Simple and delicious Air Fryer Boneless BBQ Chicken Thighs make an easy weeknight main dish in 20 minutes. These sweet and sticky thighs are great on a bun, in a wrap, or on a salad, and they make tasty leftovers too!
The air fryer does it again. I’m continually impressed by its ability to cook food that comes out exactly the way I want it. Sometimes better. It’s true!
For these chicken thighs, that means perfectly cooked, juicy and tender, plus sweet and sticky from basteing with BBQ sauce! OMG.
Grab your favorite BBQ sauce, a couple spices, some chicken thighs. And let’s make sticky delicious BBQ chicken thighs in the air fryer!
Total Time: 20 minutes
Method: Air Fryer
Prep: 5 Ingredients or Less
Watch how to make Air Fryer Boneless BBQ Chicken Thighs (1 min 17 sec):
What are the ingredients in these Air Fryer Boneless BBQ Chicken Thighs?
The ingredients for this air fryer main dish recipe are relatively simple. Aside from the chicken thighs, you may already have these ingredients in your kitchen, especially if you have a favorite BBQ sauce you always keep on hand!
Here are the ingredients I used and a little explanation:
- boneless skinless chicken thighs – Try to get a 1 pound package of boneless skinless chicken thighs. If it’s a little over a pound, that’s okay too. The important part is to make sure you don’t have so many thighs that you need to overlap them in the air fryer basket. Six chicken thighs is the maximum that will fit into my air fryer at one time.
- avocado oil – I prefer to use avocado oil for most of my cooking because of the neutral flavor and high smoke point. Olive oil will also work here.
- smoked paprika & garlic powder – While the BBQ sauce is great, we have to give the chicken some of its own flavor! I prefer smoked paprika for the smoky flavor, and garlic because it’s my favorite. This is a simple combo that gives tons of flavor!
- fine sea salt & fresh ground black pepper – These are essential to most cooking, but definitely here. I toned down the salt because there’s also salt in my BBQ sauce. Fresh ground black pepper is a must!
- BBQ sauce – We’re keeping it simple for this recipe and using store-bought BBQ sauce. Pick your favorite kind or use what you have on hand!
How do you make these Air Fryer Boneless BBQ Chicken Thighs?
This recipe is a simple way to make sweet and sticky BBQ chicken thighs in your air fryer in 20 minutes! The quick high heats of the air fryer gets the sauce all sticky and perfect on the thighs!
First, take your chicken thighs out of the package and add them to a medium mixing bowl. If there are any big pieces of fat, feel free to trim those off.
Take a couple paper towels and pat the chicken dry in the bowl as well as you can. This will help the oil and spices stick to the chicken!
Next, add the avocado oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper to the bowl. Use tongs or a spoon to mix the chicken, oil and spices until the chicken is completely coated.
The chicken can sit in the spices and oil in the fridge overnight if needed, or you can proceed with the recipe without letting it marinate at all. The chicken will taste amazing either way!
To air fry, place the chicken thighs into the air fryer basket in a single layer with none of the thighs overlapping. Set the temperature to 380F and air fry for 8 minutes.
After the 8 minutes is up, open the air fryer and spread a small amount of BBQ sauce on the chicken. Next, flip the chicken thighs over and again cover with BBQ sauce. But this time, do your best to drench the chicken in BBQ sauce, covering every part you can see!
During testing, I found that extra BBQ sauce on the bottom tended to come off on the basket or fall through, while extra BBQ sauce on the top stayed on and got sticky!
Air fry again at 380F, but this time, only cook for 4-5 minutes. The chicken thighs are done when the internal temperature reaches 165F when measured with meat thermometer, or when the edges are charring and the sauce looks sticky!
Let the chicken rest for about 5 minutes, then serve!
Can I use bone-in chicken thighs instead of boneless?
This recipe was specifically tested and written for boneless and skinless chicken thighs. I have not tested bone-in chicken thighs for this recipe, however it is possible.
Chicken thighs with the bone-in will take longer to cook than boneless thighs – anywhere from 18-24 minutes depending on the size. Be sure to use a meat thermometer to check for doneness.
How do you meal prep these Air Fryer Boneless BBQ Chicken Thighs?
There are a couple ways to save time by preparing all or part of this recipe ahead of time. Here are some options:
- Complete prep: Prepare the recipe from start to finish. Then, store your cooked BBQ chicken thighs in an airtight container to reheat and eat during the week.
- Marinate chicken only: Prepare the recipe through Step 2, then cover and let sit in the fridge for up to 24 hours. Proceed with the recipe when you’re ready!
- Cook & freeze: Prepare this recipe from start to finish, then flash freeze for 4 hours to overnight on a sheet pan. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight freezer safe container and store in the freezer for 3-6 months.
What should you serve with these bbq chicken thighs?
This main dish air fryer recipe can be served as a main dish with delicious sides like mac and cheese, mashed potatoes, green salad, quinoa salad, and more.
These chicken thighs would also go really well in a wrap, on a burger bun or on a salad!
What equipment do you need to make these Air Fryer Boneless BBQ Chicken Thighs?
To make this recipe, the minimum equipment you need is an air fryer. My recommendation is below!
You will also need: tongs or fork for transferring chicken, and a pastry brush or spoon for smothering the chicken in BBQ sauce.
Which air fryer do you recommend?
The air fryer I have currently, and the one that is pictured in this post is the Cosori XL 5.8 qt Air Fryer . If you’re going to invest in an air fryer to cook things for 2 or more people, you should opt for a larger size like this one, in my opinion!
I previously had a slightly smaller Philips Air Fryer with a metal grate basket which I liked, but I prefer the larger Cosori model with the nonstick coated basket.
Is this recipe freezer-friendly?
Yes, this recipe will freeze well. To freeze, prepare the recipe from start to finish, then flash freeze for 4 hours to overnight on a sheet pan.
Once frozen, transfer to an airtight freezer safe container and store in the freezer for up to 3-6 months for best quality.
How to store cooked bbq chicken thighs:
Store cooked bbq chicken thighs in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
How to freeze cooked bbq chicken thighs:
Flash freeze cooked bbq chicken thighs on a sheet pan for 4 hours to overnight. Once frozen, transfer to an airtight freezer safe container and store in the freezer for 3-6 months for best quality.
How to reheat cooked bbq chicken thighs:
From the fridge: Place cold cooked chicken thighs in the air fryer and cook at 350 for 5-7 minutes or until hot and sizzling. This recipe would also reheat well in a HotLogic Portable Oven – link to my review.
From the freezer: Place frozen cooked chicken thighs in the air fryer and cook at 350F for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway through.
These chicken thighs also taste great cold from the fridge if you want to toss them on a salad without reheating.
Simple and delicious Air Fryer Boneless BBQ Chicken Thighs make an easy weeknight main dish in 20 minutes. These sweet and sticky thighs are great on a bun, in a wrap, or on a salad, and they make yummy leftovers too!
- 1 pound raw boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 1/2 tablespoons avocado oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
- 1/4–1/3 cup your favorite BBQ sauce
- Prepare chicken: Remove chicken thighs from the packaging and trim off any large pieces of fat, if desired. Place chicken thighs in a medium mixing bowl. Use a couple paper towels to pat the chicken dry as much as possible. This helps the oil and seasoning stick to the chicken.
- Add seasoning: Add the avocado oil, smoked paprika, garlic powder, salt and pepper to the bowl with the chicken. Use tongs or a spoon to mix until the chicken is completely coated. Use immediately or cover and place in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. If refrigerated, let the thighs sit out at room temperature for at least 20 minutes before cooking.
Air fry: Place the chicken thighs into the air fryer basket in a single layer with no overlap. Set the temperature to 380F and air fry for 8 minutes. After the 8 minutes is up, open the air fryer and use a spoon or pastry brush to spread a small amount of BBQ sauce on the chicken thighs. Using tongs, flip the thighs over and again cover with remaining BBQ sauce, this time generously smothering the chicken with BBQ sauce. Air fry again at 380F, but this time, only cook for 4-5 minutes. The chicken thighs are done when the internal temperature reaches 165F when measured with a meat thermometer, the edges are charring and the sauce looks sticky.
Serve & store: Let the chicken thighs rest for about 5 minutes, then serve! Great as a solo main dish, on a bun, in a wrap, or on a salad! Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
Nutrition information estimated with My Fitness Pal.
- Serving Size: 4 ounces
- Calories: 203
- Fat: 10g
- Carbohydrates: 5g
- Protein: 23g