Tasty, quick, juicy air fryer chicken thighs are here to save you from hunger!

These air fryer chicken thighs are juicy, quick, and best of all, delicious. When you want food and you want it fast, air fryer chicken thighs are just the thing. These guys are seasoned with one of the best chicken flavors out there: lemon pepper chicken!

boneless air fryer chicken thighs | www.iamafoodblog.com

Why chicken thighs in the air fryer?

  • If you like super juicy baked or roasted chicken, air fryer chicken tastes just as juicy and tender, maybe even more so
  • Air frying chicken thighs is faster than roasting/baking
  • It’s also more energy efficient because you don’t need to preheat or turn on your oven

bone-in vs boneless air fryer chicken thighs | www.iamafoodblog.com

How long to cook chicken thighs in the air fryer?

  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs: Air fry at 360°F for 12-15 mins, flipping halfway.
  • Bone in skin on chicken thighs: Air fry at 360°F for 18 mins, flipping halfway, then add an extra 5 minutes at 400°F to crisp up the skin.
  • Frozen chicken thighs: Air fry from frozen at 360°F for 25 mins, flipping halfway, then add an extra 5 minutes at 400°F to crisp up the skin.

You want to air fry them until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, or until the juices run clear. Chicken thighs come in all sizes and thickness, so it’s best to get an instant read thermometer to make sure that they reach 165°F.

boneless skinless chicken thighs | www.iamafoodblog.com

Bone in skin on vs. boneless skinless

You can go with either: extra juicy or extra easy, the choice is yours! This recipe defaults to boneless skinless chicken thighs because they are my go-to: they cook quickly and are never dry because the cooking time is so short. Plus, when I’m eating, I can just shove them in my mouth without thinking or use them shredded in tacos or on salads.

Bone in skin on chicken thighs are delicious as well though – I use them in a huge amount of recipes and you can easily use them here too. The skin crisps up beautifully and also self-bastes the meat underneath, which makes it tastier. They’re not a second class citizen at all.

bone-in vs boneless air fryer chicken thighs | www.iamafoodblog.com

left: boneless, right: skin on

How to air fry chicken thighs

I switch between making bone-in skin on chicken thighs and boneless skinless thighs in the air fryer. I like both, so which chicken thigh you choose is up to you.

  1. Pat dry. Use a clean kitchen towel or paper towels to dry the skin of your chicken. You want a dry surface so that it can crisp up – this is especially important if you’re making bone in, skin on chicken thighs. Moisture is the enemy of crispiness.
  2. Season. Place the thighs in a bowl and season with a lemon juice, spices and a touch of oil. The oil helps conduct heat which makes the skin crispy and the lemon juice and seasoning adds flavor.
  3. Air fry. Place the chicken in the air fryer in a single layer and air fry, flipping halfway through, until the internal temp reaches 165°F. (See below for times)

The secret to juicy air fryer chicken thighs

The secret to juicy air fryer chicken thighs is…there is no secret! It always comes out juicy!

extra juicy boneless chicken thighs | www.iamafoodblog.com

Do I need to preheat the air fryer for chicken thighs?

Unlike using a regular oven, you don’t need to preheat the air fryer, which means dinner gets on the table faster.

If you wanted to get that last little bit of speed or juiciness, or if your air fryer takes a little longer than you’d like to come to temp, you can preheat the air fryer before starting any of the other steps, and it’ll be hot enough by the time you have the chicken ready to go.

air fryer chicken thighs | www.iamafoodblog.com

Do you need to flip the chicken in the air fryer?

Technically you don’t need to because the air in an air fryer circulates around, but for even crispiness and presentation, especially for bone-in skin-in, I recommend it. Start cooking the chicken skin side down then flip it to finish skin side up so the skin looks pretty and crisp.

air fryer chicken thighs with paprika oil glaze | www.iamafoodblog.com

What can I serve with air fried chicken thighs?

Since you have the air fryer out, why not pair the chicken thighs with:

How do I reheat chicken thighs in the air fryer?

To reheat already cooked chicken thighs in the air fryer, let the thighs heat up at 350°F for 2-3 minutes.

air fryer chicken thighs | www.iamafoodblog.com

What’s the best air fryer?

Our air fryer is discontinued 😭 but we love it so much. The Philips XL (ok actually the XXL) is what we’d get if ours ever broke though.

Can I make these in the oven?

Yes!

  • Boneless skinless chicken thighs: Bake at 425°F for 18-20 minutes.
  • Bone in skin on chicken thighs: Bake at 425°F for 25-30 minutes if properly tempered.
  • Bone in skin on chicken thighs: Bake at 425°F for 35-40 minutes if they’re coming right out of the fridge.

Stick them on a wire rack on a foil lined baking sheet and flip them half way through. If you have convection mode, it means you have a giant air fryer! Follow the same instructions as with an air fryer, maybe with an extra 5 minutes in case the oven temp is not as accurate.

close up of air fryer chicken thighs | www.iamafoodblog.com

Just like with the air fryer, you want to bake them until the internal temperature reaches 165°F, or until the juices run clear, and that  instant read thermometer is your best bet!

Air fry me up Scotty!
Steph

air fryer chicken thighs | www.iamafoodblog.com

Air Fryer Chicken Thighs

Tasty, quick, juicy air fryer chicken thighs are here to save you from hunger!
Serves 4
5 from 4 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 20 mins
Total Time 25 mins

Ingredients

  • 1/2 lemon
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1/2 tsp paprika smoked paprika preferred
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper or 1/2 tsp as desired
  • 1.5 lbs bone in skin on chicken thighs or 1lb boneless skinless, see notes

Optional paprika oil for extra shine

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp paprika smoked paprika preferred

Special Equipment

  • air fryer

Instructions

  • Slice half of the lemon and set aside, then juice the other half. Mix in 1 tbsp olive oil into the lemon juice and stir in the garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and pepper.
    lemon paprika marinade for chicken | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Lightly pat the chicken dry with a paper towel. Season with salt and pepper. Toss the chicken in the lemon-pepper sauce.
  • Cook at 360°F for 12-15 mins or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F and the juices run clear. Halfway through, flip the chicken and add lemon slices. Remove from the air fryer immediately when done.
    See notes for bone-in skin-on or frozen cooking times.
    air fryer chicken thighs | www.iamafoodblog.com
  • Optional: make some paprika oil to drizzle/brush on after the thighs are done: heat up 1 tsp paprika with 2 tbsp oil in a small pan over low heat, until it starts to bubble. Remove from the heat and brush onto the cooked thighs.
    boneless air fryer chicken thighs | www.iamafoodblog.com

Notes

For bone-in skin-on: Cook at 360°F for 18 mins, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F and the juices run clear. Halfway through, flip the chicken and add lemon slices. Remove from the air fryer immediately when done. Optionally, add an extra 5 minutes at 400°F for crisp skin (for a total cooking time of 23 mins).
For frozen chicken thighs, cook at 360°F for 25 mins, or until the internal temperature reaches 165°F and the juices run clear. Halfway through, flip the chicken and add lemon slices. Remove from the air fryer immediately when done. Optionally, add an extra 5 minutes at 400°F for crisp skin (for a total cooking time of 30 mins).

Estimated Nutrition

Nutrition Facts
Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
Amount Per Serving
Calories 410 Calories from Fat 241
% Daily Value*
Fat 26.8g41%
Saturated Fat 7g44%
Cholesterol 140mg47%
Sodium 127mg6%
Potassium 374mg11%
Carbohydrates 2.6g1%
Fiber 0.6g3%
Sugar 0.8g1%
Protein 38g76%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

2 Comments

  1. Preeti Gautam says:

    5 stars
    Omg this Air Fryer Chicken Thighs looks so mouth-watering. You captured the photographs of chicken so beautifully. Can’t wait to try this recipe. Can we use Any kind of oil like sunflower oil, bran oil instead of olive oil?

    1. Stephanie says:

      hi preeti,
      yes, you can use any oil!

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-Steph & Mike