The Best Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks (2023)

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The ultimate recipe for juicy tender air fried chicken drumsticks with an irresistible crispy crunch with just a little oil and some seasonings, no additional breading needed!

The only oil we’re using in this recipe is a tiny bit – about two tablespoons – of heart healthy avocado or olive oil.

The Best Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks (1)

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We provide a skip to recipe button in the top left corner, as well as a clickable table of contents, just below, to help make this page easier to navigate.

Table of contents

  • Air Fried Chicken Legs
  • How To Air Fry Chicken Drumsticks
    • Recipe FAQs
  • What to Serve With Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks
  • The Best Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks Recipe
The Best Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks (2)

Air Fried Chicken Legs

Love delicious, crunchy chicken that is bursting with flavor, crispy when you bite into it, and tender and juicy inside? This recipe delivers big time – with a super-simple method to get addictive tastes-like-fried chicken, with a fraction of the oil (or work!)

If you’ve never had air fried chicken, it might sound a bit funny, because food in an air fryer isn’t actually fried. Air fryer food is more like ultra-convection broiled. This means you can use just a tiny bit of oil and still get delicious crispy chicken. Air fryers are awesomely easy to clean (some even pop into the dishwasher) – and so simple to use, making it the perfect tool to use for cooking drumsticks.

We’re using an air fryer and the natural fat and skin on a chicken drumstick to mimic fried chicken in this irresistible crunchy air fried chicken drumsticks recipe – without using any breading. The high-heat from the air-fryer helps to crisp up the chicken skin and fat, giving it a breaded “crunch” – without any added carbs, gluten, or breading. This is a great reduced calorie way to enjoy crunchy chicken legs – and it can be totally customized to herbs and spices you love!

Simply add chicken legs to marinade, shake, place in basket, and cook – and you’re on your way. If you’re looking for a spicy kick, try our Air Fried Piri Piri Chicken which is a spin off this method, too – or our baked honey mustard chicken drumsticks recipe that is loaded with out of this world flavor.

Try this method with my Air fryer Nando’s wings – the sauce works really well on this recipe, too!

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How To Air Fry Chicken Drumsticks

To make this recipe, you will need:

  • 8 chicken drumsticks – pick high quality chicken drumsticks that are fresh or thawed. Pat chicken drumsticks dry with paper towels to make sure the oil and herbs stick, as water and packaging liquid can make it harder for them to stick to the chicken.
  • 2 tbsp olive oil – you can use olive oil, avocado oil, canola oil, sunflower oil, or any oil you prefer to cook with. We love the classic olive oil flavor with chicken.
  • 1 tsp celtic sea salt – grab a quality sea salt you love the flavor of. We like using celtic sea salt because it is saltier, so you can use less salt than regular table salt.
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper – using fresh cracked black pepper develops a better flavor and a bit of heat.
  • 1 tsp garlic powder – garlic powder brings a rich, delicious flavor to chicken.
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika – paprika gives a hint of color to the chicken, and an earthy, smoky flavor.
  • 1/2 tsp cumin – cumin is earthy and brings out a “meaty” flavor in chicken.
The Best Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks (4)
(Video) Juicy Air Fryer Chicken Legs (Drumsticks Recipe)
The Best Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks (5)

We’re going to follow this method:

  • In a small bowl, combine herbs and spices.
  • Set aside.
  • Place drumsticks in a bowl or a plastic bag and drizzle with olive oil.
  • Toss to coat.
  • Sprinkle herbs and spices all over drumsticks to coat them.
  • Preheat air fryer at 400 for 2-10 minutes.
  • Place drumsticks in air fryer basket and cook for 10 minutes on 400.
  • Remove basket and flip chicken drumsticks.
  • Cook at 400 for another 10 minutes.
  • If chicken is not 165 degrees internally, add another 5 minutes of cook-time.
  • Time can vary based on drumstick size, so do check the temperature with a digital thermometer after cooking to prevent over or under cooking.
  • When chicken has reached 165 degrees internally, serve immediately.

For more step by step information, see our web story here.

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Tips For Perfect Crunchy Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks & FAQs

If you love air fryer chicken drumsticks, be sure to check my top tips for perfect air fried chicken below:

Preheat air fryer. Run your air fryer for a few minutes before adding the food so it is hot and ready to go when you go to air fry your chicken. This is optional, but I feel it helps the skin to puff up and get a crispy “fried” texture.

Sauce at the end. If you’re going to sauce your drumsticks, wait until they have cooked and crisped to toss in sauce. You also can layer the sauce on to get a crunchy “crust” throughout the cooking, similar to my baked BBQ Chicken drumsticks.

Don’t peek too often. Since air fryers are completely sealed off, it’s hard to judge your chicken’s doneness by the look of it. Check the temperature of the chicken when you’re already opening the air fryer to flip them – don’t open it just to check the temperature or too much heat will escape.

Use a digital thermometer. When your timer is done, immediately test the temperature of the chicken pieces with a digital thermometer inserted into the middle of the thickest part of the chicken drumstick without touching bone. Chicken should be cooked to 165 degrees internally. If chicken has not met 165 degrees internally, add another 2-5 minutes to cook time.

Don’t crowd basket. Air fryers help get hot air to circulate around the chicken drumstick to get a heat so high it makes meat taste fried – and to do that, it helps to not crowd the pan. Put the chicken in your air fryer pan in a way they aren’t crowding each other – it makes a huge difference.

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Recipe FAQs

How Long Should I Air Fry Chicken Drumsticks?

This recipe was designed to work with different types of air fryers – so the time listed is an estimate. Your air fryer might take a bit longer than time listed. Aim for around 15-20 checking at 10 and 15 minutes to see how the temperature is progressing.

What Air Fryer Should I Use?

This recipe was designed after testing in the Instant Pot Air fryer, Instant Pot with Crisping Lid broiler function, Ninja Foodi + Broiler lid, and the Phillips Air Fryer.
Cooktime was slightly different with each appliance, but each resulted in perfect air fryer drumsticks. Check chicken legs as you cook to make sure they are done to your preference!

Should I Marinate Chicken Drumsticks Before Air Frying?

I personally always marinate chicken before cooking – even just 30 minutes in some olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs can infuse a ton of flavor into your chicken. This recipe was designed to boost flavor regardless, so if you don’t have time to marinate, no worries!

(Video) Crispy Air Fryer Chicken drumsticks | Chicken legs in Air fryer

How long do chicken drumsticks last?

Chicken drumsticks can be stored in an airtight container for up to four days, or frozen for up to four months.

When are drumsticks cooked?

Chicken is fully cooked at 175 degrees internal temperature. You want to be sure you’re measuring the thickest part of your drumstick to be sure all of the meat is cooked through – but don’t hit the bone when using a thermometer, as it will throw off results.
Chicken drumstick meat pulls away from the bone slightly when it is cooked, if you see this, your chicken is likely done.

Can I add sauce to drumsticks?

Adding sauce is a great way to layer flavor onto your chicken legs- there are two ways to do this. We love to cook our chicken first, getting a crispy, crunchy skin, and then toss in sauce – similar to chicken wings. You can also crisp chicken, toss in sauce, and continue cooking in the air fryer, to build a “crust” of the sauce as the chicken cooks. Do not add sauce early, as it will keep chicken flabby.

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What to Serve With Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

Chicken goes with just about everything – so it’s easy to pick a delicious, easy, and flavorful side dish to pair with this meal!

We love serving chicken with spicy beans, air fryer french fries, roasted potatoes, quick-pickled beets, rice pilaf – or really, any of our delicious easy side dishes.

You can find more of our easy side dishes here:

  • Wild Rice Pilaf
  • Cinnamon Sweet Potato and Apple Bake
  • German Potato Salad
  • Lemon Garlic Parmesan Baked Chicken Wings Recipe
  • Red Pepper Zucchini Farro Salad
  • The Best Air Fryer Baked Potato Recipe
  • Garlic Roasted Brussels Sprouts
  • Baked Carrot Fries

And for more air fryer recipes, you can find our entire air fryer recipe index here.

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The Best Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks Recipe

If you love this delicious air fried recipe as much as I do, please give it a review and help me share with your friends and family on facebook and pinterest!

(Video) KFC Kentucky Fried Chicken Drumsticks Air Fryer Recipe

The Best Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks (18)

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The Best Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks (19)

Yield: 8

The Best Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Cook Time: 25 minutes

Total Time: 30 minutes

Easy, crunchy, and juicy chicken drumsticks that are bursting with fried chicken flavor straight from the air fryer.

Ingredients

  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp celtic sea salt
  • 1 tsp fresh cracked pepper
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • 1/2 tsp cumin

Instructions

  1. In a small bowl, combine herbs and spices.
  2. Set aside.
  3. Place drumsticks in a bowl or a plastic bag and drizzle with olive oil.
  4. Toss to coat.
  5. Sprinkle herbs and spices all over drumsticks to coat them.
  6. Preheat air fryer at 400 for 2-10 minutes.
  7. Place drumsticks in air fryer basket and cook for 10 minutes on 400.
  8. Remove basket and flip chicken drumsticks.
  9. Cook at 400 for another 10 minutes.
  10. If chicken is not 165 degrees internally, add another 5 minutes of cook-time.
  11. Time can vary based on drumstick size, so do check the temperature with a digital thermometer after cooking to prevent over or under cooking.
  12. When chicken has reached 165 degrees internally, serve immediately.

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Nutrition Information

Yield

8

Serving Size

1

Amount Per ServingCalories 201Total Fat 12gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 116mgSodium 381mgCarbohydrates 1gFiber 0gSugar 0gProtein 22g

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(Video) Love & Best Dishes: Air Fryer Fried Chicken Recipe

FAQs

How long do I cook drumsticks in an air fryer? ›

Place drumsticks in air fryer basket and cook for 10 minutes on 400. Remove basket and flip chicken drumsticks. Cook at 400 for another 10 minutes. If chicken is not 165 degrees internally, add another 5 minutes of cook-time.

How many drumsticks can you fit in an air fryer? ›

Chicken Drumsticks: I can fit 8 drumsticks in my air fryer at once (I have the Cosori 5.8 quart), which is enough to serve 4 people. You can scale this recipe up or down, and cook the drumsticks in batches if necessary. Olive Oil: A little bit of olive oil helps the seasonings to stick to the chicken.

How do I make my air fryer crispy? ›

A quick spritz will give your air fried food that nice golden color and crispy texture.” Really, that is it! A simple mist of cooking spray over the top of your food will give your favorite air fryer recipes that just-right color without adding any significant calories or fat.

How long should you cook chicken in air fryer? ›

The amount of time it takes to cook chicken in an air fryer will vary based on the size of your chicken breasts.
  1. Small Breasts (5 to 7 ounces): 7 to 10 minutes.
  2. Medium Breasts (8 to 10 ounces): 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. Large Breasts (11 ounces or more): 12 to 16 minutes.
15 Oct 2022

Can you put raw drumsticks in an air fryer? ›

Drumsticks take 18 to 20 minutes in the air fryer at 400 degrees F. Turn once halfway through. The chicken legs can be ready in the time it takes you to throw together a quick Arugula Salad or side of Sautéed Brussels Sprouts. Simple prep time and cooking time!

Can you put foil in an air fryer? ›

Is It Safe to Use Aluminum Foil in the Air Fryer? It is absolutely safe to use aluminum foil in your air fryer. In fact, it can make cooking with the air fryer easier.

Do you need to preheat an air fryer? ›

Do I Need To Preheat My Air Fryer Before Cooking in It? Yes. In most cases preheating helps your recipes get that signature crispiness we all love. Thick cuts of raw and frozen meats like frozen bone-in chicken breasts and ribeye steaks benefit from preheating.

Can I cook frozen drumsticks in air fryer? ›

Place frozen chicken drumsticks in air fryer basket. Set your air fryer to 360° and cook for 15 minutes.

How long should I bake chicken drumsticks at 400? ›

In a 400 degree oven baked chicken drumsticks take about 35 to 40 minutes to be cooked thru. This of course depends a lot on how large and thick your pieces are but it is a good general guide. If you are making lollipop chicken drumsticks those take closer to 20 because some of the meat is removed.

Why isn't my chicken crispy in the air fryer? ›

You're overcrowding the basket of your air fryer.

He said putting too much food in the basket could have a negative impact on the quality of your finished dish because some of the items in the basket could end up becoming soggy instead of crispy.

What Cannot be cooked in Airfryer? ›

Any food with a wet batter should not be placed in the air fryer. You also want to avoid putting food that has a wet batter, like corndogs or tempura shrimp, in air fryers.

Is air frying healthier than regular frying? ›

Are Air-Fried Foods Better for You? By most measures, air frying is healthier than frying in oil. It cuts calories by 70% to 80% and has a lot less fat. This cooking method might also cut down on some of the other harmful effects of oil frying.

What temperature do you cook chicken at? ›

You can roast or bake anywhere between 325 and 450 degrees F. When roasting a whole chicken, a nice rule of them is to start at 400 to 425 degrees F and then turn the oven down to 350 after 15 minutes and cook until the internal temp of the chicken is 165 – 175 degrees F on an instant read thermometer.

How do you know if chicken is done cooking? ›

Poke the meat to see if juices are red or clear

For properly cooked chicken, if you cut into it and the juices run clear, then the chicken is fully cooked. If the juices are red or have a pinkish color, your chicken may need to be cooked a bit longer.

How long does it take to preheat an air fryer? ›

"We recommend using a three-minute preheat for most models," says Shah. For larger and oven-style air fryers, preheat for five minutes.

How many calories are in an air fried chicken drumstick? ›

Recipe Video

Set for 350 degrees F for 5 minutes. Nutrition based off 1 leg serving: 171 calories, 9g fat, 0g carbohydrates, 22g protein.

How long should I cook drumsticks in the oven? ›

How long does it take for drumsticks to cook in the oven? Typically it takes around 40-45 minutes to bake medium drumsticks at 400°F, although if your oven cooks hot or the drumsticks are on the smaller side they might be done sooner than that.

Can you put a glass dish in an air fryer? ›

Depending upon the sturdiness of the glass dish, you can decide whether Glass Pyrex can be used in an air fryer. If the dish is oven-safe, made of borosilicate or tempered glass, it can work in an air fryer. However, if the dish is made of soda-lime glass, it can't withstand high temperatures in an air fryer.

Can I use Pyrex in Airfryer? ›

Pyrex glassware is capable of withstanding high temperatures up to 425 degrees Fahrenheit so a pyrex dish will be safe in air fryers since most top out at 400 degrees.

Will parchment paper burn in the air fryer? ›

Is Parchment Paper Safe In the Air Fryer? Absolutely! If it's safe for the oven, it's safe for the fryer. Most parchment papers can withstand a heat of over 400 degrees.

How long should I bake chicken drumsticks at 400? ›

In a 400 degree oven baked chicken drumsticks take about 35 to 40 minutes to be cooked thru. This of course depends a lot on how large and thick your pieces are but it is a good general guide. If you are making lollipop chicken drumsticks those take closer to 20 because some of the meat is removed.

Can I cook frozen drumsticks in air fryer? ›

Place frozen chicken drumsticks in air fryer basket. Set your air fryer to 360° and cook for 15 minutes.

How long does it take to preheat an air fryer? ›

"We recommend using a three-minute preheat for most models," says Shah. For larger and oven-style air fryers, preheat for five minutes.

Do you need to preheat an air fryer? ›

Do I Need To Preheat My Air Fryer Before Cooking in It? Yes. In most cases preheating helps your recipes get that signature crispiness we all love. Thick cuts of raw and frozen meats like frozen bone-in chicken breasts and ribeye steaks benefit from preheating.

Is it better to bake chicken legs at 350 or 400? ›

Option #1: Bake chicken legs at a higher temperature – between 400 to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. A lower temp like 350 degrees Fahrenheit won't result in crispy skin, but it will still be juicy and delicious.

What temperature do you cook drumsticks? ›

Whether you are cooking chicken legs in the oven or using just about any other method, they should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees F; some people prefer 170 degrees F for more tender meat. Either way, here is the meat thermometer I use and recommend.

How long do large chicken drumsticks take to cook? ›

Arrange the chicken drumsticks on a baking sheet spaced out enough so they are not touching. You can line the baking sheet in parchment for easier cleanup if desired. Bake the chicken drumsticks for about 40 minutes, turning once halfway through, or until the internal temperature reaches 175ºF.

What do you soak drumsticks in? ›

Dissolve salt in 2 quarts cold water in large container. Submerge drumsticks in brine, cover, and refrigerate for 30 minutes to 1 hour.

How do I PreHeat my air fryer? ›

How to PreHeat an Air Fryer?
  1. Set the temperature at which you are cooking the food. Or at the temperature that the recipe states.
  2. Click “on” and let the air fryer heat for 3-5 minutes. We suggest 2 minutes for small air fryers less than 3 qts. And for larger air fryers, we suggest about 5 minutes.
29 Jul 2020

How long does it take to cook frozen chicken drumsticks? ›

Preheat oven to 375°F. 2. Bake frozen drumsticks 80 to 85 minutes or until internal temperature on instant read thermometer reaches 180°F. (Bake thawed drumsticks 60 to 65 minutes.)

What Cannot be cooked in Airfryer? ›

Any food with a wet batter should not be placed in the air fryer. You also want to avoid putting food that has a wet batter, like corndogs or tempura shrimp, in air fryers.

Should I soak my potatoes before air frying? ›

Soaking the potatoes after they're cut draws out some of the starch which is naturally present in potatoes. This will result in a crispier fry. A thirty minute soak in cold water does the trick but you may soak them longer if you want. After soaking, be sure to dry the potatoes before you fry them.

Where do I put oil in my air fryer? ›

Where Do You Put Oil in an Air Fryer? When air frying, you put the oil on the food, not in the basket.

Can you use PAM in an air fryer? ›

Never use aerosol spray cans in your air fryer. Aerosol spray cans (like Pam and similar brands) are known to cause chipping in many Air Fryer baskets. The aerosol cans have harsh agents that just don't mesh with the coating on most baskets. It's best to invest in a good quality oil mister or bottle.

Can I put my air fryer on the countertop? ›

Some of you have reached out with some more questions so I would like to help answer them all. Can I put my air fryer on a granite countertop? I would NOT recommend this! Air fryers are a very intense way of cooking and some granite countertops have cracked and even melted under the extreme heat.

What can I put under my air fryer to protect the counter? ›

Heat Resistant Mat,Heat Resistant Mat for Air Fryer with Kitchen Appliance Sliders Function, Countertop Heat Protector Mats,Air Fryer Mat for COSORI Foodi Air Fryer, Coffee Maker, Blender 14" x 12"

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