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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.

Crispy air fryer chicken thigh on a plate

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

On the diner’s end, 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 spend time marinating 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

How to Make Crispy Chicken Thighs in the Air Fryer

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 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.

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.

The Ingredients

  • Chicken Thighs. Bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs are ideal for the air fryer. The meat stays tender and juicy during cooking, and the skin becomes crackly and crispy.
  • Paprika + Smoked Paprika. The combination of paprika and smoked paprika provides the perfect balance of sweetness and smokiness.
  • Garlic Powder. For a touch of addictive garlicky flavor.
  • Salt + Pepper. Classic, can’t-miss flavor additions.
  • Olive Oil. Helps the spice mixture adhere to the chicken thighs and the skin to crisp. No cooking spray needed.

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.

A Note on Chicken Temperature

Per the FDA, chicken thighs should be cooked to an internal temperature of 165 degrees F on an instant read thermometer inserted at the thickest part of the thigh, not touching the bone.

That said, the chicken’s temperature will continue to rise as it rests. Resting meat is necessary for juicy results.

I prefer to pull my chicken thighs out of the air fryer at 155 to 160 degrees F and let them rest for 5 to 10 minutes, allowing the carryover cooking to finish the job. I have never had an issue with undercooked chicken.

An air fryer with chicken thighs inside

More Ways to Season Air Fryer Chicken Thighs Recipe

  • 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!)

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Can You Air Fry Chicken Thighs that are Frozen?

Yes! Unlike Crockpot Shredded Chicken, it is OK to put frozen chicken in an air fryer. I would only suggest this with boneless skinless thighs, as the bone-in would be difficult to cook through. Air fry frozen chicken thighs at 360 degrees F for 12 minutes, flipping halfway through, then check for doneness.

What Can I Do with Leftover Chicken Thighs?

Leftover air fryer chicken thighs can be shredded or diced to make sandwiches (like this Shredded Chicken Sandwich), quesadillas, or additions to pastas (Sun Dried Tomato Pasta) or salads (Arugula Salad).

Can I Use Boneless Chicken Thighs?

While I love using bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs for this recipe, you can use boneless thighs instead. See the recipe notes for tips.

Should I Marinade Chicken Thighs?

Using a rub or marinade is an excellent way to flavor chicken. For a rub, use the seasoning mixture below, or you can try my favorite Chicken Marinade or Chicken Thigh Marinade.

Air Fryer Chicken Thighs Video

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YouTube video

Air Fryer Chicken Thighs

4.68 from 73 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



  • 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.


YouTube video


  • 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. 


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

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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 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!

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  1. Made this for dinner last night. Perfect!! The spice blend was perfect and they were so full of flavor. Thanks for sharing!!5 stars

  2. Delicious!!! I am going to use this recipe for the four large quartered chicken legs I have. I hope the legs turn out as delicious as the thighs. I am also keeping the seasoning mixture in a jar to have on hand at all times. Great recipe!!! Thank you.5 stars

    1. Hi Ed209! So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Thank you for this kind review! Hope the quartered chicken legs turned out for you!

  3. I was given an air fryer for Christmas and am still in the learning stage. I love to cook, but it is just two of us at home now and I find this device is perfect for small meals. LOVE this recipe. I have a source for really good free range chicken and buy small package of 4 thighs at a time. I used this recipe but I will admit I did add a small dash of chipotle chili powder. It amped up the smoky flavor and gave a hint of heat. My husband loved it, I loved it. I promise this will be in our regular rotation! I usually pan roast thighs in my cast iron and could not imagine anything being better—this was!! Thanks.5 stars

  4. We made these last night and found them very tasty, however I did not have smoked paprika. They might have been been to spicy if I had had some. Otherwise they were juicy and crispy. I believe coating them with the olive oil was the secret to the crispness.5 stars

  5. OMG! This chicken was THE best! Fried chicken is my favorite food of all time. I don’t like excessive breading or crunchiness that hurts the roof of your mouth. I have always made fried chicken fried in oil. This chicken was as good or better than my traditional fried chicken.
    The only thing I added was 2 TBSP of flour into the spice mixture. The skin was perfectly crisp and the meat was moist and juicy. I have denied myself home cooked fried chicken because of the frying in oil. Not anymore. This will be my “go to” fried chicken from now on!!5 stars

  6. I made these last night and paired them with Instant Pot mushroom risotto and steamed broccoli. They were so juicy and delicious! I will reheat two thighs in the air fryer tonight and pair them with the Butternut squash Mac and cheese. I’m loving this week’s meal plan!5 stars

  7. I don’t know what I did wrong but it’s been 30 minutes and they are just hitting 150 and the skin is lightly crisp. It’s a new air fryer, I wonder if that’s the problem?

    I’m sure it will taste good if it ever gets done.

    1. I’m sorry to hear you are having trouble with the recipe Cyndi. It’s hard for me to know what went wrong without being in the kitchen with you. The size of your chicken could cause it to take longer to cook. It could be that your air fryer requires you to cook recipes longer but not sure.

  8. I have a front door air fryer and it smoked bad and filled my kitchen full. Also I had no smoked paprika so I used liquid smoke. Make sure you put water in the bottom tray of your air fryer to eliminate smoke.

    1. Oh no Lisa! This recipe doesn’t call for liquid smoke and I would never of recommend that as a substitute for smoked paprika. Smoked paprika is a powder and can’t be substituted with a liquid!!

    1. Hi Adina! I’ve only tested this recipe in my air fryer so I don’t have specific instructions on how to do it in the oven in a large batch. You should be able to use the same instructions as far as temp and time. If you decide to experiment, let me know how it goes!

  9. We’re an Indian and Arab combo in my family and used to eating spicy food, so I was worried this spice rub would be a bit bland but no! It’s so simple but results in a super delicious tender chicken meal. I do add 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper and reduce the smoked paprika by a 1/2 tsp. Also I use 1 tbsp of olive oil and 1 of vegetable oil.5 stars

  10. I did the boneless thighs which came out great. My only complaint is it was too salty. Next time I will cut the salt in half or less than.4 stars

  11. Absolutely fantastic!! Cooked them tonight according to the recipe, with the exception of 1/2 the kosher salt, my taste is very sensitive to salt, these were perfect! My husband praised them and my mother in law who never, I mean NEVER eats the skin, ate it up! Skin was perfectly crispy and seasoned just right! Great recipe, thanks for sharing!5 stars

  12. Thank you for this recipe — the rub is so easy and delicious! It will be my go-to from now on. I like the addition of lemon, and used a tsp of True Lemon instead of zest. I’m going to try the rub on salmon and pork chops.

    I saw comments about the thighs reaching 180° or higher. I use a method from America’s Test Kitchen that seems counter-intuitive but really works. Cook the thighs at 350° until they reach an internal temp of 190-195°. The connective tissue melts into gelatin and makes the thighs super juicy and tender. (The 350° temp gives the tissue more time to break down.) I cooked 2 thighs for 22 min in a preheated air fryer. Perfectly juicy and crispy! Next time, though, I’ll use your cooking temp and time and compare the 2 methods.5 stars

  13. I was looking for yet another recipe for chicken thighs; this one was simple and I had all the ingredients on hand. Marinated for 30-45 minutes. Cooked 4 in the air fryer and rest on the grill because I was in a hurry. My family said these were the best chicken thighs I’d ever made! Thank you for another yummy recipe.5 stars

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