You can make just about anything in the air fryer. Sandwiches, salmon, vegetables, bacon, burgers, hot dogs, baked potatoes—you name it, it can most likely be air-fried. But when it comes to cooking chicken, many people still avoid the air fryer and go for the oven or stovetop, usually because it’s what they’re most used to or because they don’t believe the air fryer can successfully cook chicken how they like it. In reality, cooking your chicken using this method is one of the easiest and tastiest ways to do it, and we have the perfect recipe for cooking the best air fryer chicken thighs you’ve ever had.

So why is the air fryer an ideal way to cook chicken thighs? For one, it’s one of the easiest methods. All you need to do is turn it on, place the thighs in the basket, set the timer, and go about your day. Beyond its simplicity, the air fryer also cooks food using a convection method, which circulates hot air to cook the food. This results in food that is crispy on the outside and moist on the inside. In other words, you can’t beat having crispy, juicy chicken thighs that you can make with the press of a button.

To learn more about making the perfect air fryer chicken thighs, we talked with Isla Zoey, owner of Air Fryer Mag, to get her simple go-to recipe. Read on to learn how to make your own chicken thighs in the air fryer, then check out the 11 Best Air Fryer Recipes for Weight Loss.

Gather your ingredients.

air fryer and ingredients for chicken thighs on kitchen counter
Courtesy of Samantha Boesch

Before cooking your chicken thighs, grab your chicken and the seasonings you’ll use. For her air fryer chicken thighs, Zoey uses the following ingredients:

Ingredients

  • Chicken thighs
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, for a bit of heat)

You can switch out some of these spices for others you like or use any pre-made rubs you have on hand. The important thing is that you have your air fryer, chicken thighs, oil, and some sort of seasoning for flavor.

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Prepare the chicken thighs.

bowl of seasoning and chicken thighs on a plate
Courtesy of Samantha Boesch
  1. Preheat your air fryer to 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes.
  2. Pat the chicken thighs dry with paper towels to remove any excess moisture. Put the chicken thighs aside.
  3. Prepare the seasoning. In a small bowl, mix together the garlic powder, onion powder, smoked paprika, thyme, oregano, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (if using). Omit this step if you’re using a packaged spice blend.
  4. Rub the chicken thighs with olive oil, ensuring they are well-coated, and sprinkle the seasoning mix evenly over the chicken thighs, rubbing it into the skin and meat.
  5. If you’re cooking chicken thighs with their skin on,  Zoey says you can “spray the chicken with cooking spray before air frying for extra crispy skin.”

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Cook the chicken thighs in the air fryer.

putting two chicken thighs in an air fryer
Courtesy of Samantha Boesch

Once you’ve seasoned your chicken, it’s time to cook!

  1. Place the chicken thighs in the air fryer basket, ensuring they do not overlap. If needed, cook in batches to avoid overcrowding.
  2. Cook for 12-15 minutes, flipping the thighs over afterward.
  3. Continue to cook for another 12-15 minutes until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees and the skin is crispy and golden brown.

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Let chicken rest before serving.

two air fryer chicken thighs on a cutting board
Courtesy of Samantha Boesch

After your chicken thighs are fully cooked, remove them from the air fryer and “let them rest for 5 minutes before serving,” says Zoey. “This helps the juices redistribute, keeping the meat tender and juicy.”

Extra tips to remember.

chicken, salad, and rice on a plate
Courtesy of Samantha Boesch

Now that your air-fried chicken thighs are ready, it’s time to serve and enjoy! I served mine with some rice and a homemade kale Caesar salad, and Zoey adds that you can also “serve with sides like roasted vegetables, salad, or mashed potatoes.”

Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to ensure the chicken is fully cooked.

Serve with your favorite sides, such as roasted vegetables, salad, or mashed potatoes.

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Samantha Boesch

Samantha was born and raised in Orlando, Florida and now works as a writer in Brooklyn, NY. Read more about Samantha
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