Packed with delicious citrus flavor, Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs are an easy weeknight dinner that the whole family will love!
Once spring rolls around, I am totally guilty of over-making ALL my favorite citrus recipes. From a deliciously moist lemon cake to a tall glass of raspberry lemonade to this Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs recipe, for me, there really is NO such thing as too much lemon. I especially love lemon pepper chicken because not only is it packed full of citrus flavor but, it’s super easy to make. So, grab your trusty air fryer and whip up a batch of crispy lemon pepper chicken tonight!
AIR FRYER LEMON PEPPER CHICKEN THIGHS
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There is no such thing as too many chicken recipes, am I right? I mean chicken is just SO easy to work with, so easy to season uniquely, and so easy to match with yummy side dishes to create a complete meal that your family will devour.
Well, out here on the west coast, spring is finally starting to show its beautiful face and as the weather starts warming up a bit, I always dig out my favorite summery recipes. For me, a true sign of spring is anything citrusy.
So, combining my favorite dinner protein (chicken of course…) and my favorite summer flavor (lemon) was a no-brainer for me. That’s where this delicious lemon pepper chicken recipe came from. Bright flavors and crispy chicken skin all made possible by my favorite kitchen appliance – the air fryer – make this an easy weeknight meal that everyone will love!
Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs Ingredients
Many lemon pepper chicken breast recipes will have you use store-bought lemon pepper seasoning, and while that is a totally fine option, I’ve found that creating the same flavor from REAL ingredients is super easy, so why not make it from scratch? Here’s what you’ll need to make your own lemon pepper chicken sauce:
Chicken thighs – if you love lemon pepper chicken wings, you’ll absolutely be a fan of this crispy lemon pepper chicken recipe. I’ve found that I love a good crispy skin on my chicken, so I use skin-on chicken thighs to achieve that similarity to my favorite chicken wings.
If you prefer a leaner option, you can cook up some lemon pepper chicken breast instead. Just know, you won’t get the same crispy texture because you won’t have the skin. However, you will still get the same delicious flavor!
Lemon – to make your lemon pepper chicken sauce you’ll need two forms of lemon: lemon juice and lemon zest. You can definitely use store-bought lemon juice, but if you’ve got extra lemons lying around, go ahead and juice them yourself.
Seasoning – for your chicken seasoning you’ll need a combination of minced garlic, onion powder, Italian seasoning, paprika, and black pepper.
How to Make Lemon Pepper Chicken in an Air Fryer
While you can absolutely make baked lemon pepper chicken, I really prefer to have that delicious crispy skin on my chicken. That’s why I usually choose to make my lemon pepper fried chicken the healthy way – in my air fryer! Here’s how to do it:
- Start by preheating your air fryer to 380 degrees F.
- Next, prepare your lemon pepper seasoning. In a small bowl, combine the spices, zest, and garlic. Set this aside for a minute while you get your chicken thighs prepped.
- Rub your chicken thighs with olive oil and lemon juice. Really get it all covered so that your lemon pepper seasoning will stick!
- Next, rub your seasoning mix onto the chicken and let it sit for 10 minutes. This allows the seasoning to really get into the skin and settle in before cooking it. Gotta maximize that citrusy flavor!
- Now, cook your chicken thighs in the air fryer for 15 minutes flipping halfway through. Depending on how many chicken thighs you have (and how big your air fryer is), you’ll probably need to cook in batches. The chicken needs to be in a single layer in the basket. While it’s cooking, make sure you keep an eye on your chicken so it doesn’t get too dark!
- After about 15 minutes, check for doneness. I recommend using a meat thermometer to ensure your chicken is cooked thoroughly. You want the internal temperature of your chicken to be 165 degrees.
- Once your lemon pepper chicken is totally cooked, take it out of the air fryer and serve it up with lemon slices and chopped parsley.
What goes with Lemon Pepper Chicken?
So you know you’re going to be cooking up some delicious lemon pepper fried chicken, but what are you going to serve with it?! Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here are some of my favorite side dishes that pair perfectly with this yummy dinner.
If you’re looking for a vegetable, I totally recommend trying out this Citrus roasted brussels sprouts recipe. The citrus flavor of the chicken thighs along with the citrus flavor in the brussels sprouts is a match made in Heaven!
If you’re looking for some carbs to go along with your chicken, try out either my Mom’s mashed potatoes (so fluffy and delicious) or this spring rice pilaf with asparagus and peas recipe (SO fresh and light tasting).
And, if you’re looking for a no-brainer side dish to please kids and adults alike, whip up a batch of this classic macaroni and cheese. You really can’t go wrong with homemade mac and cheese, right?
Need some more chicken inspiration? Check out these other Real Housemoms recipes!
- Instant Pot Chicken Marsala
- Bacon Ranch Chicken
- Cheesy Skillet Ranch Chicken Thighs
- Creamy Chicken Florentine
- Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs
- more DINNER recipes…
Tools used to make this Air Fryer Lemon Pepper Chicken Thighs recipe
Air Fryer: Definitely one of the best inventions of the past decade. I LOVE my air fryer!
Meat Thermometer: This handy thermometer takes out all the guesswork of cooking. Never serve under-cooked meat again!
- Preheat air fryer to 380 degrees F.
- Add garlic, onion powder, Italian seasoning, pepper, paprika, and zest of 1/2 lemon to a small bowl. Stir to combine.
- Place chicken thighs in a large mixing bowl. Pour lemon juice and olive oil over the chicken and rub to coat all sides.
- Pour the seasoning over the chicken and rub until completely coated. Let the chicken sit for 10 minutes.
- Place chicken thighs in the air fryer basket skin side down. (You made need to work in batches.) Cook for 15 minutes, flipping once halfway through.
- Once the cooking time is up, check the chicken is cooked through to 165 degrees F.
- Plate chicken and top with chopped parsley and lemon slices for garnish. Serve warm.