Are you looking for a simple, yet satisfying meal that's packed with flavor? Try this Cowboy Chicken recipe, cooked to perfection in the air fryer. This recipe combines juicy chicken thighs, crispy bacon, melty cheese, and tangy barbecue sauce for a delicious and easy dinner that the whole family will love.
Why This Will Be Your New Favorite Way To Make Chicken
- Fast. A delicious chicken dish that is ready in under 30 minutes with the help of your air fryer.
- Easy. Wrap some chicken thighs with bacon, air fry, and coat with your favorite bbq sauce and some spicy, melty cheese.
- Low Carb. Only net carbs per serving.
- High Protein. This Cowboy Chicken is packed with an impressive 31 grams of protein per serving.
Why Do We Call It Cowboy Chicken?
We dubbed this recipe cowboy chicken because it is reminiscent of the type of food that cowboys would have eaten on the range. It's hearty and rustic and reminds us of something that a cowboy would be ecstatic to dig into.
Whether you're a fan of classic cowboy cuisine or just looking for a delicious and comforting dinner, cowboy chicken is a dish that's sure to satisfy.
Ingredients You'll Need
- Boneless skinless chicken thighs- You can also use chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins, but I love how juicy the thighs are when cooked in the air fryer.
- Bacon- Use traditional pork bacon, or swap out turkey bacon for a healthier option.
- Barbecue sauce- Use your favorite BBQ sauce, but watch the carb count in it if you want to keep this dish keto-friendly.
- Pepperjack Cheese- If you're not a fan of spice, this Cowboy Chicken recipe is also tasty with sharp cheddar cheese.
- Salt and pepper- Just a touch to enhance the natural flavors of the other ingredients.
How To Make Cowboy Chicken
Honestly, this recipe isn't only amazing because it's packed with flavor and can feed the hungriest cowboy (or cowgirl). I also love this dish because of how simple it is to make. The hardest part is wrapping your chicken in bacon, and that takes minimal effort.
- Prepare the air fryer. Preheat your air fryer to 400°F.
- Wrap the chicken thighs in bacon. Add pepper jack cheese to one side of the chicken thighs and roll to secure the cheese in the middle. Wrap each chicken thigh with a slice of bacon, securing the ends of the bacon with toothpicks.
- Add the chicken to the basket. Once your air fryer is preheated, place the bacon-wrapped chicken thighs in the basket of the air fryer, making sure they are not overlapping.
- Cook the Chicken Thighs. Cook the chicken for 20-25 minutes, flipping it halfway through the cooking time until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F and the bacon is crispy. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.
- Baste with sauce and serve. Use a basting brush to coat the chicken thighs with your favorite BBQ sauce, serve, and enjoy!
- Skip the bacon. If you want to keep the calorie count lower in this recipe, you can just omit it and spray the chicken thighs with some cooking spray or oil before tossing them in the air fryer.
- Swap out the cheese. This Cowboy Chicken recipe is delicious with a variety of cheeses, but pepper jack cheese just happens to be my favorite. Use sharp cheddar, smoked gouda, or provolone to melt over the top for a tasty bite.
- Use a different cut of chicken. Not a fan of chicken thighs, or just have a different cut in your fridge already? No problem, Just wrap the breasts or tenderloins with the bacon and air fry for 8 minutes for tenderloins or 10-12 minutes for chicken breasts (depending on thickness). As always, make sure you check the internal temperature of your chicken to ensure it has reached 165F.
What To Serve With Bacon Wrapped Chicken
There are many delicious side dishes that complement Cowboy Chicken. Here are a few of my favorite sides to serve alongside it:
- Roasted vegetables- Roast some vegetables, such as carrots, potatoes, or Brussels sprouts, in the oven or air fryer for a tasty and healthy side dish.
- Corn on the cob- Grilled corn on the cob is a sweet and juicy side dish that pairs perfectly with BBQ chicken.
- Baked beans- Serve a bowl of baked beans for a classic side dish that's both filling and flavorful.
- Coleslaw- A creamy coleslaw adds a crunchy and tangy contrast to the rich flavors of the bacon wrapped chicken.
- Dinner rolls or garlic bread- For a comforting and filling side dish, serve the chicken with warm biscuits or garlic bread.
- Salad- A crisp and refreshing salad, such as a classic Caesar salad or a mixed greens salad, is a great way to balance the richness of the bacon wrapped chicken.
No matter what side dish you choose, the combination of Cowboy Chicken and any of these sides is sure to be a hit with your family and guests.
How Long Does It Last?
Cowboy Chicken can last in the refrigerator for up to 4 days if properly stored. Here are a few tips for storing and reheating the chicken:
- Store it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- When reheating, place the chicken in the oven or air fryer at 350°F for 4-6 minutes, or until heated through. You can also reheat the chicken in the microwave, but this may cause the bacon to become soft and lose its crispiness.
- Avoid storing the chicken at room temperature for more than 2 hours, as this can allow bacteria to grow and potentially cause foodborne illness.
It's important to follow food safety guidelines when storing and reheating chicken to minimize the risk of foodborne illness. If you're unsure whether the chicken has gone bad, it's always best to err on the side of caution and throw it out.
More Air Fryer Chicken Recipes
Cooking chicken in the air fryer is incredibly simple and makes for a juicy, delicious bite. If you love the convenience and flavor, check out some of my other great air fryer chicken recipes:
If you love this air fryer Cowboy Chicken as much as we do, make sure you share the recipe with your friends on Facebook and Instagram so they can try it too! Don't forget to Pin it so you can make it again soon.
Cowboy Chicken | Bacon Wrapped Chicken Recipe
- 4 Boneless Skinless Chicken Thighs
- 4 strips Bacon
- 1 cup pepper jack cheese
- 1/2 cup low carb bbq sauce
- Preheat your air fryer to 400°F.
- Add pepper jack cheese to one side of the chicken thighs and roll to secure the cheese in the middle. Wrap each chicken thigh with a slice of bacon, securing the ends of the bacon with toothpicks.
- Once your air fryer is preheated, place the bacon-wrapped chicken thighs in the basket of the air fryer, making sure they are not overlapping.
- Cook the chicken for 20-25 minutes, flipping it halfway through the cooking time until the internal temperature of the chicken reaches 165°F and the bacon is crispy. Use a meat thermometer to check the temperature.
- Use a basting brush to coat the chicken thighs with your favorite BBQ sauce, serve, and enjoy!