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Air Fryer Chicken Thighs (Maple-Lime)

by victor

Top down view of six golden-brown, crispy chicken thighs inside an air fryer.

These air fryer chicken thighs are easily the best chicken thighs I’ve ever made or tried. The flavoring sauce on them is pure delight. It’s slightly sweet and tangy, with a little bit of savory coming from soy and Worcestershire sauces and garlic. The maple syrup in the sauce, combined with high heat air frying, makes the skin beautifully caramelized and very tasty. Even addictive. Trust me, you will be running for seconds.

The flavoring sauce

I used a modified version of my insanely popular killer chicken thigh marinade to flavorize these thighs. My intent was to make a very quick recipe, one that does not require hours of marination. The amount of sauce was also a consideration. A lot of sauce would make little sense for an air fryer cooking. Hence, I reduced its amount to just enough to glaze the thighs and to get absorbed by the meat. I also substituted fresh garlic by garlic powder as bits of fresh garlic tend to char quickly when cooked on convection.

Golden-brown air fried chicken thighs in a serving basket lined with brown wax paper.

Flavorizing the meat inside out

How do you flavorize the meat inside out without long hours of marination? Commercial producers use tumblers. In a small kitchen we will use our hands to achieve the same results. Place the thighs in a bowl, add the rest of the ingredients and start mixing and massaging those thighs until all liquids have been absorbed. Depending on how quickly you operate, it will take anywhere between 2 and 4 minutes. Pretty awesome, ha?

Close up of beautifully browned chicken thighs.

Frying

Now, lay the thighs skin side up on the air fryer rack and cook at 400F for 15 minutes. No preheating is needed. You will see quite a bit of browning and caramelization going on. Stop the air fryer, flip the thighs and continue cooking for another 10 minutes at 400F. This will brown the bottoms and add just a touch more of browning on the tops.

You may wonder if 25 minutes isn’t a bit too much for cooking thighs. I like my thighs well-browned and cooked well inside. If the thighs are cooked to the minimum recommended temperature of 165F, to me they taste under-cooked. I like cooking them to about 185F – 190F internal temperature. That’s when they become fall-off-the-bone tender and are still quite juicy, and the skins become super tasty. Just like on the picture below. So delicious!

A close up of air fried chicken thighs split open, showing juicy, moist meat.

Looking for more tasty air fryer recipes? Make sure to check these out:

Equipment used and shown on the pictures above:  Chefman 6.8 Quart Air Fryer.

These air fryer chicken thighs are so good that you'll be making them again and again. Quickly marinated in a delicious Asian inspired sauce, they are slightly sweet from maple syrup with a hint of tartness from lime juice. They taste amazingly good! I guarantee you, these are some of the best chicken thighs you can make. They are a must try! Oh, and they only take about 30 minutes to make.| ifoodblogger.com

Air Fryer Chicken Thighs (Maple)

5 from 5 votes
Print Pin Rate
Course: Dinner, lunch
Cuisine: American, Asian
Keyword: fried chicken thighs
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 servings
Calories: 347kcal
Author: Victor

Ingredients

  • 6 chicken thighs (bone-in or boneless, skin-on)
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt (plus more to taste)
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sesame oil
  • 4 Tbsp low sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Tbsp lime juice (or lemon juice)
  • 3 Tbsp maple syrup (or honey)
  • 1 Tbsp garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp onion powder

Instructions

  • Drop chicken thighs together with the rest of the ingredients into a medium mixing bowl.
  • Mix and massage the thighs by hand for about 3 minutes, or until all the liquids  get absorbed by the meat. Make sure that the thighs are evenly covered by the seasoning sauce.
  • Place the thighs on the air fryer rack, leaving some space in between. Depending on the size of your air fryer, you may need to do the frying in two batches.
  • Fry at 400F for 10 min skin side up. Check the browning. If well-browned, flip and fry for 10 min more, again at 400F. If not, let them brown for another 5 minutes, then flip. Different air fryers cook differently. Cook until internal temperature reaches at least 165F. I prefer 185F. You do not need to preheat the air fryer. 
  • Once the thighs are done, flip them over and transfer to a serving  platter. Serve hot, with your favorite side dish or a salad.

Nutrition

Calories: 347kcal | Carbohydrates: 9g | Protein: 19g | Fat: 25g | Saturated Fat: 6g | Cholesterol: 110mg | Sodium: 666mg | Potassium: 320mg | Fiber: 0g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 90IU | Vitamin C: 2.1mg | Calcium: 26mg | Iron: 1.3mg

 

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Leave a Comment

 

25 comments

Susan January 16, 2020 - 10:46 am

We loved these. Will certainly make again.

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Lisa January 5, 2020 - 6:46 am

Loved these! My husband and son thought they were the best I’ve ever made. The marinade was so tasty and kept the chicken moist and tender. I had a lot of liquid pool on the bottom drip pan, so I think I’ll need to dry them with a paper towel next time before cooking – and there will be a next time – they were that good!

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Sadie December 9, 2019 - 7:12 pm

These were AWESOME!!! I’ve only had my air fryer for about a week and this is the second recipe I’ve attempted. I will definitely be making these again.

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Kate Conner December 2, 2019 - 9:43 pm

I tried this recipe tonight…fabulous! Your cooking times were a big help, The thighs I used were very thick and meaty so I flipped back to the skin side to finish cooking. They came out with crispy skin and the color makes them even more appealing . Hubby loved it! Thank you for sharing this recipe

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victor December 2, 2019 - 11:45 pm

You are very welcome, Kate. I am very happy to hear that. Thank you for taking time to post your feedback.

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Barb Vaughan November 4, 2019 - 6:56 pm

Flavor was great! I had a problem with a lot of smoke coming out of air fryer! Had to turn it off and open windows! Did I do something wrong?

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victor November 5, 2019 - 7:14 am

Hi Barb, I don’t think you did anything wrong. I’ve been investigating this issue, and spoke to a few people who had this problem. It seems that the problem is the kind of wings you use. The yellow ones, with thick fatty skin are problematic. The blueish, think skinned wings with less fat under skin are a better choice for air frying.

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Sarah Ocampo October 7, 2019 - 5:12 pm

You may already know this, but the frying instructions within the blog post itself is different than the frying instructions in the recipe/directions (blog notes say 15 minutes skin side up then flip for another 10 minutes; recipe instructions say 10 minutes on both sides, but no indication on whether to do skin side up first). I only noticed after I started following the recipe instructions, rather than the blog notes (and I wish I had tried the blog notes).

Besides that little critique – the flavor is amazing! This is definitely a keeper recipe.

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victor October 9, 2019 - 4:50 pm

Hi Sarah, in my air fryer the 15-10 minutes method works perfectly. For many it also worked but one person’s air fryer was cooking a little hotter at the same settings and the chicken burned. That’s why in the recipe I suggest cooking for 10 minutes and checking. If needed, add another 5 to get to 15 minutes, then flip. Skin side up first, then the other other side. I made it explicit in the recipe, thanks for noticing. Hope this helps.

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Jana September 3, 2019 - 5:43 pm

We absolutely love these..they are moist and so full of flavor..making them again tomorrow..in our rotation

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Amanda Lindquist June 27, 2019 - 10:22 pm

This was absolutely incredible!!

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Tricia June 17, 2019 - 10:37 pm

Looks good going to make

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Megan April 17, 2019 - 7:29 pm

Decent flavour and like all air fryer recipes I love the quickness for a weeknight meal in a hurry.

I massaged the chicken for.ev.er but the marinade never did actually absorb away into the chicken like the recipe indicated would happen. Oh well.

I wished I read the comments before cooking as the tops of my thighs were blackened when I went to flip them. If I make this recipe again I would flip them after 10-12 minutes and cook for the balance on the other side.

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victor April 18, 2019 - 7:43 am

Megan, thanks for the feedback. I find that for every air fryer recipe that I posted there is one or two comments about frying time being too long. While I test every recipe multiple times and generally my timings work well for others, there are instances when they are a bit off. This makes me believe that some air fryers just cook differently. They may cook hotter then stated, or the heating element is positioned closer to the rack, or the air flow is a bit stronger. There are many variables here. I updated the recipe instructions to start checking the browning at 10 minutes to make sure the chicken does not brown too much.

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Portia February 25, 2019 - 9:36 pm

The frying times were PERFECT!!! Juicy and tender on the inside super crispy outside. For those making it the first time just cut by six minutes.

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Kim February 17, 2019 - 3:53 pm

Mine were so burnt on the outside following the directions exactly. I wonder if it would help to lower the temp??

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victor February 17, 2019 - 9:36 pm

Sorry to hear that, Kim. I’ve had one person have the same issue with the air fryer chicken wings recipe I posted here on my blog. Some air fryers run hotter so it can happen. Or the heating element is designed to be closer to the food rack. I would either lower the temperature or cut the time to 10 min, flip and cook for another 5 and observe the results. Then check for doneness and add more time, in small increments, if needed. The following time use the adjusted temp/time.

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Cara January 28, 2019 - 6:12 pm

Do you adjust cooking time for bone-in vs. boneless? I’m new to air frying but I thought any method of cooking would take longer for bone-in meat. Thank you!

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victor January 28, 2019 - 10:44 pm

Yes, but not significant. The skin will protect the meat. If you want to be sure, check after 20 minutes and pull if you like them. I like my skin-on thighs cooked well-done and crispy so I tend to cook longer regardless.

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NatMcD January 19, 2019 - 10:14 am

Hi, I am new to air fryer so I was wondering if you cook the chicken with non stick paper underneath as on the photo? Thax

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victor January 19, 2019 - 4:04 pm

Wax paper won’t work. Parchment paper can take up to 425F so technically you could use it but why? Air frying is all about hot air circulation, you don’t want to restrict it unnecessarily.

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NatMcD January 20, 2019 - 3:50 am

Thank you…I was only wondering as I spotted it on the photo. I will try your chicken it looks good.

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victor January 20, 2019 - 7:26 am

No problem. Enjoy!

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cindy lamantia July 21, 2019 - 11:17 am

They make perforated parchment paper for AF’s now. Still circulates but makes clean up even faster! You can find it on Amazon.

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victor July 23, 2019 - 8:41 am

Thanks for the tip, Cindy. I will check it out.

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