How to Make Cajun Chicken in an Air Fryer

Ready for the magic of your air fryer to deliver a healthy Cajun chicken and rice dinner in under an hour? Get our free air fryer recipe and start enjoying this flavorful, delicious meal tonight!

  • By Brittany Yamamoto-Taylor
  • March 17, 2020

Classic Creole cuisine is spicy and rich, with a savory goodness that will always keep you reaching for seconds. Our top-rated chicken recipe takes inspiration from Creole traditions and is so adored because it packs in the flavor while being compatible with all kinds of cooking methods. You can bake the chicken thighs in the oven, throw them on the grill, cook them on the stovetop, or, with these special instructions, crisp them up in the air fryer!

Since red beans and rice is one of the most common dishes found in New Orleans, we love to serve our chicken thighs with an exciting twist: sweet and savory coconut rice and beans! Add a tomato cucumber salsa on the side, and you’ve got yourself a perfectly balanced meal.

Whether you choose to use jerk or Cajun seasoning on your meat, this recipe’s fresh flavors of cucumbers, tomatoes, and limes will cool down the kick in just the right way.

Get the full recipe and prep steps for this meal below!

Prepping Smarts

  • Watch our short videos to get the lowdown on the quickest and most successful ways to prep the veggies and chicken in this dish!

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Equipment Smarts

  • If you don’t have an air fryer yet, now is the time to get one for a quick-cooking device that will crisp up anything to perfection and satisfy that “comfort food” fix in a healthy way!
  • A Dutch oven is a great way to simmer and serve your beans and rice side dish, but if you don’t have one, you can always use a non-stick saucepan.

For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools

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Air Fryer Jerk Chicken Thighs

Savory with a hint of sweetness, these Creole-inspired chicken thighs use jerk or Cajun seasoning to bring a quick meal together in the most delicious way. Just 16 minutes in the air fryer yields chicken thighs that are super tender with crispy edges.

Prep time: 10 min

Cook time: 40 min

Total time: 50 min

Serves: 4


  • Garlic - 2 cloves, chopped
  • Ginger (opt) - 1 tsp, grated
  • Jalapenos - 1, thinly sliced (remove seeds if you want less heat)
  • Red onions, medium - ¼, diced
  • Jerk or Cajun seasoning - 1 Tbsp
  • Brown sugar - 1 tsp
  • Cinnamon, ground - ½ tsp
  • Soy sauce, low-sodium - 1 Tbsp
  • Vinegar, red wine - 1 Tbsp + 2 tsp
  • Oil, cooking - 1 Tbsp
  • Chicken thighs, boneless and skinless - 1 lb
  • Lime - ½, sliced into wedges
  • Tomatoes, cherry or grape - 1½ cups, halved
  • Cucumbers - 12 oz, diced
  • Cilantro - 1 Tbsp, chopped
  • Beans, kidney (14 oz / 397 g) - 1 can, drained and rinsed
  • Coconut milk, light - ¾ cups
  • Bay leaves - 1
  • Rice, long-grain, uncooked - 1 cup
  • Stock, any type - 1¼ cup
  • Salt - ¼ tsp
  • Oil, olive - 2 tsp



  1. Garlic / Ginger / Jalapenos / Onions – Prep as directed. Combine garlic and ginger. Store jalapenos and onions in their own containers. (Can be done up to 5 days ahead)
  2. Marinate chicken – Combine jalapenos, Jerk / Cajun seasoning, brown sugar, cinnamon, soy sauce, first part of red wine vinegar, and cooking oil. Add chicken to marinade and turn to coat. Tenderize chicken with a fork. Marinate for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days. (Can be done 1 day ahead)
  3. Limes – Slice into wedges. (Can be done up to 2 days ahead)
  4. Tomatoes / Cucumbers / Cilantro – Prep as directed.
  5. Beans – Drain and rinse.


  1. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Pour in coconut milk, garlic, ginger, and bay leaves. Bring to a simmer and then add rice, stock, and salt. Cover and bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until rice has absorbed all of the liquid.
  2. While rice is cooking, preheat the air fryer to 380F. (It should take about 5 minutes for the air fryer to heat up.)
  3. Remove chicken from marinade, gently shaking off any excess, and transfer to the basket of the air fryer. (Discard extra marinade.) Make sure that the chicken is in a single layer with a small amount of space between the thighs to allow air to circulate.
  4. Cook chicken, turning halfway through cooking, until browned on the outside and cooked through (internal temperature of 165F), about 16 to 21 minutes. 
  5. Toss tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and cilantro with second part of red wine vinegar and olive oil.
  6. Remove and discard bay leaves from rice. Fold in beans.
  7. Serve chicken immediately with lime wedges, and enjoy with rice and beans and salsa on the side!

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How to Make Jerk Chicken in an Air Fryer | Cook SmartsHow to Make Jerk Chicken in an Air Fryer | Cook SmartsHow to Make Jerk Chicken in an Air Fryer | Cook Smarts


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