Air Fryer Southwest Chicken Thighs

closeup of cooked chicken thighs with peppers


Air Fryer Southwest Chicken Thighs are quick and easy to make, and even easier to eat! When made in the air fryer, these marinated chicken thighs develop crispy skin on the outside and deliciously juicy, tender meat on the inside. The best part here is the flavor from the homemade southwest chicken marinade!

closeup of cooked chicken thighs with peppers

Air Fryer Southwest Chicken Thighs

What did we ever do without our air fryers? While there are tons of delicious chicken thigh recipes out there, I keep going back to Greek and Southwest chicken the most. These boldly flavored chicken thighs yield the most delicious results cooked in the air fryer in about thirty minutes.

The cooking time here is pretty quick, but the chicken does require time to marinate – and the tender, flavorful results are well worth the wait. You can marinate the chicken for as little as 2 hours or as long as 12, it just depends on how much time you have to play around with.

I do recommend marinating the meat for closer to the 8-12 hour mark, though, so the ingredients in the marinade really have time to develop and infuse the chicken with flavor.

The white wine vinegar and freshly squeezed lime juice add a delightful acidic tang to the marinade, all while a medley of spices creates that signature Southwest flavor we all know and love. Paprika, chili powder, garlic powder, and more meld together to create a seriously mouthwatering flavor palate. This is an ideal weeknight dinner for families who aren’t afraid of a whole lot of flavor!

How to Make Air Fryer Southwest Chicken Thighs

ingredients for air fryer southwest chicken thighs

Ingredients You Need:

For The Chicken:

  • Chicken Thighs – use bone-in chicken thighs for this easy recipe.
  • Bell Peppers – Any color will work!
  • Red Onion – Use a red onion as opposed to others in this bold recipe, red onions will add potent flavor and vibrant color.

Southwest Chicken Marinade:

  • Olive Oil – Use a good quality extra virgin olive oil for the best flavor.
  • White Wine Vinegar – apple cider or sherry vinegar would be an adequate substitute, but white wine vinegar is preferred.
  • Lime Juice – Only use freshly squeezed lime juice for the best flavor!
  • Garlic – as always, use fresh garlic for the best results.
  • Chili Powder
  • Paprika
  • Garlic Powder
  • Onion Powder
  • Oregano
  • Cumin
  • Salt

Cooking Directions:

First, marinate the chicken.

Combine all of the ingredients for the marinade in a mixing bowl.

Place the raw chicken thighs into a large zip-top bag. Pour the marinade onto the chicken, but reserve about 1/4 cup of it for the veggies.

Try to remove most of the air from the bag before securely zipping it closed. Lay the bag on its side, making sure that all of the chicken is covered evenly by the marinade.

Place the bag in a larger dish, just in case a leak should occur, then refrigerate for 2-12 hours. (Refrigerate reserved marinade in a separate container.)

Cook the chicken thighs in the Air Fryer:

Slice the onions and bell peppers thinly and toss them in the reserved marinade and set aside.

Remove the chicken from the marinade and gently shake off some excess marinade.

Place the chicken into the basket of your air fryer, skin side down, in one single layer, don’t overcrowd or overlap. Cook for 12 minutes at 400°F.

Flip and cook for an additional 10-12 minutes.

Remove the chicken thighs from the air fryer. Spread the veggies in the basket of the air fryer, place the chicken thighs back in, and cook for an additional 5 minutes.

cooked chicken thighs and peppers in air fryer basket
cooked chicken thighs with bell peppers and onions

Frequently Asked Questions

What should I serve with these chicken thighs?

Can I use different cuts of chicken?

Yes! While this recipe is worked out for bone-in chicken, there are other cuts that you can use. You can always substitute chicken legs or even chicken leg quarters. The time for larger, bone-in chicken cuts like that will be slightly higher, by just a few minutes. Check the temperature to be around 170°-175° (chicken is done at 165°.)

For boneless cuts, like chicken breast and boneless, skinless chicken thighs, will be shorter and you should lower the cooking temperature to 360°. Average cook time for chicken breast in the air-fryer is about 15-18 minutes, flipping it in the middle. Boneless chicken thighs will take a few minutes less to cook.

Storing Air Fried Chicken Thighs:

Store leftovers in the air-tight food storage container, in the refrigerator. Stored properly, these chicken thighs will be good for about 3-4 days.

To reheat the leftover chicken thighs, it’s best to do so in the air fryer, that way the skin gets crispy again. Pop them in an air fryer heated to 390°F for about 3 minutes or until warmed through.

Air Fryer Southwest Chicken Thighs

closeup of cooked chicken thighs with peppers

Air Fryer Southwest Chicken Thighs

These Southwest Chicken Thighs are flavorful and easy with crispy skin on the outside and deliciously juicy, tender meat on the inside. It’s made with southwest chicken marinade and cooked in the air fryer with some peppers and onion.



Course: Main Course

Cuisine: American

Keyword: chicken thighs

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Marinate:: 2 hours

Total Time: 2 hours 35 minutes

Servings: 4

Calories: 734kcal

Author: lyuba


  • 2.5-3 lbs bone-in chicken thighs
  • 2-3 bell peppers
  • 1 red onion


  • 1/3 cup olive oil
  • 3 tbsp white wine vinegar
  • 3 tbsp freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1.5 tsp chili powder
  • 1.5 tsp paprika
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp onion powder
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1.5 tsp corase salt


To Marinate The Chicken:

  • Combine all ingredients for the marinade in a bowl and whisk well.

  • Place chicken thighs into a large (gallon) zip-top bag or a mixing bowl that is metal or glass. Pour in the marinade BUT reserve about 1/4 cup of the marinade for the vegetables. (If marinating chicken overnight, store the reserved marinade separately, in another container, in the refrigerator.)Try to get most of the air out of the bag before closing it. (If using a bowl, cover it air-tight with plastic wrap.) Lay the bag on it’s side and make sure chicken and marinade are spread evenly.
  • Place the bag into a bowl or a larger dish to prevent leaks in the refrigerator and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight. 

Cooking Chicken Thighs:

  • Slice onion and bell peppers thinly and toss them in a mixing bowl with the marinade that you’ve set aside. Let it sit while cooking the chicken.

  • Take chicken thighs out of the marinade and gently shake off the excess.

  • Place chicken thighs into the air-fryer basket, skin side down and cook at 400° for 12 minutes. Flip and cook another 10-12 minutes. (Make sure to spread the chicken thighs in the basket in one even layer, don’t overlap.)

  • Take the chicken thighs out, spread the veggies under on the bottom, and place chicken thighs back in. Ait fry another 5 minutes, until the skin is crispy.


Calories: 734kcal | Carbohydrates: 11g | Protein: 41g | Fat: 59g | Saturated Fat: 13g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 10g | Monounsaturated Fat: 30g | Trans Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 236mg | Sodium: 1078mg | Potassium: 750mg | Fiber: 3g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 2664IU | Vitamin C: 83mg | Calcium: 58mg | Iron: 3mg

Tried this recipe?Mention @willcookforsmiles and tag #willcookforsmiles
collage of two closeup images of sir fryer chicken thighs


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