Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Thighs (Boneless or Bone-in)

Midwestern HomeLife
by Midwestern HomeLife
8 servings
25 min

Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Thighs are tender, juicy, and slathered in an easy no-cook BBQ sauce that chars to perfection right in your air fryer. This 30-minute dinner recipe is the perfect way to satisfy your cravings without firing up the grill or turning on the oven.

air fryer bbq chicken thighs on a white platter next to bowl of bbq sauce

BBQ chicken thighs in the air fryer are the perfect option when you're craving BBQ chicken, but it's too hot to turn on the oven or stand by a flaming grill.

Or you're hungry NOW!

In the time it takes to get the grill going, you can be well on your way to diving into a delicious dinner of succulent, saucy BBQ air fryer chicken thighs and a cool salad.

These boneless skinless chicken thighs are lightly seasoned with a simple dry rub, brushed with an easy no-boil BBQ sauce (or your favorite BBQ sauce), and air fried for about 15 minutes until perfectly charred.

You can also use bone-in skin-on chicken thighs, just add a little more cook time. I'll show you.


Easy No Cook BBQ Sauce


Now, let's talk about the BBQ sauce for a quick sec.

For this air fryer BBQ chicken recipe, we love this quick BBQ sauce that's included with this recipe.

It comes together quickly with simple things you might already have, and you don't even have to boil it. Just stir it together and brush it on.

You can also use store-bought BBQ sauce or your favorite barbecue sauce recipe -- we love Sweet Baby Ray's and homemade Jack Daniel's BBQ sauce.


More Easy Air Fryer Recipes


  • Air Fryer Cinnamon Rolls
  • Air Fryer Frozen Seasoned Fries
  • Air Fryer Frozen Hamburgers


Why You'll Love This Recipe


Fast and easy main dish you can make in under 30 minutes

Easy homemade BBQ sauce from simple ingredients

Juicy, succulent BBQ chicken charred to perfection right in your air fryer!


Ingredients


Please refer to the printable recipe card at the bottom of the post for the full list of ingredient measurements.


No Cook BBQ Sauce
bbq sauce ingredients

Worcestershire sauce. You can use soy sauce if you're don't usually have Worcestershire sauce on hand. Since soy sauce is saltier, you may want to reduce or skip the salt.

Apple cider vinegar. You can use white vinegar, red wine vinegar, or one of these other substitutes for apple cider vinegar.

Dijon mustard. Yellow mustard will also work well. Or check out these other substitutions for Dijon mustard.

Liquid smoke. Not a biggie if you don't have it. But if you happen to have smoked paprika, use that instead of regular paprika to add a little smokiness.


BBQ Boneless Chicken Thighs
bbq chicken thighs in air fryer ingredients

Chicken thighs. I like using chicken thighs because the dark meat is so juicy and doesn't dry out as easily as boneless skinless chicken breasts. You can make this recipe with skinless boneless thighs or skin-on bone-in thighs. Both cooking methods are described below.

Chicken spice rub recipe. A simple seasoning blend flavors the chicken and enhances the zesty BBQ sauce. For extra kick, add a dash of cayenne pepper.

BBQ sauce. Use my easy BBQ sauce recipe or ½ cup of your favorite sauce.


How to Make Boneless BBQ Chicken Thighs in an Air Fryer


1. Make the BBQ sauce.

Stir the BBQ sauce ingredients together in a small bowl. Set aside.

hand holding a white bowl of bbq sauce with a spoonful of sauce hovering over the bowl

2. Prepare the chicken.

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels.

Sprinkle both sides of the chicken with the paprika, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper.

3. Air fry the chicken.

Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees.

Place the seasoned chicken in a single layer in the air fryer basket.

uncooked boneless skinless chicken thighs on parchment in air fryer

For easy cleanup, line the basket with parchment paper or aluminum foil. You can also spray the basket with olive oil or avocado oil. Avoid nonstick cooking spray that comes in an aerosol can -- it can damage the air fryer basket.

Air fry for 7 minutes.

Brush ¼ cup BBQ sauce onto the chicken. Flip the chicken and brush the other side with ¼ cup of sauce.

boneless skinless chicken thighs covered in bbq sauce in air fryer

Air fry for 7-9 more minutes* or until it reaches an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees F. But it's actually more tender and juicy at about 180.

You can even take it as far as 195 and the chicken will still be juicy and moist.

cooked boneless skinless bbq chicken thighs in air fryer

4. Serve and enjoy!

Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

*Exact cooking time will vary depending on your air fryer and the the thickness of the chicken.

air fryer bbq chicken thighs on a white platter next to bowl of bbq sauce
Directions for Bone-In Skin-On Barbecue Chicken Thighs


1. Season both sides of the chicken thighs with the spice mixture.

2. Place the chicken thighs in a single layer, skin side down in the air fryer basket.

3. Air fry for 10 minutes. Brush with sauce and air fry for 5 more minutes.

4. Flip the chicken, brush the skin side with sauce, and air fry for 5 more minutes or to an internal temperature of at least 165. Cook to 175 - 195 for the most flavorful chicken.

5. Let the chicken rest for 5 minutes and enjoy!

bone in skin on bbq chicken thighs in air fryer basket
bone in skin on bbq chicken thighs on parchment paper
What is the Best Internal Temperature for Chicken Thighs?


According to the USDA, chicken need to be cooked to a minimum safe internal temperature of at least 165.

But it's okay to go over when cooking dark chicken meat like thighs or drumsticks. In fact, America's Test Kitchen recommends it.

Chicken thighs will stay tender, juicy, and get even more flavorful when cooked to 175 to 195.

So don't fret about overcooking dark meat, it's pretty hard to do!


Storage & Reheating


Store leftover cooked chicken thighs in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

Reheat in the air fryer at 350 degrees until warmed through to 165 degrees, about 7 minutes for boneless chicken thighs or 9 minutes for bone-in chicken thighs. For best results, let the chicken sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before reheating. I like to brush on a little more BBQ sauce halfway through.


Success Tips


Cook chicken thighs to an internal temperature of at least 165, but take it up to175-195 for the most flavorful, juicy chicken!

Check for doneness early, especially if you have smaller pieces of chicken.

Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken and your air fryer. I use a 6-quart Instant Pot Vortex Plus Air Fryer.

Arrange the chicken in a single layer in the air fryer basket to allow the air to circulate around the chicken and cook it evenly.

For crispy skin in the air fryer, finish with the skin-side up.


FAQs


How long should I cook chicken thighs in an air fryer?

It depends on the size of the chicken thighs. Generally, it takes 14-16 minutes at 400°F to cook boneless skinless chicken thighs in an air fryer. Make sure to check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer to ensure it's fully cooked to 165 degrees.


Do I need to preheat my air fryer before cooking BBQ chicken thighs?

Yes, it's recommended to preheat your air fryer before cooking chicken thighs to ensure even cooking. Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees, the same temperature you'll use to cook the chicken thighs.


What are some seasoning options for BBQ chicken thighs in an air fryer?


This BBQ chicken thigh recipe starts with a simple spice rub of paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. You can adapt the recipe to include onion powder, chili powder, cumin, or cayenne pepper.


Stuff I Use


This Waterproof Instant Read Thermometer is magnetized, so I keep it stuck to the side of my fridge for easy access.

My 6-Quart Instant Pot Fryer has a roomy basket -- perfect for making a big batch of air fryer frozen French fries!

Easy Side Dishes for BBQ Chicken
strawberry goat cheese salad on a white platter

Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad

tuna macaroni salad in a white bowl

Tuna Macaroni Salad Recipe

English pea salad on a white plate on a white countertop

English Pea Salad

Mediterranean Orzo Pesto Salad



Let's Stay in Touch


Follow Midwestern HomeLife on Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, and subscribe via email to receive all of the latest recipes!

Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Thighs (Boneless or Bone-in)
Recipe details
  • 8  servings
  • Prep time: 10 minutes Minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Minutes Total time: 25 min
Show Nutrition Info
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Ingredients
For the No Cook BBQ Sauce
  • ▢ 1/3 cup ketchup
  • ▢ 2 tablespoons molasses
  • ▢ 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • ▢ 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • ▢ 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • ▢ 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard or any type of mustard
  • ▢ 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ▢ 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ▢ 1/2 teaspoon liquid smoke
  • ▢ 1 dash hot sauce, optional
  • ▢ 1 pinch salt and pepper
For the BBQ Chicken
  • ▢ 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs 2 to 2 1/2 pounds
  • ▢ 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • ▢ 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • ▢ 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • ▢ 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
Instructions
Make the No Cook BBQ Sauce
In a small bowl, stir together all of the BBQ sauce ingredients until completely combined.
Make the BBQ Boneless Chicken Thighs
Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Stir the paprika, garlic powder, salt, and pepper together and sprinkle it on both sides of the chicken.
Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees for about 5 minutes. For easy clean-up, line the air fryer basket with parchment paper or aluminum foil.
Place the chicken in a single layer in the air fryer basket. Air fry for 7 minutes.
Brush ¼ cup sauce on the chicken thighs. Flip them over and brush the other side with ¼ cup sauce. Air fry for 7-9 more minutes or to an internal temperature of at least 165. Take it up to 175-195 for the most flavorful, juicy chicken.
Remove the chicken from the air fryer and let it rest for 5 minutes.
Tips
  • BONE-IN CHICKEN THIGHS. Place seasoned chicken thighs skin-side down in the air fryer basket. Air fry for 10 minutes. Brush with sauce and air fry for 5 more minutes. Flip the chicken over, brush the skin side with sauce and air fry for 5 more minutes or to an internal temperature of at least 165 and up to 175-195.
  • TIPS:
  • Cook chicken thighs to an internal temperature of at least 165. It will be the most flavorful and still juicy at 175-195.
  • Check for doneness early, especially if you have smaller pieces of chicken. ​
  • ​Cooking times will vary depending on the thickness of the chicken and your air fryer. I use a 6-quart Instant Pot Vortex Plus Air Fryer.
  • Arrange the chicken in a single layer in the air fryer basket to allow the air to circulate around the chicken and cook it evenly.
  • For crispy skin in the air fryer, finish with the skin-side up.
Midwestern HomeLife
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