How Long To Cook Chicken Thighs In Air Fryer (Perfectly Tender Results)

Originally posted on 26 March 2024 @ 10:57

How Long To Cook Chicken Thighs In Air Fryer

Chicken thighs are a widely cherished choice for an easy dinner, beloved for their robust flavor, affordability, and how they turn out moist and tender when cooked. However, determining the precise cooking time for chicken thighs in an air fryer can be a bit of a challenge.

If they’re undercooked, you’re left with chicken that’s raw and rubbery. Conversely, overcooking them causes the chicken to dry out, stripping away its natural succulence. 

The good news is that cooking chicken thighs in the air fryer is simple once you know the timing. In this article, I’ll share exactly how long you need to cook bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs in the air fryer to get ideal results every time.

Why Cooking Chicken Thighs in an Air Fryer is a Game Changer

Before jumping into cook times, let’s look at why air frying is an excellent way to cook chicken thighs:

Crispy, Crunchy Skin: The circulating hot air crisps up the skin perfectly. Skin comes out shatteringly crispy without needing to deep fry.

Saves Time:  Air frying cooks thighs much faster than roasting in the oven. You can have a complete meal in 30 minutes.

Juicy Meat:  Quick cook time locks in moisture. Thighs come out tender and flavorful. 

Even Cooking:  No cold spots like in the oven. Air circulates all around the chicken for consistent results.

Simple Cleanup: With little mess and no oil to deal with, cleanup is a breeze.

So if you want a quick and easy way to make chicken thighs with that sought-after crispy skin, the air fryer is the way to go. Now let’s get into exactly how long you need to cook them.

Air Fryer Thigh Cook Times for Bone-In, Skin-On Chicken

For best results, opt for bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs when air frying. The bone keeps the meat extra moist and juicy, while the skin gets perfectly crispy and delicious. 

Here are the general cook times:

At 400°F, cook for 18-22 minutes:

This 400°F temperature gives you the best crispiness on the outside while thoroughly cooking the inside. Cook times vary based on the size of the thighs, with larger thighs taking closer to 22 minutes.

Flip halfway 

Be sure to flip the chicken thighs halfway through cooking to ensure even browning and cooking on both sides.

Check internal temperature

Chicken thighs are fully cooked once they reach an internal temperature of 165-175°F. Use a meat thermometer to check.

Let rest for 5 minutes 

Always let chicken thighs rest for 5 minutes off the heat before serving. This helps lock in the juices for tender, mouthwatering meat.

So for ideal bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, cook at 400°F for 18-22 minutes, flipping halfway, until 165-175°F internal temperature.

Tips for the Best Air Fried Chicken Thighs

Use these tips for ensuring your air-fried chicken thighs come out perfect every time:

Pat the skin dry before cooking. This helps the skin get ultra-crispy in the air fryer. Let sit uncovered in the fridge for 30 mins – 1 hour before cooking.

Use a light coat of oil. Brush both sides with a thin layer of olive or avocado oil to promote browning.

Apply a rub. Coat thighs in spices, herbs, or dry rub before air frying for extra flavor.

Work in batches. Only air fry 2-4 chicken thighs at a time, being careful not to overcrowd the basket. 

Use a meat thermometer. This takes the guesswork out of doneness. Chicken is safe to eat once it reaches 165°F internal temp.

Allow a rest before serving. Letting chicken thighs sit for 5+ minutes after cooking allows juices to reabsorb for the juiciest meat.

How Long to Cook Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs

For boneless, skinless chicken thighs, the cooking time in the air fryer will be a little shorter. Here is what you need to know:

  • Pat boneless thighs dry before seasoning or coating in a marinade.
  • Cook at 400°F for 14-18 minutes, flipping over halfway through.
  •  Check the internal temperature, cooking until it reaches 165°F. 
  •  Let rest 5 minutes off the heat before serving.

Since there is no bone or skin, boneless thighs will cook faster. Monitor closely and adjust time as needed based on thickness.

If you’re new to making air fryer chicken thighs, here are answers to some common questions:

Get Creative with Air Fried Chicken Thighs

Beyond the basic recipe, air-fried chicken thighs are great for:

  • Buffalo chicken: Toss cooked thighs in buffalo sauce for easy air fryer “wings”
  • Chicken parm: Top air-fried thighs with marinara and mozzarella for chicken parm
  • BBQ chicken: Use bbq sauce and spices for saucy, finger-licking air fryer chicken
  • Chicken tacos: Dice up thighs and enjoy in tacos, burritos, and other Mexican dishes
    Chicken salad: Dice cooked chicken and add to mayo, celery, and seasonings for chicken salad
  • Nachos: Top nachos with shredded chicken thighs for a hearty appetizer
  • Sandwiches: Sliced chicken thighs are delicious on sandwiches, subs, and pitas

With the right seasonings and sauces, you can customize air-fried chicken thigh recipes to match any flavor you love.


Should I brine the chicken thighs first?

Brining helps keep chicken super moist and seasoned. But for quick cooking, it isn’t required. If you have time, bringing 1 hour does add flavor.

What temperature is best for air frying?

400°F gives the best balance of crispy skin and thoroughly cooked meat when air frying chicken thighs.

Can I air fry frozen chicken thighs?

Yes, add a few extra minutes to the cooking time if starting with frozen chicken. And pat off any ice crystals before cooking.

How do I get the skin extra crispy? 

Be sure to pat the skin dry before cooking. Brush with a thin layer of oil. And give thighs a light coat of seasoning like salt or baking powder.

What oil should I use to coat the thighs?

Any high-heat oil like avocado, grapeseed, olive, or canola oil works well for air frying.


Cooking chicken thighs in the air fryer makes it easy to get a quick, healthy dinner on the table any night of the week. With crispy skin, tender meat, and no oil needed, it’s a much healthier way of preparing this flavorful cut of chicken. 

Just remember to cook bone-in, skin-on thighs for 18-22 minutes at 400°F, flipping halfway. Use a meat thermometer to confirm doneness and allow the chicken to rest before serving.

Once you get the basic timing down, you’ll be able to perfectly air fry chicken thighs again and again. Enjoy the convenience of this easy chicken dinner!

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