Crispy air fryer chicken thighs are an easy family dinner using bone in, skin on chicken with a lemon-herb garlic butter that’s cooked until juicy and golden.
To say I love my air fryer is an understatement. It’s easily becoming one of my favorite kitchen gadgets (sorry crockpot, I still got love for ya!).
Everything I’ve made so far in the air fryer comes out so perfectly crispy and crunchy: air fryer crunch wrap supreme, sweet potato fries, and yes one desperate night my sister and I even used it to bring back to life stale waffle cones (p.s it really works!).
These crispy air fryer chicken thighs are not playing around with their crispiness. They’re perfectly juicy and flavorful inside, with a golden skin and drum roll please...they’re done in about 25 minutes!
The key is to use the bone in and skin on chicken thighs in this recipe. The bone gives the chicken so much flavor and the butter rub keeps the meat juicy while making the skin melt-in-your-mouth good.
I’m usually a skinless-boneless kind of chicken thigh girl, but I have to say in this recipe the skin is the best part and the star of the show .
Ingredients used on these easy crispy chicken thighs:
- Chicken thighs (bone in, skin on)
- Fresh rosemary and thyme
- Minced garlic
- Lemon zest
- Lemon juice
- Salt & pepper
As I mentioned before, I highly recommended sticking to the bone in, skin on chicken thighs. You could substitute chicken breast or boneless thighs but you'll miss out on that delicious crispy skin :).
Also, I encourage fresh herbs as much as possible, especially in this recipe. If you can't get the fresh herbs, no worries dried will be fine!
How to make air fryer chicken thighs:
- Pat both sides of the chicken dry with a paper towel. Sprinkle both sides with salt and pepper. Set aside.
- In a small bowl combine butter, garlic, rosemary, thyme and lemon zest.
- Find the end of the chicken where the skin separates from the meat and using a small spoon or spatula, place about 1 tsp of the butter mixture under the skin. Smooth the outside so the butter spreads throughout the chicken. Place another teaspoon of the butter on the outside of the chicken and rub all over. Repeat with remaining chicken thighs until all the butter is used.
- Place skin side up in the air fryer (not overlapping or stacking) and bake at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Flip the chicken over and use a pastry brush or baster to baste the chicken with the juices that collect in the bottom of the air fryer. Cook another 10 minutes. Flip back to skin side up and cook additional 5 minutes, baste again.
- Let rest 5 minutes before serving.
No air fryer? No problem. Just bake the chicken thighs at 400 degrees on a baking sheet for about 45-55 minutes or until skin is golden and chicken reads 165 on a thermometer.
If your deciding between which air fryer to use, I recommend spending a little more on a bigger air fryer, 5.8 qt or larger. It makes all the difference especially if you have a family of 4 or more! (affiliate link)
Can you cook frozen chicken in the air fryer?
While I've seen other recipes stating you can cook chicken in the air fryer frozen, most of these recipes are using chicken breasts.
I would suggest not cooking the chicken thighs frozen because the skin will cook much faster than the inside and you might end up with burnt skin (yuck).
Also, this recipe uses the lemon herb butter mixture under the skin as well as on top and if the chicken is frozen, you won't be able to get under that skin!
Can you stack chicken in the air fryer?
Again, for this particular recipe I would say no to stacking. You want the skin to crisp up and if the air isn't getting to it, that won't happen.
Looking for more easy air fryer recipes?
- 4 chicken thighs, bone in, skin on
- pinch salt
- pinch pepper
- 4 tbsp butter, room temperature
- 2 tsp fresh rosemary
- 1 tsp fresh thyme
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp lemon zest
- 1 tbsp lemon juice
- Pat chicken dry with a paper towel. Season both sides with salt and pepper.
- Combine butter, rosemary, thyme, garlic, lemon zest and lemon juice in a small bowl.
- Take about 1 tsp of the butter mixture and place underneath the skin on the chicken. You will be able to find an opening in between the skin and the meat where you can place the butter (like a pocket). Smooth it around with a small spatula or spoon to evenly distribute. Repeat with remaining chicken thighs.
- Evenly rub the outside of each piece of chicken with the remaining butter.
- Place the chicken thighs in the air fryer basket, skin side facing up. Cook at 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Use a pastry brush or baster to collect the juices at the bottom of the fryer and baste each piece of chicken. Flip the chicken over (skin side down) and cook additional 10 minutes.
- Baste the chicken again, then flip over one last time (skin side up) and cook 5 more minutes or until the skin is crispy and deep golden brown. Baste again with juices and let rest 5 minutes before serving.
If you don't have an air fryer these chicken thighs can be baked in the oven at 400 degrees for about 45-55 min or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1 piece
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 397Total Fat: 31.9gSaturated Fat: 13.13gTrans Fat: 0.6gUnsaturated Fat: 16.21gCholesterol: 132mgSodium: 225mgCarbohydrates: 1.24gFiber: 0.1gSugar: 0.16gProtein: 25.42g