Air Fryer Chicken Thighs (Crispy & Juicy)

air fried chicken thighs resting on cooling rack

Try these ultra-crispy chicken thighs loaded with savory seasoning–-great for meal prepping during the week for salads, tacos, or an easy protein-packed dinner. These Asian-inspired chicken thighs are full of spice (but not spicy!) and are dry-brined in the fridge to get as much flavor into the chicken as possible. Learn my tips below on how to get the crispiest skin in the air fryer!

Type of chicken thighs to use

raw chicken thighs on baking sheet

In this recipe, we used bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs from Seven Sons, a meat delivery service that sells grass-fed, pasture-raised, and ethically raised beef, chicken, and other proteins. Obviously you don’t have to source your chicken here, but I prefer using bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs because they always have more flavor.

Some of the pasture-raised chicken thighs I use vary in size (3”x3” to 4”x4” per chicken) and weight (4-6 oz per chicken) and are often smaller than non-pasture-raised chicken you would find at a typical grocery store. The smaller size might mean the chicken thighs will cook a bit quicker.

It’s hard to find boneless, skin-on chicken thighs anywhere for an affordable price. Air-frying skin-on chicken thighs gives them an extra crispy texture–it’s almost like eating deep-fried chicken skin!  

Seasoning & marinade

mixing chicken thigh dry marinade in glass bowl

If you love Asian-inspired chicken dishes, then you’ll love this seasoning. These air fryer chicken thighs are seasoned with lots of savory flavor. It’s got a blend of aromatic spice with a sweet and savory kick:

  • five spice
  • garlic
  • ginger
  • kosher salt
  • dark brown sugar

Feel free to adjust the marinade or add other ingredients based on your preference—for example, onion powder, white pepper, cayenne, paprika, oregano, or basil. 

adding dry marinade to chicken thighs

I use a dry brine for these chicken thighs and like to marinade them for as long as possible. I recommend at least 3 hours in the refrigerator, uncovered. If it’s a weekday, I want to dry brine the chicken in the morning and air fry it when I get home from work. 

How long to air fry chicken thighs

chicken thighs with crispy skin in Breville air fryer

I use the Breville the Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro model, but you can use a traditional air fryer with the same settings. I air fry these chicken thighs at 400 °F for about 20-25 minutes to reach the final internal temperature of 175-180°F. It will take longer to cook chicken with bones.

Time is a nice guide to plan with, but not a good way to know when cooking chicken is done. Go off of the measured internal temperature or by slicing into the deepest part of the chicken to see that juices run clear and not pink.

The good thing about chicken thighs is that you can cook them upwards of 180 °F internally, and they’ll still be juicy due to the breakdown of connective tissue at this temperature. This means there is room for error in baking, and you won’t dry out your chicken as quickly as chicken breast.

air fryer chicken thighs w crispy skin

Too many variables affect time, such as how cold your chicken is, whether it’s still defrosting, the size of the thigh, whether you preheat your air fryer, etc. You’ll know when your chicken is done based on the golden brown, crispy skin on the thighs and an internal temperature of at least 175-180 °F (however, it will most likely be higher than this to get the skin crispy).

Can an air fryer get chicken thighs crispy?

crispy air fryer chicken thigh skin closeup

Yes! The best thing about this recipe is you get extra crispy chicken thighs–in an air fryer without any deep frying. There are a few tips and tricks on how to achieve ultra-crispy chicken skin. Here are some of my tips for crispier skin.

patting dry marinaded chicken thighs

1. Dry the chicken before and after marinating. You’ll want to dry the chicken thighs before marinating so they can get evenly seasoned, however, I like patting them dry gently AFTER marinating since some liquid is released. This gives you a dry surface to crisp up during air frying. 

2. While dry brining in the refrigerator, keep the chicken thighs uncovered and on a rack to let them dry out instead of trapping in moisture with plastic wrap.

brushing oil on skin of chicken thighs

3. Brush a little oil on the chicken thigh before baking to further crisping. 

4. First, air fry the chicken thighs skin-side down. Since it’ll take about 20-25 minutes to fully cook the thighs, air frying them skin-side down prevents the skin from burning too quickly. Once you hit 15 minutes, you can turn them over and allow them to crisp fully the rest of the time. 

5. After your chicken thighs are done, let them rest for about 5 minutes before serving. The rest period helps to enhance the crunchiness of the skin and keep all the juices inside. 

What to serve with air fryer chicken thighs

air fryer chicken thighs with veggie sides

These air fryer chicken thighs are perfect for meal prep for a busy week (or you can start to marinate them in the morning and air fry them when you get home!). I like to pair air fryer chicken thighs with other easy side dishes: 

For more chicken recipes, check out these recipes: 

chicken thigh tacos with guacamole
air fryer chicken thigh recipe

Air Fryer Chicken Thighs

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Try these savory and ultra-crispy air fryer chicken thighs for your next meal prep. Each bite is full of flavorful notes of five spice, garlic, ginger, and slightly sweet brown sugar.
BY: Huy Vu
Prep: 5 minutes
Cook: 25 minutes
Dry brining: 3 hours
Total: 3 hours 30 minutes


  • 2 lb chicken thighs skin-on, bone-in
  • 2 tsp kosher salt Diamond Crystal brand
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp ginger powder
  • ½ tsp five spice
  • neutral cooking oil

Equipment Used

  • measuring cups and spoons
  • small bowls
  • Spoon
  • plate or sheet pan
  • paper towels
  • brush
  • air fryer
  • tongs


  • Pat dry the 2 lb chicken thighs with a paper towel and place them on a plate or sheet pan.
    patting dry raw chicken thighs with paper towel
  • In a small bowl, combine all the seasonings: 2 tsp kosher salt, 2 tsp garlic powder, 2 tsp dark brown sugar, 1 tsp ginger powder, and ½ tsp five spice. Mix with a spoon until incorporated.
    mixing chicken thigh dry marinade in glass bowl
  • Generously coat the chicken thighs with the seasoning, including between the skin and the meat, on top of the skin, and on the bottom of the thighs. Use your spoon to gently lift the skin from the top of the thigh and sprinkle the seasoning on the flesh, without fully separating the skin from the meat.
    adding dry marinade to chicken thighs
  • Transfer the sheet pan and chicken to the refrigerator for at least 3 hours (and no more than 12 hours) to marinate uncovered. Remove the chicken from the refrigerator and onto the counter for at least 30 minutes (and no more than 1 hour) before air frying.
  • Preheat the air fryer to 400 °F.
  • Use paper towels to remove excess liquid from the chicken thighs. This will help get the skin crispier.
    patting dry marinaded chicken thighs
  • Coat the skin of the thighs with a few drops of neutral cooking oil (like avocado oil). You can use your fingers or a brush to evenly coat the chicken.
    brushing oil on skin of chicken thighs
  • Place the chicken thighs, skin-side down on the air fryer basket, and brush more neutral oil on the bottoms of the thighs.
    brushing oil on bottom of chicken thighs
  • Air fry for 15 minutes.
  • Turn the chicken thighs over and air fry for another 5-10 minutes or until the skin is crispy, golden brown, and the internal temperature reaches 175-180 °F.
    flipping over chicken thighs in air fryer
  • Transfer to a plate and let rest for at least 5 minutes. This will keep the juices inside, allowing the skin to crisp up even more, then serve.
    air fryer chicken thighs with veggie sides


This recipe was tested with the Breville the Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro, which is a toaster oven air fryer. Note that if you are using a traditional basket air fryer, your results may vary. 
Nutrition Facts
Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
Amount per Serving
% Daily Value*
Saturated Fat
Trans Fat
Polyunsaturated Fat
Monounsaturated Fat
Vitamin A
Vitamin C
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
Course: Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine: American, Asian
Keyword: meal prep, protein
Did you cook this recipe?Tag @HungryHuy or #hungryhuy–I’d love to see it!

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