Making Lemon Pepper chicken thighs in air fryer is our new favorite easy dinner recipe. With just a few ingredients, these Air fryer lemon pepper chicken thighs are ready in less than 20 mins. The lemon pepper marinade takes this boneless chicken to another level. It’s super easy, quick and flavorful.
Serve this chicken recipe with your favorite sides like rice, potatoes or veggies to make it a complete meal.
Air fryer lemon pepper chicken thighs
I can’t over emphasize how much I love using my air fryer for chicken recipes. It has never disappointed me, from these air fryer frozen wings to these air fryer boneless chicken thighs and all the air fryer chicken breast recipes in between, it has always yielded consistent juicy and tasty results.
I love the simplicity of this air fryer lemon pepper chicken thighs recipe. It only requires a handful of ingredients and with minimal effort you get a restaurant quality chicken to the table ready for any side dish you want to serve it with.
Related: Air fryer lemon pepper chicken wings, Lemon pepper chicken drumsticks
Why you’ll love this recipe!
Easy: My no one answer to why you should try a recipe is the level of difficulty. These are super easy to make, fool proof and is absolutely beginner friendly.
Number of ingredients: When trying a new recipe, the amount of ingredients can be a deterrent to making that recipe. This lemon pepper chicken thighs is one of those recipes that requires a few ingredients.
Family friendly: This one of those recipes everyone loves. Easy but delicious.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- Chicken thighs: I used boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. Bone-in Chicken thighs will work as well but will take longer to cook.
- Olive oil: This can be substituted with any cooking oil you prefer.
- Lemon pepper Seasoning: You can make your own homemade lemon pepper seasoning or use store bought. If using store bought, taste the seasoning for salt so you can determine if you need to add salt to the chicken.
- Garlic powder: This is the only extra seasoning I added to this recipe. Though some recipes include paprika and onion powder, I chose to leave it out in this recipe I wanted the lemon pepper flavor to come through.
- Butter: This is needed to make the lemon pepper sauce which is optional. It’s simply a complement to the lemon pepper chicken thighs.
Lemon Pepper Seasoning Recipe
You can use store bought lemon pepper seasoning or make a homemade version. I used the McCormick brand to make this recipe. If you can’t find any in store you can use the recipe below to make yours. All you will need are;
- 4 Tablespoons dry lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 ½ Tablespoons black pepper
- 1 ½ teaspoons onion powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder
Mix all the ingredients together to make your homemade lemon pepper seasoning.
Lemon pepper butter sauce
Lemon butter sauce compliments lemon pepper chicken. It’s easy to make and requires a few ingredients. Melted butter or clarified butter, lemon pepper seasoning and sometimes paprika. Mix all ingredients together and brush it on the chicken.
Easy Lemon Pepper Chicken Marinade
This is an easy marinade that comes together quickly and tastes amazing. It’s made with easily accessible ingredients and you’d be glad you can use it for any cut if chicken. It tastes amazing on wings and chicken breasts and drumsticks.
A little bit of oil, lemon pepper and and garlic will make this simple lemon pepper Marinade and probably the only one you need. However you can include paprika, more herbs and a dash of lemon juice to enhance the lemon flavor and also tenderize the chicken.
How long to cook lemon pepper chicken thighs in air fryer
The length of of time it will take to cook this chicken will depend on size, if it’s bone-in or boneless chicken thighs and the wattage of the air fryer.
The chicken used for this recipe was about 1.2 lbs and it was boneless. It cooked in 15 mins. If you use bone-in chicken thighs, it would take anywhere from 20 to 25 mins to cook. Again this is dependent on size.
The most important thing to determine when meat is fully cooked is the use of a meat thermometer and for chicken, it should read at least 165°F / 74°C to be considered fully cooked and safe to eat.
How to make lemon pepper chicken thighs (air fryer)
This is as easy as gathering your ingredients and air frying. So gather your ingredients and let’s get started.
Pat chicken dry with paper towel, Add oil, lemon pepper seasoning and garlic powder to the chicken. Toss to till Chicken is well coated in the marinade.
Cover with cling film and let chicken marinate in the refrigerator for 30 minutes to 24 hours. At least 15 mins is fine if you are in a hurry.
When the marinating time is up. Place the marinated chicken thighs in the air fryer and bake at 400°F / 200°C for 15 to 18 mins. The internal temperature should be at least 165°F / 74°C
Melt some butter and mix it with the lemon pepper seasoning and brush it on the chicken before serving.
Best sides for Lemon pepper chicken
Lennon pepper baked chicken thighs is simply chicken, therefore the options are endless when it comes to the best side dishes for this recipe. Below are some of our favorites.
- Ham Fried rice
- Potatoes are great as a side dish to lemon pepper chicken thighs. We have a variety to choose from and they all taste delicious. Here are some to start with Mashed potatoes, Steak potatoes, air fryer Potato wedges, French fries, air fryer potatoes and onions, Sweet potato fries, air fryer fingerling potatoes, Parmentier potatoes, Roasted potatoes, air fryer red potatoes and lots more.
- Butternut squash fries
- Mac and cheese
- Easy cucumber Salad
How to store and reheat
Leftovers can be stored in an air tight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Alternatively freeze for up to a month in an air tight container or freezer bag.
Chicken can be reheated in the air fryer or microwave. To reheat in the microwave, simply place the chicken in a microwave safe plate and microwave on high at a minute intervals until the chicken is warmed through.
For the air fryer which is my preferred method, place the chicken in the air fryer basket. Set temperature to 350°F / 180°C and air fry for 5 to 8 minutes or until warmed through. The length of time will depend on size of chicken and quantity being warmed.
Air frying Tips
- No need to preheat the air fryer
- Flip the chicken halfway through cooking time.
- The internal temperature of meat is the best guide to knowing when meat is fully cooked and safe for consumption. I like to cook my chicken beyond the FDA recommendation internal temperature of 165°F / 74°C which is my personal preference. Be sure that the internal temperature of any chicken you cook in the air fryer is at least 165°F / 74°C.
- You can season the chicken and freeze it raw. If you do this, there’s no need to thaw before cooking. The air fryer cooks frozen foods perfectly.
Here you’ll find answers to common questions about this recipe. If your question isn’t answered, please leave us a comment below and we’ll gladly answer them.
How long is too long to marinate chicken thighs?
For best results it’s better to marinate chicken thighs for from 30 mins up to 24 hrs. After 48 hrs the chicken begins to get too and may turn out a bit mushy when cooked.
Do I have to use lemon juice to make lemon pepper chicken thighs?
You don’t have to use lemon juice for this recipe. The lemon pepper seasoning suffices in my opinion so I hardly ever need to use Lemon juice.
Which is better dry rub or marinade?
It’s a matter of personal preference and how much time you have on your hands. Both methods work perfectly but marinating yields more tender and flavorful meat.
More Air fryer Chicken thigh recipes
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Tools used for this recipe
- This recipe was made using the Gourmia air fryer. The exact model I used is no longer readily available. This is the one that’s currently available. I also use the Cosori air fryer often to make recipes shared here at Air Fryer Yum!
- Mixing bowl
- Perforated Parchment paper or perforated silicon Mat (optional)
- Kitchen tongs (optional)
- Digital instant read Meat thermometer
- Heat resistant mat for your counter top
- Meal prep bowls for storage and easy reheating
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Air fryer lemon pepper chicken thighs recipe
- Gourmia 6qt
- Kitchen tongs
- Pastry brush
- Mixing bowl
- Cling film
- 1.2 lbs boneless skinless chicken thighs
- 1 Tablespoon Olive oil (or cooking oil of choice)
- 2½ teaspoons Lemon pepper seasoning (divided 2 ½ for marinade and 1 ½ for optional butter glaze)
- 1½ teaspoon Garlic powder
Lemon pepper butter sauce
- 2 Tablespoon Butter (melted)
- 1½ teaspoons Homemade Lemon pepper seasoning
- 4 Tablespoons Dry lemon zest
- 2 teaspoons Salt
- 1½ Tablespoons Black pepper
- 1½ Tablespoons Garlic powder
Marinate the chicken
- If using homemade lemon pepper seasoning, mix all the ingredients for the seasoning and set aside.
- Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towel, then place chicken thighs in a bowl, add oil, 2 ½ teaspoons of lemon pepper seasoning blend and garlic powder.
- Toss chicken in seasoning till well coated with marinade, cover with cling film and let it marinade for 30 mins to overnight in the refrigerator. If you are in a pinch with time, marinade for at least 15 mins
Air fry the chicken
- When ready to cook , place seasoned lemon pepper chicken thighs in the air fryer and air fry at 400°F / 200°C for 15 to 18 mins. Flipping halfway through. Chicken is cooked through when internal temperature reaches 165°F / 74°C
Make the Lemon butter sauce
- Mix the butter and the remaining 1 ½ teaspoons of lemon pepper seasoning.
- Brush butter and lemon pepper mix all over chicken and serve with lemon slices and your favorite side dish
- There is no need to spray the basket since the chicken marinade has oil. If you are concerned about sticking, use perforated parchment paper.
- Do not overcrowd the basket. Cool in batches if needed.
- The size and weight of the chicken thighs will determine how long it will take to cook.
- The use of a meat thermometer is highly recommended when cooking meats. If you don’t have one, check the meat for doneness by cutting it at the thickest part. It should be white and juice should run clear and not red.
- This recipe was made in a non preheated air fryer. However if cooking in batches, subsequent batches may cook quicker since the air fryer got preheated during the first batch.
- If you don’t want to make a butter glaze. Use up all the lemon pepper seasoning for the marinade.
Nutritional information is an estimate and may change based on products used. Please read full nutrition disclaimer here.
⭐️ This recipe was first published in October 2021 and has been updated with more tips to help you with the recipe. Recipe remains the same. Hope you find it helpful.