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Buffalo Chicken Thighs Air Fryer

$6.37 Recipe/$1.59 Serving

Air fryer buffalo chicken is easy to make and so flavorful! Buffalo chicken thighs in the air fryer are ready in about 30 minutes (including prep and marinating time) and use pantry staple ingredients you likely already have on hand. You won’t believe how easy it is to cook chicken thighs in the air fryer, making this recipe perfect for busy weeknight dinners or gameday!

Buffalo chicken in an air fryer basket.

Why you will love this recipe

  • So flavorful – Buffalo chicken thighs in the air fryer are a great alternative to making buffalo chicken wings, and they are easy to prep and delicious in every bite!
  • Simple ingredients – you likely already have most of the ingredients to make buffalo chicken thighs in the air fryer in your pantry/fridge! All these ingredients can be found at any grocery store, making this easy to add to your weekly meal rotation. This air fryer buffalo chicken recipe is naturally gluten free, dairy free, paleo, low carb and keto friendly. You can easily make this Whole30 friendly too by using a Whole30 compliant hot sauce!
  • Easy to make – you won’t believe how easy it is to cook buffalo chicken thighs in the air fryer. Simply marinate the chicken for 15 minutes before adding it directly to the air fryer basket. The chicken cooks in 10-13 minutes (depending on how thick the chicken thighs are) making it perfect for busy weeknights!
  • Versatile – this recipe has a base layer of spice from the marinade, but you can also increase the heat by adding buffalo sauce to the chicken thighs after cooking in the air fryer. This is optional since the chicken thighs are already well seasoned, but a great way to add more spice if you and your family enjoy different levels of heat.
Ingredients to make buffalo chicken thighs.
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Ingredients

  • Chicken thighs – boneless, skinless chicken thighs are best for this recipe since they cook quickly and stay juicy and tender when cooked.
  • Hot sauce – use your favorite hot sauce for this. The level of heat in this recipe will depend on how hot your hot sauce is. If you want to keep this recipe on the mild side, check out the details on how to make this without hot sauce and omit the crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Spices: Smoked paprika, dried chives (or garlic powder), dried parsley, dried dill, salt – these help to add a ranch flavor to the air fryer buffalo chicken thighs. You can also use a packet of ranch seasoning in place of these spices.

How to make buffalo chicken thighs in the air fryer

Check out the story showing the steps on how to make buffalo chicken in the air fryer.

Start by combining the hot sauce and spices in a bowl large enough to marinate the chicken in.

Glass bowl filled with hot sauce and spices to make air fryer buffalo chicken.

Add the chicken thighs to the hot sauce mixture and poke a few holes in the chicken with a fork (this allows the marinade to get deeper in the chicken). Let rest for 15 minutes (flip the chicken after about 10 minutes).

After 15 minutes (minimum) in the marinade, transfer the chicken thighs to the air fryer basket.

Buffalo chicken thighs in glass bowl with buffalo sauce.

Set the air fryer to 375F to cook the buffalo chicken thighs for 10-12 minutes. After 8 minutes in the air fryer, pause the air fryer and flip the chicken (I use silicone tip tongs for this so I don’t scratch the air fryer basket coating). Continue to cook the for 2-4 more minutes depending on your air fryer and how thick the chicken thighs are.

Steps to make buffalo chicken thighs in the air fryer.

Check the thickest part of the largest chicken thigh with a digital thermometer, ensuring that the temperature is at least 165F.

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Top tips

  • Poke the chicken with a fork to really make sure the marinade is able to get in the chicken.
  • After cooking, you can toss the chicken thighs in buffalo sauce. This is a great way to add more heat after cooking if you love spicy food but not everyone in your family does!
  • Don’t overcrowd the air fryer basket. I can typically make about 1-1.5 pounds of chicken thighs in the air fryer at once. You want the chicken to be flat, not overlapping as it cooks.
  • Be sure to check the temperature (165F) of the thickest part of the largest thigh to make sure the chicken is fully cooked.
  • Chicken thighs are higher in fat but that added fat makes them much more forgiving when baking. Chicken thighs are less likely to dry out and stay moist and tender, even if you overcook them a bit, making them perfect for weeknight meals. If you want to make this with chicken breast, I suggest you cut the chicken breast into tenders so that they cook in the same time and they get well seasoned and are less likely to dry out when cooking in the air fryer.
  • Each air fryer is slightly different with wattage and size, which means your air fryer might need more or less time to cook this recipe. Once you make it one or two times, you will know the right timing for your air fryer for future reference.
Large plate filled with buffalo chicken thighs cooked in the air fryer with broccoli slaw in background.

What to serve with air fryer buffalo chicken

How to make homemade buffalo sauce

Making your own buffalo sauce at home is super simple. I like to use olive oil because I always have it on hand but if you want a more authentic buffalo sauce flavor (like what you would get at a pizza place or your favorite wing place), use melted ghee (Whole30) or melted butter.

To make your own buffalo sauce at home, combine 1/4 cup of hot sauce, 2 tablespoons of olive oil (or avocado oil, melted ghee or melted butter) and 1/2 teaspoon of garlic powder in a bowl. Whisk well until well combined.

Common questions

Can you use bone in chicken thighs with the skin?

Yes however you will need to cook them longer in the air fryer. Increase the heat to 400F and cook them for a total of 25-30 minutes. Flip them over after cooking for 30 minutes and check the internal temperature to ensure they are done cooking.

Buffalo chicken on a white plate with ranch broccoli slaw.

What is a good store bought buffalo sauce?

You can make you own buffalo sauce (it’s pretty simple) but you can also use a store bought buffalo sauce to toss the chicken thighs in after cooking them in the air fryer. Here are some great options with really great ingredients:

Can this be made Whole30?

Many brands of hot sauce are not Whole30 compliant because of the added ingredients. Be sure to check out the ingredients to ensure that all the ingredients are Whole30 compliant. Here are some great options that can be found ay most grocery stores or online:

Can you make buffalo chicken thighs in the oven?

Yes! You can make buffalo chicken thighs in the oven instead of the air fryer. Preheat the oven to 400F and cook for about 25 minutes. Be sure to check out all the tips and tricks to how to make best buffalo chicken thighs in the oven.

Are chicken thighs healthy?

Yes! Boneless, skinless chicken thighs are a great healthy ingredient. Although they do have more fat than chicken breast, they are a great source of protein and because the skin is removed, have less fat than you think.

What is the difference between chicken thighs and chicken breast

Chicken thighs are considered dark meat and have higher fat content than the breast. Chicken thighs tend stay moist and juicy when cooking.

Chicken breast is considered white meat, and has less fat than the thighs. Chicken breast can get dry, especially if overcooked. Chicken breast tend to be larger than chicken thighs and often require more time to cook. If you need to use chicken breast, I recommend cutting them down into tenders first, so they will cook faster and are less likely to dry out.

Air fryer basket filled with buffalo chicken thighs.

Storing leftovers

  • Fridge: You can store leftover air fryer buffalo chicken in the fridge for up to 3 days. Reheat the chicken in the microwave, in the oven or in the air fryer.
  • Freezer: Store leftover buffalo chicken in the freezer for up to 2 months in a well sealed freezer safe bag or container. Defrost in the fridge overnight before reheating.

Substitutions

  • Boneless, skinless chicken thighs – you can also use chicken breast (cut down into tenders) or chicken tenders in place of the chicken thighs. If you want to use chicken thighs with the bone and skin, you will want to increase the cooking time to 25-30 minutes in the air fryer.
  • Hot sauce – you can also use your favorite buffalo sauce in place of the hot sauce if you want. If you don’t have hot sauce on hand, you can use 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add 2 teaspoons paprika, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes.
  • Spices – You can simply omit any of the spices if you need to. You can also use 1 tablespoon of your favorite ranch seasoning in place of all the spices listed. If you don’t have dried chives, you can use 1 teaspoon of garlic powder.

Other healthy chicken thigh recipes you will love

Instant Pot Chicken Thighs and Potatoes

Air Fryer Greek Chicken

Instant Pot Chicken Thighs and Rice

Air Fryer Teriyaki Chicken Thighs

Dijon Chicken Sheet Pan Meal

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Buffalo chicken thighs on a white plate with ranch broccoli slaw.

Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Thighs

$6.37 Recipe/$1.59 Serving
Buffalo chicken thighs in the air fryer is a quick, easy and super flavorful recipe that cooks in just 12 minutes! This healthy air fryer buffalo chicken has just 7 ingredients and is naturally gluten free, dairy free, paleo, low carb, keto and can be made Whole30 friendly! If you love buffalo wings, you have to try this air fryer buffalo chicken.
Print Pin Save Rate
Course: dinner
Cuisine: American
Keyword: air fryer buffalo chicken, air fryer buffalo chicken thighs, buffalo chicken air fryer
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 12 mins
Total Time: 27 mins
Servings: 4

Ingredients

Instructions

  • Add the hot sauce and spices to a bowl large enough to marinate the chicken in. Stir well
  • Add the chicken thighs to the hot sauce mixture and poke the chicken with a fork to let in more marinade. Let sit 15 minutes (minimum). After 10 minutes, flip the chicken to ensure both sides get well coated.
  • After at least 15 minutes in the marinade, transfer the chicken to the air fryer basket.
  • Turn the air fryer on 375F for 12 minutes (start checking around 10 minutes).
  • After 8 minutes of cooking, pause the air fryer and flip the chicken (I use silicone tip tongs for this). Resume cooking for 2-4 more minutes depending on how large your chicken thighs were.
  • Serve immediately or coat the chicken thighs in buffalo sauce (homemade or store bought) for even more buffalo flavor.

Notes

Homemade Buffalo Sauce Recipe:
  • 1/4 cup hot sauce
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil (or avocado oil or melted ghee or melted butter)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Mix together the hot sauce, olive oil and garlic powder in a bowl until well combined. 
How to make buffalo chicken thighs in the oven:
Preheat the oven to 400F and cook for about 25 minutes. Check out all the tips and tricks on how to make the best oven baked buffalo chicken thighs
Top tips
  • Poke the chicken with a fork to really make sure the marinade is able to get in the chicken.
  • After cooking, you can toss the chicken thighs in buffalo sauce. This is a great way to add more heat after cooking if you love spicy food but not everyone in your family does!
  • Don’t overcrowd the air fryer basket. I can typically make about 1-1.5 pounds of chicken thighs in the air fryer at once. You want the chicken to be flat, not overlapping as it cooks.
  • Be sure to check the temperature (165F) of the thickest part of the largest thigh to make sure the chicken is fully cooked.
  • If you want to make this with chicken breast, I suggest you cut the chicken breast into tenders so that they cook in the same time and they get well seasoned and are less likely to dry out when cooking in the air fryer.
  • Each air fryer is slightly different with wattage and size, which means your air fryer might need more or less time to cook this recipe. Once you make it one or two times, you will know the right timing for your air fryer for future reference.
Storage:
  • Fridge: Store leftover buffalo chicken in the fridge for up to 3 days in a well sealed container. 
  • Freezer: Freeze leftover air fryer buffalo chicken thighs for up to 2 months in a freezer safe bag or container. Defrost in the fridge overnight before reheating. 
 
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Nutrition Information

Nutrition Facts
Amount per Serving
Calories
138
Fat
 
5
g
Carbohydrates
 
1
g
Fiber
 
1
g
Sugar
 
1
g
Protein
 
22
g
Where does nutrition info come from? Nutrition facts are provided as a courtesy, sourced from the USDA Food Database.
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