This recipe for air fryer chicken drumsticks is a great way to get a delicious meal on the table when you’re short on time. Not only are these chicken legs delicious, but they are also quick and easy to prepare and cook, and can be customized to your taste.
Why you’ll love this recipe
- These air fryer chicken drumsticks are quick and easy to make, and a great way to get a delicious meal on the table when you’re short on time.
- Air frying gives them a golden crispy skin, while keeping them succulent and juicy on the inside.
- You can customize the recipe to season the drumsticks however you like, whether you want to use a rub, a marinade, or a sauce.
Air frying chicken legs, or drumsticks, is the perfect way to cook them. Because air frying times are quicker than most other cooking methods, the chicken gets crispy on the outside fast, and the chicken stays succulent on the inside.
Once you have tried cooking chicken legs in your air fryer you will never bake or broil them again!
Scroll down for the printable card for this air fryer chicken drumstick recipe, or read on for all the details!
Quantities for all ingredients are given in the recipe card below.
Use skin-on drumsticks as this will give you crispier results, and plan for around 2 chicken legs per serving.
The recipe below uses fresh (thawed) chicken drumsticks. You can also use frozen drumsticks, though the cook time will be longer, and be sure to confirm that the internal temperature has reached the safe temperature of 165°F/74°C or higher before consuming.
I normally use light olive oil, but any cooking oil with a high smoke point will work. Try avocado oil or vegetable oil.
You can vary the amount of oil according to your preference. Just use a light spritz of oil for a healthier version, or add a little extra if you want extra crispy chicken drumsticks.
When air frying, choose a cooking oil with a high smoke point to reduce the chance of your air fryer smoking.
The recipe below uses a simple homemade seasoning mix of smoked paprika, garlic powder, onion powder, dried basil, salt, and pepper.
You can also use a store-bought seasoning mix, a dry rub, a marinade, or just some sauce (see more details in the Variations section below).
Some spices we like to use for this recipe include:
- Cajun seasoning
- A simple marinade made from sweet chili sauce, lime juice and soy sauce
- Teriyaki sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Honey and soy sauce
- Paprika and cayenne pepper
How to cook chicken drumsticks in an air fryer
This recipe is very straightforward to make, there are just a few simple steps to getting it just right:
- Pat the chicken legs dry with a paper towel. If you want to get the chicken really crispy it is important to pat it dry before you add the oil – an essential step if you want really crispy skin.
- Season the chicken legs. Mix the seasoning ingredients and oil in a large bowl, then add the drumsticks and toss to ensure that each chicken leg is thoroughly coated. Alternatively, you can add the ingredients to a large ziplock bag as it is easier to ensure each drumstick is well covered in the oil and seasoning.
- Arrange chicken drumsticks in air fryer: Place the drumsticks in a single layer in your air fryer basket, ensure they are not touching. If your air fryer is prone to sticking, try giving the basket a quick spritz with olive oil before adding the food.
- Air fry chicken drumsticks for 20-25 minutes. When the cooking time is up, check the temperature with a digital meat thermometer – insert it into the thickest part of the largest drumstick. The internal temperature should read at least 165°F / 74°C.
Some air fryers require food to be flipped over halfway through the cooking time. Check your manual if unsure whether this applies to your air fryer.
To use a marinade for this recipe, prepare the marinade in a ziplock bag, add the drumsticks, and then place them in the refrigerator to marinate.
Most marinades work best if you leave the chicken to marinate overnight or at least for a few hours.
When the drumsticks have finished marinating, drain them, and air fry as above.
Adding sauce to your chicken legs during cooking creates a flavorful crust on the outside, and can be used in place of or as well as other seasonings.
After 10 minutes of cooking time, stop the air fryer, open the drawer and brush each chicken leg with your sauce of choice. Air fry for 5 minutes, then open the air fryer, flip the drumsticks, and brush the other side with sauce. Air fry for 5-10 minutes until cooked through.
Serve drumsticks with fries and a salad for a popular family dinner, or as an appetizer with your favorite dipping sauce. Try:
- buffalo sauce
- hot sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Ranch dressing
Storage and reheating
Store any leftover air fryer drumsticks in an air-tight container in the refrigerator, and use within 3 days.
You can reheat the drumsticks in the air fryer. Place the leftover chicken drumsticks in the air fryer basket and air fry for 5-10 minutes until least 165°F / 74°C in the center.
How to cook chicken drumsticks in an air fryer.
- 4 chicken drumsticks (2 per serving)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- ½ teaspoon dried basil (or Italian herbs)
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat air fryer to 360°F/ 180°C.
- Pat the chicken legs dry with a paper towel.
- Mix the seasoning ingredients and oil in a large bowl, then add the drumsticks and toss to ensure that each chicken leg is thoroughly coated [Note 1].
- Arrange drumsticks in a single layer in your air fryer basket, and ensure they are not touching [Note 2].
- Air fry chicken drumsticks for 20-25 minutes [Note 3] until the internal temperature reaches 165°F / 74°C in the center of the thickest drumstick.
- Serve immediately. Enjoy!
- Alternatively, you can add the ingredients to a large ziplock bag as it is easier to ensure each drumstick is well covered in the oil and seasoning.
- If your air fryer is prone to sticking then try giving the basket a quick spritz with olive oil.
- Some air fryers require food to be flipped over half way through the cooking time (check your manual if you are unsure whether this applies to your air fryer).
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 408Total Fat: 23gSaturated Fat: 5gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 16gCholesterol: 231mgSodium: 338mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 0gProtein: 44g
Nutrition information is an estimate and provided for informational purposes only.