These simple and delicious air fryer chicken thighs are crispy on the outside yet juicy inside. They are coated in an amazing Asian chicken marinade which has the perfect balance of sweet and spicy.
My family loves this glazed chicken recipe because it has a fantastic Asian inspired flavor. The glaze is sticky, sweet and spicy and so good everyone will be licking it off their fingers!
With the air fryer t is so easy to change a few simple flavors and make a totally different chicken dinner from BBQ chicken to chicken Caprese. Pair this recipe with some steamed Bok Choy and a bowl of hot steamed rice and enjoy an easy dinner which your family ask for again and again.
Asian Chicken Marinade and Sauce Ingredients
This marinade is kind of like a spiced up teriyaki sauce. It takes the basics of teriyaki (soy sauce and sugar) and adds a few more pantry staples to make it better. Here are the key ingredients.
Soy sauce – I prefer to use reduced sodium soy sauce in my cooking.
Sesame oil – This oil adds an earthy, nutty flavor. Putting a little oil in the marinade also eliminates the need to oil the air fryer basket. So if you don’t have sesame oil substitute another type of cooking oil.
Brown sugar and honey – These two sweeteners add flavor and help brown the meat.
Rice vinegar – White vinegar or white wine vinegar works as a substitute.
Sweet chili sauce – This condiment helps boost the sweet and tangy flavor while adding a little bit of spice.
Chili paste (or chili powder) – I like to add extra spiciness to balance out the sweetness of the sugar and honey.
Tip: Omit the chili paste if you have family members who don’t love hot and spicy foods.
What Kind of Thighs to Use?
Either boneless or bone in thighs work fine in this recipe. Boneless chicken thighs will cook a little bit faster and you might be able to fit one or two more in the air fryer basket.
These pictures show bone in skinless chicken thighs but I include the cooking times for both in the recipe card below.
How to Make Marinated Chicken in the Air Fryer
1. Make the Marinade/Sauce
In a medium bowl mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, honey, sweet chili sauce, chili paste and garlic. Whisk it all together until it is well combined.
Take half of the marinade and set it aside to use later. This is very important! I have forgotten this and had to go back and make more sauce later, so learn from my mistakes.
Tip: You are going to use the set aside sauce to glaze the cooked thighs, so don’t use all of the sauce for the marinade. Once you have used it to marinade raw chicken it needs to be discarded.
Put the other half of the marinade in a big bowl or a zipper bag. Add the thighs and mix them around until they are coated in sauce.
Put them in the refrigerator and let them rest for anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight.
3. Air Fry
Take the thighs out of the marinade, letting excess drip back down into the bowl. Put the pieces in the air fryer basket, making they are in a single layer.
Depending on the size of your air fryer you might need to cook the chicken in batches. My 5.8 quart Cosori air fryer can fit 4 bone in thighs and 5-6 boneless ones.
While parchment paper isn’t necessary it will make cleanup will be easier, since the marinade is thick and sticky. You can buy precut parchment paper specifically sized for your air fryer.
Set the air fryer for 370 degrees F and cook the thighs for 18 minutes, flipping them over after 10 minutes. (12-14 minutes for boneless chicken thighs) They should be nicely golden brown.
Use an instant read meat thermometer to check in the internal temperature. They should be cooked to 165 F for food safety. If they aren’t done air fry them for 2-3 additional minutes and check the temperature again.
Always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature, don’t try to cook based just on time. A thermometer is not expensive and the peace of mind they give you is priceless. Food poisoning is not fun! This is my favorite inexpensive meat thermometer, which you can buy on Amazon.
4. Thicken the Sauce
While the chicken is cooking take the reserved sauce from step 1 and put it in a small saucepan. Cook it over medium meat for 3-4 minutes until it thickens slightly and then take it off the heat.
How to Serve
Once the air fryer chicken is done drizzle or brush sauce over the top or use a pastry brush to coat it. Garnish the cooked thighs with sesame seeds, crushed red pepper, fresh parsley or green onions.
This dinner goes perfectly with rice or another grain. I like to pair it with fresh steamed veggies like bok choy or edamame to reflect the Asian flavors that inspire the dish.
How to Store and Reheat Leftovers
Store extra glazed chicken in an airtight container the refrigerator for 2-3 days. I usually just eat any leftover chicken cold for lunch, adding to a salad or a wrap.
But you can also reheat it in the air fryer. Put the chicken pieces in at 350 for about 5 minutes to warm it up.
This recipe also freezes well and keeps in the freezer for about 3 months. For best results thaw it overnight in the refrigerator and then reheat it.
No, it is not a good idea to stack meat in the air fryer. The hot air needs to be able to circulate to cook. You will get crispier, better tasting air fryer chicken if you cook it in a single layer rather than trying to cram as many pieces as possible into the basket.
Yes, you can use frozen meat in this recipe. Add at least an extra 5 minutes of cooking time and make sure you check the internal temperature with an instant read meat thermometer and make sure it reaches 165 degrees F internally.
Since you can’t really marinade frozen chicken thighs skip that step and just use the sauce to glaze the pieces after cooking. It will not be quite the same, but it will still be tasty.
You can marinade the chicken anywhere from 30 minutes to overnight. I usually try for 2 hours, but sometimes I forget and end up with a short marinade time!
If you are short on time just stick the thighs in the marinade for 5 minutes or skip it completely. Using the sauce at the end to glaze the thighs still makes it quite tasty, although not quite as good as marinating does.
Find More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
- 1 pound chicken thighs cut into pieces (3-4 bone in thighs or 5-6 boneless)
- ¼ cup soy sauce, reduced sodium if desired
- 2 tablespoon sesame oil
- 2 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/3 cup rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon sweet chili sauce
- 1 teaspoon hot chili paste or 1 teaspoon chili powder
- 2 tablespoons garlic cloves minced or 2 teaspoons garlic powder
- In a bowl mix the soy sauce, sesame oil, brown sugar, honey, rice vinegar, sweet chili sauce, hot chili paste and garlic.
- Set half of the marinade aside to use later as a glaze.
- Pour the other half of the marinade in a big bowl and add the chicken thighs. Mix and let it rest, refrigerated, for 30 minutes to overnight.
- Take the marinated chicken out and put it in the air fryer basket, being sure not to crowd them. Cook the chicken in batches if necessary.
- Cook bone in thighs at 370 degrees F for 18 minutes. Cook boneless thighs at 370 degrees F for 12-14 minutes. For either turn them once about halfway through the cooking time. Check the internal temperature with an instant read meat thermometer and make sure they have reach 165 degrees F. If not cook them some more.
- While the thighs are cooking add the remaining marinade to a saucepan and cook on medium heat until it reduces and thickens slightly. This should take 3-4 minutes. Then set it aside.
- To serve, drizzle the sauce over the top. Garnish with sesame seeds, green onions or crushed red pepper.
Omit the chili paste if you have kids who don't love hot and spicy foods.
The part of the marinade used with raw chicken needs to be discarded after you use it. Don't try to use it as part of the sauce that glazes the chicken.
Always use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature. Air fryers vary and the size of the chicken pieces varies, so don't try to go by time alone.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 506Total Fat: 30gSaturated Fat: 8gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 22gCholesterol: 194mgSodium: 1159mgCarbohydrates: 23gFiber: 1gSugar: 17gProtein: 38g