Buffalo Chicken Thighs recipe is a super simple way to prepare boneless skinless chicken thighs in the oven or air fryer that is perfect for a weeknight dinner or a game night. The meat is both marinaded and smothered in Frank’s Hot Sauce for the ultimate Buffalo flavor experience.
If you like Buffalo chicken wings, you MUST try this thigh recipe. Though Buffalo wings are perfect in every sense, who said you can’t put wing sauce on thighs? Once you try this recipe, you will find yourself asking the question “why didn’t I think of this genius idea before?”.
Air fryer or oven baked Buffalo Chicken Thighs are especially great for boneless skinless thighs lovers and for those people in your life who “don’t eat chicken on the bone”. You know who I’m talking about. That friend who always orders “boneless wings” aka dried out battered chicken tenders smothered in wing sauce. Boneless chicken thighs are WAY healthier and overall better.
WHY THIS RECIPE WORKS
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs are a great cut of chicken to cook. The fat content is higher than in boneless skinless chicken breast or tenders which adds more flavor and prevents the meat from drying out.
- The meat is poked with a fork and marinaded in oil, hot sauce and garlic powder so that the delicious Buffalo flavor permeates the chicken as it cooks.
- The thighs are baked in high temperature in the oven or air fryer for a wonderful crispy outside while staying tender and juicy inside. If you have an air fryer I highly recommend making these thighs using this method. The crispy edges are unparalleled!
- Tossing hot thighs in more hot sauce after baking adds a whole other layer of flavor and texture that will knock your socks off, especially if you like spicy food.
- Make sure to also check out my Air Fryer Buffalo Chicken Tenders (No Breading) for another great Buffalo chicken recipe.
WHAT YOU WILL NEED
Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs: my favorite cut of chicken to cook with!
Hot Sauce: for an authentic Buffalo chicken flavor, there is nothing better than Frank's Hot Sauce but feel free to swap it for your favorite hot sauce. See my note below on paleo/whole30/keto option.
Olive oil: used in the marinade, oil ensures that the meat stays juicy and doesn't dry out.
Garlic & Onion Powder: for an extra layer of flavor.
Black Pepper: to season the meat.
HOW TO MAKE BUFFALO CHICKEN THIGHS
STEP 1: Marinade the meat. Mix together hot sauce, oil, black pepper, onion and garlic powder in a bowl or airtight container. Remove most of the visible fat off of the chicken thighs (these kitchen scissors are great for that) and poke the meat with fork a couple times. Place the meat in the bowl and let marinade in the fridge for at least 1 hour or overnight.
STEP 2: Bake in the oven. Place marinaded chicken thighs on a baking tray and bake in the oven preheated to 425 degrees Fahrenheit for bout 25 minutes or until the meat thermometer inserted in the thickest part shows 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
STEP 3: Add sauce. Pour ⅓ cup (or more) hot sauce in a large bowl, add the baked hot chicken thighs and stir to coat.
Baking tip for crispier chicken: broil during last 1 – 3 minutes for crispier outside. Keep an eye on it the whole time so you don't get the chicken too charred!
HOW TO MAKE BUFFALO CHICKEN THIGHS IN THE AIR FRYER?
If you have an air fryer, I highly recommend using it to make this recipe! Air frying has been my favorite way of cooking chicken ever since I got mine. It makes the meat crispy and caramelized on the outside and tender and juicy on the inside. Plus, it saves a ton of time!
To make these thighs in the air fryer, preheat the air fryer to 380 degrees Fahrenheit for a couple minutes, spray the basket with non-stick spray (this avocado oil spray is what I use) and place the marinaded thighs in the basket in a single layer. Air fry for 10 minutes, then flip and air fry for 8 more minutes or until the chicken reaches your desired level of crispiness. Then toss with more hot sauce and serve immediately.
Note: if your air fryer is on the smaller side, you may need to cook the chicken in two batches. My air fryer is this 7-qt one from GoWise and the basket is large enough to fit all the thighs in this recipe in one layer.
CAN I MAKE THESE CHICKEN THIGHS PALEO/ WHOLE30 / KETO?
Yes you can! To make these Buffalo chicken thighs paleo/whole30 and keto compliant, use hot sauce that's sugar and soy free, such as Noble Made by The New Primal.
WILL THIS RECIPE WORK WITH BONE-IN, SKIN-ON CHICKEN THINGS?
Yes, absolutely! If you prefer to use bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, follow all the directions in the recipe card until ready to bake. If using an air fryer, place the thighs in the preheated air fryer at 400 degrees for 15 minutes on each side. Then toss with the sauce and serve.
If you are using the oven, it's best to bake the chicken thighs on a baking sheet with a rack for about 35-45 minutes at 400 degrees Fahrenheit or until the meat reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Toss in hot sauce and serve.
My favorite way to serve Buffalo Chicken Thighs is with a side salad. Toss mixed greens, carrots and peppers with a simple vinaigrette or whip up a quick Caesar salad. If you want something fancier, try some of these delicious salads:
- Greek Chickpea Salad
- Spinach Caprese Salad with Strawberries
- Spinach and Strawberry Salad with Feta Cheese
You can also serve these thighs with a side of roasted white or sweet potatoes, steamed broccoli, grilled zucchini or mixed roasted vegetables.
For a game night appetizer, go with a classic wing ensemble and serve them with a side of celery sticks, baby carrots and blue cheese dressing for dipping.
These Buffalo Chicken Thighs are best when served immediately but if you have leftovers, store them in an airtight container for up to 4 days in the fridge. You can then cut it up and serve cold on top of a green salad or reheat briefly in the air fryer or oven watching not to overcook the meat.
MORE CHICKEN IDEAS
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Buffalo Chicken Thighs are a super simple way to prepare boneless skinless chicken thighs that is perfect for a weeknight dinner or game night.
6 boneless skinless chicken thighs (about 1-1.5 lbs)
2 tablespoons olive oil
⅔ cup hot sauce, such as Frank's, divided
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
½ teaspoon black pepper, freshly ground
extra salt, in needed (see recipe notes)
- Trim chicken thighs so most of the visible fat is removed.
- Place ⅓ hot sauce, olive oil, garlic powder, onion powder in a medium bowl and mix together. Add the chicken and stir to coat. Cover and let the chicken marinade for at least 1 hour in the fridge.
- To bake in the oven, preheat the oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit, place the marinaded meat onto a baking tray in one layer and bake for about 25 minutes or until a meat temperature reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If you like crispier chicken, broil for 1-3 minutes at the end.
- To air fry, preheat your air fryer to 380 degrees for a couple minutes. Spray the air fryer basket with a non-stick spray and place the chicken thighs inside in one layer. Air fry 10 minutes, then flip and air fry for 8-10 more minutes.
- Place the hot cooked chicken in a bowl and pour the remaining ⅓ cup hot sauce on top. Toss to coat and serve immediately.
For trimming fat off chicken thighs, I find that kitchen scissors work best.
The amount of hot sauce will depend on how spicy you like your food. I find that marinading the meat in ⅓ cup hot sauce before baking and then smothering the crispy chicken in equal amount of hot sauce is perfect. However, if you like your chicken spicier and saucier, feel free to use more!
This recipe does not call for salt because Frank's Hot Sauce is already salty (190 milligrams of sodium in 1 teaspoon). If you choose a different brand of hot sauce that has less salt, I would add a sprinkle of salt to the marinade.
For a paleo/keto/whole30 version, use hot sauce that contains no sugar or soy, such as this one.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 25 minutes
- Category: dinner, appetizer
- Cuisine: American
Keywords: buffalo chicken thighs, chicken thighs, boneless skinless chicken thighs, buffalo chicken, air fryer buffalo chicken thighs