Cooking chicken thighs in the air fryer is one of the best ways to cook them. This cooking method paired with a homemade teriyaki sauce results in a perfectly glazed and tender piece of chicken. Teriyaki chicken is an American fusion recipe that goes great with whatever vegetable is in season and some rice.
Tips and Tricks
How do you store teriyaki chicken? Once teriyaki chicken is cooked, cool it for about 15-20 minutes. Then store in a covered container for three to four days in the fridge. If you’re eating the chicken with rice and or veggies, it’s perfectly okay to store it all together.
What do you serve this with? I like to serve teriyaki chicken with rice as well as steamed or roasted vegetables. Some of my favorite roasted vegetables are roasted broccoli, roasted cauliflower with garlic or air fryer green beans.
How much chicken can you cook at once? This depends on the size of your air fryer. In my 5.5 quart air fryer I am able to cook three to four boneless skinless chicken thighs in one layer at a time. It is important for even cooking that the chicken remains in one layer. If you have more chicken, cook in batches.
How do you store extra teriyaki sauce? Store extra teriyaki sauce in the fridge in a covered container for up to two weeks or in the freezer in a covered container for up to three months.
How do you reheat leftover teriyaki chicken? Reheat leftover teriyaki chicken in the air fryer at 350 F for three to four minutes or until warmed through to 165 F. Another option is to reheat the chicken in the microwave until warmed through.
What else can you use teriyaki sauce on? If you find yourself with extra teriyaki sauce I recommend making baked teriyaki wings, adding it to salmon or tofu.
- Low sodium soy sauce - other types of soy sauce may be too salty, adjust as necessary
- Brown sugar - light or dark will work here
- Rice wine vinegar - seasoned or unseasoned
- Maple syrup (affiliate link) - preferably the real stuff
- Garlic paste - freshly grated also works
- Ginger paste - freshly grated also works
- Cold water - used for a cornstarch slurry
- Cornstarch - a thickener
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs - doesn’t dry out as easily
- Sesame seeds - optional for garnish
See recipe card for quantities.
What kind of chicken thighs do you use for this recipe? This recipe uses boneless skinless chicken thighs. You can try this with bone in and skin on thighs but cooking time will vary.
Can you use chicken breasts for this recipe? Yes, you can use chicken breast for this recipe, however the cooking time may vary. Chicken breasts often vary in size greatly and it is easier to overcook. When cooking chicken breast, cook until 160 F and allow to rest for five minutes before slicing.
How do you make homemade teriyaki sauce? Start with a medium saucepan and combine soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup, garlic and ginger. Cook over medium low heat at a simmer for about five minutes while stirring occasionally to avoid burning.
Next, in a small bowl, combine water and cornstarch until it forms a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the sauce and allow to come back to a simmer and thicken, this should take about one to two minutes.
The sauce will be visibly thicker. Remove from the heat and set aside.
How do you make teriyaki chicken in the air fryer? After the teriyaki sauce is done, preheat the air fryer to 400 F. While preheating, toss chicken thighs with about half of the teriyaki sauce.
Save the other half of the teriyaki sauce in the pan for after the chicken is cooked. Place chicken thighs in a single layer and cook for six minutes.
Flip chicken over and cook for another five to six minutes until chicken is at least 175 F internally.
Remove chicken from the air fryer and allow it to rest for five minutes. Cut the thighs into bite size pieces and toss in remaining sauce. Garnish with sesame seeds and serve with vegetables and rice while hot.
Why do you toss the chicken twice in teriyaki sauce? I recommend tossing the chicken twice in the sauce for maximum flavor. The first toss in the sauce allows the outside of the chicken to get a little crispy. The second toss, once the chicken is cut up, more evenly distributes sauce onto each piece.
How do you know when chicken thighs are done cooking? The best way to tell when any chicken is done cooking is with an instant meat thermometer (affiliate link). Chicken thighs are the best texture when cooked to at least 175 F internally.
Another way to tell without a thermometer is how easily the thigh pull apart. If they are pull apart tender they are cooked enough. Finally, if you cut into the chicken and the juices run clear, the chicken is done cooking.
Do you have to flip the chicken thighs? I mention flipping the chicken thighs half way through to achieve even cooking. The heating element of most air fryers is on the top so typically the top will cook faster than the bottom.
Hint: Toss the chicken in teriyaki sauce before and after cooking for maximum flavor and sauce coverage.
Can you use store bought sauce? Totally! Use your favorite or make some at home, whatever works for you.
What other sauces can you use for this recipe? I often use this cooking method with different sauces on chicken thighs. Some of my favorites are BBQ sauce, sweet and sour sauce, General Tao’s sauce or any other favorites. For all of these sauces, I recommend tossing the chicken twice for maximum flavor.
This recipe uses the air fryer (affiliate link) because it cooks the chicken evenly and quickly. It preheats rapidly and the chicken is fulled cooked in less than 15 minutes start to finish.
The resulting chicken is tender, juicy and perfectly glazed. If you’re curious what else you can cook in the air fryer, check out my tips, tricks and FAQ about them.
Cook your chicken thighs to at least 175 F (79 C) internally to ensure the best texture. Dark meat won’t dry out as quickly as white meat so it’s okay if it cooks a little longer.
Air Fryer Teriyaki Chicken
- ½ cup low sodium soy sauce
- ⅓ cup brown sugar
- ¼ cup rice wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup
- 1 tablespoon garlic paste or 3 cloves grated
- 1 tablespoon ginger paste
- 2 tablespoons cold water
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 4-6 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- Sesame seeds for garnish
- In a medium saucepan combine soy sauce, brown sugar, rice wine vinegar, maple syrup, garlic and ginger. Combine ingredients and cook over medium low heat at a simmer for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally to avoid burning.
- After 5 minutes, in a small bowl, combine water and cornstarch until it forms a slurry. Whisk the slurry into the sauce and allow to come back to a simmer and thicken, this should take about 1-2 minutes. The sauce will be visibly thicker. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Cooking the Chicken
- Preheat the air fryer to 400 F.
- While preheating, toss chicken thighs with about half of the teriyaki sauce. Save the other half of the teriyaki sauce in the pan for after the chicken is cooked. Make sure chicken thighs are well coated.
- Place chicken thighs in a single layer and cook for 6 minutes. If all the chicken doesn’t fit in a single layer, cook in batches.
- Flip chicken over and cook for another 5-6 minutes until chicken is at least 175 F internally.
- Remove chicken from the air fryer and allow it to rest for 5 minutes. Cut into bite size pieces and toss in remaining sauce.
- Garnish with sesame seeds and serve with vegetables and rice.
Notes and Accommodations
- Store bought teriyaki sauce will work just as well with this recipe.
- Add cornstarch to water to make a slurry before adding to the sauce to avoid a clumpy mess.
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs are more forgiving, juicier and more tender than chicken breasts, chicken breasts cooking time may be different.
- Store teriyaki sauce in the fridge for up to 2 weeks in the fridge or up to 3 months in the freezer. Thaw in the fridge before using.
- Store cooked chicken for up to 3 days in the fridge.
- Cook to a minimum temperature of 175 °F (79 °C)
- Do not use the same utensils on cooked food, that previously touched raw meat
- Wash hands after touching raw meat
- Don't leave food sitting out at room temperature for extended periods
- Never leave cooking food unattended
- Use oils with high smoking point to avoid harmful compounds
- Always have good ventilation when using a gas stove