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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 3 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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