BBQ Chicken Thighs in the Air Fryer is an easy and tasty dinner. You can’t go wrong with a perfect BBQ dish, and these cook up wonderfully in the air fryer! Tender, juicy, and bursting with delicious barbecue flavor, without any of the hassle of firing up your grill.

overhead: a plate of BBQ chicken thighs

BBQ Chicken Thighs

This is my favorite chicken thigh recipe because it’s so easy to make! If you love a great barbecue flavor, this is the recipe for you!

BBQ chicken thighs are fantastic. I usually stock up on chicken thighs when they go on sale, making this a great budget-friendly meal. I like to keep things simple and pair it with a side salad or a rice dish.

My BBQ chicken recipes are some of the most popular recipes on my website, so I thought I would sit down and write down my full-proof recipe for making BBQ chicken thighs in air fryer.

Pretty soon, this will be one of your family’s favorite meals. It’s easy and delicious!

Looking for other Easy Air Fryer Chicken Recipes? Some of my favorites are FROZEN CHICKEN BREAST IN THE AIR FRYER, AIR FRYER CHICKEN BREAST (LEMON GARLIC), AIR FRYER PESTO CHICKEN TENDERS, and AIR FRYER TYSON CHICKEN WINGS.

Why You’ll Love Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Thighs

  • It’s versatile — you can easily adjust the amount of BBQ sauce you use.
  • Cooks up so crispy in the air fryer.
  • Ready in less than 20 minutes.
  • No excess oil needed.
  • Perfect for meal prep.

Ingredients Needed for Barbecue Chicken Thighs

overhead: air fryer BBQ chicken thighs ingredients
  • Smoked Paprika
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • Chicken Thighs
  • Ketchup
  • Balsamic Vinegar
  • Brown Sugar
  • Olive Oil

How to Make BBQ Chicken Thighs in Air Fryer

overhead: seasoning barbecue chicken thighs

Step 1: Make the seasoning

Preheat your air fryer to 375°F, air fryer setting, and spray the basket with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, combine the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper to make the dry rub for the BBQ chicken thighs. Reserve 1 tbsp of the dry rub for use later.

overhead: BBQ chicken thighs sauce

Step 2: Season the chicken

Add the rest of the dry rub to the chicken thighs in a large bowl, using your hands to rub the seasoning well into the chicken.

overhead: bbq chicken thighs in air fryer basket

Step 3: Air fry the chicken

Cook the BBQ chicken thighs in air fryer for 18-20 mins, turning halfway through the cooking time. Cook until chicken is golden brown and a food thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165°F.

overhead: air fryer barbecue chicken thighs in air fryer basket

Step 4: Make the easy homemade BBQ sauce

While the chicken is cooking, combine the ketchup, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, olive oil, and reserved 1 tbsp of dry rub to make the barbecue sauce.

Step 5: Sauce the chicken and air fry again

When the chicken is done, transfer it to a plate and brush it generously with barbecue sauce.

Put chicken back into the air fryer, skin side up, and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

Serve your air fryer barbecue chicken thighs hot with a side salad, vegetables, roast potatoes, onion rings, coleslaw, etc.  

Optional garnish: fresh chopped parsley.

overhead: plate of air fryer BBQ chicken thighs

Pro Tips For Making The Best Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Thighs

  • Cooking times may vary depending on the brand of the Air Fryer and the size of the chicken thighs. Be sure to check that your chicken is done by ensuring it gets to an internal temperature of 165°F.
  • Use similar-sized chicken thighs so that they cook at the same time.
  • You could use your favorite store-bought barbecue sauce instead.
  • For extra heat, add some cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes.
  • Keeps for three days in an airtight container in the fridge.
  • Leftover chicken can be shredded/sliced and used in sandwiches, salads, tacos, etc.

Can I Use Different Cuts of Chicken?

Yes, you can make this air fryer barbecue chicken thighs recipe with either bone-in or boneless skinless chicken thighs. You can also make this recipe using either boneless, skinless chicken breast or chicken wings!

The cooking time will vary based on the cut of the chicken, so always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the chicken to make sure it’s fully cooked.

How Long Does it Take to Make Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Thighs?

Air fryer BBQ chicken thighs will take an average of 18 to 20 minutes to cook.

The thickness of the chicken thighs — and whether they are bone-in or boneless — will determine the exact cooking time!

What Temperature to Cook BBQ Chicken Thighs?

The internal temperature of your air fryer BBQ chicken thighs should be 165 degrees F. Check them before removing them from the air fryer basket.

Another way to tell that chicken thighs are done is to cut into the chicken. Once the chicken juice runs clear, you can remove it from the air fryer.

closeup: plate of barbecue chicken thighs

Can You Put Raw Chicken In An Air Fryer?

Yes, just like an oven, you can add raw meat to the air fryer. It will cook perfectly, just like in the oven or on the grill. Any raw chicken can be air fried to perfection.

Can You Air Fry Frozen Chicken Thighs?

You can easily air fry frozen chicken thighs to absolute perfection. However, the cooking time will be increased to about 25 to 35 minutes.

Remember to check the internal temperature (which should be 165 degrees F) before you remove them from the air fryer.

What To Serve With BBQ Chicken

This chicken dish will go with anything, from traditional macaroni and cheese to corn on the cob to coleslaw. This is a great dish, and leftovers are even better!

What Kind Of BBQ Sauce Should I Use?

Your favorite BBQ sauce would be best since you will like it better. Some of my favorites are:

More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes

Air Fryer BBQ Chicken Thighs

BBQ Chicken Thighs (Air Fryer Recipe)

4.34 from 6 votes
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes
0 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes
Servings: 6 Servings

Description

BBQ Chicken Thighs in the Air Fryer is an easy and tasty dinner. You can't go wrong with a perfect BBQ dish, and these cook up wonderfully in the air fryer! Tender, juicy, and bursting with delicious barbecue flavor, without any of the hassle of firing up your grill.

Ingredients 

  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
  • 3 pounds chicken thighs, bone-in, skin on
  • 1 cup ketchup
  • 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

Instructions

  • Preheat Air Fryer to 375°F and spray the basket with cooking spray
  • In a small bowl, combine the smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and black pepper to make the dry rub. Reserve 1 tbsp of the dry rub for use later
  • In a large bowl, add the rest of the dry rub to the chicken thighs, using your hands to rub the seasoning well into the chicken
  • Cook chicken in the Air Fryer for 18-20mins, turning halfway through the cooking time. Cook until the chicken is golden brown and the food thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the chicken reads 165°F.
  • While chicken is cooking, combining the ketchup, balsamic vinegar, brown sugar, olive oil, and reserved 1 tbsp of dry rub to make the barbecue sauce.
  • When chicken is done, transfer to a plate and brush generously with barbecue sauce.
  • Put chicken back into the Air Fryer, skin side up, and cook for another 2-3mins.
  • Serve hot with a side of salad, vegetables, roast potatoes, onion rings, coleslaw, etc.  
  • Optional garnish fresh chopped parsley.
  • Plate, serve, and enjoy!

Equipment

  • Air Fryer
  • Cooking Spray

Notes

Cooking times may vary depending on the brand of the Air Fryer and the size of the chicken thighs. Be sure to check that your chicken is done by making sure it gets to an internal temperature of 165°F

Nutrition

Serving: 1gCalories: 592kcalCarbohydrates: 19gProtein: 38gFat: 40gSaturated Fat: 11gPolyunsaturated Fat: 8gMonounsaturated Fat: 17gTrans Fat: 0.2gCholesterol: 222mgSodium: 930mgPotassium: 643mgFiber: 1gSugar: 14gVitamin A: 958IUVitamin C: 2mgCalcium: 36mgIron: 2mg

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titled image (and shown): air fryer BBQ chicken thighs