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Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Thighs (Juicy + Crispy)

Ready in just 30 minutes, this Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Thighs recipe is so juicy with the crispiest skin. This delicious meal is an easy way to get a healthy dinner full of great flavor on the table quickly. Perfect for meal prep!

3 Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Thighs on a grey plate surrounded by a white cloth.

❤️ Why you will love this recipe

  • Easy dinner: All you have to do is coat the chicken with oil and spices, and then air fry it, turning once. This air fryer chicken thighs recipe is so simple, and there is no need to defrost.
  • Quick: This easy recipe is ready in 30 minutes!
  • Healthy: Made with simple ingredients, this juicy chicken is loaded with spices and a little olive oil. There are no strange ingredients here.
  • Filling: Chicken thighs are dark meat which tends to be a little fattier than chicken breast, which in turn makes it more filling and satisfying. The crispy chicken skin is edible too (that’s where the flavor is!) and it’s also mostly fat.
  • Family-friendly: Perfect for the whole family, this is a great way to serve a healthy dinner in minutes. It’s much healthier than fried chicken and tastes just as good!
  • Fits many diets: This delicious recipe is Whole30, paleo, keto, and low carb friendly.

🗝️ Key Ingredients & Substitutions

  • Chicken thighs: Bone-in chicken thighs with the skin on are ideal for this recipe. The crispy skin is so tasty and the meat is juicy and tender. You can substitute boneless skinless chicken thighs if desired.
  • Oil: I sprayed the chicken thighs with a little olive oil before adding the spices, so that they would stick to the frozen thighs. You can rub or brush the chicken with oil instead if you’d like. I recommend using a healthy oil like olive oil or avocado oil which does better at high heat.
  • Seasoning: You can use any kind of seasoning you want! For this recipe, I added ground black pepper, sea salt, garlic powder, sweet paprika, and chili powder. The chili powder can be substituted for cayenne or hot paprika (or skipped altogether if you don’t want the heat), and the sweet paprika can be substituted for smoked paprika.
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🥣 How to cook frozen bone-in skin-on chicken thighs in an air fryer

1. Begin by preheating the air fryer to 180 degrees C/356 degrees F.

2. While the air fryer is preheating, spray or brush the frozen bone-in skin-on thighs with oil.

3. In a small bowl, mix the seasonings together and sprinkle the chicken pieces with the seasoning, making sure all sides are coated evenly. Alternatively, you can add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the seasonings into a Ziploc bag and massage the oil and seasonings into the chicken thighs.

4. When the air fryer is ready, place chicken thighs skin side down in the air fryer basket in a single layer.

5. Air fry chicken thighs for 13 minutes, flip the thighs over (for even cooking), and cook them for another 13 minutes. Add on extra time if needed.

6. Check the crispy chicken thighs are cooked properly by testing the internal temperature of the chicken. The easiest way to do this is by using an instant meat thermometer. Insert the instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken thigh. When it reaches 74°C/165°F, it’s ready to take out and rest. If it’s not quite there, add on 2-3 minutes at a time until it reaches the right temperature.

Thermometer reading 165°F.

7. For best results, allow the Chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving to lock in all of the juices.

Chicken thighs in an air fryer.

🫙 Storage Instructions

  • Store: Any leftover thighs can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Reheat: The best way to reheat leftover chicken thighs is in the air fryer for 5-8 minutes, until they are heated through and the skin is crispy again. You can also reheat them in the microwave (the skin will be soggy) or in an oven. Be sure to check out my post on How to Reheat Chicken Thighs in an Air Fryer for all the tips and tricks!
  • Freeze: Chicken thighs are great to cook and freeze for later. They freeze really well for up to 3 months in a freezer bag. Thaw before reheating them in the air fryer as above.

🪄 Recipe Notes & Tips

  • Frozen thighs are stuck together: If your chicken thighs are stuck together, you’ll need to let them thaw at room temperature for 10 minutes until you can break them apart. Another option is to run them under cold water when they’re in their packaging or a Ziploc bag. This will melt the ice enough to separate the chicken pieces without thawing. It’s important to keep the chicken in the packaging or a ziplock when running water over them because running straight onto the chicken may spread harmful bacteria in your kitchen sink.
  • Cook time: The cooking time will vary between the size of the chicken thighs and your air fryer brand. These instructions are a guide. When you flip the chicken over halfway through, see how well they are cooking. If they seem to be cooking quickly, cook them for another 10 minutes and check them again.
  • Boneless thighs: If you’d like to use boneless skinless chicken thighs, they work really well with this simple recipe. Cook the boneless skinless chicken thighs for 10 minutes per side and check the internal temperature. Cook for a little longer if needed, rest, and enjoy!

🍽️ What can I serve with chicken thighs?

Looking for the perfect side dish or sauce to coat or dip the thighs in for extra flavor? I’ve got you covered! Here are my favorites:

Sauces to dip or toss the thighs in:

Side dishes:

✨ Other seasonings to try

  • Taco seasoning
  • Cajun seasoning
  • Italian seasoning
  • Lemon pepper seasoning
  • Poultry seasoning

🤔 How long do you cook frozen chicken thighs in an air fryer?

Frozen skin-on-bone-in thighs take around 30 minutes to cook in an air fryer. Cook them skin-side down for 13 minutes, and then flip them and cook them skin-side up for another 13 minutes. After that, check the internal temperature with an instant-read thermometer. When the temperature reaches 74°C/165°F, the thighs are ready to take out and rest. If the temperature is a little low, cook them for another couple of minutes and check the temperature again. For the best flavor, let the chicken rest for 5 minutes before serving. This makes them super juicy.

Close up of a chicken thigh with other chicken thighs on a grey plate.

😋 More easy air fryer chicken recipes you will love

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📖 Recipe

3 Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Thighs on a grey plate surrounded by a white cloth.

Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Thighs Recipe

Bethany Galloway
Ready in just 30 minutes, this Air Fryer Frozen Chicken Thighs recipe is so juicy with the crispiest skin. This delicious meal is an easy way to get a healthy dinner full of great flavor on the table quickly. Perfect for meal prep!
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Air Fryer
Cuisine American
Servings 4 servings
Calories 285 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 4 frozen chicken thighs bone-in, skin-on (see note 1 for boneless)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika or smoky
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder optional

Instructions
 

  • Begin by preheating the air fryer to 180 degrees C/356 degrees F.
  • While the air fryer is preheating, spray or brush the frozen bone-in skin-on thighs with oil.
    Frozen chicken thighs coated with oil in a metal bowl.
  • In a small bowl, mix the seasonings together and sprinkle the chicken pieces with the seasoning, making sure all sides are coated evenly. Alternatively, you can add 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the seasonings into a Ziploc bag and massage the oil and seasonings into the chicken thighs.
    Coating chicken thighs with seasoning in a metal bowl.
  • When the air fryer is ready, place chicken thighs skin side down in the air fryer basket in a single layer.
    Turquoise and stainless steel tongs adding chicken thighs to an air fryer.
  • Air fry chicken thighs for 13 minutes, flip the thighs over (for even cooking), and cook them for another 13 minutes. Add on extra time if needed.
    Turquoise and stainless steel tongs turning chicken thighs over in an air fryer.
  • Check the crispy chicken thighs are cooked properly by testing the internal temperature of the chicken. The easiest way to do this is by using an instant meat thermometer. Insert the instant-read thermometer into the thickest part of the chicken thigh. When it reaches 74°C/165°F, it's ready to take out and rest. If it's not quite there, add on 2-3 minutes at a time until it reaches the right temperature.
    Thermometer reading 165°F.
  • For best results, allow the Chicken to rest for 5 minutes before serving to lock in all of the juices.

Notes

  1. Boneless thighs: If you'd like to use boneless skinless chicken thighs, they work really well with this simple recipe. Cook the chicken thighs for 10 minutes per side and check the internal temperature. Cook for a little longer if needed, rest, and enjoy!
  2. Frozen thighs are stuck together: If your chicken thighs are stuck together, you'll need to let them thaw for 10 minutes until you can break them apart. Another option is to run them under cold water when they're in their packaging or a Ziploc bag. This will melt the ice enough to separate the chicken pieces without thawing. It's important to keep the chicken in the packaging or a ziplock when running water over them because running straight onto the chicken may spread harmful bacteria in your kitchen sink.
  3. Cook time: The cooking time will vary between the size of the chicken thighs and your air fryer brand. These instructions are a guide. When you flip the chicken over halfway through, see how they are cooking. If they seem to be cooking quickly, cook them for another 10 minutes and check them again.

Storage Instructions

  • Store: Any leftover thighs can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days.
  • Reheat: The best way to reheat leftover chicken thighs is in the air fryer for 5-8 minutes, until they are heated through and the skin is crispy again. You can also reheat them in the microwave (the skin will be soggy) or in an oven. Be sure to check out my post on How to Reheat Chicken Thighs in an Air Fryer for all the tips and tricks!
  • Freeze: Chicken thighs are great to cook and freeze for later. They freeze really well for up to 3 months in a freezer bag. Thaw before reheating them in the air fryer as above.

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 285kcalCarbohydrates: 2gProtein: 31gFat: 18gSaturated Fat: 5gPolyunsaturated Fat: 13gCholesterol: 166mgSodium: 766mgFiber: 1g
Keyword air fryer, chicken thighs, easy dinner, healthy, keto, low carb, meal prep, paleo, protein, quick dinner, whole30
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