If you’ve been looking for the perfect fried chicken recipe to make in your Ninja Foodi or another type of air fryer, you’ll love these air fryer chicken legs.
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One of our favorite pieces of chicken when it comes to fried chicken is the drumstick. There’s just something delightful about this handy little chicken part that we can pick up and eat with our hands. As children, the chicken drumsticks were usually reserved for the little eaters in the family, and they loved every single bite.
Back in the days of our grandmothers, the secret to frying the best chicken was to fry it in bacon grease. While that fried chicken was certainly delicious, it was also a heart attack in a cast-iron skillet. The air fryer changes all that.
Air fryer chicken recipes are something most of us love, and when it’s deliciously crispy fried chicken, that’s a win for the entire family.
When you air fry drumsticks, you have fried chicken (with crispy skin!) that is lower in fat and calories. Plus, air fryer chicken recipes take much less time to cook than cooking fried chicken on the stovetop.
Besides the taste benefits, air frying chicken won’t heat up your kitchen. Air frying is super easy and can be used to make your entire fried chicken meal, including the side dishes.
The best air fryer drumstick recipes have some oil for making crispy chicken and seasoning such as garlic powder, onion powder, black pepper, or other spices.
Ready to learn to make delicious crispy air fryer chicken legs? Let’s dive in!
Chicken Legs in Air Fryer (Chicken Drumsticks)
Air fryer chicken legs are delicious and addictive. Who doesn’t love fried chicken legs? After all, chicken legs are easy to hold and if you serve chicken legs with something like french fries or corn on the cob, you may not even need silverware when you serve up this fried chicken.
This fried chicken legs recipe is so delicious that you may find that your family will be fighting over who gets the last of the chicken legs, so be sure to make a double (or triple!) batch of these chicken drumsticks in your air fryer.
The great thing about cooking chicken legs in an air fryer is that you don’t need to make the type of mess that you usually get when cooking fried chicken. Another benefit is that your oven and stovetop are freed up to make delicious side dishes to serve with your meal.
How does an air fryer work when cooking chicken legs? In an air fryer, the air circulates to create crispy skin on the chicken, along with juicy and tender meat on the inside.
Everything You Need to Make Air Fryer Chicken Drumsticks
Below are the recommended products and ingredients for cooking air fryer chicken with crispy skin.
- Air fryer with air fryer basket. Any type of air fryer will work for this chicken recipe.
- Paper towels. You need these for patting the raw chicken dry before cooking.
- Raw chicken legs. Be sure to buy chicken drumsticks with skin so that you can enjoy the crispy chicken.
- Italian seasoning. Italian seasoning has various spices in it.
- Smoked paprika. You can use any type of paprika for this recipe, but smoked paprika has a particularly rich flavor.
- Sea salt. Kosher salt also works.
- Black pepper. Black pepper adds tons of flavor to your fried chicken.
- Brown sugar. When you use brown sugar for cooking a fried chicken recipe, you have a nice touch of delicious caramelization and light sweetness.
- Extra virgin olive oil. The olive oil will make the seasoning stick better to the chicken, and it also helps the circulating air create crispy chicken skin.
If you want to make your own spice mixture instead of using Italian seasoning, you can use ingredients such as garlic powder, onion powder, and cayenne pepper. Other good ingredients for making fried chicken include seasoning salt, chicken rub, or Cajun seasoning.
Remember, if you buy frozen chicken, you will need to allow the raw chicken drumsticks to thaw in the refrigerator.
How to Cook Chicken Drumsticks in Your Air Fryer
When it comes to cooking fried chicken, using the air fryer may be the easiest way ever. Just follow these simple steps to create the perfect crispy fried chicken legs.
- Prep your chicken. Be sure to wash the chicken legs and pat them dry with paper towels before you put them in a bowl.
- Add your spices. The spices are the secret to the perfect air fryer chicken drumsticks.
- Use olive oil. Using olive oil will help the spices stick to the chicken legs, and it also helps them get nice and crispy in the air fryer.
- Bake your chicken legs. You’re going to be cooking your air fryer chicken legs on both sides. Bake for 10 minutes on one side, then flip them and bake for an additional 7-8 minutes. It’s important to use a meat thermometer to ensure that your chicken legs are fully cooked and no longer pink at the center. Thoroughly cooked chicken legs will be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
All of the Best Reasons to Love Air Fryer Drumsticks
There are tons of reasons to love using your air fryer for cooking chicken legs.
- A lot less messy. When you cook fried chicken in your air fryer, there is no greasy mess to clean up.
- Easy and quick. Air fryer chicken legs are ready in less than 20 minutes.
- Cook evenly. The chicken legs cook evenly and don’t over-char on the outside.
- Much healthier. When you use your air fryer for cooking chicken legs (or any type of chicken), you’ve got a much healthier meal for your family.
- Inexpensive. Chicken legs are one of the less expensive cuts of chicken, so air fryer chicken legs are easy on your budget.
- Fun to eat. It’s so much fun to serve air fryer chicken legs to your family.
Tips for Cooking the Best Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks
To make sure your air fryer chicken legs come out perfect, follow these tips and best practices.
- Read your air fryer instruction manual. It’s important to understand exactly how your air fryer works. When cooking in an air fryer, timing and temperature are different from the oven or stovetop. Also, every air fryer is different.
- Keep an eye on the internal temperature. Be sure to use a meat thermometer to make sure your air fryer chicken legs are thoroughly cooked.
- Let the cooked chicken legs rest. Most meat benefits from sitting for a few minutes before it’s eaten.
Variations for Chicken Drumsticks Air Fryer
For more recipe ideas, you can vary things up when it comes to spices, sauce, and types of chicken.
- Experiment with rubs. Besides the great seasoning ideas we’ve already mentioned, you can also try taco seasoning or ranch seasoning.
- Try different sauce ideas. Don’t love BBQ sauce? Consider ranch dressing, hot wing sauce, YUM YUM sauce, cheese sauce, bang bang sauce, and more.
What to Serve with Air Fryer Chicken Wings or Chicken Drumsticks
Here are some of the delicious side dishes you can serve with air fryer drumsticks, air fryer chicken breast, air fryer chicken thighs, or other types of air fryer fried chicken.
- Air fryer corn (or Instant Pot corn)
- Air fryer baked potato (you can use the Instant Pot for baked potatoes, too)
- Mashed potatoes
- Cold salads
- Green salad
- Baked beans
- French fries
Do you want a BBQ sauce with your air fryer recipe for chicken drumsticks? You can use any type of sauce you like, including BBQ sauce, garlic sauce, butter sauce, or other types of sauce.
For BBQ sauce, you can make your own or use a store-bought BBQ sauce.
More Delicious Chicken Recipe Ideas
In addition to our recipe for air fryer chicken legs, we have plenty of other chicken recipe ideas. Here are some of our favorite recipe options for chicken.
Our BEST Air Fryer Chicken Legs Recipe
- 4-6 chicken drumsticks
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning or a combination of onion powder, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, or dry rub
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- t/2 teaspoon sea salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon packed brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Use a paper towel to pay dry the chicken legs. When the chicken legs are completely dry, add the dried chicken legs to a medium bowl.
- In a separate small bowl, combine the Italian seasoning, smoked paprika, lightly packed brown sugar, sea salt, and black pepper.
- Add the extra virgin olive oil to the bowl containing the chicken drumsticks.
- Sprinkle all of the spices and seasonings from the other bowl into the bowl with the chicken legs.
- Toss all of the ingredients together until the chicken drumsticks are completely coated.
- With the skin side down, put the chicken drumsticks in the air fryer basket.
- Air fry for 10 minutes at 380 degrees Fahrenheit.
- After the first 10 minutes of cooking, flip the chicken drumsticks over in the air fryer basket and cook the air fryer chicken legs for between 7 and 8 more minutes.
- Your air fryer chicken legs are fully cooked when the chicken legs are no longer pink in the middle. A meat thermometer should show that your air fryer chicken legs have an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Do you like how-to videos for chicken leg recipes (chicken drumstick recipes)? Check out the video below to make the perfect air fryer chicken drumstick dinner.