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This easy Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Thighs recipe will give you saucy bone-in thighs or boneless BBQ chicken thighs in your air fryer. This main dish comes together in a cooking time of less than 30 minutes, with a few spices in a simple seasoning blend, and my easy homemade bbq sauce. Enjoy this delicious BBQ chicken recipe with my popular keto coleslaw recipe, Ninja Foodi pressure cooker cabbage, or keto cornbread. Your whole family will love these saucy, juicy air fryer chicken thighs.
Why Make This
- Simple & delicious: this easy recipe includes a few common pantry spices, bbq sauce, and some chicken. It turns out tasting like hours smoked bbq without the effort! Overall, this recipe is the perfect alternative to crockpot bbq chicken thighs for folks that need great flavor in a fraction of the time.
- Low-carb option: If you’re cutting sugar in your day, I have a delicious homemade keto bbq sauce that comes together in about 15 minutes. Not only is it great on these chicken thighs, but it’s perfect for ribs, bacon wrapped chicken, air fryer bbq chicken breasts, and air fryer bbq wings.
- Chicken Thighs: I’m using fresh, raw bone-in and skin-on chicken thighs.
- Avocado Oil: This is one of my favorite air fryer oils. But, you could also substitute olive oil too.
- Spices: This recipe includes common pantry spices like black pepper, smoked paprika, Onion powder, Garlic powder and Sea salt. I also add in some Italian seasoning because bbq sauce plus spices like rosemary and oregano taste great together.
- BBQ Sauce: this determines whether or not the recipe is low-carb and keto-friendly. I’m using my keto bbq sauce, which is one of my favorite low-carb options, but any store-bought bbq sauce like mesquite, hickory or Kansas City style bbq sauce will work in this recipe. You can even use your favorite BBQ sauce, if you prefer.
How to Make BBQ Chicken Thighs in an Air Fryer
- Pat the raw chicken dry with paper towels.
- Add the spices, salt, and oil to a large bowl with the chicken. Then, evenly coat the bone-in thighs with the seasoning and oil.
- Add the chicken inside the air fryer basket in a single layer with the skin side up. Air Crisp the thighs at 400 degrees for 12 minutes. (Optional: To help brown the chicken and get crispy skin, spray the skin with cooking spray).
- For best results, flip the chicken & cook it for 5 more minutes at 400 degrees F.
- Use a baste brush to coat both sides of the chicken with bbq sauce. Air crisp on 400 degrees for 5 minutes to cook the chicken through and char the sauce a bit.
Top Cooking Tips & FAQs
- Sauce at the end: bbq sauce will burn if you apply it on at the beginning of cooking. So, save the sauce until the last 5-10 minutes of cooking.
- Take your chicken out of the refrigerator 30 minutes before cooking: this is optional, but ensures that your chicken cooks quickly and evenly.
How to Store and Reheat Leftover Chicken Thighs
The best way to store these air fryer barbecue chicken thighs is in an airtight container for the next day (up to 3-4 days). Reheat in a 375F air fryer for 5 minutes, or a 375F oven for 10 minutes.
The cook time depends on the size of your chicken thighs as well as whether they are boneless or bone-in. Most bone-in chicken thighs take 22-24 minutes. While most boneless chicken thighs in the air fryer take 18-20 minutes to cook.
Yes, but, depending on the dish, you might have to save it for the final minutes of cooking.
I personally haven’t tested this temperature in the air fryer. I recommend 400 degrees for the entire cook time to have a tender and crisp result.
This depends on your air fryer. For most chicken recipes, 400 degrees is best. But for Air Fryer Whole Chicken and Roasted Whole Chicken, I cook it on 350 degrees for most of the time, then increase the temperature to finish the cooking process and brown the skin.
Yes. It prevents a messy clean-up. But, can also help with keeping the flavor on your dish. You can read my cooking tips article to learn more about when, how and why you should put foil in an air fryer.
Recipes to Enjoy this with
- Pressure Cooker Cabbage
- Air Fryer Ribs
- Keto Side Dishes for Chicken
- Keto BBQ Sides
- BBQ Sides for Chicken: this collection includes low-carb and regular classic options.
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Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Thighs
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- Pat the chicken dry with a paper towel.
- Add the chicken to a large bowl or ziploc bag.
- Add the spices, salt and oil to the bowl with the chicken. Then, evenly coat the chicken with the seasoning and oil.
- Add the chicken to the air fryer cooking basket skin side up.
- Air Crisp the thighs at 400 degrees for 12 minutes.
- Flip the chicken & cook it for 5 more minutes at 400 degrees.
- Use a baste brush to coat both sides of the chicken with bbq sauce.
- Air crisp on 400 degrees for 5 minutes to cook the chicken through and char the sauce a bit.
The nutrition facts come from entering the recipe ingredients into Spoonacular API, a database of food ingredients. They may vary for any recipe based on the exact product used. The keto sweeteners I use have 0g net carbs & are not included because sugar alcohols do not impact most people. This is provided as a courtesy, but you can do your own calculations if you wish!