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How to Make Incredibly Tender Air Fryer Chicken

You can get the most flavorful chicken from an air fryer, in a snap.

Okay, we'll admit it: The air fryer is more than worth the counter space it takes in a home kitchen. It's quite versatile (here are our favorite air fryer tips for making the most of yours). But besides that, it's also one of the handiest weeknight (read: fast) methods of cooking we've found. Especially if you're not cooking for an army of people, the air fryer's smaller size and high-powered fan means it heats itself up in a jiffy, and heats food up quickly too, often making an entire dinner in the time it would take your typical oven just to get hot. 

One place the air fryer really shines? Weeknight proteins. If you find yourself often wondering whether there's a faster way to get air fryer pork chops or chicken on the table a little faster without sacrificing taste, then the air fryer is for you—and the larger versions (like the highly-rated Philips XXL) are perfect for feeding a family of four. 

We're big fans of bone-in chicken thighs. The meat is much harder to overcook, because it's less likely to dry out. With just a little prep work, these chicken thighs can go from the fridge to the table in just about 20 minutes. Though you could cook them straight from the package, we like to make sure they're extra tender and flavorful by tossing together a quick marinade in the morning. That lets them soak in flavor all day, so that you can come home, toss them in the air fryer, and have a dinner your whole family will love on the table in no time.

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Yields: 4 servings
Prep Time: 8 hours 0 mins
Cook Time: 0 hours 20 mins
Total Time: 8 hours 20 mins
1 1/2 tbsp.

whole-grain mustard

1 tbsp.

smoked paprika

1 1/2 tsp.

dried rosemary


lemon, zested and juiced

1 1/2 tbsp.

canola oil


bone-in chicken thighs

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  1. Combine  mustard, paprika, rosemary, lemon zest and juice, and oil in a bowl. Stir to combine. 
  2. Add chicken and toss until fully coated. Cover and chill, at least 4 hours but preferably 8 to 12 hours.
  3. Preheat air-fryer at 400°F for 2 to 3 minutes. Remove chicken from bowl, letting excess marinade drip off. Place in the air fryer basket, leaving room around each piece for air to flow. (Cook in batches if the basket is not big enough to hold all pieces.) Cook, flipping halfway through, until internal temperature on an instant read thermometer reads 160°F-165°F, about 18 minutes.
  4. Loosely cover thighs with a aluminum foil and let rest 5 minutes, to allow the meat to finish cooking and reabsorb juices. Serve with a side of rice or an easy salad
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