Crispy boneless chicken thighs cooked in an air fryer. Tender, juicy, flavorful, and air-fried with very little oil. If you like your chicken with crispy skin without deep frying then this recipe is for you.
After resisting the air fryer bandwagon for so many months, I finally gave in! Happy to report that it did not disappoint. In fact, I regret not getting it much earlier. Cooking our favorite fried foods has never been easier until now.
Why do my kids and I love this recipe
We've been making these crispy chicken thighs almost every week. The kids even named it "CRISPY" 🙂
We love it so much because:
- Crispy on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside! It actually tastes like it's been deep-fried.
- It's so easy to make–less fuss and less mess compared to deep frying. No oil splatters to clean up after and best of all no lingering smell of fried foods in the house.
- Made with simple ingredients yet packed with so much flavor.
Here's what you need to make this air fryer fried chicken thighs:
- Boneless chicken thighs - are the best part of the chicken for air frying. It's quick to cook and yields the most tender and juiciest fried chicken.
- Oyster Sauce - my favorite Asian seasoning which makes the chicken so flavorful!
- Seasoning - garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper. See variations for other options.
- Cornstarch - the secret to giving the chicken that deep-fried texture without deep-frying!
- Oil - you don't need much, promise. This will prevent patches of flour in the chicken.
See the recipe card for quantities.
How to make it
Here's how to make the best air-fried chicken thighs:
Start off by marinating the chicken thighs in oyster sauce and seasonings. A minimum of 30mins to 1 hour should be enough. If you need to make it ahead, place it in a re-sealable bag or air-tight container and marinate overnight.
Dredge both sides of the chicken with cornstarch. Press with your hands to coat it all properly. You need a thin layer so remember to shake off the excess flour. Place in a tray and let it sit for 1 to 2 minutes.
To prevent floury patches, brush with oil on both sides. Note: I don't recommend using conventional cooking spray/ chemical-based cooking spray as it may break down the coating.
Finally, air fry at 200c/400f until brown and crispy. Start with the skin side up which should take about 15 minutes or 20 minutes if you're using an oven-type air-fryer. Flip to the other side and cook for another 10 minutes until crispy.
What to Serve with Crispy Chicken Thighs
These crispy chicken thighs are so good to serve with mashed potato, coleslaw, and cornbread.
Love it with gravy? Try my homemade gravy recipe.
- Make it spicy - add cayenne pepper. Start with ¼ teaspoon and add go from there.
- Make it smoky - add smoked paprika or old bay seasoning.
- Other herbs - Italian seasoning can also be used to give the chicken a different flavor.
Here are my tips on how to successfully make crispy boneless chicken thighs in an air fryer:
- Chicken should be completely thawed before cooking. Do not use frozen chicken or even half-frozen chicken.
- Pat dry chicken with a paper towel to remove extra moisture. This will help easily crisp up the skin and exterior of the meat.
- Do not overcrowd the basket. Place the chicken pieces in a single layer without overlapping. Cook in batches if necessary.
Tips to safely use an air fryer
- Line the air fryer basket with foil or parchment paper. This will prevent the food from sticking to the basket and will make cleaning and washing up a breeze.
- Do not place parchment paper in the air-fryer while pre-heating or without any food on top. A loose paper can fly and stick to the heat source and burn.
- Never leave an operating air-fryer unattended as food can easily burn due to high temperatures. What I usually do is use my phone's timer to remind me to flip the chicken or to check on it every now and then.
- Most importantly, read your air fryer manual for more safety tips.
Hungry for more? Try these...
Air Fryer Crispy and Juicy Chicken Thighs
- Pat dry chicken with a paper towel. Massage oyster sauce then season both sides with garlic powder, onion powder and salt, and pepper on both sides. Marinate for 10 mins.
- Brush the air-fryer basket with oil. Preheat to 200c/ 400f for 5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, dredge each chicken with cornstarch. Coat well then shake off excess flour. Brush or spray chicken with coating on all sides. This will prevent floury skin.
- Place the chicken in the basket in a single layer without overlapping, SKIN SIDE UP. You may need to work in batches if needed. Do not overcrowd.
- Air fry for 18 minutes until skin is brown and crispy. Flip to the other side and air fry for 7 minutes or until crispy and cooked through. Note that cooking times may vary depending on the size of your air fryer.
- Transfer to a plate. Serve with gravy and enjoy!
Recipe Notes and Tips:
- Other seasonings you can add: paprika powder, cayenne pepper (start with ¼ tsp), old bay seasoning, or Italian seasoning.
- Cooking time varies depending on the size of your air fryer. In this recipe, I use a 25L oven air-fryer.
- Cornstarch is also known as cornflour in the U.K. Please do not confuse it with cornflour in the U.S which is made with maize kernels.
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