I’ve done all the testing for exactly How to Air Fry Chicken Thighs so they’re perfectly cooked with the crispiest skin so you don’t have to. These simple instructions are versatile and a great start for making the recipe your own.
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I will easily argue that bone in chicken thighs are the tastiest and juiciest cut of chicken. In fact I don’t even need to argue, I think it’s a fact. By air frying the thighs, you get the most unbelievably crispy skin and juiciest flesh. They really are quite something.
As with all of my air fryer chicken recipes, I’ve kept these instructions incredibly easy using a simple seasoning that can be easily adapted to any flavour or tastes.
By slashing the flesh and skin, flavours can really permeate into the meat rather than sitting on top of the skin and this is key to making flavour bomb chicken.
How to Serve
Just like the other cuts of chicken, thighs can be served hot or cold. Served cold they’re ideal for buffets, picnics and even lunchboxes.
Buying the chicken and cooking it on the bone makes overcooking it almost impossible (within reason!) as they are such a beautifully moist cut. Even if you plan to serve them off the bone, cooking them on the bone cannot disappoint.
This how to guide is specifically for whole, bone-in chicken thighs with the skin still on. The cooking instructions for boneless thighs/thigh fillets is going to be different as they cook much faster.
The thighs I buy are on the larger size – around 200g each. If you have smaller thighs, you will need to reduce the cooking time and keep checking for doneness.
To prevent waste and to stop the whole thing smoking uncontrollably, it is best to oil the meat that you’re cooking and not the air fryer.
Please don’t skimp on the oil. It helps to make the skin gloriously crispy. It also ensures that the seasoning distributes evenly and sticks to the thighs in all the right places. And of course it prevents anything from sticking.
I used standard vegetable oil but you can use any cooking oil which works with your seasoning flavours.
You can flavour the thighs very simply with just sea salt and a neutral oil or go heavy with a seasoning mix. You can add sauces or add the thighs to other already flavoured food after cooking.
I’ve left the choice of seasoning wide open for you. I used a 50/50 mix of garlic salt and paprika for these images. The only rule is that you must include salt.
If you’re cooking pre flavoured chicken thighs then you won’t need to add any extra seasoning (unless you want to).
This recipe is free from egg, dairy, gluten and nuts.
Please note that this recipe may contain other allergens not referred to above and any variations suggested have not been tested unless otherwise stated. For more information regarding any dietary information provided on this website, please refer to my Nutritional Disclaimer.
How to Air Fry Chicken Thighs From Frozen
Thighs cooked from fresh cook in 30 minutes at a temperature of 200c. It would make logical sense that cooking them from frozen would require a lower temperature for a longer time to cook them through.
But I’ve tested and tested and frozen chicken thighs cook in exactly the same amount of time as fresh. I can’t explain the science, I just know its true!
Leftovers – Storage & Reheating
Cooked air fryer chicken thighs can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. They can also be well wrapped and frozen.
To reheat in the air fryer, I use the rule of cooking for just less or around 1/3 of the cooking time at the same temperature. So the thighs will reheat in around 8-10 minutes at 200c/390f. Check that they are piping hot all the way through and cook for longer if needed.
You can also reheat in the microwave or in a pan on the stove.
Common Air Fryer Questions – A Brief Guide to Air Frying
- What exactly is an air fryer?
- What are the benefits of using an air fryer?
- Are all air fryers the same?
- Is an air fryer always better to use than an oven?
- Do air fryers need to be pre-heated?
- What is the best temperature to air fry at?
- Can food be cooked from frozen in an air fryer?
- Can I reheat food in an air fryer?
- Are air fryer liners a good idea?
The Air Fried Feast Community
Come on over to Facebook and join my community discussing all things air fryer. Get involved in sharing your experiences and trials, help out others and find out what wonderful things everyone is cooking in their air fryers!
What Exactly is an Air Fryer?
Very simply, an air fryer is a small convection (fan) oven. The benefit is that the hot air is circulated all around the food being cooked which speeds up the cooking time and cooks the food more evenly.
What are the Benefits of Using an Air Fryer?
Size, time and energy usage. Air fryers are ideal for cooking smaller quantities. Heating up a space that the food just fits into requires less energy and means that the heat source is much closer to the food. Combining these two things can speed up the cooking time.
Are all air fryers the same?
Nope! The term air fryer is now used very broadly. I consider there to be 4 main types:
Basket Air Fryers
These are what I would consider to be the most common, especially in the UK. A boxy type unit has a pull out drawer/basket. Food isn’t usually visible whilst cooking.
Some larger models have two drawers so different items can be cooked at different temperatures or for different times.
This is the type that you’ll see in the images in this recipe. I use a Corsori Lite (CAF-LI401S) with a 3.8 litre capacity. The square(ish) shaped basket is 21cm x 21cm and 24cm on the diagonal. It isn’t an overly expensive or fancy model.
Rotary Air Fryers
Round air fryers with a paddle in the centre that rotates to move the food. This is the type I’ve been using for years – the most common is a Tefal Actifry.
Rotary types are not usually good for recipes where the food is breaded, glazed, likely to break up or in a tray/container. They do however make the best chips and roasted veg.
My 2 in 1 version like the one I’ve linked does have a rotating tray for things that could be broken up by a paddle, but the height clearance with the lid isn’t deep enough to use it to cook some items like sausage rolls.
Multicookers with Air Fryer Functions
Some like Ninja 11 in 1 and some of the earlier versions with a few less functions, have an air fryer option. They mostly operate the same as a basket fryer but the basket drops in the top rather than sliding in like a drawer.
Some electric pressure cookers like Instant Pots can also air fry when used with a specific lid.
Is an air fryer always better to use than an oven?
As much as I do love air frying, the honest answer to this is no. And the more detailed answer is that it will always depend on what you’re cooking, how much of it you’re cooking and what type and size of air fryer you have.
Once you need to cook in more than 2 batches, it often makes more sense to use an oven. If you already have the oven on to cook other items, it may make more sense to throw one more item in rather than using an additional appliance.
I don’t think either method is necessarily better than the other. The important point to note is that there is absolutely no difference in the finished product.
Do Air Fryers Need to Be Pre-Heated?
The answer to this is rather annoying – it depends. It depends entirely on your model and type of air fryer. The best advice I can offer is to check your manual and follow their guidance. My Cosori model has a preheat function. I press a button and it heats at 205c for 4 minutes.
It’s also worth noting that regardless of whether you are supposed to pre-heat or not, if you are cooking in batches, it is quite likely that anything after the first batch will cook a little quicker because of the retained heat. It is best to check on them before the cooking time is completed.
What is the best temperature to Air Fry at?
It will always depend on what you are cooking and from what state. All of my air fryer recipes don’t use temperatures above 200c because many of the most common fryers in the UK don’t go above this. Mine goes to 230c and I use this temperature a lot but it is no help for me to share recipes which most people can’t use.
Can Food Be Cooked From Frozen In An Air Fryer?
Absolutely! To cook from frozen you usually will need to reduce the cooking temperature and increase the time to make sure your food is cooked right through to the middle.
It is best to check my individual recipes for cooking from frozen advice as some items are a little different.
Can I Reheat Food In An Air Fryer?
Yes. As a general rule I reheat food for roughly 1/3 of the original cooking time at the same temperature. Or at 10 degrees lower for half the time for larger items.
Are Air Fryer Liners a Good Idea?
Unless otherwise stated, I do not use liners when air frying. Basket and rotary type air fryers are designed to be used without liners. Mini oven types will generally require some kind of tray like with a regular large oven although some come with crisper racks to use.
There are many air fryer liners available including quite thick silicone ones. These will affect the cooking times and possibly temperatures of your cooking/baking. I also don’t like how cooking juices are prevented from dripping through the basket rack. This can stop food from crisping all the way around.
If you do prefer to use them, once you have got a feel for how they affect your cooking and baking, you may need to make adjustments to the recipe accordingly.
More Air Fryer Recipes
All my recipes with instructions for how to cook or bake them in the air fryer can be found in my Air Fryer Recipe Index.
Don’t forget to let me know in the comments if you try making this recipe – I want to know what you think and if you made any substitutions, how did it turn out?
Still Have Questions?
Simple! Just contact me and I will do my best to help as quickly as I am able. Head over to my Contact Me page, any of my social media channels or post a comment at the bottom of this page and I’ll see what I can do.
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How to Air Fry Chicken Thighs (On The Bone)
- 4 Chicken Thighs – Bone In - roughly 200g each
- 2 tsp Oil - see notes
- 1 tsp Seasoning - see notes
- If your air fryer requires pre-heating, Start this setting now.
- Thoroughly dry 4 Chicken Thighs.
- Use a sharp knife to cut deep slashes in the fleshy top of each thigh – roughly 3 slashes in each, 2 on each side.
- Drizzle over 2 tsp Oil and 1 tsp Seasoning and toss to thoroughly coat the chicken.
- Place the chicken thighs into the air fryer basket. Leave a little space between each drumstick so the air can circulate.
- Cook for 30 minutes at 200c/390f.
- If you want to start them cooking skin side down then turn them after 10 minutes, you can do – I don't need to using the rack in my air fryer.
- Check the chicken is cooked through, you can see this by making a cut and checking that the meat is white in the centre of the thickest part. If there is any pink showing, Continue cooking for 2 minutes at a time.
To Air Fry From Frozen
- Cook for 30 minutes at 200c/390f.
- Check that the chicken is cooked through in exactly the same way as if you are cooking from fresh.
- Oil – Choose your oil to match your flavouring. For example use garlic, salt and rosemary with olive oil or for a more neutral flavour, sea salt and black pepper with vegetable oil.
- Seasoning – Choose any seasoning mix, spices or dried/fresh herbs. Make sure that salt is included in the mix. You can also add a little citrus juice.
- I used vegetable oil with a 50/50 mix of garlic salt and paprika.
- The air fryer version of this recipe is tested in a Corsori Lite (CAF-LI401S) with a 3.8 litre capacity. The square(ish) shaped basket is 21cm x 21cm and 24cm on the diagonal.
- Not all models advise preheating is required. Please follow the recommended instructions for your model. Mine has a specific preheat setting which is 4 minutes at 205c.
- For this recipe, I can easily fit 4 thighs in the basket at a time. This gives plenty of room to allow air to circulate – I could probably squeeze in one or two more if I really needed and folded them under themselves a little more.
- As all air fryer models are a little different, you may find that you can fit more or less in at a time. Some models include stacking shelves which will increase capacity.
- Required cooking times and temperatures can also vary between models and brands. If you know that your air fryer runs a little hotter than most recipes suggest, use a lower temperature. And vice versa. Equally if you find that food cooks more quickly in your machine than instructions usually state, reduce the cooking time (or check it earlier) and vice versa.