These BBQ Chicken Thighs In Air Fryer are caramelized and crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. Once cooked, they are basted with deliciously sweet and tangy barbecue sauce.
All you need is basic seasoning (or any dry spice mix) and a BBQ sauce. Try our super easy Texas Rib Rub and ketchup-based no-cook easy Homemade BBQ Sauce. All from your basic pantry staples, and made in 2 minutes!
The real secret to making these Chicken Thighs incredibly juicy is salt brine. Read on to see how exactly you can make these delicious, moist on the inside, and caramelized on the outside BBQ Chicken Thighs.
For more air fryer easy meals, find our recipes here.
We love recipes that do not take much prepping, nor need much supervision, are easy to put together, and are as delicious as anything you can have in a restaurant. These bbq chicken thighs tick all the boxes. You can serve these with a salad for a low-carb meal and pile on a side of golden crunchy air fryer potatoes for those who love carbs. No need to cook multiple things for your whole family. Winner winner, chicken dinner!
HERE’S WHY YOU WILL LOVE THESE BBQ CHICKEN THIGHS.
- Super easy to make
- Hand-off cooking
- Juicy on the inside, golden caramelized on the outside.
- Beautiful sweet tangy and just a little spicy homemade BBQ sauce that needs no cooking and comes together in a minute.
- All ingredients are your pantry staples
- Perfect dish for a fast and easy weeknight dinner
- A crowd pleaser that’s a big hit at parties too.
- Leftovers stay succulent enough for multiple delicious lunches and meals.
LIST OF INGREDIENTS TO MAKE BBQ CHICKEN
Ingredients For Group 1
Chicken Thighs: Chicken thighs have more fat content than chicken breast. As we know fat equals flavor. Choose pieces- bone-in and skin-on. The skin keeps the fat within and gets crispy as the chicken cooks. Fat equals flavor!
Seasoning: You can use any seasoning of your choice. It could be just salt and pepper, a dry rub like this Texas Dry Rub.
BBQ Sauce: This can be readymade or try our 1-minute no-cook easy bbq sauce. Just mix ingredients and it’s ready to use.
Texas Rib Rub Ingredients Photo
Step-by-step photos to make BBQ Chicken Thighs In Air Fryer
1. Place chicken thighs in a zip lock bag. This ensures minimum contamination caused by handling raw chicken.
2. Add just salt and pepper or a spice mix of your choice.
3. Massage the bag well, so the spice mix coats the chicken well from all sides.
4. With a tong, remove the chicken thighs and place them in the air fryer basket. Cook chicken thighs at 360 F / 180 C for about 15 minutes.
5. Once almost cooked, baste the chicken thighs with BBQ sauce. Flip chicken thighs over, and baste the other side as well.
6. Air Fry for another 5 minutes or till the internal temperature reaches 170 F / 75 C. This is when the chicken is cooked and the juices run clear.
Important Tips And Notes
HOW DO I BRINE CHICKEN?
This step is optional, but makes your chicken thighs well seasoned from the inside, extremely juicy, and keeps them succulent even as leftovers. If you have the time, I highly recommend this step.
Brining meat is simply soaking it in a salt solution (the brine) before cooking. It makes cooked meat moister by allowing the cells to hold on to water while they are cooked. This prevents tough, dried-out, bland meat.
Brining ratio of salt is around 5-10% of water in weight.
Since 1 gram of water is 1 mL, just remember to use “1 tablespoon of salt per cup of water”. You need enough water to completely submerge the chicken.
For this recipe, I have used 4 medium chicken thighs and 4 cups of water with 4 tablespoons of salt. Depending on how many thighs you will cook, adjust the amount of salt water. Just count how many cups of water you add, and add those many tablespoons of salt. Eg 3 cups of extra water = 3 tablespoons of extra salt.
SALT AND WATER RATIO FOR BRINING: 1 tablespoon of salt to 1 cup of water.
WHAT SPICES CAN I USE FOR THE SEASONING
You can use either salt and pepper, or mix up your preferred dry spices. Following is an example (from our Texas Rib Rub Mix)
- 2 tbsp Paprika
- 4 tbsp Salt
- 2 tbsp Garlic Powder
- 2 tbsp Onion Powder
- 1 tsp Pepper (ground)
- 1 tsp Cumin Powder
- 1 tsp Corriander Powder
- 0.5 tsp Chilli Powder (paprika for milder heat, cayenne for hotter, or just both to suit your palate)
- 1 tsp Oregano (dry, crushed )
- 8 tbsp Sugar (or Erythritol to keep it low carb/Keto)
HOW DO I MAKE MY OWN BBQ SAUCE?
While store-bought BBQ sauce works well, making your own BBQ sauce is easy too. This is our recipe for easy, no-cook homemade BBQ sauce made from regular pantry staples.
- 1 Cup Tomato Ketchup
- 3 Tbsp Worcestershire Sauce
- 1/4 Cup Brown Sugar (Erythritol for low carb)
- 1/4 Cup Vinegar Apple Cider
- 1 tsp Mustard Dijon
- 1 tsp Smoked Patrika
Stir all till the sugar dissolves, and your sauce is ready to use.
SOME USEFUL TIPS AND NOTES
Note #1 – Brining for at least 8 hours, ensures that the salted water plumps up the chicken from inside making it moist and well salted. No more dry bland overcooked chicken!
Note #2 – Seasoning – You can keep it simple and just use salt and pepper, or you can use any of your favorite spices. Suggestion for our dry rub is in the main post.
Note #3 – Air fryers work by circulating hot air around the basket, making for efficient frying. For best results, keep some space between the chicken thighs. If they do not all fit in one basket, fry them in two batches.
Note #4 – The size and capacity of air fryers vary, as do the size of chicken thighs. Adjust time accordingly. Just remember to cook till you reach a safe internal temperature of 170 F or 75 C.
Frequently Asked Questions About BBQ Chicken Thighs In Air Fryer
Suggestions: Vegan/Vegetarian, Nut Free, Low Carb/Keto, Gluten-Free,
What can I serve these Chicken thighs with?
Some suggestions are as follow
Or how about this refreshing Apple Cider Margaritas from Burrata and Bubbles?
How long will these BBQ Chicken Thighs store in the fridge?
In an air-tight container, these BBQ thighs will last 3-4 days n the fridge. Use the leftovers to eat as is, or chop them up to use in wraps, as proteins in salads, or even as pizza toppings.
Can cooked BBQ Chicken Thighs be frozen?
Absolutely! Wrap chicken thighs in cling wrap or place in airtight, freezer-safe containers and they will last for about 3 months in the freezer. To eat, thaw in the fridge and heat in the microwave.
Can BBQ chicken be made low carb?
Yes, absolutely. Just replace the sugar in Rib Rub and BBQ sauce with your preferred sweeteners. I have used Erythritol. You can also buy sugar-free BBQ sauces and rubs. Both our recipes mentioned above have low-carb options.
Can I just marinate the Chicken Thighs in BBQ Sauce?
BBQ sauce contains a fair amount of sugar (or sweetener) which tends to caramelize quickly long before the meat is well cooked. This means, your chicken thighs will get burnt on the outside. It is best to apply a thin layer just 5- 10 minutes before the chicken is completely done so that it can absorb some of the beautiful flavors from the sauce.
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BBQ Chicken Thighs In Air Fryer
- 1 Air Fryer
- 4 Chicken Thighs
- 1/2 Cup BBQ Sauce
- 4 tbsp Seasoning or Spice Mix of your choice
BRINING – Optional
- 4 Cups Water
- 4 tbsp Salt
STEP 1 – BRINING – (Skip this step if you do not have time)
- Dissolve 4 tbsp of salt with 4 cups of water in a large bowl. See Note #1
- Cover and keep overnight in the fridge – 8 hrs (up to to 24 hours)
- Remove chicken from salt water, pat dry and proceed to season it.
STEP 2 – SEASON THE CHICKEN
- Mix your favorite seasoning or spice rub mix. (See note #2)
STEP 3 – AIR FRY CHICKEN
- Place the chicken thighs in the air fryer basket. (See note #3)
- Cook at 355 F / 180 C for about 15 minutes. (see note #4)
STEP 4 – GLAZE CHICKEN WITH BBQ SAUCE
- Drizzle or brush BBQ sauce over the chicken thighs and continue to cook for another 5 minutes.
- Remove and serve.
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