Mustard Balsamic Air Fryer Chicken Thighs
This air fryer chicken thighs recipe makes ridiculously tender, juicy, and flavorful chicken with minimal effort. Seriously, it’s as simple as tossing some boneless skinless chicken thighs in a quick marinade before throwing them in the air fryer. You could even get through it without handling chicken at all!
The recipe makes 4 chicken thighs with 33 grams of protein, 4 grams of carbs, 285 calories, and 5 WW SmartPoints each. That leaves you plenty of room for tasty sides like my rosemary parmesan air fried potatoes and honey mustard brussels sprouts you see in the photos.
Mustard Balsamic Chicken Thighs Recipe Walkthrough
It’s a really simple recipe, but I’ll run through equipment and ingredient notes in more detail below. There’s a printable recipe card at the bottom of this post, if you haven’t already skipped there! 😉 If you have any questions I don’t cover, leave a comment at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: Marinate the chicken thighs in a mixture of coarse ground mustard, balsamic vinaigrette, lemon juice, rosemary, salt, and pepper.
Easy enough, right? The recipe calls for marinating at least 2 hours, but you could always extend that window for more flavor.
Unless you have a massive air fryer, you’ll only be able to air fry 2 chicken thighs at a time. That gives you the option of saving the remaining 2 chicken thighs for the next day. I wouldn’t leave the chicken in the marinade for more than 2 days or you could end up with tough chicken.
Ingredient Notes for the Mustard Balsamic Marinade
The recipe calls for fat free balsamic vinaigrette from Trader Joe’s, but you could use any balsamic vinaigrette. And if you only have balsamic vinegar on hand, you could mix that with a little olive oil (maybe a tablespoon), garlic powder or freshly crushed/minced garlic, and a pinch of sweetness via sugar or honey. Don’t overthink it here!
As for the other ingredients, you could use dijon mustard, fresh rosemary, and *gasp* bottled lemon juice.
Can I use chicken breast instead of chicken thighs?
You bet. Though you may want to pound them into an even thickness for even cooking. You could even cut the chicken breast up into pieces like my spicy air fryer chicken nuggets. This would speed up the cook time and reduce the time needed for the marinade to penetrate the chicken.
Step 2: Air fry the chicken thighs for 12-15 minutes at 400ºF.
I used my 6.5-quart Ninja Foodi for air frying. Different air fryers may require slight temperature/time adjustments. A food thermometer is great to have on hand to check the internal temperature of proteins during cooking. You can find the food thermometer, Foodi, and all the other kitchen tools I keep in my kitchen on my Amazon list.
As you can see in the photos, you’ll only be able to fit 2 of the 4 chicken thighs in the air fryer basket. I air fried mine in two batches right after one another and had leftovers. But like I mentioned above, you could reserve the other 2 chicken thighs to cook the next day if you’re not a fan of leftovers.
There’s very little technique to air frying your chicken thighs. The only tip I have would be to get some of the mustard seeds, peppercorns, and rosemary leaves on top of the chicken thighs. That will give it more color and texture on top, which makes for a better eating experience.
Can I use an oven for this recipe?
Yep! I’d put the chicken thighs on a wire rack over a baking sheet (or directly on the baking sheet) and start with a similar time and temperature. The food thermometer will come in handy again here!
Optional: Make a pan sauce with the remaining marinade.
First and foremost, you won’t need the sauce. These air fried chicken thighs are moist and delicious on their own. But since the nutrition facts include the marinade in its entirety, we might as well use it, right? Right.
As a food safety note, be sure to bring the remaining marinade to a boil for a few minutes to kill any yuckies (bacteria) from the raw chicken thighs. Like I mentioned in my cilantro lime pan fried chicken thighs, you can make a fresh batch of the marinade to make a sauce with if you’re concerned about food safety.
“Don’t use marinade from raw poultry as a sauce unless it is boiled first to destroy bacteria.” – USDA Food Safety Facts Sheets
To make the sauce, pour the remaining marinade into a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Boil for 3-5 minutes, stirring to avoid burning. Remove from the heat and add 2 tablespoons of both light butter and honey. Stir until the sauce thickens slightly.
Serving Your Mustard Balsamic Chicken Thighs
I mentioned the rosemary parmesan potatoes and honey mustard sprouts in the intro, but you could serve your chicken with rice, green beans or asparagus, and other potato variations. It’s hard to go wrong with a fruit filled salad with balsamic chicken.
And you might enjoy my sweet and smoky air fryer carrots and potatoes, crispy cast iron brussels sprouts with bacon or garlic parmesan carrot fries as sides, too. Though you may need to bake the carrot fries instead of air frying since that’ll be occupied.
Let me know what you think about this recipe and how you decide to serve it up. Enjoy!
- 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs (about 6 oz each*)
- 1/4 C (60g) Lemon Juice (about 1 large lemon)
- 1/4 C (60g) Coarse Ground Mustard or Dijon Mustard
- 1/4 C (60g) Trader Joe's Fat Free Balsamic Vinaigrette**
- 1 tsp Kosher Salt
- 1 tsp Dried Rosemary Leaves
- 1/2-1 tsp Black Pepper
- Mix all the ingredients except the chicken in an 8x8 baking dish or shallow resealable container. Add the chicken thighs, submerging them in the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.***
- Place 2 of the chicken thighs in an air fryer basket and cook at 400ºF for 12-14 minutes or until each thigh reaches an internal temp of 165ºF at its thickest point.
- Repeat for the remaining 2 thighs or refrigerate for later. If you air fry them immediately after the first batch, they'll likely cook a bit faster (by 1-3 minutes).
*Smaller/larger chicken thighs may affect cook time.
**You can use other store bought balsamic vinaigrettes in place of the Trader Joe's version. And if you have balsamic vinegar on hand, mix it with a bit of olive oil, crushed garlic or garlic powder, and a pinch of sugar as a substitute in the marinade.
***You can marinate for up to 2 days.
For the Optional Sauce
To use the remaining marinade, bring it to a boil in a small saucepan and cook for a few minutes before turning off the heat and adding 2 Tbsp (28g) light butter and 2 Tbsp (42g) honey. Stir until the sauce thickens and coats the back of spoon. Be sure to fully boil the remaining marinade for food safety purposes.
Nutrition Facts Notes
- Each chicken thigh has 5 WW SmartPoints (blue plan).
- The nutrition facts are for the chicken thighs and marinade since there's no accurate way to calculate how much is discarded.
- If you use the remaining marinade to make a sauce, each chicken thigh will have 345 calories, 33g of protein, 13g of carbs, 15g of fat, and 8 WW SmartPoints (blue plan).
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Chicken Thighs Serving Size: 1 Chicken Thigh
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 285Total Fat: 12gCarbohydrates: 4gProtein: 33g