Air Fried Chicken Thighs

5 from 1 vote
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When I don’t know what to make for dinner, I make these air fried chicken thighs.  They are as crispy and golden as can be, without frying and with NO extra oil. And who doesn’t love a meal that’s ready in 30 minutes?

😍 Why You’ll Love My Crispy Air Fried Chicken Thighs

It’s not often I break out my air fryer, but this recipe really is worth it. Why? Because these thighs are fast, delicious and will satisfy the entire family (ravenous kids included!)

Chicken thighs are often a less expensive cut of meat, but that doesn’t mean you’re sacrificing on flavor. And the rub is made up of spices that you will almost certainly already have on hand – an absolute win in my book.

As an aside, I get my meat monthly from Butcher Box, and I won’t lie, it’s one of my favorite investments. It’s so convenient and I know that I’m always getting a selection of cuts that are high quality and humanely raised. I don’t eat meat at every meal, but when I do, I like to know where my meat is coming from!

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Packet of Butcher Box Organic Chicken

🗒️ Ingredients

Chicken Thighs – With their rich flavor and juicy texture, Chicken Thighs are the perfect cut to transform into crispy on the outside, succulent on the inside, satisfying bites. Plus they’re budget friendly!

Salt – There is no such thing as a meat rub without salt! Salt enhances flavor, tenderizes the meat, and helps us create that delicious, crispy crust we’re aiming for.

Pepper – Pepper adds depth and complexity to the rub, adding a little heat as well to compliment the other spices.

Garlic Powder – We love garlic powder for its rich, savory flavor, and here it is no exception!

Oregano – Oregano adds a robust, earthy flavor which creates depth without overpowering the other spices.

Onion Powder – Onion powder is both sweet and savory, which rounds out the flavor profile of this blend of spices.

Paprika – Paprika brings a burst of color and a gentle, sweet flavor with a hint of heat. While we’re not aiming for spiciness (though you certainly could), paprika provides the delightful smokiness essential for this spice blend!

4 transparent glass jars of spices: onion powder, paprika, oregano and garlic powder.

👩‍🍳 How to Make Crispy Air Fried Chicken Thighs

⏲️ Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees for 5 minutes.

🏜️ Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel.

🧂 In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and oregano.  Rub the seasoning well all over the chicken then transfer to the air fryer, skin side down.

A mixture of spices for air fried chicken thighs in a small glass bowl

🍗 Air fry for 12 minutes, then flip the chicken over and cook for 10-12 minutes more until golden and crispy and cooked through in the center.

🥳 Enjoy!

Chicken thighs spread out on a baking sheet

🎩 Tips and Tricks

Before we get started, there are 3 simple things you can do to get that delicious crispy, golden brown skin every single time:

Hand patting a paper towel on top of chicken thighs spread across a baking sheet

First things first, don’t pull your chicken out of the refrigerator moments before it goes into the air fryer, you want to give it time to come down to room temperature a little. This ensures that you’re not steaming your thighs with the extra moisture they’re holding on to.

Second, you absolutely must pat your chicken dry. Again, moisture is not your friend here!

And finally, preheating the air fryer before cooking means they get a hot blast of air from the very beginning – that equals crispy skin without overcooking the meat.

Chicken thighs covered in spices in the bottom of air fryer

🌟 Variations

The joy of home-made spice blends is that you can modify and adjust to your hearts content! Here are some ways to change it up:

  • Make It Smokey: specifically use smoked paprika and you’ll have a deliciously rich and aromatic seasoning.
  • Make It Spicy: Add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper for the perfect amount of kick!
  • Make It Sweet & Spicy: Add 1/2 teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and a 1/2 teaspoon of brown sugar for that spicy sweet play on flavors.
Air fried chicken thighs on a white plate, a pair of tongs holding a thigh


🤲 Substitutions

  • You can use bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts, just adjust the time as needed.  White meat cooks a bit faster than dark typically but it will depend on the size of the breasts.
  • This method works great with chicken wings as well, just reduce the cooking time as needed.
  • This rub is great for salmon and shrimp as well, so feel free to substitute in whatever protein you’re craving.
  • No air fryer?  I suggest making my No-Fuss Crispy Chicken Thighs

📓 Best served with

  • Roasted or mashed potatoes
  • A green salad
  • Grilled asparagus or green beans
a close up of air fried chicken thighs

👝 How to Store Leftover Air Fried Chicken Thighs

Allow the chicken thighs to cool completely – it’s especially important with chicken that you allow it to cool before refrigerating! Once they have cooled, transfer them to an airtight container. Don’t over crowd them or they will loose their crispiness. They can be stored for 3-4 days.

A close up on air fried chicken thighs

🧠 Common Questions

Do I have to use bone-in chicken thighs?

No, but there are a few benefits! Cooking chicken with the bone in can enhance its flavor, it can prevent the chicken from drying out, and can make sure the thighs cook evenly.

If I choose to use boneless chicken thighs, what do I need to know?

You might want to adjust your cooking time as they will likely cook faster than I have noted, and you don’t want to risk overcooked, dry chicken. I recommend experimenting with 8 minutes a side to start off with. Other than that, you should be just fine!

Would this recipe work with skinless chicken thighs?

Flavor-wise? Yes! But crispiness? Not so much. The skin is what creates that crispy crunchy layer in every bite and without it, you’ll likely be left with a dry crust-like surface on the meat, but no crunch.

5 from 1 vote

The Best Crispy Air-Fryer Chicken Thighs

This is the recipe I turn to when I don't know what to make for dinner. Ready in 30 minutes, satisfies a whole crowd… sign me up!
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Total: 30 minutes
Servings: 6

Ingredients 

  • 6 chicken thighs, with bone and skin
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • ¼ teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano

Instructions 

  • Preheat the air fryer to 390 degrees for 5 minutes.
  • Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel.
  • In a small bowl, mix together the salt, pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika, and oregano. Rub the seasoning well all over the chicken then transfer to the air fryer, skin side down.
  • Air fry for 12 minutes, then flip the chicken over and cook for 10-12 minutes more until golden and crispy and cooked through in the center.
  • Enjoy!

Nutrition

Calories: 250kcal | Carbohydrates: 1g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 5g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 4g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Trans Fat: 0.1g | Cholesterol: 111mg | Sodium: 475mg | Potassium: 242mg | Fiber: 0.2g | Sugar: 0.1g | Vitamin A: 104IU | Vitamin C: 1mg | Calcium: 14mg | Iron: 1mg

Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.

Additional Info

Author: Kat Ashmore
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Servings: 6
Calories: 250
Keyword: Air Fryer, chicken, Poultry
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2 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Love these! I have been looking for a quick and easy recipe for chicken thighs and this is perfect. One question, how long should I cook them if I want to use boneless thighs? Thanks!

    1. Hi Mendy, I would try around 8 minutes each side, but it might take a little bit of experimenting to get just right! Let me know how you get on!
      Enjoy,
      Kat.