This air fryer boneless chicken thighs recipe is a quick and easy way to make crispy and flavorful chicken thighs without the need for oil or deep frying. The chicken comes out tender and juicy on the inside and crispy on the outside, making it a delicious and healthy alternative to traditional fried chicken.
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 dishes has never been easier until now.
Air Fryer Chicken Thighs Recipe
We've been making this chicken recipe almost every week with no leftovers! 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 and packed with so much flavor.
Here's what you need to make this air fryer fried chicken thighs:
- Boneless, skin-on 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 compared to chicken breasts.
- 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!
- Vegetable Oil - Using oil that has a high smoke point is best for air-frying. This also includes canola oil, avocado oil, peanut oil, corn oil, and light olive oil.
See the recipe card for quantities.
How to Make It
Here's how to make the best air-fried boneless skinless chicken thighs:
Marinate the chicken
Start off by marinating the boneless chicken thighs in oyster sauce and seasonings. A minimum of 15 mins to 30 minutes should be enough. If you need to make it ahead, place it in a re-sealable bag or airtight container. Refrigerate and marinate overnight.
Coat in Cornstarch
The secret to a crispy air-fryer chicken is cornstarch. After marinating, 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.
Tip: 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, cook chicken thighs 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.
The chicken is cooked when the internal temperature reaches 165°F (74°C) in your meat thermometer.
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 the 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.
- Use the air fryer grill basket which will easily help circulate the heat inside the air fryer.
- Don't overcook the chicken as it will become tough and dry.
What to Serve with Crispy Chicken Thighs
There are many different side dishes that would pair well with these air fryer crispy chicken thighs. Here are a few ideas:
- Roasted vegetables such as broccoli, carrots, or brussels sprouts.
- Mashed potatoes or sweet potatoes.
- Steamed rice or rice pilaf.
- Creamy coleslaw or green salad.
- Roasted or grilled corn on the cob.
- Baked beans or macaroni and cheese.
- Garlic bread or dinner rolls.
- Grilled or sautéed mushrooms.
- Grilled or roasted asparagus.
- Steamed or roasted cauliflower.
- Filipino favorites - sweet spaghetti, pancit palabok.
These side dishes provide a variety of flavors, textures, and nutrients that would complement the crispy and flavorful chicken thighs.
Love your crispy chicken with gravy?
Try my homemade gravy recipe made without drippings.
Want a different flavor on your chicken thighs? Use different spices, like:
- Cayenne Pepper - To make it spicy. Start with ¼ teaspoon and add go from there.
- Smoked paprika
- Old bay seasoning
- Other herbs - Italian seasoning can also be used to give the chicken a different flavor.
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 Chicken Thighs Boneless (Crispy!)
- 1.5 pounds boneless chicken thighs (skin-on)
- 2 teaspoon oyster sauce
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon salt (note that oyster sauce already has salt)
- ground black pepper (to taste)
- ½ cup cornstarch (add more if needed)
- 1 tablespoon oil for coating
- 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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