Crispy Air Fried Lemon Chicken Bites (no breading, keto)
This is the Air Fryer Lemon Chicken Bites that you won’t be able to stop eating! The chicken thighs are marinated in lemon juice until perfectly tender and air fried to golden crispy! No breading, no starch, and totally lemony-delicious! These chicken bites make the perfect air fryer appetizer, lunch, dinner, and even midnight snack!
Food that makes you happy – Lemony Air Fried Chicken Bites!
Perfectly marinated chicken thighs air fried to golden crispy and extra lemony…how can you not stop eating them? As you pull out the fryer basket, you can hear the sizzling sound. The house smells so good and everyone’s waiting to dig-in!
These lemony crispy chicken bites will be gone in a hurry so read on to see how to make the best air fryer lemon chicken bites as I share all my tips and tricks because you want the best, right?
What you need for the lemon chicken bites
- Skin-on & Bone removed Chicken thighs (see how-to debone section below)
- White pepper
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Olive oil (for marinate use)
- Avocado oil spray (for the air fryer basket)
Can I use black pepper?
Yes you can but white pepper will make this dish taste more Asian! This dish is inspired by my Taiwanese chicken nuggets and Japanese lemon chicken so I recommend using white pepper.
Can I use skinless/boneless chicken thighs?
You can but it won’t be as good! I mean who doesn’t love crispy chicken skin so I think it’s totally worth a little time to remove the bones. Once you learn how to do it, it’s quite straightforward!
How to make chicken bites in air fryer
- Debone the skin-on chicken thighs and dice to slightly larger than bite sizes.
- Season and marinate overnight with lemon juice.
- Air fry with skin-side up until the skin is golden crispy.
- Serve with extra lemon on the side and garnish!
How to debone chicken thighs
- Use a small but sharp paring knife, with one hand holding the knife and the other hand holding the bone, carefully make a small incision cut along the chicken thigh bone.
- Slowly and carefully cut along the bone to separate the leg bone and the meat. Pull the bone in upward and frontward directions a few times to help separate the meat and the bone.
- Run the tip of your fingers through the chicken to make sure there are no bones left behind.
The secret to make 100% perfect Air fryer lemon chicken bites
- Use skin-on chicken thighs so that the chicken bites stay more moist and juicy.
- Do take a little time to debone the chicken. It’s totally worth it!
- Marinate the chicken overnight (and up to 24 hours) in the fridge before air fry so the chicken will be extra flavorful.
- When air fry, place skin side up and in a single layer.
- Different air fryers have slightly different temperatures. You want the internal temperature to reach 165F (74C) on a meat thermometer.
What to serve with Lemony Air Fryer Fried Chicken Bites
- Shirataki noodles with Asian “peanut” sauce
- Shirataki Thai fried rice
- Taiwanese sauteed cabbage
- Gai lan in garlic sauce
- Chinese broccoli in vegetarian oyster sauce
- Thai larb
- Bok choy dim sum
- Chinese smashed cucumber salad
- Browse more paleo side dishes
More air fryer recipes
- Air fryer whole chicken
- Air fryer Salmon Teriyaki
- Lemon Thyme Chicken Thighs
- Honey Sriracha Chicken (keto, sugar-free, or paleo)
- Thai chicken satay
- Chinese cod fish in ginger scallion sauce
- Thai chicken wings
- Taiwanese fried chicken cutlets
- Lemon pepper wings air fryer
- Browse my collection of Asian-inspired air fryer recipes
So friends! Whether it’s game day, valentine’s day, or New Year’s eve, or anytime you miss that perfectly crisp chicken, give my air fryer chicken bites a try! They are inspired by Japanese chicken karaage (Japanese-style fried chicken) but without the breading and starch. What a fantastic family friendly food that will bring all the happiness and smiles to you!
Air Fryer Lemon Chicken Bites (no breading, keto, paleo, whole30)
- 2 lbs. Chicken Thighs, skin-on
- 1.5 tsp coarse sea salt
- ½ tsp garlic powder
- ½ tsp onion powder
- ¼ tsp white pepper
- ¼ cup lemon juice, about 1 to 1 ½ whole lemons
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 2-3 sprays avocado oil, for the air fryer basket
- 2 tbsp chopped chives
- Sprinkle Furikake, optional
- Extra lemon wedges on the side, about quarter to half of one whole lemon
- Debone the chicken thighs and dice them to slightly larger than bite sizes. Please see how to debone chicken thighs in the blog post with photos, if you aren’t sure how to do that. Or check out this web story. Transfer them to a container that’s just big enough to hold all the pieces.
- Add the seasoning from salt to olive oil. Gently mix them and make sure all the pieces are in touch with lemon juice. Marinate overnight in the fridge and up to 24 hours.
To air fry:
- Lightly spray the air fryer basket with avocado oil. Place-in the chicken skin-side up. Try not to let the pieces touch each other too much (a little snuggle is fine just don’t overlap them) so each piece gets crisp up.
- Air fry at 380F (193C) for 18-20 minutes. The skin should be golden crispy and the chicken should be cooked through but not overly cooked. If you want to be exact, the internal temperature should reach 165F (74C) on a digital meat thermometer.
- Transfer the chicken bites to a medium size serving plate. Sprinkle with chives and furikake, if using, and serve with lemon wedges on the side. Serve hot and immediately.
This recipe is super easy and delicious! It’s very versatile and I have put it on salads, pasta or my favorite in a wrap with some arugula, avocado and tomato. I haven’t served it as an appetizer yet, mainly cause I don’t want to share.
SO easy and quite possibly the best chicken I have ever had. Crispy and juicy!
Would it work with boneless chicken breast??
Hi Bonnie, I don’t recommend it. It’ll need to be a different recipe with different seasonings and preparation to make chicken breasts less dry in an air fryer.
Sooo good! Didn’t have white pepper but tasted great with black pepper as well. My family couldn’t stop raving about it. A keeper!
Thank you, Mimi! Black pepper will work, too!
These were really good. Baked in the oven. Can’t wait to double recipe so there’s leftovers.
That’s a great idea!
Delicious! Adding this to my weekly rotations. I made this on the fly so I committed two mistakes. I used boneless , skinless chicken thighs amd I did not marinate overnight. Since they were skinless it took a little longer to brown so I deed another 15 minutes to the air fryer. I squeezed a lemon wedge on it fir that extra lemony 🍋 flavor amd it was amazing! Even my kids loved it!
Made in the oven and these were delicious! Served with a quick and easy Gai Lan recipe from your site. So simple and tasty. Really glad I found your site 🙂
OMG these are delicious! I had to force myself to stop eating them. I put the leftovers on a big salad the next day. I think they should be renamed to “Little Nuggets O’ Love”!
OMG! Just made these and had to force myself to stop eating them. They are sooooo good! Though I think you need to rename them to “Little Nuggets O’ Love”!
What type of air fryer do you use? Looks delicious!
Thank you! I have a cosori anda gourmia. Have to say so far I like the gourmia better. 🙂
There are so many models of the Gourmia – Which one is the one you use
I had a very old one which I believe it’s discontinued.
Perfect easy recipes when feeding a crowd. Thanks for the fab idea.
Yeees!!! Super empowering to remove the bones! Like you said, so worth it! What a delicious appetizer. And another yes, white pepper is my all-time favorite! 🙂
These bites are SO GOOD! I like how the lemon flavor is in every bite! So tender and delicious!
I love when I have all the ingredients in the house to make a meal! This is one of those! Easy for meal planning & makes a good portion size to divide into weekly meal prep! I enjoyed them very much!!
OK, you’ve convinced me with this recipe. I need to get an air fryer!
This recipe looks so delicious yet simple to make!!! Haha, I totally agree with you on the chicken skin, they are the best. :))
Very tasty!! We don’t have the best air fryer so I cooked this in a skillet on high heat – no additional oil needed – and it turned out really well!! Crispy and scrumptious. After I had deboned the thighs, I threw the bones in the IP and made broth then cooked rice in the broth to go with the chicken. Thanks for the great recipe!
Lovely! Yup stovetop works!
LOVE white pepper! Do you think I could do this on broil in the oven?
Hi Kortney, You can try it. I added oven instructions in the notes section but if you just want to use the boiler without baking them first please adjust your boiler time. Watch them carefully so they don’t get burnt. 🙂
These turned out golden crispy and lemony delicious! They are perfect for moving nights!
These are absolutely AMAZING! Yes we did take a little time to remove those thigh bones and just like chihyu said it’s totally worth it! My air fryer is not the same brand so I did adjust my cook time and temperature a bit. I got another batch stored in the freezer for later. It’ll be fantastic for the coming weekend when we watch games!