This air fryer pesto chicken is such a simple dinner idea, but packed with delicious flavor! Coming together in just 25 minutes, enjoy these juicy chicken thighs for an easy weeknight meal.
Much like my air fryer spiced chicken thighs, these air fryer pesto chicken thighs are the quick and easy dinner idea I think you'll love! We use just a few flavor-packed ingredients, and then air fry up the chicken in no time for a tasty meal both kids and adults alike will love.
Looking for more air fryer mains? Do check out my air fryer turkey burgers and air fryer frozen cod fillets for another time!
⭐ Why this recipe is so good
Full of flavor. Pesto gives such a delicious flavor, with fragrant herbs and garlic.
Minimal ingredients. No need to hunt down a lot of different ingredients, I think many of us have these to hand already!
Quick and easy. With barely any prep time and less than 20 minutes in the air fryer, this air fried pesto chicken is so simple to do.
All the ingredients and their quantities are set out in the recipe card below.
Some notes on a few of them:
- Chicken - we want to use boneless skinless chicken thighs for this recipe. If using chicken breasts, I suggest slicing into smaller pieces or butterflying before cooking.
- Pesto - you can either make your own (some ideas below!), or use a store-bought one.
- Sweet paprika - this is optional but gives a nice hint of sweetness.
📖 Swaps and variations
Leave out the paprika. It adds a nice extra flavor, with a delicious sweetness, but is optional.
Use more pesto. The amount given in the recipe card coats the chicken, but if you like a lot of sauce then add a spoonful more!
🌿 Ideas for pesto
Pesto comes in so many different variations now, including dairy free and nut free options. You can also change up the nuts, seeds and herbs used to give so many flavor combinations. Some ideas:
- Dairy free pumpkin seed pesto (dairy free, nut free)
- Pistachio pesto (dairy free)
- Lemon balm pesto (dairy free)
- Thai basil pesto (dairy free, nut free)
- Macadamia nut pesto (dairy free)
Have a peek at my post on substitutes for pine nuts in pesto for even more ideas on how to make your tasty pesto for this recipe!
🔪 Step by step instructions
Making these air fryer pesto chicken thighs is so simple, and has just a couple of steps.
All the instructions are in the recipe card below, but some photos to help guide you:
Coat the chicken. After patting your chicken dry with paper towel, add to a large bowl. Season with salt and black pepper, then spoon in the pesto and sweet paprika (if using). Use your hands or a spoon to coat the chicken thighs in the pesto (image 1).
Air fry the chicken. Lightly spray the air fryer basket with olive oil spray. Use tongs to place the chicken thighs rounded-side down in the basket.
Air fry at 390F / 200C for 8 minutes, then use tongs to flip the thighs. Air fry for a further 8-10 minutes, or until the internal temperature reads 165F with a meat thermometer.
💭 Recipe tips and notes
- Use your hands to evenly coat the chicken in the pesto so you have lots of flavor!
- Cook time will vary slightly depending upon the size of the chicken thighs, so air fry for longer if required.
- I suggest to use tongs (definitely not hands!) to place and remove the chicken from the air fryer basket as it will be very hot.
- Make sure to check the internal temperature of the chicken at its deepest point for a reading of 165F.
📋 Frequently asked questions
You can make air fryer pesto chicken breasts as well as thighs. I would suggest to cut the chicken breasts into smaller pieces.
You can easily use a vegan pesto, such as my pumpkin seed pesto, to keep this a dairy free recipe.
If you use a suitable pesto, then this is a low histamine chicken recipe per the SIGHI list. See my 15 low histamine chicken recipes for even more ideas!
🍽 How to serve air fried pesto chicken
- For air fryer vegetable sides to keep it quick and easy, I suggest my air fryer Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, air fried leeks, broccoli and cauliflower or air fryer romaine lettuce.
- Enjoy a comfort food dinner with a side of my air fryer sweet potato wedges or potato fritters.
- Serve with a salad for a healthy option, such as my kale apple slaw or my tasty pesto orzo salad for even more herb and garlic flavors!
🥣 More tasty chicken recipes
Enjoy lots of option for chicken recipes, including my cozy creamy tarragon chicken, pesto chicken risotto and chicken leek risotto for a tasty dinner. Some recent recipes to try out:
I'm always in the kitchen, so come join me on Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to be the first to hear of new recipes! And I love to hear from you - so please do leave a star rating ⭐ or comment if you've tried the recipe!
Air Fryer Pesto Chicken
- 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs
- ¼ cup pesto more to preference
- ½ teaspoon sweet paprika or regular paprika
- pinch salt
- pinch black pepper
- olive oil spray
- Preheat the air fryer at 390F / 200C for 3 minutes.
- Pat the chicken thighs dry and add to a large bowl. Season with salt and black pepper. Spoon the pesto over the chicken thighs, and sprinkle on the sweet paprika (if using). Use your hands to coat the thighs in the pesto.
- Spray the air fryer basket with olive oil spray, then use tongs to place the chicken in the basket, rounded side down. Ensure the chicken thighs are in an even layer and with room between them. Air fry for 8 minutes at 390F, flip using tongs, then air fry for a further 8-10 minutes.
- Check for an internal temperature of 165F and use tongs to remove the chicken as the air fryer will be very hot.
- Adjust the amount of pesto to preference. The amount given coats the chicken, but add more if you like!
- Cook time will vary slightly depending upon the size of the chicken thighs. Air fry for longer if needed.
- Always check for an internal temperature of 165F at the deepest point of the chicken using a meat thermometer.
- Nutritional information is given as a courtesy. It is auto-generated and should be understood to be an estimate.
- pesto will depend upon ingredients used. My pumpkin seed pesto may be suitable, but check with a dietician.
- black pepper, which scores 2.
Hi, I've been spending time going through all your air-fryer recipes - because I'm contemplating buying one and you definitely inspire me to just get it! And this chicken will be one the first I try - I'll keep you posted!
Hi Shruti! I can only say that I love my air fryer! It's so quick and easy to make mains and sides, and no need to turn the oven on. Hope you enjoy the chicken if you decide to make the purchase 🙂