Air Fryer Magic: The Best Way to Cook Chicken Thighs

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Cooking chicken thighs in the air fryer is so easy.

The results are juicy with lovely crispy skin. Skin on or off, it’s entirely up to you.

Removing the skin? The air frying time will be the same.

Learn the basics of seasoning and cooking times for boneless and bone-in and achieve perfect results every time.

Air Fryer Raw Chicken Thighs

Chicken Marinades

Creating a chicken marinade is all about choosing the right combination of ingredients.

Common ingredients include olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, herbs like thyme or rosemary, and spices such as paprika or cayenne pepper.

Feel free to experiment with different ingredients to suit your taste or dietary preferences.

How Long Should You Marinade Chicken Thighs?

To get the most out of your marinated chicken, follow these simple steps:

The marinating time depends on the thickness and type of chicken.

The longer it soaks in the flavours, the better the taste.

For boneless, skinless chicken breasts or thighs, 30 minutes to 2 hours is sufficient.

For chicken pieces with the skin on and bones, such as drumsticks, thighs, or wings, it’s recommended to marinate them for at least 2 to 4 hours.

Best Chicken Marinades For Air Fryer

lemon and herb marinade
  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • Juice of 1 fresh lemon
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly chopped thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper
  1. In a bowl, combine olive oil, freshly squeezed lemon juice, minced garlic, chopped fresh rosemary, thyme, salt, and black pepper.
  2. Add chicken pieces to the marinade, ensuring they are fully coated.
  3. Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes before air frying.
spicy bbq marinade
  • 2 tablespoons of your favourite BBQ sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of hot sauce (adjust according to your taste)
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of soy sauce
  • A pinch of cayenne pepper (add more if you like it extra spicy)
  1. Mix BBQ sauce, hot sauce, honey, soy sauce, and a pinch of cayenne pepper in a bowl.
  2. Toss the chicken in the marinade until evenly coated.
  3. Allow the chicken to marinate for at least an hour before air frying.
honey mustard marinade
  • 2 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon of honey
  • 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • A dash of olive oil
  1. Combine Dijon mustard, honey, apple cider vinegar, garlic powder, and a dash of olive oil in a bowl.
  2. Add the chicken to the marinade and refrigerate for 1-2 hours before air frying.
asian inspired marinade
  • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce
  • 1 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of sesame oil
  1. In a bowl, mix soy sauce, hoisin sauce, grated ginger, minced garlic, and a touch of sesame oil.
  2. Marinate the chicken for a minimum of 2 hours before air frying.

Marinade FAQ’S

While it’s best to use thawed chicken for marinating, you can marinate frozen chicken by extending the marinating time to allow the flavours to penetrate as it thaws.

Yes, patting the chicken dry before air frying helps achieve a crispier texture and prevents excessive smoke.

No, it’s not safe to reuse marinades that have come into contact with raw chicken. Discard any remaining marinade.

Air fryers are versatile appliances suitable for marinating and cooking various types of meat, including pork, beef, and seafood.

Yes, you can prepare the marinade ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator for up to 3 days before using it to marinate the chicken.

Chicken Seasoning For The Air Fryer

When using any seasoning always spray your chicken with cooking oil before adding the seasoning. This will help the seasoning stick to the chicken.

All the seasonings below are mixed in a bowl and then added to the chicken.

If you have any leftover seasoning, store it in an airtight jar for future use.

Classic Salt and Pepper

salt and pepper

The classic combination of salt and pepper is a basic starting point for any air fryer chicken. It provides a simple yet tasty base before adding the seasoning of choice.

Paprika and Garlic Powder Seasoning

Paprika and Garlic Powder Seasoning

These two seasonings add flavour and colour to your chicken.

Paprika has a mild sweetness while garlic powder adds a savoury kick.

One Teaspoon: One teaspoon of paprika and garlic powder adds a touch of colour and flavour to your recipes.

It’s perfect for smaller dishes or when you want a subtle paprika taste.

One Tablespoon: If you’re looking to intensify the flavour and colour, one tablespoon of paprika and one tablespoon of garlic powder does the trick.

It’s suitable for larger recipes or when you want paprika and garlic to be more dominant.

Remember, paprika comes in different varieties, such as sweet, smoked, or hot, so feel free to choose the one that is best for your dish and taste.

Lemon And Herb Seasoning

lemon and herbs

Lemon herb seasoning adds a refreshing zing to your chicken.


  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 2 tablespoons dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest (dried or fresh)
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper

Cajun Seasoning

cajun seasoning

For a spicy option, Cajun seasoning gives heat and smokiness that goes well with crispy air-fried chicken.


  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (adjust for desired heat)
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)

For a milder version, reduce the amount of cayenne pepper.

For an extra kick, add a pinch of chilli flakes or a touch of smoked paprika for a deeper smoky flavour.

BBQ Seasoning

bbq seasoning

BBQ seasoning has a smoky and slightly sweet taste. It’s a popular seasoning that mimics the taste of barbecued meats.


  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (adjust for desired heat)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)

Italian Seasoning

italian seasoning

If you prefer a Mediterranean touch, Italian seasoning with its blend of basil, oregano, thyme, and rosemary is a good choice.


  • 2 tablespoons dried basil
  • 2 tablespoons dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon dried rosemary
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli flakes (adjust for desired heat)
  • 1 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)

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Air Fryer Chicken Thighs Time

Air fry boneless thighs for approximately 15-20 minutes. Bone in for 25-30 minutes.

Always check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken. When cooked the internal temperature will read 74C / 165F.

Note: Cooking times may vary depending on the make and model of your air fryer.

Preparing Your Air Fryer Chicken Thighs

Remove your chicken thighs from the refrigerator 30 minutes before air frying.

Wash the thighs and pat dry with kitchen paper.

The dryer the exterior the crispier the end result.

How To Air Fry Chicken Thighs

Preheat your air fryer to 200C/400F for 5 minutes.

cooked chicken thighs

Whether you have marinated or seasoned your thighs the cooking process will be the same.

Line your air fryer basket or use a suitable silicon container. This will make the clean-up process much easier and quicker.

Once the air fryer has preheated, place your chicken thighs into the basket skin side up.

Don’t overcrowd and be sure to leave space between each chicken thigh.

Depending on the size of your basket you may have to cook in batches.

Air fry at 200C/400F for approximately 25-30 minutes for bone-in thighs and 15-20 minutes for boneless thighs.

Turn halfway through the cooking time.

Check the thickest part of the thigh with a meat thermometer. Once the temperature has reached 74C / 165F the thighs are cooked.

Perfect Air Frying Every Time: The Cheat Sheet You Need

The Beginner’s Cheat Sheet is your secret weapon for mastering air frying, get the correct timings and temperatures for all foods. 

Take the guesswork out of air frying!

How To Air Fry Chicken Thighs From Frozen

Are you wondering if you can air fry some delicious chicken thighs straight from the freezer?

The answer is yes and it’s so easy, no waiting around for the thighs to defrost!

Air fry from frozen.

Preparing Your Frozen Chicken Thighs

First, pat them dry with kitchen paper to remove any excess moisture. This helps the seasonings stick better and prevents splattering in the air fryer.


You can use classic salt and pepper, or any seasoning you prefer. Don’t forget to spray with oil before adding the seasoning.

Preheating Your Air Fryer

Preheat your air fryer to 190C / 380F. Preheating is essential for even cooking and a good end result.

Air Frying Time

Place your seasoned frozen chicken thighs in the air fryer basket in a single layer.

Set the timer for about 20-25 minutes.

Cooking times can vary slightly depending on the size of the thighs and the power of your air fryer, so keep an eye on them after 20 minutes.

Halfway through the cooking time, turn the chicken thighs.

Checking for Doneness

Once the timer goes off, check the internal temperature of the chicken thighs using a meat thermometer.

The safe minimum temperature for cooked chicken is 74C /165F.

If they haven’t reached this temperature yet, pop them back into the air fryer for a few more minutes.

meat thermometer

Cooked chicken will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator if properly stored.

Always ensure the chicken has cooled and is not left longer than 2 hours at room temperature.

Place in a suitable airtight container or use foil to wrap the chicken. A zip lock bag can be used but expel any excess air from the bag.

Let the chicken cool but do not leave more than 2 hours at room temperature as bacteria can start to form.

Strip the chicken of skin and bones(if using bone-in thighs). Place in an airtight container or freezer bag (removing any air).

Store in the freezer for 3-4 months.

When using the chicken, always smell it and check the colour, if you have any doubts discard it.

Always defrost overnight in the refrigerator before using the chicken.

Reheating Chicken Thighs In The Air Fryer

Whether you have taken the chicken from the refrigerator or defrosted overnight reheating will be the same.

Preheat the air fryer for 5 minutes at 190C / 380F.

Place in the air fryer in an even layer and air fry for 5-6 minutes. Turn the chicken halfway through the cooking time.

Check the internal temperature reaches 74C /165F before serving.

Top Tip: Before reheating sprinkle the chicken with cold water to prevent it from drying out.

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