Improbably crispy skin in 20 minutes with no greasy mess? It’s not a myth; it’s air fried. Air Fryer Chicken Thighs give great crunch on the outside, and moist, juicy meat on the inside. Perfectly seasoned to enhance the taste you know and love, this dish works with any side you can come up with to make it an even bigger crowd-pleaser.
It’s highly unlikely that I’ll ever take on old-school fried chicken for this blog. Number one, the amount of grease required simply negates any health standard I could excuse away. Second, the amount of grease required negates any desire to deal with the ensuing cleanups, burns, or residue. And last but not least, there are a handful of recipes that I staunchly believe I will never replicate successfully enough to do justice to the best version of that food. Fried chicken is absolutely one of those things.
But that sure don’t mean I don’t want a clean and easy way to make crispy chicken at home – and I have achieved this using an oven, a grill, and a skillet. Or so I thought.
I didn’t want to coat all that pre-existing natural potential for cracklin’ good skin with breading or batter; I wanted to work with what mother nature gave these plump, juicy little birds. And sweet angels in heaven… I’ve never gotten crunch like this – even with grill char – in my life. If crispy skin is your thing, then cooking chicken thighs in an air fryer is that thing’s fairy godmother.
These air fryer chicken thighs have it all, and may just have it all over other cooking methods (CAVEAT WARNING) depending on your meal goals. Perfectly crisped, cooked, and seasoned, it’s honestly the best “plain” chicken I’ve come across, and is a beaut for allowing sides with bolder flavors to shine. (Scroll for serving suggestions.)
Why the Air Fryer Instead of the Oven or Stovetop?
I love the standby for crisping in a skillet and finishing in the oven for plenty of chicken thigh combos, but for a recipe this simple where texture is key, the air fryer is the clear winner. Need a reason? Choose one or more from:
- Super. Crispy. Skin.
- It cooks way faster.
- Zero risk of burning skin on stovetop – yours or the chickens.
- Plus the skin doesn’t stick!
- No splatter, thus no sticky residue.
- Easier cleanup.
- No overheating the kitchen in the warmer months.
- And, you can save oven/stovetop space for side dishes.
How to Cook Chicken Thighs in the Air Fryer
Total timesaver alert! Simple, seasoned Air Fryer Chicken Thighs come out crispy and juicy every time. Just 20 minutes in the air fryer and you’ve got a healthy, easy, inexpensive, yummy main dish that goes with anything. What’s not to love?
- Pat the chicken thighs dry and place in a baking dish. Optional Dry Brine: Follow instructions below.
- Work oil and seasonings into both sides of the chicken. Coat evenly.
- Transfer thighs to air fryer basket – skin side down – in a single layer. Don’t overcrowd – you may need two batches.
- Cook at 400°F for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken, cook an additional 8-10 minutes/165°F.
- Remove chicken, garnish, and serve immediately.
The Secret to Super Crispy Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
DRY BRINE! This is optional – you can skip this step and still have very tender meat and crispy skin. But this quick tip elevates the flavor and texture even more.
Pat the chicken dry, then season all over with kosher salt. Leave uncovered at room temperature for 30 minutes. The salt will further draw out any moisture in the skin, while at the same time season the meat.
After dry brining, pat dry once more, then season and transfer to the air fryer.
Bringing the chicken to room temperature also ensure the chicken will cook through evenly. Win-win all around!
Tips for making this recipe perfectly
- Pat the chicken dry first. Moisture is the enemy of crispiness!
- Season generously.
- Don’t overcrowd the basket. Fit what you can into a single layer without overlap (my basket is on the small side and I can fit 4 medium-sized chicken thighs).
- Get to know your gadget. Does it need to be preheated? Does it tend to smoke? Preheat if necessary (check the manufacturer’s instructions) and if your machine tends to smoke, add 2 tbsp water into the container.
- Always check the internal temperature using an instant read thermometer. Chicken thighs should be cooked to 165°F.
Storing and Reheating
Before I had an air fryer, I never reheated bone in, skin-on chicken thighs. But the air fryer makes it both easy and tasty. Simply place in the basket and reheat at 350-375°F for 2-4 minutes, depending on size.
Make It A Meal
All these sides would round out a great meal with these air fryer bone-in chicken thighs. Pick one or a couple to create a combo:
- Cauliflower Mashed “Potatoes”
- Garlicky Green Beans with Crispy Shallots
- Oven-Bakesd Basil Fries
- Honey Roasted Carrots
- Mediterranean Roasted Cauliflower
- Lemon Garlic Asparagus
- Parmesan Zucchini Fries
- Keto Creamed Spinach
- Butternut Squash Fries
More Ways to Love Chicken Thighs
- Rosemary Chicken Thighs and Potatoes
- Crispy Chicken Thighs with Burst Tomatoes
- Easy Artichoke Chicken
- One-Pan Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken Thighs
Did you make these Air Fryer Chicken Thighs? I’d love to know how they turned out! Leave a comment and a rating below.
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- Pat the chicken thighs dry, then place into a bowl of casserole dish. Optional Dry Brine: season the chicken with kosher salt all over. Rest uncovered at room temperature for 30 minutes. Pat the chicken dry once more.
- Drizzle chicken thighs with the olive oil, then sprinkle with the italian seasoning, paprika, salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Work the oil and seasonings into both sides of the chicken until evenly coated.
- Arrange the chicken thighs skin side down in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Don't overcrowd.
- Program the air fryer to 400°F for 10 minutes; flip the chicken, then return to the air fryer and cook an additional 8-10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 165°F using an instant read thermometer.
- Remove from the basket, garnish with fresh herbs, and serve immediately.