Delicious air fryer bbq chicken: juicy, sweet, smoky, and flavorful. Ready in less than 30 minutes, all you actually have to do is to stir the ingredients for the bbq sauce.
The machine makes everything even easier than regular cooking, not to mention so much faster. And the results are always a hit: juicy, moist pieces, with crispy skin when needed, everything so full of flavor. And if you would like to learn more about cooking in the air fryer, check out The Best Air Fryer Recipes for Beginners.
Table of contents
What do you need?
Chicken thighs, skin on, bone-in.
Can I use the breast?
Definitely. In this case, the cooking time will be even shorter, about 15 minutes. Flip halfway and add the sauce during the last 3 minutes of the cooking time.
- Either bought or homemade.
- I have to say that I am not a fan of bought bbq sauce. Maybe it’s just that I cannot find the right brand here in Germany, but every sort I’ve ever tried left me disappointed. Either too sweet, too smoky, tasting very artificial most of the time.
- But that doesn’t mean that you cannot use your favorite brand, I am sure there must be something better out there, I just didn’t find it yet.
- Until I find it, I prefer to make my own sauce, just a quick mixture of basic ingredients that tastes just the way I want it.
- You will need ketchup, garlic powder, brown sugar, balsamic, lime juice, cayenne pepper, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper.
Other ingredients: a little oil to spray over the meat, smoked paprika and cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper to rub on the thighs before cooking.
How to make air fryer bbq chicken?
- Preheat the machine according to its instructions, some need it, some don’t. I need to preheat mine for 3 minutes.
- Mix the smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper.
- Spray the meat with the oil on both sides and rub well with the spice mixture.
- Place in the basket, skin-side down, and cook for 18 minutes until golden. (1,2)
- In the meantime, mix the ingredients for the sauce in a small bowl.
- Brush some of the sauce on the thighs. (3)
- Flip them, and brush more sauce on top of them. (4,5)
- Cook, skin-side up this time, for 3 more minutes or until the meat is cooked through. (6)
- Remove and brush with a little more sauce if desired.
- Serve immediately.
The cooking time depends on the size of the thighs. Mine were medium, but if those you have are larger you might have to increase the cooking time slightly.
The internal temperature should be 74 degrees Celsius/165 degrees Fahrenheit.
The best method to check is with a meat thermometer.
You can also check with a toothpick inserted in the thickest part of the thigh, the juices should run clear. Or you can cut the thigh close to the bone, the meat should be white, and there is no pink allowed.
- There is no need to wash the meat, the bacteria will only be killed when you cook the pieces, and washing will only spread it all over your sink.
- Dry the thighs very well with kitchen paper.
- Make sure to check the internal temperature to see if the meat is cooked through, and also try not to overcook it, which will make it dry.
- Use your favorite brand of sauce to make the recipe for the air fryer bbq chicken even easier.
What to serve with BBQ chicken?
Air Fryer Bbq Chicken
- 4 chicken thighs Note
- a few dashes olive or vegetable oil spray
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1-2 sprinkles cayenne pepper to taste
- fine sea salt and pepper
- Bbq sauce:
- 2 tablespoons ketchup
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- 2-3 teaspoon balsamic vinegar to taste
- 2 teaspoon lime juice
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
- ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
- fine sea salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the air fryer to 190 degrees Celsius/ 375 degrees Fahrenheit, if required by its instructions.
- Dry the chicken pieces with kitchen paper. Spray with a little oil on both sides.
- Season: Mix the smoked paprika, cayenne, salt, and pepper, and rub the chicken with the mixture on both sides.
- Cook: Place in the basket of the fryer, skin-side down. Cook for 18 minutes.
- In the meantime, make the bbq sauce. Mix all the ingredients. Adjust the taste with salt, pepper, more sugar, vinegar, or lime juice. Taste until it's exactly to your liking.
- Brush the thighs with bbq sauce, flip and brush the upper side with more sauce.
- Continue cooking, this time skin-side up for 3 minutes or until the meat is cooked through. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer, it should be 74 degrees Celsius/165 degrees Fahrenheit. Or insert a toothpick in the thickest part of the thigh, the juices should run clear.
- Brush with more sauce if desired and serve immediately.
- You can use chicken breast instead. Cook for 15 minutes, flipping halfway and brushing with the sauce during the last 3 minutes of the cooking time. Check the internal temperature with a meat thermometer; it should be 74 degrees Celsius/165 degrees Fahrenheit.