Add the chicken thighs to a bowl and drizzle with 1 Tbsp cooking oil, then sprinkle the seasoning mix over top. Toss the chicken thighs until they are evenly coated in oil and spices.
Place the chicken thighs in the air fryer basket, skin side up, making sure there’s at least a little room around each for the air to circulate. The chicken thighs will shrink a bit as they cook, too, allowing for more air flow.
Cook the chicken thighs for 10 minutes, then flip and cook for about 8 minutes more. I like to flip them one last time and cook with the skin side up for the final two minutes to make sure that skin is extra crispy! Make sure to test the chicken with a meat thermometer to make sure the internal temperature reaches 165ºF.
Serve those juicy air fryer chicken thighs and all of their crispy skin goodness with your favorite sides!
Seriously, the juiciest chicken EVER. 🤤
Excellent tasting and easy
Could I use an actual convection oven? That is what I have and I don’t want to buy an air fryer. Still interested in this recipe though.
I just got a new range with “air fry” (convection) mode, and I made this tonight as my first “air fry” effort. Delicious! I put it on a rimmed baking sheet and set the temp at 400 but reduced it to 375 after about 20 minutes because the skin was getting nicely brown but the internal temperature needed more time and I didn’t want to overcook the outside. I ended up cooking for a total of about 40 minutes and ended up with an internal temp close to 170, so I probably could have taken it out at 35 minutes. The skin was deliciously crisp and the chicken was juicy and tender.
Perfect!! These were a big hit- the skin was super crispy and the chicken cooked thru in 20 mins, like the recipe called for. I paired it with boiled potatoes and broccoli and it was such a yummy meal.
I’ve shared it with my family and will add it to my dinner time rotation.
I cannot believe how delicious this chicken is- I can’t stop eating it! I never thought chicken could get this crispy in the air fryer. This will be the only way I will make chicken from now on. Thank you for such a great recipe! Budget Bytes is quickly becoming my favorite food blog and who I turn to first when I need a recipe.
These were delicious and soo easy!! Def will be making again! The chicken was cooked to perfection and the flavor was so amazing!
Not a bone in skin on chicken thigh lover but this method rocks!!! Made this recipe as written perfect!!! Haven’t made many Budget Bytes recipes but the ones I have are excellent!!!
These were delicious and the skin was super crispy, but they took much longer to cook than the recipe stated.
Can you do chicken breasts with bone in?
I’m sure with some tweaking, bone-in chicken breast could totally work in this recipe — but may dry out or overcook at the time/temp suggested since thighs need slightly more cooking time than breasts. Since we haven’t developed a recipe for air fryer chicken breasts just yet, I’m hesitant to give you any specific suggestions that might not be as successful. However, trust your instincts (and your air fryer) and give it a shot! If you check them halfway through and use a meat thermometer (as suggested in the recipe) to keep from overcooking, you should be just as successful. ~ Marion :)
Have not tried this recipe yet, but it looks good and I will definitely try it.
Great recipe and so easy! The chicken was crispy on the outside, juicy on the inside and so flavorful! Please post more recipes for the air fryer!