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Appetizer

Air Fryer Chicken Thighs

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Crispy-skinned, spectacularly juicy, and garlic paprika-rubbed, Air Fryer Chicken Thighs are a no-effort recipe that earns unanimous praise and boosts your kitchen confidence. Quicker than the regular oven with even better results, your air fryer will quickly become your favorite way to cook chicken thighs!

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5-Star Air Fryer Chicken Thighs

Of all the recipes I’ve tested, these chicken thighs earned the highest honor in our household: my husband requested them for dinner every week. In fact, he called them the best chicken I’ve ever made!

Between all the ways I cook chicken—Baked Chicken Thighs, Air Fryer Chicken Breast , Air Fryer Chicken Legs , Air Fryer Chicken Wings (SUPER CRISPY!) and all these healthy chicken recipes—that’s quite a statement. I know he means it too, because, while he gets excited about other proteins like Air Fryer Salmon or Air Fryer Pork Chops, chicken rarely causes a heart flutter. (Unless it’s Air Fryer Chicken Wings, but let’s be real—that’s more about the Buffalo sauce.)

About This Air Fryer Chicken Thighs Recipe

These juicy chicken thighs have everything going for them. The meat is juicier than you ever thought chicken could be. The seasoning tastes lightly smoky and complex, an ideal profile for chicken. The skin is so shatteringly crispy, even those who usually don’t eat chicken skin (me), will find themselves nibbling crunchy pieces. But that’s not the end of the story.

From the cook’s perspective (that’s me and you), this fast and easy dinner is a clear winner. Additionally, it’s a straightforward choice for a delicious meal.

  • Bone-in chicken thighs cook in 16 to 20 minutes at 400°F.
  • You don’t need to marinate the chicken thighs before air frying.
  • The rub is made from common spices you likely already have in your pantry, like paprika and garlic powder.
Golden brown air fryer chicken thighs garnished with fresh herbsPin

Air Frying Bone-In vs. Boneless Chicken Thighs

For this recipe, you can use bone-in or boneless chicken thighs (I’ve included times for both), but I highly recommend using bone-in, skin-on chicken. The skin locks in moisture, so you don’t need to spend time brining the meat for excellent results, as you would with boneless Air Fryer Chicken Breast. The bone flavors the meat from within and makes it harder to overcook the chicken. Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are a bargain compared to boneless.

How to Make Crispy Chicken Thighs in the Air Fryer

Chicken Thigh Ingredients

  • Chicken Thighs: I used bone-in chicken thighs with the skin on. If you use boneless thighs, you’ll need to reduce the cooking time. Once they reach 165°F with a meat thermometer, they’re done.
  • Lemon: Squeeze the juice from half a lemon.
  • Spices: Salt, pepper, garlic and onion powder, sweet paprika, and dried herbs, like herbs de Provence.
Crispy air fryer chicken thighs with lemon wedges on the sidePin

The Directions

  1. Stir the spice mixture together in a bowl.
  2. Pat dry the thighs with a paper towel, then add them to the bowl. Coat the chicken with oil and the spices.
  3. Place chicken thighs skin side down in the air fryer basket.
  4. Air fry chicken thighs for 16 to 22 minutes at 400°F, flipping halfway through. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Afterward, let them rest for 5 minutes. Then, top with fresh parsley, cilantro, or thyme. Enjoy your meal!

More Ways to Season Air Fryer Chicken Thighs Recipe

  • Garlic Paprika Air Fryer Chicken Thighs: My favorite everyday chicken thigh rub and what you’ll find below.
  • Parmesan Air Fryer Chicken Thighs: Add 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese to your spice mixture. (I’ll have this with Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad, please.)
  • Spicy Air Fryer Chicken Thighs: Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the spice mixture.
  • Brown Sugar Air Fryer Chicken Thighs: Add 2 teaspoons of brown sugar to the spice mixture. (For a BBQ-like finish, serve the thighs with my scrumptious Barbecue Sauce or any BBQ sauce.)
  • Italian Air Fryer Chicken Thighs: Add 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning to the spice mixture.
  • Curry Air Fryer Chicken Thighs: Add 2 teaspoons curry powder to the spice mixture. (This would be delish with Turmeric Rice.)
  • Garlic Butter Air Fryer Chicken Thighs: Omit the smoked paprika, add an extra teaspoon of garlic powder, and swap the olive oil for melted butter. (Perfect for pairing with Garlic Pasta.)
  • Lemon Air Fryer Chicken Thighs: Add zest of 1 lemon to the spice mixture. (Try this with Pasta al Limone or Lemon Rice. YUM!)
  • Marinated Chicken Thighs: This recipe includes a great chicken rub; you can also try my favorite Chicken Marinade or Chicken Thigh Marinade, or use this Dry Turkey Brine (it works for chicken too!). Be sure to pat the chicken dry prior to cooking.
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Storage Tips

  • To Store: Refrigerate chicken in an airtight container for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat: Gently rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350°F or in the air fryer.
  • To Freeze: Freeze thighs in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

What to Serve with Air Fryer Chicken Thighs

  • Potatoes: Chicken and potatoes is classic comfort. Try Oven Roasted Potatoes, Garlic Mashed Potatoes, or Homemade Fries.
  • Brussels Sprouts: Sautéed Brussels Sprouts or Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Garlic add some nice green to the meal.
  • Rice: Get a serving of whole grains with your protein via Brown Rice or Lemon Rice.
Deliciously cooked chicken thighs with crispy skinPin
  • Air Fryer: The air fryer I own and love!
  • Instant Read Thermometer: I cannot recommend this tool enough. It’s the most foolproof way to ensure your meat is cooked through. So, it’s essential for perfect cooking results.
  • Measuring Spoons: A must-have tool for measuring spices.

How to Make Air Fryer Chicken Thighs

  1. Season Chicken: Squeeze lemon juice over the thighs. Next, sprinkle them with all the spices and rub them in.
  2. Air fry the chicken thighs: at 400°F for 24 minutes, flipping them over halfway. If all six won’t fit in the machine at the same time, cook the chicken in batches.

Are Chicken Thighs Still Healthy?

Although chicken thighs have more fat and calories than chicken breasts, they are still a healthy option packed with protein and other nutrients. Plus, they just taste better! I think they’re much more exciting and flavorful than chicken breasts. I personally love the skin, but if you’re looking to cut calories, you can eat them without it. It also helps to cook them in a healthy way, and the air fryer is perfect for that since it uses little to no oil.

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Air Fryer Chicken Breast FAQ

How long does it take to cook thighs in an air fryer?

Set the air fryer to 375°F (190°C). Cook the chicken thighs for about 20-25 minutes. Flip them halfway through. Cooking times may vary depending on the size of the thighs and indeed your specific air fryer model.

What is the best temperature to cook chicken in an air fryer?

Air fry the chicken at 415°F for 10 minutes. If you have larger pieces of chicken, cook for closer to 13 minutes. So, aim for an internal temperature of 165°F.

Can I put raw chicken in the air fryer?

Yes, you can put raw frozen chicken in the air fryer! While you won’t be able to brine it first or pound it to an even thickness (so the results may not be as juicy), it’s a great option if you forget to thaw your chicken.

Does chicken skin go crispy in an air fryer?

At the halfway point (around 6 minutes), flip the chicken skins so they are skin-side up. Air fry for the remaining 6 minutes or until crispy. If the skin is still a bit flabby in parts, add an extra minute or two to the cooking time.

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Air-fried meal on a platePin

Air Fryer Chicken Thighs

Super juicy air fryer chicken thighs with shatteringly crispy skin and a simple, delicious paprika garlic spice rub. Cooks in 20 minutes!
5 from 1 vote
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Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 25 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
Calories: 389kcal

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • ½ tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 4 bone-in skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 to 2 1/2 pounds), see notes for using boneless chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Lemon wedges for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley or cilantro for serving

Instructions

  • In a large bowl, combine the paprika, smoked paprika, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper.
  • Pat the chicken thighs very dry on both sides, then add them to the bowl. Drizzle with the oil, then toss to coat in the spice mixture.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Add the chicken thighs in a single layer, skin-side down (make sure they are not touching; if they are, cook the chicken in batches).
  • Air fry the chicken thighs for 16 to 22 minutes, flipping halfway through, until an instant-read thermometer inserted at the thickest part of a thigh (but not touching bone) reaches 155°F. Set aside, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes (chicken is considered cooked at 165°F by the FDA, but the temperature will continue to rise as it rests; air fryer models differ in cooking time, so check early to be safe). Serve hot, with lemon wedges (squeeze them over the top of your serving) and sprinkle with fresh herbs.

Notes

  • For Boneless Thighs: Coat with the spice mixture as directed. Preheat the air fryer to 380°F, then add the chicken smooth-side down. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the chicken reaches 155°F on an instant-read thermometer. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes (the temperature will continue to rise), then enjoy warm.
  • To Store: Refrigerate chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days.
  • To Reheat: Gently rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350°F or in the microwave.
  • To Freeze: Freeze thighs in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.

Nutrition

Calcium: 20mg | Vitamin C: 1mg | Vitamin A: 1407IU | Sugar: 1g | Fiber: 1g | Potassium: 369mg | Cholesterol: 142mg | Calories: 389kcal | Trans Fat: 1g | Monounsaturated Fat: 15g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Fat: 31g | Protein: 24g | Carbohydrates: 2g | Iron: 2mg

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