This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure policy.

Crispy-skinned, spectacularly juicy, and garlic paprika-rubbed Air Fryer Chicken Thighs are a no-effort recipe that earns unanimous praise and augments kitchen swagger. Quicker than the regular oven with even better results, your air fryer will quickly become your favorite way to cook chicken thighs!

crispy, juicy air fryer chicken fries in the air fryer basket

5-Star Air Fryer Chicken Thighs

Of the dozens of air fryer recipes I’ve tested, these air fryer chicken thighs earned the highest honor awarded in our household: my husband requested them for dinner every week.

In fact, he called them the best chicken I’ve ever made!

Between all the ways I cook chicken—Baked Chicken Thighs, Pan-Fried Chicken Breast, and all of these healthy chicken recipes—that’s quite a statement.

I know he means it too, because, while he gets jazzed about other proteins like Air Fryer Salmon or Air Fryer Pork Chops, chicken rarely causes a heart flutter.

(Unless it’s Air Fryer Chicken Wings, but let’s be real—that’s more about the Buffalo sauce.)

Four air fryer chicken thighs on a plate with lemon slices

About This Air Fryer Chicken Thighs Recipe

These juicy chicken thighs have everything going for them.

  • The meat is juicier than you ever thought chicken could be.
  • The seasoning tastes lightly smoky and complex, an ideal profile for chicken.
  • The skin is so shatteringly crispy, even those who usually don’t eat chicken skin (me), will find themselves nibbling crunchy pieces.

But that’s not the end of the story.

From the cook’s perspective (that’s me and you), this fast and easy dinner is a clear winner.

  • Bone-in chicken thighs cook in 16 to 20 minutes in the air fryer at 400 degrees F.
  • You don’t need to marinade the chicken thighs before air frying.
  • The rub is made from common spices you likely already have in your pantry, like paprika and garlic powder.
The best air fryer chicken thighs on a plate

Air Frying Bone-In vs. Boneless Chicken Thighs

For this recipe, you can use bone-in or boneless chicken thighs (I’ve included times for both), but I highly recommend using bone-in, skin-on chicken for this recipe.

  • As with this Baked Bone-In Chicken Breast, Braised Chicken Thighs, and Air Fryer Whole Chicken, the skin locks in moisture, so you don’t need to spend time brining the meat for excellent results, the way you would with boneless Air Fryer Chicken Breast.
  • The bone flavors the meat from within and makes it harder to overcook the chicken.
  • Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are a bargain compared to boneless.
  • Chicken thighs are healthy! They don’t deserve the bad rap they sometimes get. Prepared the right way (like in the air fryer), they are an excellent, lean source of protein and contain important nutrients like zinc and iron.

How to Make Crispy Chicken Thighs in the Air Fryer

The Directions

Spices in a bowl
  1. Stir the spice mixture together in a bowl.
Raw meat covered in spices in a bowl
  1. Pat dry the thighs with paper towel, then add them to the bowl. Coat the chicken with oil and the spices.
Raw chicken thighs in an air fryer
  1. Place chicken thighs skin side down in the air fryer basket.
  2. Air fry chicken thighs for 16 to 22 minutes at 400 degrees F, flip halfway through. Use a meat thermometer to check for doneness. Let rest for 5 minutes. ENJOY! Top with fresh parsley, cilantro, or thyme.
An air fryer with chicken thighs inside

The Most Important Tool for Cooking Meat

While using bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs gives you better protection from dry meat than if you were to use boneless skinless chicken thighs, you can still overcook chicken thighs. For best results use an instant read thermometer.

More Ways to Season Air Fryer Chicken Thighs Recipe

  • Garlic Paprika Air Fryer Chicken Thighs. My favorite everyday chicken thigh rub and what you’ll find below.
  • Parmesan Air Fryer Chicken Thighs. Add 2 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese to your spice mixture. (I’ll have this with Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad, please.)
  • Spicy Air Fryer Chicken Thighs. Add 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper to the spice mixture.
  • Brown Sugar Air Fryer Chicken Thighs. Add 2 teaspoons of brown sugar to the spice mixture. (For a BBQ-like finish, serve the thighs with my scrumptious Barbecue Sauce or any bbq sauce.)
  • Italian Air Fryer Chicken Thighs. Add 2 teaspoons of Italian seasoning to the spice mixture.
  • Curry Air Fryer Chicken Thighs. Add 2 teaspoons curry powder to the spice mixture. (This would be delish with Turmeric Rice.)
  • Garlic Butter Air Fryer Chicken Thighs. Omit the smoked paprika, add an extra teaspoon of garlic powder, and swap the olive oil for melted butter. (Perfect for pairing with Garlic Pasta.)
  • Lemon Air Fryer Chicken Thighs. Add zest of 1 lemon to the spice mixture. (Try this with Pasta al Limone or Lemon Rice. YUM!)
  • Marinaded Chicken Thighs. This recipe includes a great chicken rub; you can also try my favorite Chicken Marinade or Chicken Thigh Marinade, or use this Dry Turkey Brine (it works for chicken too!). Be sure to pat the chicken dry prior to cooking.

Storage Tips

  • To Store. Refrigerate chicken in an airtight container for up to 4 days. 
  • To Reheat. Gently rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350 degrees F or in the air fryer.
  • To Freeze. Freeze thighs in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Meal Prep Tip

Up to 1 day in advance, coat the chicken thighs in the oil and spice mixture. Cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to cook.

Easy air fryer chicken thighs on a plate

What to Serve with Air Fryer Chicken Thighs

crispy, juicy air fryer chicken thighs on a plate

Air Fryer Chicken Thighs Video

YouTube video

Air Fryer Chicken Thighs

4.80 from 224 votes
Super juicy air fryer chicken thighs with shatteringly crispy skin and a simple, delicious paprika garlic spice rub. Cooks in 20 minutes!

Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 20 minutes
Total: 30 minutes

Servings: 4 servings

Ingredients
  


Instructions
 

  • In a large bowl, combine the paprika, smoked paprika, salt, garlic powder, and black pepper.
  • Pat the chicken thighs very dry on both sides, then add to the bowl. Drizzle with the oil, then toss to coat in the spice mixture.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 400°F. Add the chicken thighs in a single layer, skin-side down (make sure they are not touching; if they are, cook the chicken in batches).
  • Air fry the chicken thighs for 16 to 22 minutes, flipping halfway through, until an instant read thermometer inserted at the thickest part of a thigh (but not touching bone) reaches 155°F. Set aside, cover, and let rest for 5 minutes (chicken is considered by the FDA cooked at 165°F, but the temperature will continue to rise as it rests; air fryer models differ in cooking time, so check early to be safe). Serve hot, with lemon wedges (squeeze them over the top of your serving) and sprinkled with fresh herbs.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

  • FOR BONELESS THIGHS: Coat with the spice mixture as directed. Preheat the air fryer to 380°F, then add the chicken smooth-side down. Cook for 6 to 8 minutes, flipping halfway through, until the chicken reaches 155°F on an instant read thermometer. Let rest for 5 to 10 minutes (the temperature will continue to rise), then enjoy warm.
  • TO STORE: Refrigerate chicken in an airtight storage container for up to 4 days. 
  • TO REHEAT: Gently rewarm leftovers in a baking dish in the oven at 350°F or in the microwave. 
  • TO FREEZE: Freeze thighs in an airtight, freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating. 

Nutrition

Serving: 1(of 4)Calories: 389kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 24gFat: 31gSaturated Fat: 7gPolyunsaturated Fat: 6gMonounsaturated Fat: 15gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 142mgPotassium: 369mgFiber: 1gSugar: 1gVitamin A: 1407IUVitamin C: 1mgCalcium: 20mgIron: 2mg

Join today and start saving your favorite recipes

Create an account to easily save your favorite recipes and access FREE meal plans.

Sign Me Up

More Chicken Thigh Recipes

Did you try this recipe?

I want to see!

Follow @wellplated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

Did you try this recipe?

I want to see!

Follow @wellplated on Instagram, snap a photo, and tag it #wellplated. I love to know what you are making!

You May Also Like

Free Email Series
Sign Up for FREE Weekly Meal Plans
Each includes a grocery list, budget, and 5 healthy dinners, helping you save time, save money, and live better!
Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

Erin Clarke

Hi, I'm Erin Clarke, and I'm fearlessly dedicated to making healthy food that's affordable, easy-to-make, and best of all DELISH. I'm the author and recipe developer here at wellplated.com and of The Well Plated Cookbook. I adore both sweets and veggies, and I am on a mission to save you time and dishes. WELCOME!

Learn more about Erin

Leave a Comment

Did you make this recipe?

Don't forget to leave a review!

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe Rating




178 Comments

Leave a comment

  1. I just made this recipe with chicken thighs. It tastes amazing!
    I would next time reduce the salt.
    I will definitely be making again.
    I’m also sharing with my daughter.4 stars

    1. Great to hear, Diane! Just a little tip, make sure to use kosher salt if you didn’t, any other salt will give it a saltier flavor than intended.

    1. Glad you enjoyed it, Sue! It sounds like you would need to spray your pan if it sticks. I do not have this problem, but all pans are different.

  2. Such a great recipe! Easy and delicious! I usually use boneless chicken thighs and cook them for 13min total. I’ve already made several times and it’s a hit each time!5 stars

  3. This was a winner as is all your recipes. Our air firer only took 10 minutes to get to 165. It was a Ninja but like ovens, no two are the same5 stars

  4. This was really pretty easy and so good! What flavor. Family actually told me to ‘put a heart’ on this recipe. Yummmmm!5 stars

  5. We have made many of the recipes from here in the past (one of my go to’s ;) ) but the first time I’ve posted. All have been wonderful, but when even I …someone who does not care for chicken skin (made recipe as is + 1/4 tsp chipotle chili pwd)… ate all of it i felt I had to post. THANK YOU! We are now trying to figure out how to not make it every night LOL!5 stars

Load More Comments