Air fryer fried chicken thighs is a Kentucky Fried Chicken copycat recipe that is way healthier than making them deep fried. They’re the bomb.
If you love KFC you’ll love these air fryer fried chicken thighs. Crunchy battered outer layer with tender juicy meat on the inside. Lightly season or serve with barbecue sauce on top when served. One of our favorite easy air fryer recipes we’ve made this week. (affiliate links present)
How to make fried chicken in air fryer
You don’t have to use thighs for this. It could be made with air fryer fried chicken breast but unless cut into smaller pieces that would take longer to cook thru. The breading would work just the same even if you used drumsticks.
You cannot use a wet batter to create the crunchy texture. Using a whisked egg, flour and seasonings is the best alternative. If you want it really thick you can dredge using the instructions below twice.
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- THIS is my Favorite Air Fryer!
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- Here’s a printable air fryer cook times chart here for your fridge.
- It has temp. and times for making the best frozen foods for air fryer too.
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Fried Chicken Thighs Air Fryer
Boneless skinless chicken thighs were used. I like these best even though they do cost a bit more. With bone-in the cook time is longer and it is much harder to eat (especially with kids).
Just spend the extra few dollars and buy them without. I’m not a huge chicken skin fan but if you are then get them with it on.
Just make sure either way that you blot the outsides with paper towels to dry it. If not it won’t get as crunchy.
Can you fry chicken in air fryer?
I mean kinda’. It isn’t “frying”, that is the whole benefit of this machine. You don’t need to submerge your food in calorie and fat laden oil. You’ll want to use some olive oil spray to brown the outsides nicely but beyond that the hot air does the work for you to get that same great texture.
Fried Chicken Thighs
You can certainly follow these instructions but deep fry in hot oil instead. That is just not my style.
If your meat is frozen you’ll want to defrost them for these instructions. If yours are still hard and you don’t have time then follow our frozen chicken thighs air fryer directions instead. They turn out great but breading isn’t possible because it won’t stick.
- Fresh chicken thighs
- These were boneless, skinless but bone in skin on could be used. It may take a few more minutes and vary depending on how thick they are.
- All purpose flour will work as the breading of sorts
- Raw or roasted garlic and/or onion powder will give it flavor, use other seasonings of your choice too
- Paprika is one of favorites
- Celery salt is a hidden gem and if you aren’t familiar with using this in other dishes you should try it.
- Dry mustard
And a bit of salt and pepper in the flour will make the coating full of flavor. You might want a bit as well as sprinkled on top when serving it.
Create an assembly line with the dry ingredients in one and your egg in another. Flour, egg, flour is the way to go and a spray of olive oil at the end to wet the outside so it crisps.
If you are cooking a larger batch don’t put them all in at once. You need them to be in one layer so the air can circulate well.
- In a bowl combine flour with garlic powder, paprika, oregano, celery salt, dry mustard, and salt and pepper. In another deep dish beat the egg.
- Dip 1 thigh at a time into the flour, then in the egg, and finally in the flour again
- Coat each side well each time. Allow excess to fall off.
- Spray basket with olive oil non stick cooking spray. Place about 4 chicken thighs in the air fryer basket at the time. Spray tops lightly with olive oil spray.
- Air fry at 370 °F for 18 minutes.
Turn them halfway through cooking time and spray tops again for best results. Remove when internal temp is 165 degrees internal temperature and outsides are as brown as you’d like.
When you are cooking chicken pieces this way you don’t want them to be extremely thick. If they are the outside edges will get a bit overdone while the insides will remain too pink to consume. Air fryer chicken recipes are easy and delicious once you get the hang of them.
Don’t let any of them frighten you. If you follow our instructions below exactly you will be pleased for sure. These are always a hit with the kids because they can just pick them up with their fingers and dip into sauces for dinner.
Yes that is allowed with this one since that is what we would do if serving them right out of the box at our favorite fast food place. I kid you not though if you served this to your family and they didn’t know where it came from you may be able to fool them!
Traditionally you would find side dishes like mashed potatoes, macaroni salad, and/or different sauces. If you bring these to a potluck have others bring a salad and bread to complete the meal. Those are a given but you can go all out with other selections too.
Here are a few side dishes for chicken we love:
- Our smoked bread recipe gets thumbs up by kids and adults alike. If you want to use the same machine though you can try our air fryer bread instead.
- Vegetables are my family’s favorite when I make anything really. If you’re like us you might enjoy cauliflower in air fryer or some carrot fries.
A printable recipe card with details and nutritional information is provided below. Of course you could load up the flour mixture with other seasonings like Old Bay if you’re a fan of that. Leave plain and simple if you’d rather and skip the coating all together to make regular air fryer chicken thighs.
How do you save fried chicken?
That’s the million dollar question right?? It never seems as good as the first day that is true BUT if you use your Cosori or AirWave the next day it is as good as you’re gonna’ get. If you have leftovers make sure they are put into a freezer bag and suck all the air out of it. Store in the fridge and reheat within the next 2 days.
You can warm in the microwave to get the middle hot for about 1 minute. Then air fry once it’s preheated for 5 minutes at 400 for about 4 minutes to crisp the skin back up. That is the best two part method I have found and swear by. Try it yourself and see if you are now a believer!
If you still aren’t a huge fan of the texture then instead of wasting it, dice it up and throw it on top of a bowl of rice or vegetables.
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Air Fryer Fried Chicken Thighs
- In a small bowl combine flour with garlic powder, paprika, oregano, celery salt, dry mustard, and salt and pepper. In another small deep dish beat the egg.
- Dip 1 piece of chicken at a time into the flour, then in the egg, and finally in the flour again, coating each side well each time. Allow excess to fall off.
- Spray basket with olive oil spray. Place chicken 4 at the time in the basket. Spray tops lightly with olive oil spray.
- Air fry at 370 °F for 18 minutes. Turn the chicken thighs halfway through cooking time and spray tops again for best results. remove when internal temp is 165 degrees F and outsides are as brown as you'd like.