Air fryer chicken drumsticks are the easiest way to create crispy, juicy, bone-in chicken drumsticks - EVER! We are cooking these chicken drumsticks in the air fryer so we can lock in all of that amazing flavor and cook them up in under 30-minutes. Stick with the recipe we have here, or add in some of your families' own favorite sauces - either way, it's a WHOLE LOTTA YUM!
Air fryer chicken drumsticks are gluten-free, paleo, low-carb, and even keto! However, if you opt to add sauce, watch those labels for hidden ingredients that could change that. Following the recipe below, will keep you following your eating plan and wondering why you waited so long to cook your chicken drumsticks in an air fryer.
A printable recipe card is at the bottom of the post
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Air fryer drumsticks are just one of the many recipes we have for you utilizing your air fryer. If you love using your air fryer as much as I do you are going to want to check out this air fryer kielbasa and these air fried chicken tenders.
Serve your air fryer chicken drumsticks with this healthy coleslaw recipe or this baked cauliflower mac and cheese (both are gluten-free and low carb!). Finish off your meal with our 10-minuted baked peaches for dessert.
Air Fryer Chicken Legs
For reasons that I do not understand, chicken legs, or drumsticks, are neglected by many a cook. Maybe it's their odd shape or the fact that they are mostly dark meat, but it seems that the turkey drumstick is the only one people are fighting over.
Not in this house though. We love them for their smaller size and big flavor the dark meat offers, even with minimal seasoning. Easy to cook, even with the bone in, the drumstick offers a unique taste you simply won't find with other cuts of chicken.
For this recipe, we are keeping it simple. Air fried chicken drumsticks don't need a lot of additional flavors added to them. Instead, we are letting the natural goodness shine through, simply using ingredients that will complement the meat.
Why This Recipe Works
- Chicken drumsticks are an inexpensive cut of meat that is readily available and fits most budgets.
- Topped with a few ingredients, we are enhancing the natural flavor drumsticks offer.
- With your air fryer, you can have this recipe done, start to finish, in under 30-minutes.
- Serve as-is, or top your drumsticks with a sauce that your family prefers best. Have picky eaters? Offer a variety of options!
Ingredients for Air Fried Chicken Drumsticks
Air fryer chicken drumsticks start with fresh chicken, adds in your favorite oil, and then is topped off with garlic salt and black pepper. This recipe is easy enough whether you are making just one package of chicken or several.
- 1.5 chicken drumsticks - 5
- ½ teaspoon garlic salt (or plain sea salt)
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or avocado oil
- BBQ Sauce-optional (our favorite is Sweet Baby Ray's or Primal Kitchen for a sugar-free/low carb option)
For the air fryer chicken drumsticks, we used our large Omni Plus oven style air fryer. While we do have a 3.2L Farberware basket style air fryer, the drumsticks needed the space of the larger one. If you are using a basket style air fryer watch for crowding, you might need to cook the chicken in batches.
Making Air Fryer Drumsticks
Air fryer drumsticks are about to become one of your favorite dinner dishes! With a short ingredient list and a 20-minute cook-time, it's easy enough for busy weeknights but tasty enough for dinner parties and cookouts with friends.
Before you start, we do recommend pulling the chicken drumsticks out of the fridge 15-30 minutes before cooking. This easy step helps your chicken come up in temperature, reduces the cooking time, and helps make the finished dish juicier. It also gives you more evenly cooked meat, so it's worth remembering to do. 😉
Preheat the air fryer to 400F for 3-5 mins before you are ready to put your chicken in.
Prep the chicken legs
While you are waiting for your air fryer to heat up, pat your drumsticks dry with paper towels. This helps you get that super crispy skin we all love with fried chicken!
Once they are pat dried, combine the chicken legs with oil, garlic salt, and pepper in a medium-sized bowl.
Arrange your drumsticks on the air fryer tray or in the basket, leaving space in between each leg. Don't crowd! The drumsticks need to have the warm air moving around them for both even cooking and to achieve that crispy skin.
Feel free to double or triple this recipe based on the number of people you are serving, but keep the size of your fryer in mind. While it may be tempting to pack the basket or tray all full as possible, this will result in chicken that may be undercooked, and definitely won't be nearly as crisp. It's better to cook in multiple batches.
How Long to Air Fry Chicken Legs
Bake your chicken for 10 mins on one side and then flip the drumsticks. Continue cooking for about 10 more minutes until the chicken is cooked through and reaches an internal temperature of 165F since it's dark meat. Larger drumsticks may require an additional 3-5 minutes.
If you're adding BBQ sauce, brush it on after the first flip.
- This recipe is based on using thawed chicken drumsticks that have been warmed for 15-30 minutes on the counter. If you are using frozen, partially frozen, or cold drumsticks, you will need to increase your cook time.
- If garlic salt and pepper is not enough flavor for you, feel free to add additional herbs and spices such as paprika, cayenne, or rotisserie chicken seasoning.
- If you are eating gluten-free or low-carb, be sure to check the labels of any sauces you may use to be sure you stay compliant with your eating plan.
- Feel free to spice these up and create a buffalo version with your favorite hot sauce. Serve with blue cheese.
Adapting to Diet Restrictions
As-is, your air fryer chicken drumsticks work with most diet plans, however, we want to help you follow your particular eating lifestyle. Below are any necessary accommodations we feel you may need to make.
Gluten-free eaters - If you are following a gluten-free lifestyle be sure to watch the sauce you may add. Read the label and make sure gluten is not included.
Low carb/keto lifestyle - Carbs are often hidden in many commercial BBQ sauces, so read the labels and look for brands that are made without added sugar or try using a homemade BBQ sauce.
Dairy-free - Air fried chicken drumsticks are already dairy-free.
Can You Stack Chicken Legs in an Air Fryer?
Technically you can stack your air fried drumsticks, however, they won't turn out nearly as crispy. We recommend you cook your drumsticks in a single layer leaving ample room on all sides for the air to circulate.
Can You Cook Frozen Chicken Legs in the Air Fryer?
Yes, you can cook your drumsticks from frozen. Add 5-7 minutes to the cook-time and be sure your chicken reaches 165F before serving. Note that your chicken will be less crispy due to the extra moisture content of frozen meat.
What to Serve with Chicken Legs?
The beauty of your air fried chicken legs is that they go well with a variety of side dishes. Try one of these suggestions.
- Healthy coleslaw
- Air fryer baked potatoes
- Baked cauliflower mac and cheese
- Instant pot corn on the cob
- Roasted Brussel sprouts
More Air Fryer Dinner Recipes
- Pork Chops in Air Fryer
- Air Fryer Sausage
- Air Fryer Turkey Breast
- Frozen Chicken Tenders (air fryer)
More Chicken Recipes
- Baked Salsa Chicken
- Teriyaki Chicken Bowl
- Slow Cooker Mexican Shredded Chicken
- Chicken Bacon Ranch Soup
And be sure to pin the recipe for later on Pinterest so you can easily get back to it!
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