Air fryer boneless skinless chicken thighs make an incredibly healthy, delicious, and satisfying meal. The chicken is seasoned with a blend of spicy and savory seasonings, then cooked until crispy on the outside yet tender on the inside. The best part? Quick and easy clean up. It doesn’t get much better than that!
As someone who grew up in the South, I always enjoy fried chicken at family gatherings. Still, I remember how messy and time-consuming traditional deep-frying is!
This recipe for boneless skinless chicken thighs in the air fryer has all the same comforting flavors, but it’s made in a fraction of the time and with minimal effort. Although I always have a place in my heart for fried chicken, this is now a healthier and more convenient option I can’t get enough of!
Why I Love This Recipe
- Healthy: Using an air fryer reduces the need for excessive oil and limits the overall calories of the dish.
- Quick: Air frying ensures each chicken thigh cooks quickly, efficiently, and evenly.
- Tender: These air fryer boneless skinless chicken thighs turn out crispy on the outside while retaining a juicy and moist interior.
The Best Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
Air fryer boneless skinless chicken thighs are a healthier take on classic fried chicken. While fried chicken is well-known worldwide, there is no doubt it’s a staple in Southern home cooking.
In this recipe, the chicken is generously coated with a blend of garlic, smoked paprika, oregano, salt, and pepper, filling each bite with smoky, savory, and spicy flavors.
The benefit of the air fryer is especially apparent with its ability to achieve a crispy exterior while keeping the inside juicy and moist. Serve this recipe as-is or alongside dishes like mac and cheese, coleslaw, potato salad, and cornbread.
Ingredients For Air Fryer Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
See the full list of ingredients in the recipe card below.
- Chicken thighs: I find boneless skinless chicken thighs work the best in the air fryer. For added flavor, you can use bone-in chicken thighs, but the cooking time will vary.
- Garlic powder: Adds a savory flavor with slightly toasted undertones. Don’t have any garlic on hand? Substitute it with an equal amount of onion powder.
- Smoked paprika: Imparts a mildly spicy, smoky, and sweet taste. You can substitute it with regular paprika for a milder flavor or sweet paprika.
- Oregano: Adds an earthy, herbal, slightly bitter note. If you don’t have oregano, replace it with dried thyme, basil, or Italian seasoning.
- Salt & pepper: Salt enhances the flavors of the other seasonings, while black pepper provides a mild kick. Adjust both to suit your taste.
How To Make Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs In The Air Fryer
Step 1: Prepare The Chicken
Pat the chicken thighs dry with a paper towel, which not only helps the seasoning blend adhere but also results in crispier thighs. Once they are nice and dry, transfer them to a bowl.
Step 2: Season The Chicken
Combine all the seasonings in a bowl, then transfer them into the bowl with the chicken thighs. Using your hands, coat the chicken with the spices. Make sure to work the seasoning blend into the chicken so it infuses better.
Step 3: Air Fry The Chicken
While not completely necessary, I recommend preheating your air fryer to 380F. It should only take about 3-5 minutes, and you can do this while preparing the chicken.
Place the chicken smooth side down into the air fryer basket. Spray each chicken thigh with olive oil spray or cooking spray, then air fry them for 12 minutes.
Step 4: Flip And Finish Cooking
Once the air fryer beeps, use kitchen tongs to flip the chicken over, and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes on the second side, or until the chicken thighs are cooked through. Just note that every air fryer is different, so cooking times may vary slightly.
What To Serve With Chicken Thighs
Serve your chicken thighs by themselves or with a side of creamy coleslaw, a slice of skillet cornbread, or a Caprese salad. For a heartier, more filling meal, try adding a side of mashed potatoes, oven-baked sweet potatoes, or smashed red potatoes.
- BBQ chicken: Brush the thighs with your favorite BBQ sauce during the last few minutes of cooking for a bold flavor.
- Lemon herb: Add lemon zest along with dried rosemary, thyme, and basil to the blend for a zesty finish.
- Spicy: Add cayenne pepper or hot sauce to the seasoning mix for a spicy kick.
- Teriyaki: Marinate the chicken before frying it, then baste it towards the end of cooking.
Tips For The Best Recipe
- Dry the chicken: Pat your chicken thighs until completely dry to ensure even cooking and crispiness. You can use a paper towel for easier cleanup.
- Adjust the seasonings: Depending on your taste preferences, add more or fewer spices to suit your needs.
- Use a thermometer: The best way to tell if your chicken is done is by using an instant-read thermometer. The chicken should reach an internal temperature of 165F.
- Preheat: Preheat the air fryer for 3-5 minutes to ensure an even cooking of the chicken.
- Increase the cooking time: If you’re using bone-in chicken thighs, you’ll need to increase the cooking time accordingly.
- Don’t overcrowd: Overcrowding the air fryer basket leads to uneven cooking. Cook the chicken in batches if necessary.
- Flip halfway: For the perfect brown and crisp, flip the chicken around the halfway point.
What To Do With Leftovers
If you have leftover chicken thighs, follow these simple storage and reheating tips:
- Fridge: Once fully cooled, transfer the leftover chicken to an airtight container and keep it in the refrigerator for up to 3-4 days.
- Freezer: Wrap the chicken individually in aluminum foil, then keep it in a freezer-safe bag or container. It will stay fresh for up to 3 months if stored this way.
- Reheating: Reheat leftovers in the air fryer at 350F for 4-5 minutes, or until they are warmed to your liking. Make sure to flip the thighs halfway for even heating.
If you enjoyed these air fryer boneless skinless chicken thighs, try a few more of my best protein-packed recipes like these:
- How to Cook a Spiral Ham
- Boneless Prime Rib Recipe
- Dutch Oven Pot Roast Recipe
- Oven Roasted Pork Tenderloin
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I use bone-in chicken thighs for this recipe?
Yes, you can use bone-in chicken thighs, but bone-in chicken thighs take longer to cook. Just remember to account for the increased time.
Do I need to use oil or nonstick spray?
Oil or nonstick spray helps prevent the thighs from sticking to the air fryer basket and promotes crispiness. I suggest using at least a little bit as it will make a difference in overall flavor.
Can I prepare this recipe in a conventional oven?
Yes, you can cook the chicken in a conventional oven at 400F for about 20-25 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked. Just note that the overall texture will be different compared to chicken cooked in the air fryer.
Air Fryer Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
- 5-6 boneless skinless chicken thighs patted dry
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Pat chicken thighs dry with a paper towel, then transfer to a bowl.
- Combine all the seasonings together in a bowl, then pour them into the bowl with the chicken and use your hands to coat the chicken with the spices.
- Preheat your air fryer to 380° (mine took 3 minutes to preheat). Then, place chicken smooth side down into the air fryer, spray with nonstick spray/olive oil spray, and cook at 380° for 12 minutes. NOTE: every air fryer is different, so cook times may vary.
- Once the air fryer beeps, use kitchen tongs to flip the chicken over, and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes on the second side, or until chicken is cooked through.